Sunday, 28 December 2014

Marketing's a Doddle but are People the weakest link in the marketing mix ? Broken chain at City Link

This ad by Doddle keys in on Customer frustration
 on being out when a courier delivers

City Link the parcel delivery business called in administrators Ernst and Young (EY) on 24 December, but an announcement was not made to the media until Christmas Day.

Allegedly a number of employees found out first through the media. Some received their email from the company on Christmas Day.
Company's often boast how people are the most important resource in a business. Yet in these circumstances it appears to not have been played that way.
As for the people known as customers, they  were naturally concerned about the goods that City Link were due to deliver for them.


The Independent Newspaper quoted   Mr Sumner-Rivers the founder of Parcel Hero who broker between businesses
  "no further deliveries will be made" but "depots will open again on Monday for customers to collect the estimated one million parcels stuck in its network".

He said City Link’s  closure could have a major impact on the UK parcel market. They suggest that there were now "serious concerns as to how the carriers left in the market are going to be able to absorb the estimated 76 million additional parcels City Link delivered each year".

"The companies will all require immediate service, which will put a huge burden on every carrier's infrastructure, from the sales department right through the network to the delivery couriers at the other end," Mr Sumner-Rivers added.
This seems to contradict comments made by the administrators of an" over crowded market"
Pick Up and collect service 

The administrators have advised  customers who had handed over parcels to City Link on Christmas Eve should go to a depot to retrieve them on or after December 29.

More to this than meets the eye

Rivals Royal Mail and DX had been approached about a rescue of City Link.

Royal Mail were apparently interested in the John Lewis and Mothercare contracts, DX were after a more comprehensive deal involving City Link’s assets and are tipped to be active in parts of the company in administration.

On City Link's website they also quote clients such as
Rochford Garden Machinery, Van Duuren Districentres Footlocker,  IMG distribution,  and MDA

Beware the perils of the “SEND” button

In a Sky News report Saturday 27th Dec 2014 “sources close to the situation” pointed to an email sent by one RMT official to members on Christmas Eve which said - inaccurately - that the company had already called in administrators that morning.

"This led to increasing pressure on the business and given the level of rumour [there was a] risk of creditor action and thus the company [had to be placed] into administration to give it protection," said an insider

Despite the recent explosion in the growth of online shopping, the delivery sector is beset by excess capacity, with companies such as Amazon developing their own delivery services

are one of the 7 Ps of a modern marketing mix . They are your employees that execute your service. From a marketing perspective this largely concerns the manner and skill in which they do so. Where a service is perceived as a commodity the People who perform the service offer are the differentiator.

Worthy as this is in theory PEOPLE can be looked over in the toughest times of a business . The news of how City Link apparently broke the news of there going into administration seems to indicate this. Although the message was apparently inaccurately relayed by an RMT member.

Certainly the breaking of the news on Christmas Eve seems to raise questions of the decision from an emotional as well as rational standpoint. The request by the RMT Union for talks with Business Minister Vince cable will ensure that the whole business will become prominent on the news pages for a few more days.

Clearly the business has assets like its properties but what of the human assets it has? Are there lessons for us in the Sales and Marketing discipline?

Let’s just review the significance of PEOPLE in the marketing mix

Anyone who comes into contact with your customers will make an impression. This can have a deep effect; which can be positive or negative on customer satisfaction.

The reputation of your brand rests in your people’s hands from top to bottom. They must be appropriately trained, well motivated and the right mental attitude.

Not all are suited to this kind of work. ( both at the customer front line as well as in the boardroom)

Many customers e.g. customers or end user parcel recipients don't really separate in their mind the product from the service provided by your staff. Even for City link for example subcontractor van driver will be seen as the service even though to the business they may view sub contractors as a money saving outsource solution. This shows the importance of your people in a business.

The level of aftercare support and advice provided by your business is also one way of adding value to your offer which can become important as people use your service more and more.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing CIM suggests that we should regularly look at the products that render the highest percentage of sales and consider whether the relationship has become complacent. They ask whether there are opportunities for enhanced support that could be employed without too much cost.
In the parcels’ market one of the frustrations of recipients is the delivery of a note explaining an attempt to deliver and asking the recipient to come and collect from a depot or request a new time to deliver.


Doddle's promotion at Waterloo Station December 2014
Doddle have seen an opportunity here where deliveries can be sent to a more convenient location such as a railway station where a commuter recipient can say pick up their parcel after work.

Time will tell

The City Link story will run for a few days up to the new year 2015

I noticed on the website under the announcement of the appointment of the EY administrators some sentences in very very small print.  This might interest those concerned about Data Protection and Personal information. I have printed the words in a larger and more readable font

The affairs, business and property of City Link Limited are being managed by the Joint Administrators, R H Kelly, C G J King and T Lukic, who act as agents of City Link Limited only and without personal liability.

We may collect, use, transfer, store or otherwise process (collectively, “Process”) information that can be linked to specific individuals (“Personal Data”). We may Process Personal Data in various jurisdictions in accordance with applicable law and professional regulations including (without limitation) the Data Protection Act 1998.
This is probably legalise but to ordinary mortals the use of "may" has ambiguous overtones

May can mean

a)      Have permission to  i..e. can , can, could , might

b)      Possibly   i.e . could , might

c)       In subjunctive I..e. might

There is a pecking order in insolvency  some people ( creditors) are more equal than others as George Orwel said of the animals of Animal Farm.

Related Links
Marketing mix consequences of City Link December 2014

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