A story was told to me shortly after I arrived in Fiji almost seven years ago:
A man was walking down the beach when he saw a fisherman carrying two buckets of crabs walking in the opposite direction. One of the buckets had a lid on it, the other had no lid.
The man said to the fisherman, "Why does only one of those buckets have a top? Won't the crabs escape the other one?"
The fisherman said "No. The bucket with the top are the international crabs while the bucket with no top are Fijian crabs. The Fijian crabs will try to climb out but will be pulled back down by the other ones left behind."
Although I remember chuckling when I first heard this story, I didn't truly get it. I had to spend a number of years here before it really made sense.
The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) launched their new branding and vision yesterday (10 June) after more than 40 years living with the previous logo mark. The launch event was an intimate and very Fijian affair with the Prime Minister as the chief guest, the board of FNPF, some guests and the majority of attendees made up of FNPF employees. I actually thought that was a nice touch since the soul of any rebranding effort are the people that work at the organisation. After all, they're the ones who are expected to drive change. From my perspective, there was a heightened level of excitement around this launch driven, in part, by all the new uniforms staff will get.
The event itself, as written, was very Fijian with the first hour or so taken up by a lovely sevusevu with all the usual adornments including a massive pig and an even more massive trunk of kava bigger than a redwood. Although the ceremony is conducted entirely in Fijian, I never get tired of listening and watching the ritual unfold. There were then a handful of speeches and the new logo was launched.
Incidentally, the new logo and branding was done by Art & Soul, a Suva based creative agency. Oceanic has been working with the new brand for the past few months during development of the fund's new website. At this point, the the new site (located at www.myfnpf.com.fj) is primarily a new foundation for future functionality and outside of a new design and information architecture, does not differ wildly insofar as functionality goes. Although I know that might disappoint some people who expect to see account management functionality, I do believe that's in the cards for the organisation. In fact, it has to be at some point.
There has been a lot of content development taking place as well and I see that growing significantly in the coming months as old material is updated and new messages take its place. I still see work needed in this area but as content creation is consistently one of the biggest client challenges, I think FNPF has done a good job in putting themselves on the right path. They are very aware of their content's importance, too.
There's a lot that can be said for the launch of any new brand and the website is just a single facet of a larger strategy. Not surprisingly, I tend to put a lot of faith in its role as a real game changer insofar as the fund's ability to reinvent itself for its members. I believe there is definitely interest on the part of FNPF to begin exploring the online channel for quality member support and that will likely be the next phase implemented, I think.
Please take the time to visit the new FNPF website and keep your eyes peeled for some of the new feature changes in the coming months.
I've been a customer of Aquasafe for almost six years. It was one of the first companies I dealt with when I arrived to Fiji, in fact. I have bottled water at home and we also have bottled water in the office...both serviced by Aquasafe (Pleass Beverages).
Every month or so, the guys from Aquasafe would telephone my house ahead of time and come by to service and clean the dispenser unit. This was part of the standard rental contract but even more than that, they actually did it. They were proactive about calling my house and making arrangements to come by at a time convenient to us. We don't have them deliver water though...for that, we drive to Walu Bay and pick up water ourselves.
In our office, however, Aquasafe guys come every few weeks and bring new water. Whenever we're running low, they appear almost magically to top us up. I cannot remember a single instance where we needed them to come and they weren't able to either. The distance in time between our call and their visits is rarely more than half a day.
This morning, the nozzle on our water dispenser broke off in the hands of an over-anxious and mildly de-hydrated staff member. We called Aquasafe and told them about it...they arrived this afternoon with an entirely new unit to replace the one that broke. They rushed in, changed it all out and left.
It was masterly efficient and well organised. No bullshit, just proper service.
This is why I'm still their customer and will continue to be. I was imagining this same scenario with most other service businesses around and got nervous thinking about it. Getting fast response on anything is a nightmare to begin with. Further, we didn't need to prove our innocence with this broken item...in fact, it never even came up. We just got a new one. I didn't need to call their CEO. I didn't need to show paperwork or argue how long we had the item.
Is it possible that the team at Aquasafe simply understands the lifetime value of a customer? It just seems that every time I'm forced to interact with that company, I walk away satisfied. It's the way things are supposed to be and like their actual product, it's wildly refreshing.
It has been almost a month since my last post...that may be the longest stretch since this blog was first penned. There's no specific reason for a lack of postings here. I've been busy but more than that, I've just felt empty-headed when it comes to writing. Not good.
Today was a tough day for no other reason that it was crap in the morning and then just spiraled out of control as the afternoon wore on. I see no reason to hide behind this stuff and pretend that everything is peachy keen out here in the tropics. It's just not so.
I have no issues with the amount of project work we have going on so that's not it...I think we've never been busier as a company and in this particular market, it's something I'm happy with. However, collecting money for our work is a massive challenge right now. People and companies are either on edge all the time or they're requesting work they cannot afford. Possibly a combination of the two.
Some of our clients have legitimate reasons for delaying payments. Others, however, are simply playing unfair. Clients that cost us money as a business are clients not worth keeping. I am so convinced of this and yet still struggle when it comes to sacking clients. Pulling the trigger is the hard part. More on that in a future posting.
So by 2.30 p.m., I was near boiling point and threw my hands up in the air and said to myself "just go home". With my head pounding, I stopped by the supermarket to pick up some dinner food for the kids. It was as if that damn EFTPOS machine saw me and said to itself "lets screw with Jonathan ", I was doomed before my groceries were even tallied up.
The woman at check-out swiped my ANZ Access card. DECLINED. She looked at me. I looked down at the stupid, little piece-of-shit black box knowing it was wrong yet I still found a soft voice inside of me and kindly asked "Could you swipe it again, please?" DECLINED. I had enough cash in my pocket so I paid, tucked my tail between my legs, avoided the looks of shame from the people in line behind me and sighed my way out of the store swearing at the bank.
In my car, I called the bank and said "What's going on? Why was my transaction declined?" The man on the other end of the phone said "Hmm... there's nothing wrong with your account. In fact, I can see that transaction actually just went through. Actually, it went through twice!"
Now lets go back to my mood about 30 minutes earlier when I left my office. I was ready to bite the head off of a mongoose. The words I heard come out of the mouth of the ANZ support guy was not "the transactions went through".
No...instead, what I heard was "Thanks, Mr. Segal. I'm going to strike you with the impossible-to-resolve-issue axe and it should keep you fairly well occupied for the next three weeks, by which point you'll either give up entirely or you'll get your $88.74 back but by that point, you won't care either way."
I watched the next three weeks pass before my eyes. It was filled with visions of countless telephone calls, faxed receipts, bank visits, supermarket calls and then supermarket visits. If you think I'm being melodramatic, then you've never been to Fiji. All this so I can be credited back my stupid $88.74. If I charge multiples of that for just an hour of my time in the office, why should I even bother going through this hassle? That's really the question, isn't it?
Remember, I feed on complaining sometimes...nothing bothers me more than the inefficiency of someone else impacting my own ability to get something done. When I run into these problems, I always turn them into customer service scenario training sessions inside my head. I think of ways they should be taking care of me all the while believing it's not worth my time. That's the fuel that powers my thought.
So here I am...about to embark on a customer service love fest with ANZ. Whether it's resolved quickly or not is no longer the question.
If you don't hear from me in 48 hours, call for help.