Saturday, March 22, 2014

When a Company Successfully Apologizes

I thought I'd share the good customer care experience I had with a popular local restaurant.

I have not been able to cook dinner as often as I'd want to so we've been buying prepared food almost every night. Early this week Jay picked me up from work and we headed to the mall near home so we could get food. We decided to head to one of our favorite restos on the top floor. There was quite a number of customers but we were willing to wait.

When we were finally entertained by the cashier I saw her annoyance when Jay requested for a menu. I saw her rub her tummy so I assumed she was pregnant and probably tired from working for so many hours, so I just ignored her untoward behavior. But it happened again. We were about to give our order when she suddenly entertained another customer who was paying. I thought it was really rude that she just suddenly cut us off that way. I kept patient.

After we ordered we said that we were just going to come back since we needed to buy something nearby. While we were out I emailed the customer service email printed on the receipt to give feedback. I reported that it was the first time I experienced getting bad service from their staff since they opened over a decade ago. I also mentioned that maybe the company should give more time for their pregnant employees to rest. I decided to report it over email because I was already hungry and didn't have any energy to argue.

When we came back our order wasn't ready yet and we waited a long time to get our takeout. When we finally got the food we immediately went home so we could eat. We were actually ecstatic that we got big pieces that night. Our happiness soon turned to sadness because the food was not fully cooked inside. Only Miguel was happy that night because he ordered something else. We decided not to eat the food anymore because we got scared of food poisoning. I took a photo of the item and sent it to the same thread I started with their customer care.

I got a response from customer care early the next day. They apologized and said that they would investigate on the matter. Before the day ended they gave feedback and apologized again about the behavior of their staff (who was btw not pregnant apparently). They also said they would review the cooking process of the branch and offered a refund and a replacement of the food we didn't enjoy - a fully cooked version. I responded by saying that we appreciate their quick reply and apology, declined the refund but said that I would accept the replacement of my order.

Today the restaurant made good their promise and delivered the replacement of the food on the dot. The branch manager also came (although I was asleep since I just came from a trip) and delivered their apology again in person. We truly appreciate the effort that the restaurant gave especially since it's one of our favorites. I actually couldn't eat their food for a good five years due to allergies, but now I've been eating this viand almost everyday. This is the customer care that I've been looking for. Other companies do really bad in it. They would respond and then there isn't any follow-up nor any sincerity in their apology.

It's easy to say sorry, but saying this with sincerity is what's important.  

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Blogging is a Mass of Niches

So another issue is rocking the Philippine blogosphere with a proposal to put together a National Bloggers Association. Creating an organization is well and good. It is best done when there is a good number of people who have the same interests. In the Philippines alone there are hundreds of trade associations and thousands of interest groups which people join based on their profession, interests or hobbies.

I have my reservations about joining a National Bloggers Association. Let me explain why:

1. Blogging for me is just a hobby. I've been writing since I was a kid so I just essentially use blogging as a platform to express my thoughts and share my ideas and as a journal too.

2. My blog is my own world and I do not want it to be subjected to a standardized code of ethics or metrics. I used to be editor in chief of our college literary paper and it was painful for both the editors and professors to give feedback to the writer. Our publication back then was like a volcano because of the different temperaments of writers and artists.  Writing is a very personal act and subjecting bloggers to a standard/code of ethics is like building multiple number of volcanoes across the country.

3. Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides, "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances." (highlighting added). The law provides for our freedom of speech and expression already, and the press makes sure that this isn't tampered with.

5. Each person has his own set of beliefs and values. In the past 5 years everyone in the blogosphere thinks they are right even when others think they are wrong, but we end up doing anything we want anyway. Following the 10 Commandments is hard enough, maybe we should just all follow it and the rest will fall into place.

I thought I'd write about this issue after reading the failed attempt in Singapore to put together a bloggers association. The Media Bloggers Association in the US also never moved forward in 2009 despite having been tapped by the Associated Press as a partner. Reading about it made me realize why it never worked.

Blogging is a mass of niches.

In short, to each is his own. And this makes it hard for advertisers and companies who would like to tap bloggers for their digital marketing campaigns. What they should realize is there will never be a one shot deal with bloggers. And it's not about getting bloggers to post your press release, but getting them to write about their experience with your product/service. And, of course, you have to do your research on which bloggers to tap.

As my mentor, Dr. Ned, kept telling me a few years ago, "The future isn't about marketing to the masses. It's going to be about you talking directly to consumers who are interested in your product." So don't expect everyone to read a specific blog, because it has its own niche (hundreds/thousands of readers). Yeah it's hard, but at least you have added content online about your products/services.

So this proposal about a National Bloggers Association... I don't know, I think I'll stick to joining or participating in select projects/activities since any attempt in the past (this the the nth attempt) never really flourished. Besides organizations really work with just a handful of people moving (I've observed that with local professional orgs too), so its actually better sometimes to just have interest groups work with different projects to get more traction.

Well, it's a free country and everybody has a choice :)

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Tool for Exporters

When my Mom and I were exporting furniture back in the late 90s one of the things that I had a difficult time in was researching the right market. The furniture we were producing served a niche market and the only way to get information was to go to the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion library. It would take me a whole day just to get the right data and the info wasn't usually updated. It was hard and when you are a start-up company it's even harder when your target market is out of your reach.

When my Mom and I gave up on our export business, my interest on it stayed on. I eventually found work that allowed me to help exporters and I've been on a look-out for things that would be interesting. I recently found out about Google's Global Market Finder. The research tool provides exporters data on possible markets that they can tap for their products. Here's an example of a search I did for rattan specifically for the Americas market:

Aside from locations it provides information on export opportunity, local monthly searches (on that country), suggested keyword bid (if you're doing a Google Adwords campaign) and competition (a gauge on whether competitors are targeting that market too).

How I wish this tool was available a decade ago. To do your own analysis, just go to

Monday, January 24, 2011

Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Blogger?

We have seen the rise of social media in the past few years. Companies have been riding the bandwagon by finding ways to have their products and services talked about in blogs, micro-blogs, social networking sites etc. A number have been paying PR companies to handle it for them, a number have been doing it on their own. Some projects work, some don't. Marketers are probably asking if using social media to reach their consumers is worth it.

Margaux Salcedo published an article on the Sunday Inquirer Magazine, "Please Don't Give Blogging a Bad Name". In this article she calls out an unnamed PR agency and blogger for committing extortion on a resto owner who has refused to pay PhP120,000 a month to have good reviews on a popular food bloggers site. This issue isn't really new. It has been talked about in the community for more than two years now. Margaux only managed to bring it out in the open. 

I am not really interested in the name of the agency and blogger. What I am interested in is putting another perspective into this issue since it's been apparent -- big time (like this) and small time. 

Extortion/black mail is rampant in any industry. There would always be bad apples in any industry. Granted that what this PR agency/blogger is doing is wrong, one should be like Georgia and hold steadfast to what you think is the right thing to do. Your company's reputation should rely on the good service that you provide and not because of a PR spin. Word of mouth marketing works because of that and not because you pay an agency or a blogger to do it for you.

A number of companies have asked me for help on their social media strategy, but since I'm too busy with my day job I just tell them this:

1. If you want to utilize social media to reach out to your customers do it yourself.
2. Be clear on your objectives. Is it to show testimonials? Get more sales? Clear your reputation? Community building?
3. If you really need help, find someone you can trust to help you out. And check the reputation of that person/company you are hiring. Also check if their past campaigns have been successful.
4. What social media helps in is just to get more content online about your product/service. It doesn't really scale and when you do events the effect is just short term.
5. And finally, don't allow anyone to rip you off. 

So don't be afraid of BBB. Be like Georgia :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Using Blogging as a Learning Tool

Two years ago I taught a communications class in De La Salle University and one of the things I required my students to do was blog. Back then they had to upgrade their school email into a Google Account so they could use Blogger for their blogs. Google has now included Blogger as one of the additional features of Google Apps (read more about it here).

I wanted to hit two birds with one stone when I asked my students to blog:

(1) To immerse them in new technologies for communication;
(2) As a learning tool, they had to post new discoveries about specific topics in their blog.

Some of them groaned since they didn't really like writing (I found out that most of them wanted to take another college course, but their parents forced them into it), but since it was part of their grade they complied. I actually discovered quite a lot of talent among my students. The quiet ones apparently had hidden arsenals within them and I used this as a way to bring them out of their shell.

And I think using blogging as a tool worked. Most of my students have graduated from college and I've been pleasantly surprised since most of them are working for businesses related to new media. Most of them are responsible for their companies online programs.

Awesome ;)

Friday, July 02, 2010

2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival PH Representatives

A few weeks ago I managed to sneak in some time to attend PANA's event to send-off the Philippine representatives for the 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. I just checked their site and apparently the festival was last June.

Anyway, I just wanted to send my congratulations to the representatives. Awesome team based on the videos that were show during the event (was hoping that they'd upload the vids on Youtube but couldn't find it). RizCongrats Nino Gupana and John Paul Cuison (Leo Burnett Manila), Timothy Villela and Rizza Delle Garcia (BBDO Guerrero). I'm sure you guys had a blast!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Choosing Bloggers for Your Marketing Campaign

There is much talk today about the relationship between PR agencies/advertisers and bloggers and as with any relationship there is a disconnect on understanding each others objectives and expectations. Both have one common goal though and that is TO TELL A STORY.

I've often been asked by both PR agencies and advertisers how to choose bloggers when they have events. I always tell them that the best way is to immerse themselves in the blogosphere so they can handpick based on their requirements. Some choose by doing a search on Google using keywords that relate to their product/service and this actually helps especially if you want to limit your list.

Here are some tips on choosing talented bloggers (if you want to do it on your own or you want to make sure that your agency doesn't resort to choosing the usual ones):

1. Define your objectives on why you want to utilize bloggers for your campaign. Is it to increase traffic on your site? Add more content about your product/service online? Make reviews? Try out your product/service?

2. Do a search on Google using keywords related to your product/service. You can also use Google Blog Search for this.

3. Check out the content of the blogs that you found and relate them to your objectives.

4. Also check whether the blog's content parallels your target market. You can do this by checking the blog's content. The more interesting blogs are those that have original content (text and photos and videos even).

5. And (optional) you may also wish to do a check on a blogger's reputation.

Blog traffic is something that most bloggers won't disclose and in my opinion this should only work if you compare based on the niche and not the totality. After all people read blogs depending on the passions and interests that they pursue online.

Some related content you may be interested in:
Instructions by Jayvee Fernandez
The Nightingale, Bloggers, Press & PR by Juned Sonido