Can Shareholders Drive Company Change?

Citigroup Center building at 500 W. Madison St...

Citigroup Center building at 500 W. Madison St Chicago, IL, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can Shareholders drive company change?  Yes, as CEO’s run the company for shareholders.  Many shareholders have forgotten the power that they can make changes if they believe the company is not heading in the right direction.  This is due to the fact that shareholders didn’t concentrate on company long terms goals for profitability.

CEO’s and the company board have worked  on short-term goals to produce record company profits and increase the stock value.  Why?  Due to the fact that they’re paid “Bonuses” for achieving these goals.  The sad reality is that these companies will fall due to the lack of long-term goals that involve building for the future generation.

With the recent fall of iconic company brands, do shareholders want lip service from these CEO’s?  Their pay packet has increase greatly, but the share value has become stagnant.  Why are Shareholders letting this continue?

In a recent article by Patrick Allen, he talks about shareholder insurrection.   Shareholders rejected the pay deal of a CEO,  he resigned and still got a golden payout.  This is building distrust between shareholders and senior staff.  Company boards need to be more open to shareholders for a resolution on the executive income model.

GE Shareholder Meeting protest

GE Shareholder Meeting protest (Photo credit: Fuzzytek)

Shareholders have to force management to change and drop the “Retention Bonus” and “Payouts” mentality.  We need to start creating more meaningful rewards focusing on real long-term growth.

Reward CEO’s for genuinely improving the business and pay them modestly.  Business does  not improve  if you strip staff, smash unions and cut costs where possible.  If CEO’s are serious about cutting costs then the board would all take a pay cut and reduce bonuses and payouts.

Shareholders need to understand that CEO’s who focus on long-term goals to improve the business need time to slowly and patiently build the market value.  This should lead to a rise in share prices and dividends.  It’s about building for the next generation.

There are shareholders growing around the world that are starting to feel that the high pay packets for CEO’s are over rated.  The time of action has come and they are making the change.  They are voting against these high pay packets of CEO’s in companies like Citigroup and Credit Suisse.  As a Shareholder, are you sick of the pay racket?  Do you want change?  Will you as a Shareholder drive the company to change?  What other business concepts is useful?

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Management

Reducing Customer Vents

Microsoft Global Technical Support Center

Microsoft Global Technical Support Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many businesses would love to reduce customer vents for technical issues, but have struggled to find a solution.  These businesses have moved it offshore to countries like India to manage it cheaply and efficiently.  However, the  dialect has annoyed many customers who have bought these brands.  So what other solutions are there to this problem?

I recently came across an article called “Outsourcing is so last year” at the Economist.  The author refers to this solution as “Unsourcing”, I prefer “Insourcing” or “Netsourcing”.  The solution isn’t new, as it began in the 1980’s but in today’s times it’s a revelation to managers.  Some brands in software, consumer electronics and telecoms are offering expert advice at a fraction of the costs that these cheap nations supply.

The basic concept is that the business sets up an online community to enable person-to-person support among users.

Customer Lobby

Customer Lobby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Businesses use websites or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to form these communities.  The people who use the brand solve the customer’s problem.  Generally these helpers are not paid.

Tom Tom, the maker of satellite-navigation systems, saved $150,000 in its first two weeks.  It’s estimated these communities can reduce costs by up to 50%.

Some businesses reward these prized fans by giving them rankings for solving the problems.  This helps in boosting their community status.  While a telecom business reduced monthly phone bills for clients when they helped other clients and recruited new customers.

Technical Support Explained

Technical Support Explained (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

These communities could be monitored by technical support and customer service staff.  This is to aid in company relations and rewarding these super fans through loyalty programs.  While anything to do with personal customer accounts and billing needs to be diverted to another channel.

The temptation for most businesses to switch to this solution due to costs will be too hard to resist.  While the added benefit for making it harder for customers to vent is all to appealing.  The greatest concern will be the unsuccessful deployment that will send a wave of criticism to the business due to the lack of preparation and planning.  Would your business consider this solution of online community person-to-person user support?  What ways do you think you could improve on the reward system?  Do you think this solution is a way of reducing customer vents for technical support?

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Strategy

May 20, 2012

I’ve added a RSS feed, the Meta widget wasn’t feeding to my site properly.  Need to add HTML code for compatibility problem with Google Chrome.   The quickest way to install it was to use the RSS widget instead.  It’s easy, just open widget and copy the site name into the feed box for the URL.  Need to check how to set up useful Meta Widget for site.  I’m extremely happy, I’ve nearly finished responding to all the comments.

Posted in Journal

Venting Customer Service

Customer services

Customer services (Photo credit: gordon2208)

How can customers vent about company service?  Customers have taken to social media to vent their anger on poor customer service.  The main way customers usually did this was by going on to the companies social media sites like Facebook and post on it.  Due to Twitter’s character limit, you could be redirected to another  channel.

The problem with this is that business controls the information on these sites.  Big companies use Public Relations to manage the negative impact on these channels.  Most of these businesses weren’t resolving issues, they just moved it out of sight.

In Australia, the game is changing.  There is a new complaint platform.  Business can suffer if they fail to take action or suffer public shame.  The most vented industries at this stage are banking, insurance, telcos and utility companies.   What’s the site called?

UVENT

Anthony Mittelmark, the founder, says uVent is a site where the marketplace works together to resolve the customer issue or provide an alternative.  Here’s how it works.

  • A customer signs up to uVent and posts the service complaint
  • The company has 24hrs to resolve the complaint with the customer
  • Failure to resolve the complaint means that it goes public
  • The competitor can now offer advantages to the customer in its product or service
  • Customers can accept the competitor’s invitation and rate the product or service

Some companies publicly announced that customers should go through the traditional channels.  This has driven customers to uVent, they want their issues resolved immediately.

Customer service center - note that there is o...

Customer service center – note that there is only one operator serving both queues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Companies should embrace this.  Improving customer satisfaction is the nature of doing business.  This is how you build your business.  Businesses are given a golden opportunity to steal their rivals customers.

There are several things I would like to see added to uVent.  I would like to see customers and businesses able to load their complaints on social media accounts e.g. Facebook.  It would be great if the uVent complaint was like a floating banner or part of the sidebar on their site that listed the shamed company.  This would force the business to improve customer service and not give lip service.  Adding figures like resolved, unresolved and total complaints would be great.   Even better if the site went global.

As a customer, would you like to use  uVent?  Would you like to see it go global?  What other industries could be added?  Should Government organisations be added?

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Posted in Software, Trends

Choosing a Social Network for the business.

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which social network do I choose for my business?  Choosing social media sites for a business is hard.  Many businesses have rushed in without thinking which site will benefit them.  Other businesses underestimated the time and effort in maintaining the sites.  To avoid the grief, take the time to think about the business and work out which social site is the best fit.  Social Media is a business extension, a virtual personality.

If your business deals with consumers, other businesses, is a charity, a community or government organisation; decide on the platform which helps get your message to your market audience.  Decide upon the look, feel and what social media strategy (goals) you want to do on these platforms when you engage with your audience.  Focus on how you can deliver the customer service on these platforms.

It’s becoming important to give the people who “follow” or “like you” an option to receive information about your products or services.  People want the freedom to choose, they don’t want constant bombardment of business emails.  In Laura Click’s article, she names several social platforms that are popular but I prefer to stick to the most common ones.

Facebook

This platform is ideal for connecting with consumers directly due to the young audience demographic and the growing older participation rate.  It is great for customer engagement, getting feedback, customer service, testing ideas, promotions and announcements (community or charity involvement).

Twitter

I look at this platform as an instant messenger where the business can offer quick customer service, engage with the community and business opportunities.  It also allows your business to check what people are saying and what your competitor is doing.

Good customer service requires high profession...

Good customer service requires high professional and social skills. Photo: ZVG Deutsch: Eine gute Kundenberatung erfordert hohe Fach- und Sozialkompetenz. Foto: ZVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LinkedIn

This is a more professional network for business to business opportunities.  People can join groups and engage with other people in similar industries or professions to develop new business opportunities.

It is crucial to choose one or two social platforms to master when you begin.  Many businesses fail in social media as they try to master too many at once.  With the amount of time and energy spent in a developing your social media voice, choosing the right platform is crucial.  In essence, social media is another form of building a relationship with your customers.  Concentrate on how to deliver this customer service.  Which social media platform is best for the business?  How many social media platforms did you start of with?  Do I add an email option?

Contributing Article:

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Strategy

May 11, 2012

I can’t believe the amount of comments I received.   I have a lot of work to do in the next couple of days.  Need to sort and reply to them.  Here’s hoping I get it all sorted within a week.  I really do need to concentrate on my articles, so I apologize for some late replies.  Some of these comments look like they have been posted a while ago, receiving it in the last couple of days in one hit is a challenge.   Hope they’re forgiving. LOL  Yeah, Happy days! 😛

Posted in Journal

Planning for Mobile Devices

iPhone & Intel Mobile Device

iPhone & Intel Mobile Device (Photo credit: Frank Gruber)

How effective is your mobile devices plan?  While the western world consumes mobile devices like tablets and mobile phones quickly.  The uptake of technology by consumers has led business to follow the trend.  The problem with most business plans for mobile is that they don’t think about the features.  Businesses need to separate mobile devices features from laptops and computers.

The first and most significant thing is that they are finger dependent.  You navigate around the screen by the finger.  So copying a website is pointless.  The mistake is that drop down menus is less effective in this environment.  It’s important to create links to your other business content.  The second problem is that the link comments don’t display on mobile devices.  While laptops and computers have a pointer to navigate around the screen, comments appear on the screen by placing the pointer on the link.  Mobile devices have removed this feature.  Another thing that mobile devices do is to allow the viewer to expand or magnify the screen.

iPad tablet

iPad tablet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Secondly is the tilt or flip function in mobile devices.  Many businesses don’t include it in their marketing agenda.  I recently read an article about an insurance company in the United States.  It used this feature in their marketing campaign.  There’s a picture of  the destroyed inside of a house by a tornado. If you tilted your mobile device around then the inside of the house is completely restored.  What’s the name?

Thirdly is apps.  Businesses need to use this function to add another dimension to their brand.  Designing this app to appeal to the consumer is extremely important.  It needs to contain elements like exclusiveness, functionality, value and  be free to the consumer.  The right mix goes a long way in increasing your brand awareness.

mobile devices

mobile devices (Photo credit: Hands On Support)

Lastly is speech and voice recognition.  Although in its early stage, this has the most potential.  In time, this will change the way we interact on mobile device.   This will be the new mouse in the future.  Reducing the role of the finger and flip function to a minimal role.  It will change the role of business marketing.

To sum up, design your mobile website with these basic tips in mind.  Market your brand by expanding on these tips for your mobile campaign.  Although adding a mobile site is another price to your business, it’s worth the effort if you plan and prepare how to engage the consumer.  Did your business mirror your website to the mobile website?  Do you need to think about the drop down features on your mobile site?  What needs improving?

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Management

A Retail Approach to Mobile Tablets

WestFarms Mall

WestFarms Mall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s retail’s approach to mobile tablets?  The retail world is starting to adopt tablets into its business strategy.  Businesses like Nordstrom have adopted tablets as part of its business tactic.  They’re pioneering the way on how to use tablets.  The new technology is starting to improve the customer experience and raise the customer satisfaction.  The other plus side of this is productivity increase in campaign execution and planograms (a layout of what products and position it should appear on the shelves of the store).

So how are they doing this?  Through customer service and retail management.

Customer Service.  Tablets are enriching the customer experience in the following ways:

  • Store Inventory.  Customers are able to ask staff if a certain product is in the store.  The staff can check the store inventory for the product, verify price of the item, see when the next delivery is coming in, how much is at the warehouse, reserve the stock, verify the closest store with the product, adjust store product quantity for theft and damages, return adjustments and delivery.
  • Mobile Checkout.  Staffs are able to use the tablet as a mobile checkout which means the customer won’t have to stand at the counter line.  This only works for scannable items.  The employee can email the customer the receipt after the transaction.  This would help in converting the customer rate and the average sale should improve.
  • Staff Mobility.  This would enable employees to increase the floor coverage.
iPad 2 with Smart Cover running iMovie.

iPad 2 with Smart Cover running iMovie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Retail Management.  The tablets can help management in the following ways:

  • Planograms.  Controlling the product placement and fixtures configuration across the  stores.  Planogram compliance signoff
  • Campaign Execution.  Ensuring real-time execution of marketing campaigns and store tie-ups.

Other ways in retail management can include:

  • Rosters.  Planning and organizing staff rosters and emailing staff shifts
  • Sales.  Sales planning for the store, sales history reports and real-time access to store sales and items.
  • Forms.  Quick access to fill out forms for injuries, customer complaints or requests and compliance forms.
  • Internal Communication.

These are some of the ways and benefit in which retail can use tablets.  E-commerce through the use of tablets is the emerging retail trend at this stage.  However, the bigger advantage in using this could be in the cost.  It would probably be cheaper to use tablets instead of RF (Radio Frequency) units.  So crunch the numbers and work out the price comparison.  What other ways can tablets be used in retail?  Would you switch your retail business to tablets?

Related articles

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Strategy

May 3, 2012

Hmmm.  I may have stuffed up.  D’oh!  I need to add back my RSS feed.  People are asking to for it and I need to put it back in.  Give the people what they want.  As for the newsletter, I’m still leaning to not producing it.  It just doesn’t feel right.  I may need to think about this subject a bit more.  Will I make the right decision, only time will tell.

Posted in Journal

3 Management Concepts Businesses should use.

Customers are Ignoring You

Customers are Ignoring You (Photo credit: ronploof)

There are three concepts businesses should use.  Apply these concepts correctly than businesses, employees and customers will all benefit.  In modern business it’s the role of management to cut costs and leverage on borrowings.  Which can explain why most established businesses fail.  Some of our iconic brands are on the edge of collapse.  Companies like Nokia and Sony are starting to collapse, while Kodak and United Continental are trying to trade their way out.  So what are these three management concepts?

1) Mittelstand.  This German concept is fascinating.  Successful Mittelstand companies adopt modern management practices but use caution and long-term oriented approach to business.  They emphasis on long-term profitability, while  most public companies try to meet quarterly and annual shareholder expectations.  Another advantage is that managers work with the employees because they love the business and treat them like family. In bad times, management and employees take pay-cuts and in good times they share the profits with everyone.  Not many senior managers of public companies would do that.

A business ideally is continually seeking feed...

A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2) Customer Service.  Most businesses believe they have good customer service.   However, I feel most have missed the mark.  Customer service is about providing the customer with a product or service that will add value or benefit to them.  It’s the way they experience your brand that builds your business.  If you focus on your customer then you build brand trust. A business is like another person, it needs to build a relationship with the customer and communities.  Nordstrom is a good example.

3) Innovation.  This is vital for business growth.  It’s about risk and experimentation to build a good product or service that the customers values.  For each time we fail, we learn a new way to reach our goals.  Businesses that fail to make improvements will fall behind.

Concept image of the Garden of Ideas

Concept image of the Garden of Ideas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putting it together may seem hard but it’s possible.  By using Mittelstand concept, focus your business using caution and long-term goals while creating a family like atmosphere.  Share  good and bad times with your employees and they’ll help grow your business.  Focus on the customer and the service you offer to them.  People are creatures of habit and do things that they had a good experience with.  Always innovate your business by improving on services or the products for the customer.  Can you think of a product or service that you can improve on?  Or does one of your employees have an idea on how to improve the product or service?  Or is it a new product or service that will help your business?

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Posted in Business, Ideas, Strategy

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© Christopher Seeto and Aqua Black Cat, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christopher Seeto and Aqua Black Cat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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