Samsung Entaleq …. OR rather Stand Still!

Samsung Entaleq is a competition done by Samsung Egypt for developers.  Any developer who has an idea and is able to implement it on Android or on SMART TV can join.  The competition started back in April 2013.  I joined with an application on Android with two friends.  The deadline for us to deliver was July 31st.  We were promised to know the winners on August 15th.  The prizes are monetary, Samsung products and some sort of partnership with Samsung for the top three to help in marketing products and making money out of it. http://www.samsungentaleq.com/samsung-entaleq/Default.aspx

August 15th passed and nothing was announced.  We kept calling them several times to know why the delay but we never received an answer except we will inform you.  Ever since several dates were set and then postponed again to announce the winners. Through September, October and now November all what we are getting is emails to postpone the results.  Now all applications are tested already and published on the Samsung store so they are not still testing or anything.  We were also told that the committee already decided on the winning applications.  The last email we received was today postponing the announcement again to an unknown date? They said we will inform you when.  What is this? what kind of planning and organizing is this?  How come Samsung would act like amateurs?? Doesn’t Samsung have standards? is it OK to lie to the contestants like this??  What could be an acceptable reason to delay announcing the winners for almost 3 months!!!!  I have every right now to think that they are liars and they never intended to give the winners the prizes and they just did it as a marketing campaign and they will never pay anyone anything.  I also have the right to believe that it could be fixed from the beginning and that they agreed with the winners even before the competition starts and it was all an act.

hoax

I have every right to believe anything because I was not respected by Samsung so why should I respect them???  How come a company like Samsung acts like this??  Doesn’t Samsung care about its name and reputation?? Why did they leave this competition to some amateurs to plan and organize??? IS there a competition really or is it a hoax??  Did someone already take the prizes and we are being lied at?? or did they announce prizes that they can’t afford to give and this is why they are postponing??

I don’t know exactly what they they are doing but definitely it is a Shame and it shows disrespect to the contestants.

By the way for those who don’t know Arabic,  Entaleq in Arabic means launch, start with speed, dash, set off ….. along this meaning. In fact it is not Entaleq at all, but rather Stand Still!!

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It is all about Customer Experience

Start and end with the customer in mind!! for any organization to flourish they have to realize that it is all about customer experience. Make sure your customer experience is superior, is something to remember long after he is served.  This is the only way you will succeed and make sure your customer will recommend you to others.

 

Comparing Starbucks and The coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Egypt in that matter I see that Starbucks understands very well the importance of customer experience while The Coffee Bean completely misses the point!

 

Starbucks beats everyone in opening really early at 8:00AM ..People can enjoy their coffee before going to work while all other cafes are still sleeping.  When they open at 8:00 they are ready to serve, you’ll never hear things like sorry we are still preparing, we are still brewing, we are still cleaning….nothing of such nonsense. They are open, fresh, ready to serve as great as usual.  Their staff are energetic and ready to serve…their food and beverages are ready and fresh…everything is perfect for a good morning cup of coffee.  You get in and out in no time happily served, no delays and no annoying experience.

The coffee Bean on the other hand made me regret choosing them to have breakfast yesterday.  I am on vacation and I went with my husband to enjoy a breakfast out.  we went to Tivoli Dome and found Starbucks crowded so I thought I’d go to The Coffee bean to enjoy a calm place …And what a bad choice it was.  They had their doors open claiming they are ready to serve but they were still cleaning, still putting their supplies in place ..the staff are not doing anything expect smile at you and keep you wondering “What is the meaning of this ridiculousness smile if you’re not serving”.  I ordered and waited 50 minutes until served!! Another man came in and no one cared to go and serve him until he complained and said “Can I at least have a menu?”

They have a very strong edge they are wasting which is having breakfast food that no other cafe has, including Starbucks.  They have different types of egg dishes and sandwiches so they are perfect to serve breakfast but to wait 50 minutes to be served!!!! and that is not all.  When we complained that we’ve been waiting for too long we got this look of “why are so annoying ..so what if you had to wait!!!” and when the girl brought us the food finally she said sorry the chef is not here and I had to cook it myself!!

I got my eggs cold and not tasty and a couple of hours later both me and my husband had diarrhea so there must have been something not clean in the food.

The ironic thing is a couple of days earlier I was wondering why The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is not successful in Egypt, they had their City Stars branch shut down and their Branch at The Platform on the North Coast also shut down.  I went there before and enjoyed their drinks but not early in the morning and was wondering what is not making them succeed.  Now I know obviously they have a very weak management.  It is so obvious that the company has no clear strategy that is well communicated to the staff.  So they start serving whenever they wish and the chef decides to come in late, and cleanliness has no standards….They don’t even know how to apologize to an unhappy customer.

Although Starbucks had a very fierce campaign against them in Egypt and a lot of people decided to boycott it because according to the story they are Israelis and they they take their income to support the Israeli practices against Palestinians, they are still always crowded and people enjoy their drinks.  This is a strong proof that when a customer enjoys his experience at a place he will keep going no matter what.

A remarkable, different, enjoyable experience is what every customer is looking for when dealing with any organization…if you want to succeed make sure you offer such an experience.

Social Media Use or Abuse?

Lately social media has become more than ever a powerful tool for companies to reach out to their customers.  Social media channels are supposed to be used wisely for creating a special bond with customers.  It is really very easy and yet should not be taken lightly.  For example through social media channels a company should not be too formal while contacting customers but yet not too casual to the extent that we start using street language and saying jokes and such.  So how to use social media wisely and make it the right marketing tool for you is a question that every company has to answer for itself.

I will mention here two examples that I recently came across, one I consider good example of how companies should use social media to their advantage.  While the other is on the other side of the spectrum, it is a typical example of how social media can damage a company image if misused or abused.

The good example: Nokia in Egypt

Nokia planned an event in a five stars hotel in Egypt and sent out limited invitations for people to attend (I think only 40).  They studied people’s behaviour online and chose the ones who can be effective if they start talking about their product online. All the attendees took an E7 for free just for attending, no strings attached.  They created a hashtag for #NokiaE7 on twitter and asked their guests to take their time using the set and then tweet whatever they want on the features of the phone whether good or bad.  During the event they explained the phone features and they didn’t make people tweet, they just left it to everyone’s choice to tweet whatever he wants whenever he wants.  One very important aspect is that the event was planned and people received their sets before the Nokia E7 was released for sale in Egypt so all attendees got something really special.  Most of the people who received the set talked about it on twitter after that, I saw a lot of good comments and some bad ones but the campaign worked.  Twitter was effectively used to market for the product before it hits the market. People felt special to get something for free that was not even for sale in the market yet and is expensive too, not a cheap set.  People are still tweeting on it till now.  So Nokia really planned this very well and made great usage of twitter.

Now the bad example: Etisalat Masr

The worst marketing idea ever launched by Etisalat on twitter.  They said the following on twitter:

“Want to win a free #iPad? Retweet this & use the #EtisalatMisr hashtag in 3 of your own tweets. A winner will be picked by end of the month.”

They explained in another tweet following this that they are giving away ipad 1 for free. Well what is wrong with this? giving away ipad 1 when ipad 2 is coming to the Egyptian market soon.  Apple stops selling old versions once the new is released. Apple is selling ipad2 already and ipad 1 is already moved to legacy products.  What does all this say about the Etisalat offer?? CHEAP. no respect to the customer whatsoever, they want to give something for free and yet they chose a legacy product….such a cheap move when they could have chosen to wait until ipad 2 is here and then do this raffle.  Had they waited it could have been a major marketing hit for them.  Offering something that probably no one will go and buy now is a very bad move and allows room for competitors to  swipe them of, if they go out tomorrow and offer an iphone 4 for free if people mention their name or hashtag more than once!! very bad move on Etisalat’s side.

Then they continue with their twitter abuse campaigns by creating a hashtag  #moretolife and making more raffles with more giveaways and people have to use this hashtag in their tweets to enter the raffle.  And the more you tweet the more you have a chance to win! complete failure I would say because it turned so many people into spammers.  I un-followed someone because he made his account issue automatic tweets on daily basis with this hashtag to have a better chance to win.  This is crazy and inconvenient and annoyed a lot of twitter users.   It also opened the door for some of Etisalat lines users to start talking about their bad experiences with the network and service because they were frustrated by the flood of tweets, so even more image damage to the company.

Furthermore, One twitter user when they started their ipad raffle tweeted on it thinking it was ipad 2, then he realized it is ipad 1 so he stopped and told them that this is too cheap and that they should have waited to offer the ipad 2….NOW THEIR REPLY was amazingly alienating!!! they said:  “we’re sorry you’re dissatisfied. You’ve done everything to qualify for the raffle, but we can remove your name if you like” …. in other words, we will punish you because you’re talking badly about our offer!!! No company could ever intend to damage its image and do a better job than this.

Social media effect is so fast and once you damaged your image it can’t be fixed easily. So an advice for every company think very well before launching a campaign on any social media channel and put your social media channels in the hands of the best of your people and not the weakest!

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I am adding this part for everyone who keeps telling me that ipad1 is not a legacy product.  OK I am sorry about that maybe it is not legacy yet, but Apple released ipad2 and it is on sale now. They stopped selling ipad1 on their site and it is known that Apple once released a new version stops selling or supporting the old one.  My point here is before any company launches a marketing campaign they should think “what is the business benefit here?”  Etisalat by this campaign lost a lot but did they gain? nothing from my point of view.  Had they thought well they could have made an offer out of their own products that could have been much better.  And definitely the idea of who tweets more gets a better chance to win is so annoying and alienating.

Also in business the concept of “since they are giving it for free then they can just give anything” is totally wrong.  You give something for free to gain something back and to make your customers feel special and delighted not just for the sake of giving.  Compare the two examples above, Nokia gave away its latest release of mobile phones even before it hits the market and it is an expensive one too.  They gave away 40 sets for free which cost them quite an amount of money but the ROI is worth it.  Etisalat on the other hand chose to give something for free but without having to bear much cost.  Which one gave better effect on the market? We are talking about big companies here and not small businesses so in their case we shouldn’t appreciate anything so long as it is for free…..THIS is my point here and i hope it is clearer now.

Fatal Marketing & Customer Support – Vodafone Lessons Learnt

Marketing campaigns if not done right can backfire.  This is what happened to Vodafone Egypt when they put an Ad on their youtube channel making fun of Abbas Ibn Fernas.  The Ad talks about Abbas Ibn Fernas as if he was an idiot who stuck some feathers on his back and flew off and died.  They even tell him no one knows you but us and they show him a page talking about the Wright brothers on the net and tell him that everyone remember those but no one knows him.

Well the mistakes in the Ad are humongous:

1- It shows total ignorance as obviously the one who did it knows nothing about Abbas Ibn Fernas.

2- A lot of people saw it as repelling so it definitely is a bad campaign that gave completely the opposite effect to what they planned for.

Now what is even worse than all the mistakes above is Vodafone’s reaction to their customers when they tried to convey to them their dislike and anger from the Ad.  Let us see the huge mistakes Vodafone fell into:

1- A lot of people started writing against the Ad on facebook, twitter and their blogs.   Vodafone’s reaction was nothing.  When the tweets became more and more, they rushed into replying by defending themselves and saying things like it is just a funny Ad and meant to make you laugh and we see nothing wrong with it.

2- When the criticism started to become more and more they did the worst move ever.  They removed the Ad and then reposted it under a different link so that everyone who wrote about it and added its url will have a broken link! seriously Vodafone people what were you thinking??

3- Some people started calling customer support to tell them to transfer their customers concern to top management and ask them to stop the Ad.  They got answers like: A laughter and taking him lightly and telling him ok as if a mad man is on the phone.  Another one got a lady on the phone telling him “Every time the company you have your line with does an Ad that you don’t like you will switch to a different company? There are only 3 companies what will you do then?”  so all the reactions were basically making fun of the customer and taking his complaint lightly.  below is a picture showing their reply online:

4- Here is a blog http://vodafly.tumblr.com/ where the writer explains the case in details and he listed Vodafone’s management replies.

So to summarize, Vodafone people forgot why they did the Ad in the first place… the Ad is for the customer not for you, so if the customer says it is bad and ask yo to kill it then the only reaction should have been to kill it.

When you stop listening to the customer then you are taking your first steps into your downfall.

Companies should always remember that the way they handle their customers’ anger is what differentiates one company from another.  If you really want to be on the top you have to act the way companies on the top act.  The first thing to do in such a situation is to apologize, stop the Ad and reconsider the whole marketing campaign.

Before I end the post I have to stress on the worst mistake they fell into by deleting customer comments (the ones they didn’t like) on the video on their youtube channel and by removing the video and reposting it to break all links on customers’ posts!!!  these actions show total disrespect to the customer that companies should never fall into.

Are your Customers saying they Love you?

Will you be happy to hear that your customers say “I love you more than my dog”? 🙂 Well this is the book I am writing about today.  I Love You More Than My Dog, written by Jeanne Bliss is a book to teach companies gain the love and respect of their customers.

I loved the very first sentence in her introduction:

“This book is about earning the right to have customers tell your story” — This is the bottom line! it is not only about having customers, it is about making them love you enough to be your strongest and most effective marketing tool.

I love you more than my dog is a nice analogy that says that people who have dogs love them so much because dogs are devoted to them.  When they go out and come back they receive a warm welcome from their pets, dogs have a caring nature and they run to the rescue of their friends.  So when your customer loves you more than his beloved dog, then you must have done something really right!

The book asks a lot of questions that every company should ask itself:

  • what is your power source for bonding with customers?
  • Do we trust our customers?
  • Are you creating memories?
  • Are you fearless in dismissing the old and bringing the new?
  • What is your Vibe?
  • what pushes your “yes” button?
  • Would your customers want to know you after reading your letters, emails, packing slips and invoices?
  • Behind the scenes how do your people talk about customers?
  • Is mutual respect a core competency?
  • Do you know your customers?
  • Do customers look forward to seeing you?
  • Do your customers trust that you will meet their needs?
  • Can you blur the line between customer and company?
  • Can everyone in the company jump a fence to serve the customer?
  • Can you decide to say sorry?
  • What is your reaction time in a customer crisis?
  • Do you confess to customers when something happens?
  • How proactive are you?
  • Do you learn and change from your mistakes?
  • Are your employees motivated and engaged?

and many other questions ….

If every company can answer those questions for itself we will have plenty of “beloved” companies as the book calls them.  Companies who really care about their customer and hence prosper.

We always neglect the fact that we exist only for the sake of the customer.  Lots of companies have employees who are devoted to defend themselves and their company and denying the fact that they did a mistake instead of striving to make the customer happy and admitting their mistakes.  We think that by denying our mistakes the customer can’t blame us, when in fact we are losing him forever!

 

What do Customers Want?

Many people complain all the time that their customers are never satisfied no matter how hard they try.  You hear stories saying that customers expect too much and hence are always disappointed by what they get.  

I think that we (and by we I mean companies, suppliers, service providers,….) are responsible for this dilemma.  We never work hard enough to manage customer expectations.  Every company has to know exactly what they can offer and what they can not offer and manage their customer expectations to make sure no misunderstandings take place.

For example, you might find a small company that offers a low quality product that is selling and making profits and all its customers are happy.  On the other hand you can find a huge organization that offers the same product but at an un-beatable quality having difficulty pleasing its customers and facing problems all the time.  It is a simple equation! the small company managed their customers’ expectations.  They sent the message that they offer a low quality product for people who can’t pay more and that they can’t offer support after sales and….they simply made it clear.  This is why customers buy their products and never complain because they know they got what is worth their money.

On the other hand the other company either promised their customers too much or sent an open message that every customer interpreted it his own way.  So customers, because their expectations were not managed, expect a lot and keep demanding.

Make sure that your company is delivering the right message.  Don’t leave it open for your customers to expect whatever they want and then blame them for not being happy.

It is exactly the same as in project management.  There is a section in each offer that explains the project scope and you write clearly what is inside the scope and what is outside the scope of the project.  This is exactly how each company has to deal with its customers.  Do not promise what you can’t deliver and do not send messages that can be interpreted in different ways.  Be clear and direct and make sure your customers understand exactly what to expect.

If you do that, it is guaranteed that your customers will always be happy.

Marketing MBA research …. Help needed

It will take 10 minutes of your precious time. As a part of my friend’s friend MBA coursework, he is conducting a marketing research in order to gather some information about the automotive market in Egypt. This research includes distributing a questionnaire in order to collect the consumers’ opinions. it would be great if you do this today, because he has a very tight deadline. The link to this questionnaire is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=OkPcv2ZXdNxIsw9yfv74Kw_3d_3d

Please try to respond to all questions in this questionnaire by providing personal opinions. As I said before, answering this questionnaire should require no more than 10 minutes of your time.

At the end of the questionnaire, you will be asked whether you want to receive a copy of the analysis report of this questionnaire. If interested, please make sure you provide him with your email address when prompted. he will be sending the analysis report by July 31st.