Hyundai – how to lose a customer with lazy email marketing

Here’s a tale of how to take a loyal customer and anger them…

  • I bought a Hyundai ix35 in June 2012 – I’ve been thrilled with it, so thrilled that I was ready to buy the new model (the obscurely named Tucson)
  • In desperation for news about the release of the new Tucson, I visited the Hyundai website, found very little useful information (like the exact release date or pricing information) – but was prompted to sign up for email updates about the new Tucson… sounded like just what I needed.
  • I duly entered my details to sign up for news updates about the new Tucson
  • I heard nothing until this week
  • I’ve had 2 emails from Hyundai this week:
    • 10 Jun – received an email exclusively about the Hyundai i30. Not a single word about the Tucson. But there is the line “You’ve asked about our cars before…” – No Hyundai, I asked about the Tucson, not “cars”. Lazy, loud marketing.Capture
    • I thought that might be a flash in the pan, but today (11 Jun) I received another email from Hyundai… this time it’s even more generic and still no mention of the Tucson… this time it’s all about Rugby Union. Not even about vehicles, let alone the Tucson.Capture
    • I was extremely frustrated that I had given Hyundai very careful and targeted permission to invade my inbox with emails about the Tucson and Hyundai had abused that trust. I was heartened to see some text in the footer of the email… “To change your mailing preferences” – awesome, I thought – let me go and customise my preferences… then I can get only Tucson updates and suppress all this noise about other vehicles and men playing with odd shaped balls…
    • So I clicked through… and got this…
      … sadly no opportunity to customise at all – and only the opportunity for me to unsubscribe.
    • What to do now… resolve my frustration and unsubscribe from all Hyundai emails; or be bombarded with irrelevant marketing crap in the hope that one day I may get lucky and get some Tucson news?
    • I was going to be blindly loyal to Hyundai and buy the new Tucson; but in light of this all I’ll be off to visit the motor showrooms and try out the competing Mazda, Mitsubishi and maybe even Nissan offerings.
    • The emails are sent from one of those “customer friendly” no reply addresses – so there’s no easy, direct way to get feedback
    • A bit of digging shows that Hyundai uses SDL (formerly Alterian) for their email marketing (or what SDL call “Digital Experience“) – they probably pay a lot of money for this – you’d think they’d want to leverage this investment with a bit of personalisation and segmentation
    • Hopefully Hyundai take more care with their social media presence, pick this up on Twitter, and learn from this feedback – they probably won’t

Tesco Brooklands – a microcosm of Tesco’s failings as a business

Needed to do a medium size grocery shop yesterday. I could have gone to the Sainsburys up the road, but I settled on Tesco at Brooklands (a 15 minute drive away).

A number of things didn’t go to plan during my visit to Tesco Brooklands (between 16:50 and 18:11), here’s a summary:

  • Car park – the road surface needs some work, it’s washed away in parts and has potholes… making it rather difficult to use a trolley (I see on the way out they’ve started resurfacing but working from the furtherest point towards the store).
  • Travelator out of service – the travelator going up to the first floor was broken, requiring the use of the lift as an alternative.
  • Stock issues…
    • Warburtons English Breakfast Muffins – none in stock, had to settle for Kingsmill instead
    • Milk – the list called for 1 x pint “Red” Skimmed Milk and 1x pint “Blue” Fresh (Whole) Milk – neither were anywhere to be seen on the shelves. I loitered around a few minutes to see if I could catch the eye of a staff member – none appeared. The only alternative was the more expensive Organic milk. I later on spotted what looked like a team meeting of managers in the non-food area of the store. I interrupted their meeting and asked for help getting some milk, one manager left the meeting and got me some from behind the scenes. Maybe Tesco were hoping they’d make more (higher margin) sales by hiding their core brand milk behind the scenes and hoping customers would give in to buying the organic stuff.
    • Quiche Lorraine – the quiches had been pretty well wiped out and there were a handful of “Broccoli and Tomato” ones remaining – I grudgingly selected one
    • Crushed Garlic – shelf label said sold out… not one to be seen on the shelves
    • Vegetables…
      • Loose carrots – not a single loose carrot available on the shop floor
      • Cauliflower – not a single head available on the shop floor
      • Sweet Potatoes – the remnants of the last bag were available – bag had been ripped open and was not complete. No loose ones either
  • Staff availability – there seemed to be a shortage of staff on hand for assistance. There were a few Tesco polo shirt wearing folk in the aisles – but they seemed to be doing their own shopping and I didn’t want to disturb them. Lucky I found that group of managers having their meeting. I eventually asked the young lady at the Self Scan checkout for assistance, and she directed me to the Customer Service desk. Customer Service checked their system and (not so) helpfully informed me that there were 147 carrots available! She disappeared off into the store looking for carrots, cauliflower and quiches and returned several minutes later confirming that there was no stock of these items on the shop floor. None of the staff (the manager, customer services) seemed particularly apologetic and left me with the impression that I should expect not to find everyday items like milk and carrots when I visit a Tesco store.
  • But wait there’s more – the cherry on the top was when the same young lady at the self scan checkout, after I had been selected for a “random inspection”, replied that she prefers Morrisons when I suggested that my experience explains why so many are flocking to Aldi & Lidl. If anyone needs a random inspection – it’s Tesco Brooklands by senior management!

Some practical suggestions to help Tesco:

  • Review staff availability/accessibility on the shop floor – for example, ensuring that no matter where a customer is within the store that a staff member should be visible or within earshot – alternatively install help points in every aisle so shoppers can call for assistance to a central authority
  • Review stock management… I suspect all the items I needed were probably in the building somewhere, but not where they needed to be… this is especially relevant for staple items like core brand 1 pint milk

These items may go some way to addressing Tesco marketshare and profitability rather than the distractions of coffee shops, bakeries, family restaurants etc.

In the end, I had to drive back to Walton and visit Sainsburys anyways – to buy all the items Tesco didn’t have in stock.

Notes so that Tesco can track down the transaction (from the bottom of my till slip):

24/05/14 18:11 2160 056 9056 8630 

M&S Brooklands – A trifle paranoid about photo’s

I’ve had a few questions about my recent Tweets relating to my rather strange and disappointing experiences at M&S (Marks and Spencers; MandS) Brooklands branch on Christmas Eve.

Here’s the rundown:

  • I arrived at the store
  • I followed the signs to the Christmas Pre-Order Collection area (towards the back of the store – so you have to view all their stock despite having to carry heavy boxes to the car)
  • A whole section of the store had been setup for these Christmas Pre-Order Collections
  • It was a three stage process: (1) Queueing to have your paperwork checked; (2) Waiting in a holding pen until your order is picked; and (3) checkout
  • I was in the queue to have my paperwork checked and was bored, so I do what I normally do – take out my smartphone and take some photos of the queue and environs (especially helpful for my wife who was stuck at home with our baby – to see what was going on). I took one photo of the queue ahead of me and another showing the holding pen and cashiers.
  • Before I reached the front of the queue (had 4 or 5 people ahead of me) – I was approached by an M&S Manager named (according to her badge) Samantha
  • Samantha was trying to be awfully polite and asked if I had written permission to take photographs in the store. I told her I didn’t. She then asked me to delete the photographs from my iPhone while she waited. I dutifully showed Samantha as I deleted the two photos from my phone. Samantha thanked me. I remarked that she’d been rather foolish – as I was innocently taking 2 photos to show my wife, but now she’d created an incident – and I was sure to make sure I gave it a mention on twitter and elsewhere.
  • I eventually made it to the front of the queue and had my paperwork checked. My surname was written on the page and I was sent on to the holding pen.
  • I was called forward to the counter to pick up my order. I had pre-ordered a box of vegetables, sausage rolls and a sherry trifle. We were having Christmas at my parents’ and the requirements were very specific. My mother had researched the options on the M&S website and she had given me the exact description and price of each item.
  • The young chap presented me with two boxes: a box of vegetables and a cheesecake…
  • I asked where the Sherry Trifle was… he replied “oh sorry, we’ve run out of those”. I expressed my disappointment. I asked what the point of an elaborate “pre-ordering” system involving a specialist [micro]website, taking of deposit payments and rearranging of stores was – if they couldn’t actually provide the items that had been pre-ordered. He was speechless. I asked for Samantha…
  • Samantha trundled over and I repeated the whole story for her. She replied, matter of factly, with some corporate sounding jargon about supply chain, blah, blah, blah. Bottom line – they didn’t have any Sherry Trifle – they had “sold out” (despite them knowing, in advance, how many had been pre-ordered). The Cheesecake was the “standard substitution” for the trifle – suggests I wasn’t the only one going without trifle here. I had no-idea what the cheesecake cost, Samantha went away, came back and told me it was worth more than the trifle. Then I was told the Cheesecake would be provided at no charge.
  • There was still an item missing… I went through my paperwork with the chap and pointed out that I had not received my sausage rolls. He apologised and retrieved them from the fridge.
  • Thinking the difficult parts of this experience were behind me I moved on to the checkout area
  • A nice old chap called David served me. Now the order was originally totalling £37, and I had paid a non-refundable deposit of £20 – so ordinarily there would be £17 left to pay, but the Cheesecake was for free so it should be £7 to pay. Poor David scanned and rang it up 3 times and they were still after £17. David was perplexed, but an observant and helpful young lady named Karlie from the adjacent desk stepped in to help. She reviewed my paperwork and identified that I had been given the wrong type of vegetable box (I had been given the luxury one which costs £10 more). She swiftly removed it and brought back the correct one.
  • I put the goodies in the boot of the car and headed next door to Tesco – and found a Sherry Trifle for £3.
  • I then headed home to break the news, over the phone, to my mother that M&S had scuppered her perfectly planned Christmas.
  • So, to summarise, here’s what M&S should have done differently…
    • Stop being so petty about innocent in-store photography (if that is actually their policy… I’ve not seen anything obvious in-store and could not find anything about it on their website or even in the staff manual [which is publicly published on the web]) – it’s not like I had shown up with a tripod, collapsible flashes and I’d been getting in the way of shoppers and staff. Even if this policy does exist – it should then be enforced consistently or not at all… Twitter, Flickr and Instagram all have photos taken inside M&S stores – so why was I singled out?
    • If you are going to run a pre-order system, and take non-refundable deposits – the least you can do is actually stock the items that have been pre-ordered (or then notify me in advance of issues and give me the opportunity to back out of the whole order)
    • Take care with picking and packing – if they messed up my 3 simple items, I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d ordered 40 items!

As promised I’ve been giving this all a bit of coverage on Twitter since. I tweeted three times on Christmas Eve…

M&S got back to me yesterday (only on item 3) and today and now want me to call them on an 0845 prefix number to discuss things. I suggested in reply that I was not happy with calling a number charged at between 10 and 30p per minute from my mobile to complain to them.

I’m sure there will be more updates to follow!

Merge and Split PDF Files – PDFSam

Found some open source software that’s so useful, I thought I’d blog about it quickly…

PDFSam (

Brilliant… it doesn’t look very pretty and it’s not super user friendly – but when it comes to merging and splitting PDF files, it does the business.

Keyboard Shortcuts – discover the secrets of Windows

People were asking if my blog was broken as I haven’t posted lately – sorry, just been too busy!

Here’s a great blog to add to your subscriptions…. Windows Keyboard Shortcuts – impress your friends, save time, spurn your mouse… use Windows shortcuts. I try and use as many as I can, but I still learn new ones occasionally. This blog has a new tip every day on how you can improve your productivity using keyboard shortcuts.

Some of my favourite examples:

  • Lock workstation – Windows+L
  • Close window – Ctrl+W
  • Close application – Alt+F4
  • IE 7 Open new tab – Ctrl+T
  • Start | Run – Windows+R
  • Show desktop – Windows+D

By the way, got to play with Windows Vista yesterday for the first time – wasn’t blown away… it’s basically Windows XP with a Web 2.0 facelift and some desktop widgets. I only used it for 10-15 minutes, but found some stuff (like finding an open wireless network) more difficult and less intuitive than XP!

Virgin Atlantic APD Update

Virgin Atlantic suddenly kicked into action… it’s all rather amateurish… they’ve built a little web calculator to figure out how much to pay and they they redirect you offsite to where you can make a payment with them. Virgin has no way of knowing if you’ve paid or not, except for the printout of the PayPal confirmation page! They’ve also beefed up their FAQ pages about APD, but it’s not prominently linked from their homepage 😦

They haven’t replied to my email from the 23rd yet… looks like it takes them six days to reply to emails!

At least they have offered a Virgin “deal” – if you prepay the addtional APD online they give you a voucher for £20 towards a future Virgin flight.

Here’s the FAQ’s…

Virgin Atlantic & Air Passenger Duty – Chaos ahead

I’m booked on a long haul flight with Virgin Atlatic on 01 Feb – the day Gordon Brown’s increased Air Passenger Duty (APD) takes effect. My flight was booked back in October, long before the announcement on the 6th December. Watching how the airlines handle this is interesting…

+ the low cost airlines, as expected, are collecting the fee

+ British Airways, unexpectedly, has decided to absorb the fee for those that had paid before the announcement – nice one BA!

+ Virgin Atlantic… have decided to collect the money, but haven’t decided how… quite frustrating for me… only 9 days to go and they still don’t know. I really don’t fancy having to queue up at the airport while the chaos unfolds on the 1st February.

Here’s what Virgin’s “Customer Service” people had to say…

Thank you for your email. Please accept my apologies for the delayed response.

Virgin Atlantic will be collecting the Air Passenger Duty tax from passengers but is still reviewing how best to claim the tax.

Information will be made available on our website as soon as possible.

In the mean time, I would like to thank you for your patience.

Thank you for contacting Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Kind Regards,

Rashi Nanda
Contact Centre Customer Services Team