Monday, December 24, 2012

feedback or interrogation?

In chapter 9 of my book I address the importance of feedback for hotels. Well, after a trip to Malaysia on business I have had a couple of emails [in a week] from the Hilton hotel group asking for feedback. When I clicked on the second I got this ...

Ten minutes? Take this as a lesson on how to put people off filling in feedback forms. In the interest of research, I did complete the form - well, nearly. All questions were on a Likert scale and many could be tracked to individual staff or their responsibilities and I was unwilling to give poor marks where a member of staff might be criticised for performance when I do not know the full circumstances [eg was the cleaner given sufficient time to do an excellent job of cleaning the room?]. However, I gave up when the form asked me to rate the hotel I had stayed in previously [a competitor]. Why not have just half a dozen questions on one page with a comments box? I bet they'd get a lot more completed forms, even if there was less data. And that data would be qualitative and not simply quantitative.

Friday, December 7, 2012

KLM get their geography right [eventually]

I have criticised KLM on this subject a number of times in this blog [the latest here] - but they seem to have finally realised that every single flight I have taken with them has been from my local airport at Newcastle. Hurrah!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

oh, o2

If you went into a shop and asked an assistant if they stocked the iPhone 4s you would expect that assistant to be soon looking for a new job if they told you 'no' when the shop did, in fact, have iPhone 4s for sale. So who is going to get the sack for this ...

On I did a search for 'iPhone 4s', and got this result ...

but when I clicked on the top listing I got ...

And yet elsewhere on the site I found this page ...

Ho hum.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

just plain lazy relationship management

Like many folk who do not live close to the football team they support, I have signed up for membership to the 'club player' -  mainly so I can listen to the online commentary of all the matches. So this week I got a reminder that my subscription was due. Or rather, they sent an email saying it had run out! So I followed the links and paid for a year's subscription - getting this email in return:
So here's the thing. What do you mean 'Welcome to Forest Player' ? I've been a member for over 10 years - 'Welcome back' would be nice. But if they had informed before the subscription ran out there would have been no need for any welcome - just a more suitable phrase that made me - a supporter of their club for more years than I care to remember - feel as though I was part of the club. 
And yes, I know, the service is run by a third party, not the football club - but the football club should be telling the provider what they should be doing in the name of the club [for club, read brand].

And then a few days later I got this email:

Ho hum.

Friday, October 19, 2012

KLM still miles off

I have written about this before [just put "KLM" into the search facility of this blog] - but it seems some folk just won't - or don't want to - listen.
Here's the subject line of an email from KLM as seen in my in-box ...
And when I clicked on the link, this is the web page which I was taken to ...
For those of you who don't know, Sunderland [where I am, and where KLM know I live] is - according to Google - 277 miles from London Heathrow.
Local? I think not. And there are around 10 airports closer than Heathrow, including Newcastle which is not only around 15 miles away, but it is the only airport I have flown from using KLM. Ho hum.

Monday, October 15, 2012

email still the poor relation?

I've raised this issue before [see email - still the poor relation of customer service? ] - I'm sure if I rang eon someone would answer the phone straight away, so why does it take five days [yep, that's five days] to answer an email?

I have still not had a reply - this is from my email in-box:

After nearly two weeks I gave up waiting and sent another message - to which I received a response within a couple of hours.

This article is about social media rather than email, but the viewpoint is similar to mine, see: Customer Response Times: Might Take Hours Via Social, Seconds By Phone

Monday, September 24, 2012

leading edge?

I came across this online and thought I'd share it with you youngsters out there. It is the home page of from 1995.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

review ... or sales copy?

I was considering the purchase of a floor cleaner, and ended up on Amazon checking some out. As is the case with all products on Amazon, after the description there are reviews written by folk who own and have used the products. However ... as I describe in a section on the consumer generated content my book, the origin of some of these reviews might be, well ... suspect.
Take a look at the first few reviews on the Amazon page for this Vax S2S Bare Floor Pro Steam Mop with Detergent. Am I the only one who thinks these are kind of professional? How they seem to address all the FAQs a potential buyer might have? For example; it cleans parquet floors and tile grout. How to use it ["... release steam and to slide the cleaner back and forth ..."]. Fits in a cupboard. One even has a bullet point list of advantages.
And if you are not as naturally sceptical as me - take a look at the '1 star' reviews.

Footnote: Although Amazon could be a bit more editorial about the reviews they feature, the nature of CGC is that it is not edited - and so my complaint in this entry is not aimed at them, it is aimed at the marketers of the product ... who have benefited from the reviews. Or have they?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


A lot of writers have commented on the fact that many CAPTCHAs are un-readable - well the one that Ryanair presented to me just to check on a flight price was also un-seeable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

link spam

Some of you will have heard of link spam - but are unsure of what it is. Well ... I have an example on this very blog. As you will see, anyone can add a comment - but I have the setting so that all comments are emailed to me for 'vetting' so that I can reject unsuitable comments and release suitable ones onto the blog.
Below is one comment I received for moderation.

As you can see if you take a quick look at the blog entry on which the comment is added - the comment has nothing to do with the original entry from me. You will note also that that the 'comment' is full of links to a variety of services offered by this company. This is link spam. It hasn't worked on this occasion because I have not published it [and have marked it as spam] - however, many blogs are not moderated, and so 'comments' like this go live on a multitude of blogs, each with a link to the link-spamming organization's website.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

profit by default?

I have never flown with Ryanair before - but much has been written about the extra costs added to the basic price featured on the budget airline's website ... and here's my contribution after booking a flight to Gdansk. Good website usability - or should I say 'moral' website usability - offers extras as a 'click-to-add' offering. Less moral businesses make users 'click-to-delete' extras that are added by default. So I was not surprised when Ryanair added insurance by default with a message saying that "If you are already insured you can select 'don't cover me' in the drop down box"  [I'll not be so picky as to point out that a compound adjective should have a dash ie drop-down box - oh, alright, I will] 

But what drop-down box? The only one I could see on the page was the one for 'Passenger 1' - and it had United Kingdom showing, so I assumed it was for the nationality of the passenger. But I did click on it, and it was - I thought - just a list of nationalities in alphabetical order. Eventually, I clicked on it and scrolled down ... and found the 'don't cover me' option stuck in there out of alphabetical order.

OK, so maybe I was being a bit thick - but consider my background, surely I would not be the only person to be confused by this ... and ultimately, of course, a cynic like me might think the objective was to have customers just say "sod it, I'll just pay for the insurance".     

Monday, July 16, 2012

clever ... and a bit spooky

You may well have see the 'generic' advert on TV, well BA have used some clever technology to include your street in the ad - try it on BA taxi. An excellent example of integrated marketing.

Friday, June 15, 2012

register? just to have a look?

I needed a part for my old car and read about this site in the Sunday Times' car section. But when I clicked on 'catalogue', this is what I got. Guess where I DIDN'T buy a cam belt for my 'classic' MR2?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

specially regular pricing?

The folks at must have missed the lecture on pricing ...

Monday, April 16, 2012

see ... it's not just me

At the end of his review of the new BMW 328i in the 'ingear' supplement of the Sunday Times [April 15, 2012] Jeremy Clarkson commented:

"Then there's the problem with buying a 3-series. Go on, try it. Engage your internet, go to BMW's website and try to make sense of what's there. You can't. Not till you've found your reading glasses, and then go to Boots to buy a pair that is even more powerful. And even when you are able to read the microdot typeface, your computer won't have the plug-in necessary to enjoy an of the site's features. Not that you will understand what's on offer anyway, because it's either flowery rubbish or techno goobledygook. Soon you will give up with the complexity and buy something else. Well, I would, and that's a shame because whatever you buy will be worse."

I can add nothing.

Footnote: Today I had reason to look for something on the
MINI website. Not only was the usability so poor that could I not find what I was looking for, but the pages took an age to download [on the university's T1 connection] - and eventually the site crashed my firefox connection. At least BMW are consistent in their website presentation.
Footnote's footnote: I revisited the MINI webiste to copy the address for the link in footnote #1 - leaving the website open in another tab ... and after a couple of minutes I - and my colleagues in the office - were deafened by music from a video on the site. I have complained for years about un-invited music on sites, and this was an un-invited video.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

when is Sunday not Sunday?

... when it is Easter Sunday.

I needed to get some DVDs for my mum and the excellent [read: cheap] Thats Entertainment * has a branch at the Royal Quays outlet centre in North Shields. However, I hate shopping in crowds so I went online to check the opening times so that I could be there when the shops opened - and got this on the website:

So I was there this morning at 10.30 - but only a couple of shops were open, with signs in others saying they were open at 11. Worse still, around half weren't opening at all citing 'Sunday Trading Laws'. It is, of course, Easter Sunday, so I will assume that is the cause of the limited opening - but surely the law applies to all shops?

Anyhoo - open at 10.30 was Costa [so I had a cup of coffee] and Thats Entertainment did open at 11, so all ended well. But here's the reason for this entry:

As I have said plenty of other times on this blog; unlike printed material, website content is easily changed - so why was there no accurate details of opening times for Easter Sunday? I wonder how many people travelled to the centre for a 'day out' only to find half of it closed? Was it deliberate because advertising the real situation may have meant fewer visitors? I noted on my way home that many other retail parks were closed completely - so why not do the same for your centres? Because here's the thing managers at Royal Quays: the chances are that those people who wanted to go shopping would have gone on Bank Holiday Monday [the next day] if they knew the shops were closed on Easter Sunday. 

* though it does bug me that they miss out the apostrophe in that's.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

right career for the web marketer ?

This is a long one ... so make yourself comfortable.

In chapter 10 of Internet Marketing when talking about Integrated Marketing I say that 'online' is often the poor relation of marketing and that it should be an integral part of any promotion - in this case the launch of the government's new National Careers Service.
Whilst having my breakfast this morning [banana, strawberry, kiwi fruit & yogurt smoothie :-) ] I saw part of the BBC's Breakfast News which included an interview with some from the Government Careers Service talking about the launch of a new service. So ... full marks to the PR dept for getting the story on national TV. However, if the interviewee mentioned a domain name or URL I missed it - so I fired up Google and search for "national careers service" - and got this:

Yep ... no listing for the new service, so [a] no pro-active SEO, and [b] no PPC ad.

So I searched on "national careers service relaunch" and got:

So I clicked on the top listing and was taken to - and half way down that page was the message:

So I put "next step" into Google and got:

When I clicked on that link I was redirected to: [note the URL - the new services has a dedicated third level domain name and website - which should have appeared in my first Google search].
Note that near the bottom of the page was a promotion for something happening today - but only when I hovered my mouse over it did the message 'Launch of the National Careers Service' appear. Nothing else on the page told a visitor why they had arrived on the website of one organization [the National Careers Service] when they clicked on a link for a different organization [Next Step] - let alone tell them why/how the new service will be better than the old one - which is what the guy on the TV did to alert me of the story.

Integrated Marketing? I think not.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the bank that wants your number

I've trying to set up an online banking account with LloydsTSB and I'm having all kinds of problems, an example of which is this return I got when trying to fill in a form ...

Yes, you techie folk as LloydsTSB - I think you will find that J O A & N are actually characters and not numbers.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

rubbish at up-dating a website

Because the rubbish collectors keep failing to empty my mum's bin [another story], earlier in the week I was looking online for the opening times of the public rubbish tip in Rochdale. And this was the relevant page from their website:

Now ... I was actually looking at this page on the 29th of March - and it wasn't a Sunday. A check revealed the last time the 29th of March was a Sunday was in 2009 - so that message was three years old. And yet the page had been updated after the 21st of September 2011 because it tell us a different recycling centre closed [ie past tense] then.

As I have said before - would this happen in any other medium of communication? And is any other medium of communication easier to amend?

Ho Hum.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

this list is all rather academic

I have complained before that when I register for a 'free' download with many sites the relevant organization does not appreciate that academics might want the report/paper to help with research or to keep themselves up-to-date with the subject. So I was really pleased when actually listed 'Business School Academic' in its list of jobs. 

But sadly it all went pear-shaped because in the 'job responsibility' section there was no entry for lecturer/teacher. Ho hum, close ... but no cigar.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

no way out

I have already posted two entries in this blog about bad practice on the Blackpool Football Club's website [see Register - just to check availability?  and just the ticket. not ] - and here's another which follows on from those. This morning, I got the following email:

As it is of no interest to me I decided to 'unsubscribe' and so clicked on that link, which took me here:

... where I entered my email address and password. But it was rejected ...

... so I clicked on the 'get new password' and got this email:

So I put that password into the form and got:

If anyone at Blackpool FC [for it is in their name] or Ticketmaster [who seem to run the system for Blackpool FC would like to tell me how to unsubscribe from something I never wanted in the first place please let me know. Oh ... and by the way, if anyone from either organization is reading this: you are now [probably] breaking the law in this issue.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

email: instant communication?

I have already posted an entry on this subject [email - [still] the poor relation of customer service?] - and that was back in 2008 when I asked the question. Well, it's now 2012 and 02 [they are a teleCOMMUNICATIONS company] still want me to wait up to two days to respond to an email.

Why? Phone calls can be answered immediately, why not emails?

It gets worse for 02 in this entry however. I needed to conatct them because I had exactly the same problem I posted about in oh oh oh oh O2. Oh dear.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

no charge?

I wanted a mains charger for my sat nave system - and so put the relevant term into Google. Top of the ads was one from -  which means they had bid most to be there. So I clicked on that link and was taken to the site - see below ...

£2.99 seemed to a fair price, so I thought I would order one. However, when I had added the order to my basket I clicked on the 'delivery and account information', but guess what? They wanted my delivery and account information - there was nothing about how much the delivery was going to cost me. And to get that information I would have to complete the form shown below.

So I went to ebay where I bought the same product for £2.49 including delivery.

I would file this example under 'there is still work for me'. Good e-commerce sites gave up on this prcatice years ago - if, indeed, they ever started to doing it. I was telling organizations about telling customers the full cost of products in 1997. And yet companies still do it. Ho hum ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

login or signup to download your identity

I was looking to access a report and was presented with this option. Now, I have read how this facility has increased access to password-protected sites because folk don't have to register on the site but 'sign in' using their Facebook membership. But take a look at what I would have to give up for that convenience:
1 Access my basic information. Well, no biggy you might say, this is all available on a personal Facebook page - errr, yes but mainly only to 'friends'.

2 Access to my profile information. Yep, all the stuff  folk can make private from 'non-friends'. 

3 Post to Facebook as me. I'll say that again: Post to Facebook as me. Yes, these folk can go to any Facebook page they like and say things and they will be attributed to me. 

Needless to say; I didn't 'login with Facebook'.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

no news is bad news

Here's another entry where I am criticising an organization that does some good work - but lets itself down on its website. This is their 'media center' page:
I tell my students [and I say so in my book] that you should not have any element of your website that depends on being frequently updating if you do not have either the news or the commitment / resources to keep it up-to-date [the same applies to any and all aspects of social media]. 

What makes this worse is that it is the media page of a media company.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

bad language?

In my book I advise against using flags to denote languages - but this one is a doozy. This is on the website of a university in the UK - but the US flag is used for 'English'. If you are about to say it refers to 'American English' ... don't. My colour and behaviour both have Us in them. Similarly, French is spoken as a first language in many other places that don't fly the French Tricolour. And are these six the most-spoken languages in the world? I would have thought Spanish would be in there somewhere [it is close to be the most spoken language in the USA].

In addition - around this time of year I am always on the lookout for out-dated copyright notices - I was going to use Tesco as an example this year [their notice still says 2011] - but I'll use this one instead ... only five years out.