Newsletter – April 2013

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INSIGHT – The Newsletter of Conscious Business Australia (CBAU)

Welcome to this April edition of “INSIGHT” which is the newsletter version of our writings on Conscious Business theory, news, research and practice. Our aim is to raise the consciousness of the general and business sector with this newsletter and make our contribution of ushering in The New Economy which is founded on a deep set of values in practice, on sustainability and community contribution for core reasons of businesses existing in their community.

Building Blocks to Customer Service

CBAU in conjunction with Live PM will be running one of our key New Economy Customer Experience one day workshops for small and medium businesses who wish to amplify their customer service excellence or whom wish to transition to a New Economy footing for their business around leadership in the total customer experience as the embodiment of their brand.

In this workshop we teach the key building blocks of creating excellent customer service and “wow” customer experiences. This course is an essential professional development offering for any customer facing personnel as well for business owners who are seeking to understand how to take their business and its brand to the next level of success.

Please click on this link to access the course flyer and payment details The Building Blocks to Customer Service

Old Economy Rackets Exposed

One of the outcomes of the advent of globalisation and the widespread adoption of the internet and social media has been the emergence of “prosumers”.  This class of social media activist are those who are active consumers who voice their opinions on social media around consumer issues.

This class of social media user has been vocal in the “outing” of businesses who practice unconscionable conduct, deceive about product or service claims, have unethical behaviours or are predatory in their business life.  Any business moving forward must conduct an audit of the way it practices lest it fall foul of the vigilance of these online groups and individuals.

It is true that many multi-national corporations traditionally practiced predatory pricing schemes in various countries where that opportunity to do so afforded itself. Australia has been subject to this form of business practice across a number of industry sectors. The lack of a social or community voice to protest and expose these practices was in part what allowed them to continue and flourish.

Some of these traditional multi-nationals are now being exposed for past practices which simply cannot be defended. In terms of our Conscious Business model this topic touches that quadrant we call “IT”. The Conscious Business model is encapsulated within our company logo as the symbology is directly related to our Conscious Business Methodology.

One group of predatory practitioners exposed in the media this week was Microsoft and other I.T. based suppliers of software such as Adobe. In a highly public set of enquiries it was revealed that Australians have been paying up to several hundred per cent more for our licenced software products from a number of international software providers for up to decades.

Various internet forums and consumer review sites of I.T. software and hardware products and services have highlighted the issue in the discrepancy of software and hardware pricing between countries and conducted an analysis of the price differentials. What is consistently found is that when one removes the distortions caused by local taxes, freight and so forth there still remained a massive gap in USA versus comparison country prices. An outcry ensued and recently a public enquiry was recently called in Australia led by the ACC.

When carpeted these large multi-nationals could offer no reasonable explanation for their pricing differentials between Australian and American markets. Some bleated they had to setup and maintain Australian dedicated websites to support the sales of our products whilst others tried to use currency fluctuations, tyranny of distance, and small market size as excuses.

At the end of the day the amount of prosumer comment and social media exposure about these historical practices undermined the ability of these companies to hold their defence, and for the ACCC to stay silent about the issue for consumers. The targeted multi-nationals were exposed as predators and took a bath in the hearings.

There is now the potential threat of legal action to follow which will be instigated by the ACCC in the public interest. The outcome is likely to be lower software prices for Australian consumers. The lesson for all Australian businesses is that the era of consumers suffering in silence is over. The advent of social media is a big leveller to the power of business to ignore complaints and act indifferently to the cry of consumers affected by unethical or predatory actions.

As we move forward to the New Economy we need to review and reform business practice to ensure that we emerge in the New Economy on the right footing. Conscious Business Australia conducts extensive and comprehensive brand and business channel audits for business which look at the way brand values and the messages that business products and services are conveying to the community.

It is not unusual in our audits to uncover cross messages, misleading content, wrong claims, and a brand proposition that hardly reflects the true practice of that business. In the future this disparity will be a real risk that could undermine business and brand value, risk brand reputation, and create the wrong sort of publicity for the business concerned. Contact us to find out how we can assist you in understanding where you lie in this paradigm.

I’ll Get Ya, Ya Dirty Rat!!

Cinema goers for generations have been delighted by the cinema tough guys such as Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart. It used to be that it was only from the gangster and Private Eye characters would we hear “I’ll get you … you dirty rat!!”. 

How strange it must have felt over the last few weeks when customers of Hoyts Carousel La Premiere extreme luxury cinema started yelling out the same lines while watching programs not featuring any of these Hollywood golden era stars. What was happening?

What has happening was the worst nightmare for any business involved in food, beverage or entertainment. The cinema,  just like in a scene from the film “Willard”, had been overrun by mice and rats!!  Its effect was definitely not that of the “The Mouse Club”.

In the New Economy one of the defining characteristics and consumer behaviours is the ability to use the cameras in smartphones to capture special and not so special moments for posterity. Any customer facing business has to be vigilant and have mindfully re-implemented its customer experience processes to survive the scrutiny and accountability of consumers bearing smartphones.

What happened at Hoyts Carousel was amplified by the stunning smartphone camera moment captured by customer Sue Donnelly and then posted onto Facebook. The unique horror captured in that moment when one realises from the large head of the creature that it was actually a rat helping itself to one’s own chips then the concept of the luxury “total customer experience” that Hoyts promotes in its La Premiere seating just became the stuff of a B Grade horror movie.

In The New Economy there is an internet fascination for the bizarre, the weird, the spectacular and the mighty, whether the mighty is mighty good or mighty bad. In this case the mighty bad and awe was compounded by the fact that viewers all over the world could relate to such an everyday experience of going to the movies to watch a film.

A few women I know can vouch for having gone to the flicks with guys who turned out to be dirty rats, and a few may have even shared their chips with them in doing so, but it would be rare to say that any of us got a visit by Ratatouile or one of his friends anytime in a cinema we have attended.

What got worse for Hoyts was not just the fact that the Facebook posting (reproduced here from Sue Donnelly’s Facebook) went viral globally in ways that normally would be welcomed by many firms seeking brand exposure, but that former employees then came forward to claim that the rodent infestation had existed for up to 10 years if their claims are to be believed.

Rats hold a horrible fascination for human beings for they were thought responsible for the decimation of much of the world’s population in The Black Death or Bubonic Plague of the early Middle Ages of European history. Since then rats have copped a nasty reputation as being harbingers of disease, filth and death, which is a fair call even though it was the black fleas on these rats which caused the world’s first pandemic all those years ago.

It should also be noted that vermin infestations and food contamination issues are actually not uncommon in our society. For instance it has just been announced in NSW that one in 10 restaurants and cafes  have been fined in 2012 for food safety breaches, from preparing meals in filthy kitchens to failing to control rodent and  bug infestations.

However Hoyts was not in control of this story or the agenda once this horror story got out. All it could do was to close the cinema after the theatre goers and possibly a few of the rats had bolted. The damage to the Hoyts overall brand and its La Premiere brand, plus the reputation of the Carousel cinema in particular could be significant.

The public perception is that Hoyts was indifferent to the knowledge of the existence of vermin in-store. Online claims that a problem existed anywhere from 14 months to up to ten years were made, by cleaners and store employees who claim nothing was done when sightings were reported. What is worse for Hoyts is the allegation that rats were regularly seen in the food preparation areas for a number of years in the cinema complex.

If true then the issue starts to create a stomach churning effect. It would appear from the allegations that mice and/or rats had first go at bags of prepared popcorn that was stored in this area for days before sale to customers. The reporting of this can be the stuff of what creates urban myths.

Perth Now website reported a former staff comment as:

The popcorn room was full of them, with the bags of popcorn made days before it was served and stored in rooms, which the mice chewed through and ate daily”.

I think we all can remember that urban myth tale long told by teenagers for decades about how at a drive in cinema in the USA, in Sydney or wherever, depending on who and when the story was told, a woman reached into her bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken in the dark, and proceeded to bite into a crispy battered Kentucky fried rat!!

There is no actual proof that this story was ever anything other than that, a campfire story gone viral in the old days of verbal storytelling. In this Hoyts case the evidence of a very clear picture of a chip munching rat will lay to rest the doubts of skeptics around whatever wild stories potentially evolve out of these events.

In terms of the total customer experience there was another fatal mistake made that makes you wonder about the competence of the management at this Hoyts store.  The alarming lead up to this photo incident was something that makes it hard to believe the events actually were allowed to happen at all.

Sue Donnelly reports that she had left her chair to report the problem to management only after her grand-daughter had first swatted away 2 mice or rats who were hanging around trying to get at their food!! When Sue reported the matter to the attendant at the front desk, then in Sue’s own reported words:

“Upon complaining at the front desk about the infestation I was told the problem was already known about and nothing could be done by an exterminator for two weeks”.

This was done allegedly in a nonchalant fashion, giving the impression that this scenario had happened before in this cinema.  Hoyts have since issued a statement to say they have dealt with the rodent infestation issue at the store.

Given the incident potentially places the welfare of humans at risk where food preparation takes place, then it gives the impression that not enough urgency was given to food and safety laws. It is alleged that Hoyts Cinema headquarters had not received any official complaints which again is alarming if the Carousel store had gone as far as to respond by instigating pest control contractors to attend and deal with a known rodent issue.

The alleged telling admission by the attendant that the cinema was aware of the problem but yet allowed the situation to be unresolved for a possible 2 weeks is a customer experience kiss of death.  Sue feels she was not properly assisted in her plight or her complaint by those staff immediately there on the day.

A key lesson is that if you show indifference to your customers then they will show you their judgement of you as they slam you on social media, or just walk away never to return. The taint over this outlet is such that the negative emotional association consumers now might have with this Carousel outlet make it unlikely that the local community will totally trust this Hoyts store  again anytime soon.

Cruel parodies about the situation which mock Hoyts via a Twitter and a Facebook account for the “Hoyts Mouse” are not a good sign for the cinema. This form of advertising mocks the integrity of the brand and the store.

At the end of the day Hoyts have become the dirty rats of this nasty little B Grade horror customer experience.  There is no tough guy ending here. A rat is enjoying his moment in the sun of social media exposure and celebrity status while Hoyts looks for a Pied Piper to run the rats out of its cinema and restore its brand.  It certainly is not a La Premiere moment!!

For the PDF version of this article click I’ll Get Ya – Ya Dirty Rat

About Us

Conscious Business Australia is uniquely positioned to assist you in your business journey towards the new economy. We transcend traditional old economy business and leadership coaching and consulting models by bringing to bear our innovative and leading edge Conscious Business Methodology.

Our unique combination of skills, insight, experience and methodologies enable us to stand apart from the tired old coaching and consulting “experiences” that still dominate the business world using old economy constructs and principles.

Come across and try the Conscious Business Australia “experience” which is built on the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, design, project management, marketing, channel design, and digital and physical product design/innovation/imitation philosophies. Have a look at our website for more information, for a much more detailed version of newsletter articles, and for further articles and notifications of other courses and events that we run on a regular basis.

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