Posts Tagged ‘customer experience’

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=iPhone+4&iid=9199086″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9199086/customer-displays-iphone/customer-displays-iphone.jpg?size=500&imageId=9199086″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]I really hope some undercover Apple agents were present yesterday around the retail stores of the phone company that officially released the iPhone 4 in Saudi.

The scene of customers, all types of them: technical savvy, young, mature, students, and employees, all waiting in lines for hours to have the chance to get their hands on that magical device called iPhone 4 is an indication that Apple products are having a good opportunity to grow even bigger in the Saudi market (read more about it in this Saudi Mac post).

So the logical question in such situation would be: how come that a central country in the region with a huge fan base (and huge disposal income!) does not have a direct presence  in the form of Apple Stores or at least a certified representative! To get an answer to such question, a one should be able to penetrate the Apple management minds, which is not a very wise nor save thing to do?!

By choosing not to be in the Saudi scene, Apple has allowed its products and its prices to be manipulated in the market and its fans to be taken advantage of (a friend told today that he knows someone who bought an iPhone4 before it was released in Saudi for about SAR7000 = $1866.5). And let’s not start talking about warranties and technical support.

Will Apple ever listen to its Saudi fans? lets wait and see …


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The videos you are about to see have been around the Internet since the beginning of the year. However, I’ve just got the chance to see one of them via an email that my sister sent me.

And let me tell you; beside having fun watching it … I am impressed  🙂

Now, we all may agree that traveling is fun. But the worst part of it is definitely going to the airport, any airport! I mean who really loves the waiting lines, security checks, dragging or pushing bags all over the place, and the constant anxiety over delaying or canceling flights at any moment. Add to that the glooming sensation that usually occupies airports at seasons when everybody wants to go back home or fly out and start vacationing.

So can you quickly think of any thing that could ease such situation and make it fun. Think … any thing … I am not sure you came up with any thing near this. The Portuguese airliner named TAP Portugal turned the airport floor … into a dancing floor.

Before seeing the video, let discuss some marketing stuff:

  • The Power of Surprise: For advertisers and social media marketers, nothing beats surprises in determining how successful a campaign might be. One of the videos had been seen by more than 300,000 people in only 3 days after being released through the company YouTube channel. Just to have a glimpse of how successful that campaign is, just think of what are the odds of you ever hearing about TAP Portugal!!
  • The Happy Brand: I am not sure you will be seeing the staff of TAP Portugal dancing all over the place every time you travel with them, but you will always remember that these people made you genuinely smile. That video was shot during the christmas vacation. So the company was actually celebrating with its customers, and easing the whole airport experience on them.

I cannot help but thinking about what our local carrier, Saudi Airlines, might do to entertain its customers in such a way??!!

Enjoy …

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[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Angry+woman&iid=100553″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/100553/woman-sticking-her-tongue/woman-sticking-her-tongue.jpg?size=500&imageId=100553″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

This is a true story; a true story of customer care … ohh sorry … I mean a true story of customer ‘we don’t’ care!!

While waiting for the customer care representative in one of the most popular bookstores (it is not only a bookstore!) in the Kingdom to help me with something that should not take more than 2 minuets (it actually took about 20 minuets!!), a couple of expatriates stood by with an item they just bought in one hand and the invoice in the other hand. As far as I can tell, they were Americans, at least from what I caught from the husband’s accent. I was standing right there, so I could not help but hearing this conversation:

“The price tag on ‘X’ is saying that it worths 55 SAR, but according to this invoice, the cashier just charged us 69 SAR!!” said Mr. Customer.

Mr. We-do-not-care responded after taking a quick look at the invoice without even care to have a look at the price tag “Yeah … yeah … the computer is correct.”

The couple looked into each other eyes and then the husband continued “but this is misleading, you should’ve changed the price tags”

Without even looking at them, Mr. We-do-not-care said “Yes, we should.”

The wife put her hand on her husband shoulder urging him to leave, and without words she said “Let’s go, let’s just not waste our time.”

If I am analyzing this situation correctly, the customer was expecting nothing but some respect. It is like saying “I am paying you money here, could you please respect me enough and stop telling me lies with your price tags.” Yes, 14 SAR difference is not that big of a deal, but there is the principle! Will this customer trust this place again? I doubt it! Will he tell his friends and his wife tell hers? I have no doubt they will!

There is no need to comment on the customer-do-not-care response. It is obvious that although there is something clearly wrong with their pricing system, they just do not care!! A simple apology and showing interest in the customer complain could’ve saved the whole situation and that customer could’ve left the place satisfied.

Small things matter and distinguish the elite brand from those who only care about money! Mistakenly convincing themselves that this could last forever. Once an alternative is available in the market; I can guarantee that this place will suffer … a lot!

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Let me ask you something; what is the first thing that might form your first impression of a country that you visit for the first time? If you thought of those gentlemen, or ladies, sitting behind desks checking you up with sharp eyes while stamping your passport, then you are right; they are the immigration officers.

I am really glad to read this piece of news about the Saudi General Directorate of Passports (GDP). Its management is planning to provide its staff with intensive English and etiquette trainings. Now this is something really interesting.

Looking from unbiased eye, there is something that you should really respect and admire in these people, I mean the Saudi GDP officials. They want to develop and they are sweating over it. Compared to a number of government service agencies; I would choose them to be my favorite. For me, and I am writing this from Jeddah, they are the only government destination that I won’t worry so much about whenever I am obligated to visit. They have a process and everything there is clear and systematic. I am not saying everything is perfect, but it is somehow organized.

It is the only government agency, from where I see it at least, that adopted some customers service and branding principles from the private sector. They are the only government body that recognized its role as a service provider in addition to its main and official roles. They have gotten closer to their customers by being present in some of the finest malls in the country. They have run a powerful public awareness campaign introducing their new biometrics system. They have provided several and unprecedented electronic services such as Ishaar, Muqeem, and Passports Gate.

And as we are talking about marketing and branding, I really hope that they would change their location in jeddah. It is not that much when we talk ‘brand image.’ ‘Place’ is one of the 7 P’s of service marketing and creating a distinguished service experience, no matter how organized it is from the operational point of view, cannot be completed without a proper place, a proper environment.

Having said that, all the above mentioned services are still for citizens and those living within the country. But when we talk about the Saudi gates and how immigrations officials are dealing with visitors, mmm, the image is not that bright! So by recognizing the problem and working on solving it by providing the above mentioned trainings, I really hope the Directorate efforts will turn out to be a smashing success. After all, it is not only about their brand image, it is the whole country image.

Finally, my ‘free spirit’ statement; I do not know anybody working in the Saudi GDP, and this post has not been influenced by them in anyway 🙂

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=credit+card&iid=5064225″ src=”b/d/c/0/Young_woman_typing_7618.jpg?adImageId=10243363&imageId=5064225″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]Although the country is going through tremendous telecom and communication networks developments, the waiting at any point of sale to get your ATM card or credit card processed is still suffering and way … waaaaaaaay behind many countries with less potentials than Saudi Arabia. The slow or even complete absence of service is the normal rather than the exception!

However, even with accepting that the repeated disruption of service is beyond the control of any retail products or service providers, to some extent at least, dealing with consequences, if the service is actually down, is certainly within their circle of influence.

I am not sure how a branded retails store where you could end up buying with 1 or 2 thousands riyal would simply tell you that the ‘credit card machine’ is not working the moment you reach the cashier; especially when you are shopping at 8 PM and the machine is actually down since the early morning! And restaurants are making it even worse; after going through the whole bunch of formalities; table for two, non smokers, let me show you the table, the soup of the day is such and such, there it comes; sir … I just would like you to know that we do not accept credits cards today!!!!! you could save yourself a lot of trouble by telling me that simple information at my first steps in your restaurant!

Showing respect to your customers’ time should be part of your whole service experience design. Choosing a proper reaction in such situations would emphasis your position as a customer service pioneer. There are many ways to absorb customers’ frustration in such incidents instead of that plain, matter-of-factly tone of ‘the credit card machine is down and you have to bring us cash’ … actually I do not have to bring you anything buddies!!

I would love to hear your perceptions of such incidents if you had been through any; for me, I gave up on two restaurants and a retail store because of their lousy response in these situations!!

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Companies that have any kind of live interaction with customers are better to train their employees not to complain about the company itself or customers in front of other customers!! What kind of a message they would be delivering when you hear the sales agent behind the counter complaining about another customer and accusing him of being stupid because all what the customer did was asking him about different products and then bought nothing! or when you hear a customer service agent complaining about his/her own company policies and procedures.

This is all part of the service experience the customer is having by being present on your premises or talking to your staff on the phone. The way your company’s staffs interact with customers should be part of your holistic brand design. It is all about the image you would like to leave on your customers’ minds, the message you would like to deliver to build a loyalty ground so customers will come back again and again!

And just to let you know, I witnessed the above given examples in both a restaurant and a pharmacy!!

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