KISS – Keep It Simple Silly!

You must have heard of the acronym KISS being used in various ways… the one that I use and remember the most is Keep It Simple Silly!

I’ve spoken previously of how things should be really simple, easy and effective. And on this blog, I share how frustrated I can get when anything.. absolutely anything, prevents a process from being simple.

It could be people, it could be anything.. that makes processes more complicated than what they need to be. We should also be reviewing what is happening and how we can make it easier again. Admittedly, processes and ways of working can get complex over time because various people will input and add their ‘stamp’ or ‘mark’ to the process or procedure.

We’ve seen organisations helping others to make life easier….

One is Amazon, and their dash button. It is so easy, even a baby could use it! – It’s so simple, that a baby could use it! It’s so effective that the parents of the baby would be happy!

This week, I’ve decided to spend a few days by the coast. Whilst checking in, I noticed this…

Based on the same principles of the Amazon Dash… press the button and the taxi arrives at the hotel to pick you up. No need to pre-book, no need to talk to anyone, just press the button when you’re ready and the taxi is on it’s way. There are some restrictions – if there’s more than 4 passengers, give them a call… which is fair enough because you’ll probably need a bigger car.

Personally, I think, we need more of this!

Even the process of entering the hotel, providing my information (name, etc…), credit card (for payment), etc.. could be made a lot easier.

I was thinking, what about a self-check in station… similar to what they have in restaurants (McDonalds, etc…) where you can walk in, use a screen to order your food and patiently wait.

Ok, takes the personal feel out… but it’d be quicker and easier for those wanting to check in quickly. Or what about the hotel having an app – everything is done on the app – to the point where your phone could unlock the room!

The possibilities are endless…

Free beer

Isn’t it great, when you are offered something for free?

For example, I was in Brussels Sunday and Monday gone. When I arrived at the Hilton Hotel, and whilst checking in, the lady said Thank You for being a loyal Hilton customer and here’s a voucher for a free drink at the bar.

Wow – free drink! I’ve not been offered one before in all my stays at the Hilton in Brussels. Not sure why I was offered one on this occasion, but I’ll kindly accept. Thank you.

Now this is customer service, and got me thinking – have they been reading my blog? – picked up on my experience at the Mercure Hotel? – do they remember from previous visits, that once upon a time, I wasn’t happy with the service of the staff at this same hotel? or is it, that I’ve been staying here so many times they’ve decided to reward me?

Well, I could have kept on thinking but I didn’t, as I sipped away on my free large beer…

Why do companies offer ‘freebies’?

Well, there’s a number of reasons. Some mentioned above – to reward loyal customers, to keep them engaged with the brand, etc… usually, it’s when there’s a new product or item being launched and free (usually smaller versions) of the product are sent out or provided to people to taste, sample, enjoy… so they’ll remember it next time they are shopping.

You even have websites dedicated to free items, such as http://www.latestfreestuff.co.uk/ or http://dealnews.com/freebies/ – there’s many more like these out there.

And this is not a recent thing…

Big brands have been doing it for a while. Enticing the customer in… giving them a taste and marketing it in a way they want more.

I think it’s a great way to drive business because customers know what they want and buy their regular items. For something new, they’ll need to learn about it, the benefits (this could be healthier choice, something more enjoyable than their regular item or it’s a lower cost without compromising quality).

Not just consumables, photographers, designers, whatever you do, you could do something free for a few folk, or even do something free for charities, where your talent is showcased and people know what you’re capable off. If they see something you’ve done, and think… wow! – they’ll a) remember you and b) compare you to others they would have noticed.

And that’s exactly what businesses and organisations want. To be remembered.

For me, I will be staying at the Hilton again, when in Brussels.

Though, not expecting another free beer. But hey, if they offer me one… I won’t say no.

Talking about Tech on BBC Radio Nottingham

Sunday just gone, I was at BBC Radio Nottingham. This was my second time here – first time I was on, I was sharing my views on all things great about Technology.

Invited back, I shared some more thoughts about technology – mainly centered around politics, social media, how the Police are using data and why we should maybe take a break from Facebook, every now and again.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen – it’s available on the BBC Nottingham website – listen back to Kaval Vaseer’s show.

Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking – Bal, there’s got to be an easier way to listen back – rather than finding the BBC website, finding the show, finding last Sunday’s episode, then listening to all the music and great conversations till I get to your part….

Yes there is.

Click below 🙂

Losing customers for a croissant.

As you know, in this blog… I like to share all sorts of examples that happen to me, have happened or things I feel would be interesting to you guys.

One thing that really gets to me is bad customer service –

Why? – because the customer is the one paying you, and if they have a bad experience, what are the chances of them coming back? – that’s right – zero to none.

On Sunday night, I checked into the Mercure Hotel in Brighton.

The Mercure Hotel in Brighton at night

Upon check-in, i’m informed, car park charges – £18 (which I wasn’t informed at the time of booking) and breakfast is included (which at the time of booking I wasn’t informed).

I ask the receptionist twice – are you sure about the car park charges (because, being honest, I could’ve got another hotel, elsewhere which had a free car park) and are you sure about the breakfast?

Twice she said, Yes – car park £18, and breakfast included.

It was about 8.30pm and too late for me to find another hotel so I agreed to the car park charges.

Went to my room – and stayed the night. In the morning, I scheduled my day, to get up, have breakfast, check out, (already looked on Google Maps the time it would take me to get to the location I needed to be at for my meeting), and planned it out.

So, Monday morning, I’m up head towards breakfast, and sit down. About to tuck into my bacon and i’m told that my room is with ‘breakfast not included’.

The lady on reception is the one who was there last night. I informed the breakfast staff, the reception informed me that breakfast was included. I asked twice and she said Yes, it’s included. The lady then denied knowledge of what she said.

Unfortunately, the manager of the hotel does not start till 3pm. So, the one in charge until the manager comes over. I inform him what happened, the lady again, denies knowledge (though other people heard her and my colleague was there heard her). The caretaker manager then says, sorry, as it’s not included, you can’t have it.

There was no apology.

There was no compassion.

There was… nothing.

Now i’m in a situation, where I have to find breakfast, potentially be late for my meeting and on top, still pay £18 for the car park.

I explained this all to the person in charge, but there was… nothing. A shrug of the shoulder and I receive…  “nothing I can do mate” response.

Firstly, not your ‘mate’ and secondly, not only will I not be coming back, but also, my colleague won’t be.

On top – I tweet the incident, only to find, friends have had similar ‘bad’ experiences with Mercure Hotels.

What would I like to have seen?

Sorry Mr Bansal, there’s been a mistake, it’s taken a while as you’ve been stood there for 5-10minutes, you’re probably getting late, let me get you a croissant as gesture of goodwill and hope you will stay with us again where we have the opportunity to serve you and make things right.

Cost of a croissant – £1

Cost of a night in the hotel – £80

Cost of losing 2 customers (who are coming back to the area) – £160.

Cost of losing more customers who read the tweet and other social media, influencing the decision – (for example, 10) – £800 +

This is why, Customer Service is so important. You are losing a guaranteed £160 for the sake of £2… and potentially over £800 in revenue due to 2 croissants.

Never give up…

Sorry I didn’t get to post earlier this week. I write a blog post on Linkedin (once a month – approx.!) and so I posted my monthly post on there this week and was a little side tracked with other projects.

Also, yesterday was my birthday, so was out with family.. yep, you’ve guessed it – Eating!

But, one thing I did want to share on this blog was the fight on the weekend.

Did you watch it? – the main boxing event, Joshua Vs Klitschko.

What a fight! – it was one of the best boxing matches i’ve seen in a long time. Two fighters, one with amazing experience and the other who is early in his career but has done so much already.

I’m not going to go through the fight, round by round. But there were a few things that stood out for me, and I could relate them to business & startups…

  1. Don’t fear established, experienced, etc… companies or organisations. If you are young, and you have your energy & youth, use that to your advantage. Learn, and keep learning. Whatever your startup has set out to do, and you believe it will work, keep doing it.
    1. Don’t get too confident if you get some quick wins – remember, you’re in for the long run. By all means celebrate, but keep focused
    2. Don’t give up – if you get knocked down, get up, re-focus on the goal ahead and keep going.
  2. Keep going – there were moments in the fight, I thought Joshua has had it. He can’t do any more, but then… what does he do? – that’s right, surprises us all… kept going, dug in deep… and kept carrying out his combination of punches (something his corner were telling him to do). That’s a learning for us in our startups/companies… keep going. Yes we’ll learn, yes there’ll be times we need to re-adjust, but the goal should be clear. The priority and purpose should be clear.

Well done to Mr. Joshua.

And Thank You, for helping us learn more about how we should be in business. Never give up, and even if we get knocked down, get back up and keep going.

Because, when we do succeed… it’s the best feeling ever.