Grrr… Michelle is a bit rattled!

I’ve had some really crappy customer service recently. And it’s got me a bit rattled, so I thought I’d put fingers to keyboard, and vent a little.

“Choose Express Post and your T-shirts will be with you in time for the Hottest 100!” Well I did, and yet they weren’t… They arrived on the Tuesday after the Sunday countdown and are now sitting in a redundant heap on the kitchen table. $12.95 doesn’t sound much, but it’s the principle. Two emails of complaint to customer service later and I’m nowhere near getting even a decent apology, let alone my money back. It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it? Or, better still, there’s the age-old caveat of “during periods of unprecedented demand”… But how was this unprecedented? These T-shirts were specifically designed for the most infamous event in the Triple J calendar AND, get this, they were on sale to raise money for Lifeline. Ipso facto, they were meant to zooooom off the shelves!

Then there’s the coffee machine I bought my husband before Christmas. He has one of those December birthdays which is tricky – do you go large for the birthday, or save it for a couple of weeks? I went early in this case. But the honeymoon of that “we now have our own coffee machine, look how much money we’re saving” feeling was shattered a few weeks after Christmas when it started leaking water out of the bottom like a sieve. First, the (reputable) café owners didn’t believe me and tried it themselves to check there was actually an issue. Erm, thanks for the vote of confidence. Then they sent it off to the manufacturers to be fixed, leaving me with no apology, and no way of making coffee in the meantime. The vortex that is the ‘service centre’ means no one could tell me when our machine would be back in my possession. And the little information I did glean was through me making all the effort – visiting the café, plus calling up for an update. When it did return, a couple of weeks later (a couple of weeks!!), it was all smiles from the café dude, free coffee beans, and an escorted product placed back in my car.* He was lovely and a far cry from the sheepish, somewhat sullen, confrontation-avoiding man I dealt with at the time of crisis.

Finally, for a Throwback Thursday experience which has never left me, there is the introduction of the (somewhat annoying) host at the front of your classic retail store whose role is to essentially trap you en route to where you want to go. Seemingly friendly, but often very far from interested in allowing you through. In this particular store, I wanted to buy what a retailer would refer to as ‘an accessory’ rather than a large ticket item. They live at the back of the store, far from where I was accosted. So, I was eventually deemed not worthy enough to be restrained any longer, and allowed to free roam. I wasn’t impressed with the selection, and I had questions to clarify. Looking round, no one was free – I was in the area where the hard-core contracts were being signed, and everyone was head down with their respective customers. I therefore left, went across the road to a competitor and spent triple the amount of money I intended to thanks to some real ‘fluffing’ and metaphorical ‘stroking’. They elevated my mere accessory to a real ‘must have’ and I left the store with two of them, a real pep in my step, and quite the unnoticeable dent in my wallet.

Some observations on the above:

  • No brand is beyond the need to care and serve
  • The customer should always be given the benefit of the doubt
  • Employees need to be equipped to have tough conversations
  • Don’t let bad will build and fester – keep customers in the loop
  • ‘Service’ shouldn’t ever be about getting rid of people/putting them off/moving on to the next person**
  • Never judge a customer’s spending power by the size of their wishlist – the big ticket item lurks in all of us

They say that an unhappy customer tells 9-15 people about their bad experience – think I’ve just done a little more than that – and it takes 12 good experiences to make up for one bad one.*** So, time for a name and shame? It’s 24Hundred, the T-shirt provider; Coffee Brothers in Mona Vale; and good old Telstra, who lost out to Apple!

Michelle is always open to having a discussion about your brand, your customers, and your employees, and overcoming pitfalls. She promises not to talk about herself in the third person again, unless absolutely necessary.

* In his enthusiasm to close my boot, and get me the hell outta there, he forced his grip against the electric closing feature. And now, on occasion, it doesn’t close properly… 😩

** Centrelink and Medicare, take note!

*** Stats courtesy of: https://reputationrefinery.com/96-of-unhappy-customers-wont-complain-to-you-but-will-tell-15-friends-infographic

Are we making or breaking our personal brand?

The need to build a personal brand can’t be ignored. But have we got lost in the process of building it?

Yes, we want to go to fast, and get results, but if we don’t set clear goals and define some genuine values early, it’s easy to lose track of why we’re doing all of this in the first place.

Starting at the end, with promotion, and getting too tactical and too trendy, too quickly, is not the way to build our personal brand. It’ll only bring frustration and poor results.

We need to do some introspection and know ourselves. Yes, it is a time-consuming step. But an essential one. When done right, it shows us the pillars of our personal brand to be.

Here’s a little tip:

Let’s focus on the day to day. How well we are doing our jobs, how successfully are we achieving our goals, how kindly are we treating the people we work with, how positively are we impacting our surroundings, how are our actions affecting the people around us…?

Because at the end of the day, when we know ‘what’ we want to achieve (i.e. goals and values), and ‘how’ we will do it (i.e. personality and actions), the final step is to decide ‘where and when’ to do it (i.e. channels) (Note: Social media, is not always the answer, right away!).

In other words, we need to be LIVING our goals and values, before we start promoting it to the world. Let’s not just push our personal brand out into the ether, but instead, let’s embed it into everything that we think, say, and do. This, above anything else, will speak volumes about our personal brand.

Inspiration from: https://mumbrella.com.au/want-to-build-your-brand-stop-worrying-about-filming-yourself-and-just-do-good-work-544280

— 

Written by Thomas Ledig and Angie Caro, from MamaTray.

Lite n’ Easy open letter

An open letter to the powers that be at Lite n’ Easy, including the Founder, Graham Mitchell.

Let me start by saying: you have a phenomenal product. I use it every single day. So,
this letter is very well intended – I just think you could do a whole lot better as a brand, and we’d love to help.

I’ll start with brand positioning… You have a double headed proposition in your name to explore, but you never really get far beyond the ‘Lite’ part. I suspect people largely view you as a dieting resource due to the messaging you promote – as did I, at first. And this emphasis on losing weight limits your audience and the untold potential in the ‘Easy’ part of your brand offer. God knows, if there’s one thing my husband doesn’t need to do, it’s lose weight. He has that infinite ability to eat whatever he likes, whenever he likes, without expanding like the rest of us. But he’s a fan of yours. And he’s been brazenly spotted sporting your branded packaging on work sites to the surprise of many a fellow tradie. It’s easy, convenient and, in his words: “saves us a shit load of time and effort. You’d be mad to cook.”

Next up, brand image… You look a bit 80s, naff and dated – the ‘n’ in your name certainly doesn’t help – and things are a little over-branded (gasp!) when it comes to food packaging that you can use again. I’m not yet ready to whop out one of your containers on the kitchen bench in my creative community workspace, that’s for sure. And while a lot of people don’t care about this stuff, a whole lot of other people like me, definitely do.

Then there’s the issue of customisation… This really shouldn’t even be a thing we need to talk about in this day and age, yet despite being a ‘full fat’ customer (no pun intended) I can’t tailor my plan to exclude nuts (a major allergy) and I dislike both red apples and any form of stewed fruit in pots – all three of which seem to be a staple of your weekly menus. So, when I get my new weekly order, this is the amount of food I’m likely to waste, which is somewhat unrewarding from both a value for money and an environment perspective. I’m also then left to my own devices to source and swop in extra, alternative snacks, which defeats the point of the control and willpower I’m buying from you.

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Don’t get me started on how some of your amazing sauces/dressings come in a pot with the world’s smallest pull tab, which is the complete antithesis of ‘Easy’. And don’t let me distract the focus of this piece by calling out:

  • your obsession with one vegetable – the (most humble strain money can buy) tomato;
  • the salads that don’t always last until Monday (the recommended best before day);
  • the practicalities of eating a full orange in the working day;
  • or, the fact that you really should flag up from the word ‘go’ that to be a customer, you need: a) access to a microwave at every mealtime; and b) to make loads of space in your freezer.

None of that last part matters right now, as your food is really tasty – and I wonder why that crucial fact is getting lost in translation? Your powers of organisation are super impressive with the daily packed breakie/lunch/dinner bags that I grab each day. You’re a proud supporter of Australian produce. And you’ve never let me down, not once, despite how up to the wire of the ordering deadline I go.

The bottom line is: we’d love to help you take your brand further. Much further. And as a loyalist customer, I’m perfectly poised to help you, and my team, do this.

Let’s talk,

Michelle Traylor, Director

MamaTray

www.mamatray.com

P.s. I’d have addressed this letter directly to the power/s that be if I could find out who she/he/they are but an internet trawl, some LinkedIn browsing, plus an online chat with customer service, all left me fully in the dark. Another example which flies in the face of ‘Easy’ and reveals that the brand isn’t fully up to date with the transparent times we live in.

Like a founder

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How’s about this royal commission, ay?

It’s hard to watch.

Big, robust, established brands taking a bashing every which way, and rightly so. There’s nowhere to hide!

I was talking to a friend who works at AMP and she rolled her eyes showing me an article about the sordid details of dodgy director activity; saying Thomas Mort (who co-founded Australian Mutual Provident – AMP) must be rolling in his grave!

I got wondering…

Would the ghost of Mr Mort really be wailing and gnashing his teeth somewhere – completely deflated at what his baby had become?

What did he want AMP to be when it was a wee fledging?

So I interneted…

And I scored!

From the Argus (a popular old Melbourne newspaper) of 1877 Feb 9th,  a reporter wrote this of the ambition of the infant institution:

“Moved by such spectacles of bereavement and destitution, and doubtless observing that comparatively few had availed themselves of life assurance, our founders combined together to establish a society not for money-making, but for mutual aid, and to induce all within the sphere of their influence to unite in the good cause.”*

!!!!

And again, quoting the Founders…

“It is hoped the directors and superior officers will never be found wanting in vigilance, sagacity and probity in administering their sacred trust; but I have often tried to impress upon the members, and I take this public opportunity of reiterating that a heavy responsibility rests upon them also. It lies with them to fill up vacancies on the board and they should see to it that their votes are never given on any ground of mere personal friendship or antipathy, or because of the importunities of candidates. Always seek out and support trustworthy men who have the best interests of the society at heart and who have shown the ripe fruits of prudence, knowledge and experience in other walks of life.”*

!!!!!!

Eeeeppp – yes, I think there might be some Earth moving going on!

It makes you wonder how many other creaky old founders would be rolling in their graves at times like this, despairing of the nobility of the institutions they had bled to breathe life into…

Why does this happen?

Is it the inevitable side-effect of corporate growth?

When an organisation starts becoming successful and piles on the employees, does the essence of the Founder get further and further away from the heart of the business? (Not to mention once the Founder passes on!)

Is it realistic to expect hundreds, thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of employees to demonstrate the same intensity, altruism, guts, passion, conviction and single-mindedness the Founder may have had?

We worry about this at MamaTray and have developed ‘Like A Founder’ – a program to rediscover and infuse the Founder’s energy, ambitions and character back into an organisation.

Our ultimate aim is to make sure graves, and more importantly, legacies are still respected, optimised and celebrated.

If you’d like us to help your organisation get in touch with its inner Founder, just drop us an email at help@mamatray.com.

No rollin’!

*https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5914425
Image: https://dictionaryofsydney.org/person/mort_thomas_sutcliffe


These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

Worketypes

Archetypes – I just can’t say the word without wincing!

It was all the rage a while ago to apply in brand strategising and I was stabbing myself in the eye with what seemed like its mindless simplification.

But, for all my suspicions it was a useful-ish tool and often provided a good base to create nuance from.

In case you need a recap, there’s twelve of them – the Outlaw, Jester, Lover, Caregiver, Everyman, Innocent, Ruler, Sage, Magician, Hero, Creator, Explorer.*

Then these twelve get neatly shuffled into four orientation groups which describe their common basic motivation – social, order, freedom, ego.

The origin of the thinking is from Carl Jung – which means, of course, there must be some substance to it since Jung was clearly no fly-by-nighter.

“Carl Jung popularized the concept of archetype in his book, The Structure of the Psyche. He describes archetypes as being universal models of people, ways of being/acting (personality). He believed that these archetypes inhabit our dreams and, what he called, the collective unconscious.

Archetypes constitute the structure of the collective unconscious – they are psychic innate dispositions to experience and represent basic human behavior and situations. Thus mother-child relationship is governed by the mother archetype. Father-child – by the father archetype.” Carl-Jung.net**

Lately, I’ve been thinking about them again.

I think I was suspicious about the system originally because I hadn’t subjected it to the real-life test.

Could I see this in myself, in the people around me every day, in the people I meet randomly? Does it highlight obvious and consistent patterns in my friend-making, boss-following, colleague-gravitating and partner-picking?

Let’s see.

I reckon I’m a ‘creator’. I reckon my boss is a ‘hero’ (yes, I know that sounds sucky!) and I think my dear work mate is a ‘magician’.

Ta-da! We’re all from the ego side – something definitely going on there.

My husband’s definitely a ‘creator’ too, so that makes a boring amount of sense – I like ‘what-if-ers’ and he does too.

Worketype1.jpgBut maybe a real test of the system’s worth would be its pre-rationalisation vs post-rationalisation prowess?

Could it predict the type of people who will fit together?

Could it help us, for instance, work out how to create the best teams at work?

J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams (Hackman has spent a career exploring, and questioning, the wisdom of teams), in an HBR article interviewing him about his book “Leading teams”, says: “Every team needs a deviant, someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning. Deviants are the ones who stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backwards or turned it inside out?” That’s when people say, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s ridiculous,” and so the discussion about what’s ridiculous comes up.”***

Is that another way of saying every team needs a ‘rebel’ in it?

Are there other archetypes a good team needs? Should we be looking to mix and match archetypes when we’re creating dream-teams instead of (or as well as) just mixing and matching skills, experience, age and all those other demographics? Should we be throwing together people from the same orientation side – all ‘ego’s’ or all ‘order’s’ or a mix?

Apply this in your own day.

What archetype are you (honestly!!)? What are the archetypes of the people around you at work, at home, socially? Are there patterns to who you gel with? Who you listen to? Who you can’t stand? Who you produce your best work with? Who you crush on?

Is there some worth in doing something with those patterns to make better choices?

We’d love to know – go all out in the comments!

 

 

*http://www.soulcraft.co/essays/the_12_common_archetypes.html
**https://www.huffingtonpost.com/shakti-sutriasa-lcsw-ma/why-ancient-archetypes-ma_b_10023876.html

***https://hbr.org/2009/05/why-teams-dont-work

 
These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

Help isn’t a four letter word

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Help isn’t a four letter word…

Well it is of course, but you get my drift.

The other day I had a conversation with a mate about marriage counselling. They felt it was something you only did when things got ‘really bad’… And you didn’t talk about it. To anyone. That really disappointed me – why are we so reluctant to get regular emotional and mental help?

We happily see the doctor, fuss about Fitbits, cycle nowhere in a gym for hours, eat organic kale and do all sorts of regular maintenance in the hopes of never letting our bodies get ‘really bad’ – why will we let our mental state go until its almost too late? Why do we let our relationships suffer, our friendships go yuck and our ambitions deteriorate by not taking our emotional wellbeing seriously?

Apparently, it’s the stigma.

A great *HuffPost article outlines 14 common misconceptions about people who go to therapy which supports this like; ‘we’re weak’, ‘we’re crazy’ ‘we’re on medication’ and ’we’re in a ‘bad place’’. You’d have to be pretty resilient to push through those judgements – no wonder people wait till the cliff edge!

But what if this changed?

What if counselling and help was like prevention, mental maintenance, going for a brain run? What if people did it regularly. If it was celebrated as a sign of mutual respect and love in a relationship. A sign of well person with a healthy self esteem looking after themselves.

In the case of marriage counselling would this prevent things getting ‘really bad’…? And now what if we applied this to career health?

How many times have you felt lost at work, totally uninspired, so much meh you’re
drowning in it?

How many times have you looked painfully at your reflection and mumbled “What am I doing with my life???”?

Maybe a regular visit to a life coach, to a career counsellor or a mentor might help keep
everything in check – keep pointing you straight in a sort-of line, so that you can see where you’re going and appreciate where you’ve been.

Simple questions like “Am I where i want to be? What/who is getting in my way? How/when can I tackle this? And the big bonza – Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Tackled together with an objective professional, regularly, it could be really powerful. It might prevent that fisticuffs with the boss that literally got you fired, or that meltdown that had you curled up mumbling in a corner when you realised everything you’d done for the last 14 years was a waste of time!

Maybe we should all try it!

We’re pretty big about it here at MT HQ – mentoring and confidante services are in our product mix and our corporate mantra is ‘We point people in the right direction’. In fact, for a limited time, we’re putting our money where our mouth is – we’re offering half price mentor sessions!

So why not start the new year really caring for yourself – or give the ultimate Christmas gift to a friend who could really do with some direction. Hit us up on: help@mamatray.com

It’ll work wonders!

*https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sahaj-kohli/misconceptions-about-therapy_b_7286204.html


These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawle
r.