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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:03
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boxesLogistics, the shipping, is one part of operating your business that is partially out of your control.

You may have it picked up for delivery on time and specified its needs to arrive on a certain date through certain means but even the most reliable logistics companies can make mistakes. Mistakes like delivering to the wrong address or–not your fault–getting smitten by an act of nature, thus delaying the delivery.

When a logistical issue arises it’s up to your business to make amends with the customer to ensure their satisfaction. In fact, one of the best, possible customer experiences you can deliver stems during this time when the package leaves the business and arrives at the customer’s doorstep.

To deliver this exceptional experience, you have to utilize all available logistical opportunities.

Part 1: The Box

Imagine you are the customer.

You place an order from a business you recognize through name and brand. The product you are ordering has a specific look and feel that is unique. The service was easy and enjoyable. When the box arrives it’s bare, blank, and basic. There has been a disconnect from the buying experience.

To remove this disconnect, a business should consider custom shipping boxes. Custom boxes can be tailored to the specific product to ensure they add to the branded experience and protect the item while in transit. The use of these custom boxes costs just a fraction more than the bare bone options but in terms of PR they do absolute wonders for building upon the brand and likelihood the customer will share their experience.

The box can be just as much as part of the product experience as the actual product. The mere act of unboxing a product can create excitement; this is an emotion that can easily create an opportunity to get customers to share their experiences, which leads to referrals, reviews, and more business.

Part 2: The Transit & Delivery

The time between the box going out the door and getting to the doorstep can cause a range of emotions for the customer because it’s a time when the experience is out of their control.

It’s recommended that during this time of transit, your business provides:

  • Tracking numbers to place the customers’ mind at ease
  • A double confirmation to ensure the customer had ordered exactly as they wanted
  • Open dialog to break the silence between purchase and delivery (creates assurance)

A simple phone call (or email) can keep your customers informed and also be used to create excitement for when the product arrives.

The logistics company you provide to your customers will ultimately be part of the experience, which is why it’s important to choose those who pride themselves on the best service. It may even be worthwhile to go the extra mile and pay out-of-pocket the expenses to upgrade the logistics options (free of charge to the customer) so their product arrives sooner and in the best possible condition.

To put it into perspective: shipping options were among the four most likely reasons people buy products online (according to Walker Sands’ 2014 survey) which means that it’s a defining factor of commerce that should not be overlooked and set aside.

Part 3: The Follow Up

To close the deal on this attempt at exceptional customer service, it’s advised that you make time to conduct a follow up call (or email). By reaching the individual to ensure they had a wonderful experience between the time they ordered and the time they opened the package, you gain the ability to:

  • Encourage them to leave feedback that can aid in improving your logistics
  • Encourage them to get active on social media and share their experience (great for PR)
  • Encourage them to repeat business by showing your appreciation and their value

A friendly message, at the right time, can make all the difference in promoting your brand, sealing repeat business, and encouraging word-of-mouth referrals.

Did you think you’d suddenly reassess your logistics when you finished this article? What do you think you’ll now do differently to ensure quality customer experience from the box to the doorstep?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:50
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deakin-uni-st.kildaAn article in the papers here in Australia recently reported that it was cheaper for rural Australian students to complete their degrees overseas, including all costs to live on campus.

A three-year agricultural degree was singled out, apparently costing Australians $60,000 to complete at New Zealand’s well-regarded Lincoln University compared with over $100,000 at the University of Melbourne.

This is seen as yet another blow to Australia’s long-term investment into sectors that should be the country’s strong points. With a very controversial current budget, there is a mood of uncertainty around what the Australia of the future will look like.

The tertiary education model is facing new challenges all over the world. These include intense competition for students and funding, ever-growing access to online education and information, major advances in technology and just the different skills required to get jobs these days.

For Australian students, New Zealand has the advantage of being close, relatively cheap, and providing qualifications that are often seen as equally good. It seems to me this is a very good time for New Zealand universities and colleges to focus their marketing efforts a little closer to home.

Australia has numerous institutions, with over 39 universities and around 60 technical and further education colleges, known as TAFEs (who can forget Tracey Kerrigan’s Diploma of Hairdressing from Sunshine TAFE in that Aussie classic, The Castle).

Like New Zealand, each institution comes with its own reputation based on industry standards or subjective perceptions.

Melbourne University has a strong brand. In global rankings it rates in the top 50 universities worldwide.

Over the years, the university has worked hard to reposition itself as Australia’s most prestigious academic institution by bringing in the world’s leading academics and lecturers, making entry more difficult and positioning itself around that desirable quality of prestige.

At the other end of the spectrum and equally differentiated is Deakin University. It is actively carving out a niche as Australia’s practical university, positioning around graduates who have globally portable skills.

Deakin has spent a lot of money around the ‘worldly’ brand. If you visit Melbourne you’re likely to see trams, television ads and billboards plastered with the tagline. For a time, whenever I attended marketing workshops I’d be surrounded by Deakin staff, also enrolled in the courses.
Brand equity in tertiary education is extremely powerful and lucrative, and perception can be as valuable as reality.

Of the many ranking systems, Times Higher Education (THE) produces an annual league table based on reputation alone. The methodology includes interviews with the world’s leading academics, asking questions such as “which university would you send your most talented graduates to for the best postgraduate supervision?”

Since its inception in 2004 Harvard has topped that list. In fact, of the top 100 schools on the league the US has a whopping 46, followed by the UK with 10 and Australia in fifth place with 5 (Melbourne University is at the top of the Aussie rankings).

In 2012 Ernst & Young Australia released a piece of research on the University of the Future, predicting profound changes in the Australian university model based on trends around the world. Change is being forced upon education and some institutions are embracing that change in a sector that, lets face it, is not exactly synonymous with speed.

In the meantime, if I was in the marketing department of New Zealand universities and colleges, I’d do some research into Australian universities and the specialist areas New Zealand excels at (such as that agriculture degree), and actively undertake targeted marketing in Australia.

Monday, 28 July 2014 17:07
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Sinclair Zx81

More on Sir Clive Sinclair:

After spending several years as assistant editor of Practical Wireless and Instrument Practice, Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics in 1961, where he produced the first slim-line electronic pocket calculator in 1972 (the Sinclair Executive). Sinclair later moved into the production of home computers and produced the Sinclair ZX80, the UK’s first mass-market home computer for less than GB£100, and later, with Sinclair Research, the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum; the latter is widely recognised for its importance in the early days of the British home computer industry. Sinclair stated in 2010 that he does not use computers himself, using the telephone in preference to email.

Knighted in 1983, Sinclair formed Sinclair Vehicles and released the Sinclair C5, a battery electric vehicle that was a commercial failure. Since then Sinclair has concentrated on personal transport, including the A-bike, a folding bicycle for commuters that weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 lb) and folds down small enough to be carried on public transport.

If you’re interested in reading more about the early years of Sinclair, I recommend Sinclair Story by Rodney Dale.

On a side note, my first home computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000. It was the first computer produced by Timex Sinclair, a joint-venture between Timex Corporation and Sinclair Research.

The TS1000 was a slightly modified Sinclair ZX81 with an the onboard RAM doubled to 2 kB.

Monday, 28 July 2014 17:07
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Petiteetiquette 1

Do your children embarrass you when you take them out to a fancy dinner? The Kensington Hotel in London is now offering etiquette classes for children aged five to 10 “the gamut of table manners – correct posture; how to hold a knife and fork properly; the importance of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; conversation dos and don’ts – over sandwiches, cakes and tea, it sounded like the answer to my prayers.”

The hotel created the classes after surveying 2,000 parents and discovering that

48 per cent were embarrassed by their children’s table manners, and that 19 per cent have had to leave a restaurant due to their kids’ bad behavior. Worrying about how their offspring will behave in restaurants is apparently the biggest cause of stress for 28 per cent of parents.

I’m sure that these stresses are true on both sides of the Atlantic. Someone should get on this opportunity here, immediately!

Monday, 28 July 2014 17:07
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Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, by WIRED magazine editor Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop. In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing. A generation of “Makers” using the Web’s innovation model will help drive the next big wave in the global economy, as the new technologies of digital design and rapid prototyping gives everyone the power to invent — creating “the long tail of things”.

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, had this to say about the book:

For those who have marveled at the way software has helped disrupt industry after industry – buckle up, that wave is coming soon to an industry near you. Chris Anderson has written a compelling and important book about how technology is about to completely shake up how America makes things. Required reading for entrepreneurs, policy makers, and leaders who want to survive and thrive in this brave new world.

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