Altering the Customer Experience — A First Try?

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I just read a report that the ICC is encouraging West Indians to bring musical instruments to the Cricket World Cup matches, insisting that there never really were any restrictions intended.

I am not sure, but it seems that they are saying that the 6 million people of the region have misunderstood their rules, and that it is somehow our fault…

Click here to read the article entitled “Cricket organizers Want the Calypso Feel Back in the World Cup.”

In a prior post I mentioned that there was still time for the Cricket World Cup Organizers to alter the customer experience. It seems that they have decided that the cricket-loving people in the region have been staying away from the matches because they are unable to make their own music on the ground.

Better if they had just apologised and taken responsibility for their part in the miscommunication, owned up to the poor customer experience they have created, and announced a raft of immediate changes, based on a respectful if not obvious request that they be forgiven.

In the meantime, World Cup tickets on eBay are languishing… unsold and unwanted, with no bids being made.

The Demise of "World-Class" Standards part 2

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The report reproduced in part 1 was instructive, and gave some important clues as to why an emphasis on standards, even “World-Class” standards, is insufficient for companies.

Clearly the hosting of the Cricket World Cup is a BIG DEAL, and the various organizing committees have told the public over and over that this could not be business as usual, and that the event would have to be organized along World Class standards.

I think that the problem began when the organizers committed an error in assuming that what is World-Class is always better.

However, if there is one lesson to be learned from the empty stadia for Caribbean companies it is this: World-Class standards are meant to produce a particular experience for First World people. It is an experience that First World people desire, and often pay a premium to have.

However, World-Class standards do not necessarily produce an experience that Third World people enjoy, and this, I think, is what is at the heart of the reason why St. Kitts was forced to gave away so many tickets to school children in order to help fill the stadium.

Essentially, the organizers neglected to ask themselves what it would take to create a particular experience for Caribbean people. I believe that they assumed that we would appreciate the World-Class standards all by themselves, and be happy with them.

Well, they were wrong. From the very beginning, the experience of the ICC Cricket World Cup across the region has been that:

  • we had very little say in the “runnings”
  • ticket prices would prevent the average citizen and cricket fan from attending
  • the same prices meant that the crowd would be more upscale, less experienced in the game, and therefore quite different
  • tickets were hard to get, ordering was complicated, some tickets could only be bought as part of 2-match deals and the information on getting them was scarce and often blatantly incorrect
  • we were restricted from doing the things we always do to enjoy cricket matches — eating what we want, wearing what we want, playing music the way we want, etc.
  • they were trying to “change Caribbean culture” according to Stephen Price, the tournament’s commercial director

The organization seems to have left a little something behind on the floor of the planning room.

Yet, this oversight is not unusual — many companies do the same with their over-focus on standards, and lack of focus on the customer experience, and here in the region, it gets them in all sorts of trouble.

For the ICC Cricket World Cup, there is a small window of time to get things right, and to reverse the customer experience that currently exists. Hopefully, someone will take the opportunity.

The Demise of "World-Class" Standards part 1

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New stadium dominated by empty seats for high-profile clash

Andrew Miller in Antigua March 28, 2007

Brian Lara has vented his frustration at the lack of support West Indies have received over the past two days of their contest against Australia at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. In a match that ought to have been the plum draw of the Super Eights – an inaugural fixture at a brand-new venue against the reigning world champions – a pitiful crowd was in attendance. Despite suggestions the match had been a sell-out, the 20,000-capacity ground was barely half-full for the first rain-affected day, with perhaps half that many when the sun came out for West Indies’ run-chase.

“It’s very disappointing,” Lara said. “You’d back yourself to think that at least every single game that West Indies plays is going to be a full house. We were received very well in Jamaica, where we got a good crowd against Pakistan and Ireland, but I thought I would be able to close my eyes here, and for the rest of the tournament, and just see our people come out and support the World Cup and support West Indies.”

The attendance figures don’t square with local anticipation of the match. One disgruntled fan suggested that the fault lay with the local organising committee, whose marketing of the game had fallen way short of what was required for such a big occasion. “There’s no culture of buying [tickets] online in the Caribbean,” he told Cricinfo. “Instead there were queues around the block for the few kiosks at the ground, and everyone assumed the seats would have gone.”

Stephen Price, the tournament’s commercial director, told Cricinfo 11,100 tickets had been bought in advance for this game, and a further 700 on the morning of the match. He denied that the pricing or the marketing strategy had been at fault for the poor attendance, but added that plans were in place to distribute the spare tickets to local schools and tournament sponsors. They were unlikely, however, to be implemented in time for Thursday’s match against New Zealand.

“Centres in each of the territories put tickets on sale at the same time as they went online,” Price said. “We also utilised a global network of 50-plus agents. Tickets were easily accessible, and with a significant amount of entry-level prices, starting at US$25, which is the equivalent to a category two ticket in a regular bilateral series. But in some cases, the fans have not attended.”

Price said there had been an attempt to change the Caribbean culture into one that buys early instead of leaving everything to the last minute. “Tickets went on sale ten months ago,” he said. “For a normal bilateral series, they would go on sale two weeks in advance. But there have been the same number of kiosks as ever. The queues may have been long in the late evening, but in the early morning they were empty. People could have come out at lunchtime, or in their own time. To claim otherwise is just an excuse.”

“The infrastructure is good, so now it’s time for the manpower

The commentator Mark Nicholas was disappointed the match was not a sell-out and said the locals were frustrated by the long queues. “A lot of them gave up and said ‘no, I’m not prepared to wait two hours’,” he said. “It’s been one of the problems confronting spectators. The huge amount of security, that’s one thing, the other is the long lines for tickets and long lines for food.”

Nicholas said the remoteness of the site – “you can only park a mile away despite huge areas all around” – was a problem when comparing it to the previous venue. “The old ground was in the middle of St John’s and it was very popular,” he said. “There was a great party feel to the place, but it’s going to be very difficult to rekindle that here.”

The controversy dampened an occasion that ought to have been a proud moment for West Indies and for Antigua. “It’s a very good stadium, it’s beautiful and it’s a tribute to the man, Sir Vivian Richards,” Lara said. “It’s been an awesome effort by the Antiguan people getting this ready, and it’s going to be wonderful for West Indian cricket moving on. The infrastructure is good, so now it’s time for the manpower.”

Not everyone was impressed with the positioning of the new ground. Built on a greenfields site 20 minutes outside of St John’s, many fans had to walk for several kilometres to reach the entrance, or pay for a shuttle service. An impassioned West Indian supporter told a local TV station that it was the spectator’s right to expect to be able to park outside a new and purpose-built ground, while others complained that the spontaneity that had existed at the old Antigua Recreation Ground was missing from the new venue.

But Lara said there would have to be a change of attitudes all around as West Indian cricket gets used to its new era. “When you’re talking about the improvement of facilities the spectators also have to adapt,” he said. “It’s not enough to be able to stay in the same areas or stadiums just because the atmosphere was great. We’ve had some wonderful times at the ARG, but now we move on to the Sir Viv stadium and it is something to be proud of over the years.

“Some of these stadiums were dilapidated. Georgetown and other grounds have been around for donkey’s years. I’m sure people will adjust. I may have been disappointed with the crowd today but I thought the party stand wasn’t bad here or in Jamaica. People are going to enjoy it, and I think the cricketers are very happy that we have facilities that are second-to-none. If you go to the MCG or Lord’s the facilities are great. It’s nice to know we are getting there.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

What is a Chamber? Or a Business Club?

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From Wikipedia:

A Chamber of Commerce (also referred to in some circles as a Board of Trade, though this phrase is not commonly used in the United States) is a form of business network. The primary goal of a chamber is to improve the business climate in a locality, typically through business networking, lobbying, and common projects and a selection of business services.

Q: What is a Business Club?

A: Pretty much whatever it wants to be, I guess!

My Vision of a Trini-Jam Chamber/BizClub

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What would a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber of Commerce, or a TriniJam BizClub actually accomplish?

After the doubles and jerk-chicken are over, and the reggae and soca music has stopped, and the wining and dubbing is finished… what else would happen?

I originally thought of the idea when I did a couple of research projects in Jamaica that included multiple interviews with Trinidadians. A former Managing Director first put the idea in my head, saying that he would love to be able to learn from the other Trinis that were coming to lead companies in Jamaica for the first time. He said that there was much that they could learn from each other, and that had me think that there was not only a lot they could learn from each other, but also a lot they could teach Jamaicans about doing business in Trinidad.

Since then, and recently, the public row over the LNG issues and the trade gap between the two countries has resulted in a war of words, in which Dawn Rich’s column in the Sunday Gleaner represents perhaps the most extreme opinion.

Maybe the Chamber/Club, with a chapter in Kingston and another in Port of Spain, could be a place where:

  • Trinidadian – Jamaican business relationships are fostered on an individual level
  • the ins and outs of doing business in each country are shared
  • business-people working away from their home country can find help in assimilating to their new surroundings
  • the culture, laws and practices of each country can be frankly discussed, compared and understood
  • innovative business ideas can be shared
  • success can be celebrated
  • myths can be addressed and dismantled
  • equality of opportunity can be balanced between the two countries
  • the goals of CARICOM can be furthered
  • our companies, employees and people can benefit from our willingness to cooperate

A Chamber/Club with these goals is obviously not for everyone.

For one, it will take a certain willingness and awareness of the big picture — that we are all bound to each other, and are all one.

While it may be interesting to, at one level, to compete with each other in business, a short-term focus on my company’s success over yours is ridiculous for this small a region. It is much better for us to cooperate in expanding the pie, than it is for us to fight over the crumbs.

While I wouldn’t recommend that in the Chamber/Club each company gives away its trade secrets to its competitors, such an organization would benefit those members that have an interest in putting cooperation first.

So, that Trini-Jam “whatever it is” would be a place for Trinidadian and Jamaican businesspeople to cooperate for the greater good of our countries, companies, employees and people.

P.S. If you want to join the mailing list for the most recent information on this topic, add your name by sending email to fwc-triniexec@aweber.com. You will automatically receive a copy of our report “The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica,” plus be added to a mailing list of those are interested in business-people with an interest in Trinidad and Jamaica.

Response to the Trini-Jam Chamber Idea

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I promised to update anyone who might be interested in the response received to the idea of a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber of Commerce.

It has been good, by my estimation, given that I asked for people who would be interested in putting some of their own time and effort into the formation of such a body. In short, there are enough people responding both in Jamaica and Trinidad to have at least a meeting in each country.

I am thinking of an initial meeting here in Kingston in the May time-frame (well after Jamaican carnival,) and at the moment am wondering what an agenda might look like.

Also, I am wondering if the word “Chamber” is just too heavy a word for what I have in mind. Here in the Caribbean, words like “Chamber” and, say, “Legislative” have a rather musty, old-man feel to them.

Instead, should it something more informal and energetic like a “Trini-Jam BizClub?” Here is an example of the New Zealand Business Club.

Hmmm — send me your comments, or add them to this post below.

Bombastic Trinidadians

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Dawn Rich started off her column in the Sunday Gleaner with the following:

Any reader will know that I think the country’s domestic financial sector was handed to Trinidad and Barbados on a platter. By any measure this is a strategic industry.

Also by any measure there is nothing more bombastic than a Trinidadian. The Barbadians are still conscious of the fact that they occupy a little atoll, even if its real estate prices now beat those of the Bahamas, which were high to begin with. Their sea-front villas are being snapped up by rich people from the industrialised world. As a direct consequence, the Barbadian prime minister has had to defend himself against charges of selling out the country to rich foreigners. In effect, he’s replied that he doesn’t regret it.

This is a heck of a diatribe, and is worth reading in its entirety, by clicking here.

T’dad / Who Understands Jamaicans?

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This, from an Editorial in the Trinidad Guardian:

The perception that is being spread in Kingston is that T&T businessmen are privateers or marauders just waiting to pounce on any available “meat.”

On a Jamaican radio station on Monday, one of the hosts asked me what I thought about the trade war that some elements in the north Caribbean country (including the editorial writers of a major newspaper) are pushing their government to declare on T&T.

Click here for the rest of the article.

More Criticism from the JMA Towards T’dad

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Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) has levelled harsh criticism at the actions of CARICOM partner Trinidad and Tobago who reneged on an agreement to supply Jamaica with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

President of the JMA, Doreen Frankson, yesterday described the action by the oil-rich twin-island republic as a betrayal of trust.

“Jamaica would never have given a commitment for something and then not deliver it. We have never done that,” she told The Gleaner minutes after delivering greetings at a Mass held at the Stella Maris (Roman Catholic) Church in St. Andrew to mark the JMA’s 60th anniversary.

Ms. Frankson argued that over the years, Jamaica has been extending itself “beyond the call of duty” to make the partnership work, but that other CARICOM partners such as Trinidad and Tobago had not been doing so.

“Not all our CARICOM partners will extend similar courtesies to us,” she said. “We have resolved not to repeat history but to change its course by ensuring that we are not shackled by these agreements.”

She pointed out that the time has come for Jamaica to benefit from these agreements.

“Isn’t that why wenegotiate trade agreements – to make our people better?” she asked. “Not for one-way trade.”

In 2004, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the supply of 1.1 million tonnes of LNG for use by the Jamaican Aluminium Company Jamalco and the Jamaica Public Service Company power plants.

But recently, the agreement fell through after Trinidad and Tobago said they had none to spare. Just last week, the Government signed an agreement with Venezuela to establish an LNG plant to supply more than two million tonnes of LNG to Jamaica.

Reservations were raised, however, by president of the Natural Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Frank Look Kim, about the Venezuelans’ ability to meet the 2009 date.

Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell, dismissed this, and insisted that the Venezuelans would honour the agreement in the time specified.

Yesterday, Frankson expressed confidence that the Venezuelans would also deliver as promised.
“Venezuela has always been a good friend of Jamaica and yes, they will deliver,” she said with confidence.