Virgin are still living their brand

Virgin Trains Vs East Midlands Trains

I was in London for a very early meeting last week and chose to travel out of Grantham on the East Coast mainline that is now operated by Virgin trains. It was always a quick route, normally cheaper than East Midlands Trains and in my experience anyway, dead reliable.

I have always have had high expectations of Virgin and their brand. They promise a lot with their values, so they have a lot to live up to.

And they didn’t just live up to them, they completely exceeded them. Perfect service, genuinely chatty, friendly staff and a great choice of breakfast options delivered to your table at no extra cost. (my bacon sarnie was lovely thanks) and free wifi that was fast enough to be usable for work.

On the way home later, they added a choice of hot meals or a selection of (very tasty) sandwiches and wine or beer and teas and coffees, again all included in the price. It just feels like they are being generous in every respect, even though the actual cost must be tiny, the perceived value and the warmth this drives towards the brand is massive.

Today i’m back on the slightly more expensive and slower East Midlands Train to Nottingham. Full priced menu, wifi that doesn’t work properly (It’s so slow that I can’t even load Speedtest.net to test how bad it is). The staff are still very friendly and I did get a glass of wine on the way home, so overall, i’m not particularly inspired to travel on this route again. It’s Grantham and Virgin for me.

So this proves that you can drive your brand values right through to your service standards and you can keep delivering them over and over again and find new ways to win over and delight your customers.

Thanks Sir Richard.

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The definition of ‘Unlimited’ – according to Virgin Media

Unlimited? Not at Virgin Media

According to Virgin media, Unlimited doesn’t actually mean unlimited. If you sign up for their Unlimited package, they charge you extra if you make long calls.

What Unlimited means according to Virgin is that you can make calls for 59 minutes and 59 seconds, or you get charged at an eye watering 9.94 pence per minute. So, if you are on a conference call, and it is likely to run over the hour, you have to hang up and then dial back in to avoid any extra naughty costs. To find this out, you have to read 637 words into their legals buried at the very bottom of the details page in six point and even then you need to download a PDF to get the actual price.

Doesn’t sound very unlimited to me. It doesn’t sound very much like the Virgin way of doing things to me either.

Anyone got the number for Talk Talk?

Just sayin…..

You don’t decide – your customers do

For years, we have been saying that it is not you that decides whether your brand is any good, it’s your customers.

That may seem like a bold or even an odd claim, but the growth of feedback websites is proving it.

We are just starting to work with one of the best called Feefo

They are delivering feedback to their clients customers that is transforming their businesses. It has been amazing for BeWILDerwood in that it has helped them learn what they are doing right and wrong and really helped focus some decisions about where to invest in improvements.

For Charles Tywhritt it has been what they have built their entire business model on and 99% of their customers seem to love them – which is an amazing figure for any retailer, let alone an online one.

Gartner inc forecasted some years ago that by 2010 there would be 1 billion camera phones in the market place. Add to that the fact that they are now mostly web enabled and you have a very powerful customer voice indeed.

Richard Branson of Virgin fame, who runs a brand that is properly loved was forced to actually ring a customer who not only wrote him a complaint letter but took pictures of what he was unhappy about and then posted it all over the web. It is one of the funniest letters you will ever see.

Have a look at it here. It’s brilliant and well worth reading.

but here are some of the beautiful camera phone pics he took!

Makes you want to tuck straight in, doesn’t it Richard, tuck straight in.

What this shows you is that with any brand you have to really listen to your customers

If they decide that your brand is offering them rubbish, they will tell the world. What you need to encourage them to do by tapping into the power of User generated Content and the likes of Feefo, is harness the power of their compliments too.

Bye for now

John