First Capital Bank Limited (FCA.zw) listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under the Banking sector has released it’s 2010 abridged results.For more information about First Capital Bank Limited (FCA.zw) reports, abridged reports, interim earnings results and earnings presentations, visit the First Capital Bank Limited (FCA.zw) company page on AfricanFinancials.Document: First Capital Bank Limited (FCA.zw) 2010 abridged results.Company ProfileFirst Capital Bank Limited (formerly Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe) was founded in 1912 and is an iconic institution in the local banking sector; operating across the full spectrum of retail and business banking, and corporate and investment banking with 38 branches nationwide. In addition to mainstream financial products, First Capital Bank offers motor, home, travel, business and personal insurance services. After more than a century operating under its parent company, Barclays plc has sold its majority stake in Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe to FMB Capital Holdings, the Mauritius based holding company, that has banking operations in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. FMB Capital Holdings is listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange. First Capital Bank Limited is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
Supporters gathered Oct. 26 in New York’s Union Square to mark the beginning of a Grassroots Autonomous Movement that demands the right of any member of immigrant communities to be visible, to participate in the ”democratic” system, to vote and to make their concerns public.The rally heard a few short speeches from Mahoma Lopez of the Laundry Workers Center and other activists from the People’s Power Assembly and the Internationalist Club.Earlier in the day, 10 members of #WeAreVisible #SomosVisible blocked the George Washington Bridge with a banner reading, “Resist, organize, rise up!”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
GreeceEurope – Central Asia Reporters Without Borders is deeply disturbed by the threats that Greece’s neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi), has repeatedly made against the media. The party has just entered parliament by winning 7 per cent of the vote in the 6 May legislative elections.“We find the hate speech that Golden Dawn uses towards the media really alarming,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These words have significance. Journalists have already often been the target of public condemnation in this extremely tense political climate and many have been physically attacked. Politicians have a duty to act responsibly and not poison the situation. Needless to say, protection of the media is vital in a healthy democracy.”Journalists were treated with extraordinary aggression at the news conference that Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos gave on 6 May after the close of polls. “Stand up, show respect,” party members shouted at reporters as he entered the room. Those who refused to stand up were thrown out.Michaloliakos dedicated much of his ensuing statement to hostile comments about the media. “You have accused me, you have defamed me, you have prevented me from speaking and I have defeated you,” he said. “Golden Dawn’s victory is a victory against the mass media’s tyranny, against the junta of TV and the gutter press. “The fight will go on (…) in parliament and outside (…) When the filthy TV channels were broadcasting porn movies after 2 p.m. and disgusting illegal adverts, (our brave boys) were running through the villages, waving the Greek flag. For those who betray this country, the time has come for fear. We are coming (…) Shame to those who accuse us.”Such comments are not new from a party that made vitriolic criticism of the media one of its campaign themes. Golden Dawn responded with threats to a column in the daily I Kathimerini on 12 April in which Xenia Kounalaki said the party should not be allowed to participate in the elections.A long reaction posted anonymously on the Golden Dawn website contained many personal details about Kounalaki’s personal life, mocked her supposedly “foreign roots” (she was born in Hamburg), mentioned her 13-year-old daughter for no clear reason and ended with a threat in German (her “mother tongue”): “Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat, kommt Attentat!” It means: Get wiser with time or get attacked.“The threats made against Xenia Kounalaki are unacceptable and must be properly investigated,” Reporters Without Borders added. “They constitute an act of intimidation towards all journalists who might be tempted to criticize Golden Dawn. Such behaviour is intolerable in a democracy in which the rule of law is supposed to prevail.”When Kounalaki filed a complaint about the threat with the police, she was reportedly told there was little they could do as the post was anonymous. Golden Dawn’s website has since been closed by the WordPress blog platform for “violation of terms of service,” namely “inciting violence and threats against a private individual.”The media have been badly hit by the serious economic, social and political crisis in Greece, which is ranked 70th out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Exposed to the same economic problems as other Greeks, journalists are also often deliberately targeted by the police when covering demonstrations. February 2, 2021 Find out more (Picture from the press conference: Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP) May 10, 2012 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Torrent of abuse and threats against journalists from neo-Nazis Use the Digital Services Act to make democracy prevail over platform interests, RSF tells EU News Greece’s new guidelines for policing protests threaten press freedom Help by sharing this information The Greek police must show journalists can trust it with their protection after one was murdered and another is threatened Receive email alerts GreeceEurope – Central Asia News Organisation News News Follow the news on Greece June 2, 2021 Find out more to go further RSF_en April 29, 2021 Find out more
February 4, 2021 Find out more Lebanon : Violence against reporters becoming more frequent in Lebanon News Reporters Without Borders condemns Hezbollah’s armed attacks and threats against four news media owned by the family of Saad Hariri, the head of Future Movement, the anti-Syrian majority party in the Lebanese parliament. All four news media – the terrestrial and satellite TV station Future TV, satellite TV news channel Future News, the daily newspaper Al-Mustakbal and Radio Orient – were forced to stop operating today. “Lebanon is undergoing a serious political crisis and the situation is very disturbing,” the press freedom organisation said. “We hope the gagging of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority’s news media is not a harbinger of even greater violence. The aggressiveness displayed by Hezbollah militants poses an additional danger for the many journalists covering the clashes on the streets of Beirut. We urge Hezbollah to refrain from attacks on the press.”Rockets were fired early this morning at Al-Mustakbal’s headquarters, starting a fire on one of its floors. Soon afterwards, gunmen surrounded the offices of Future TV, Future News and Radio Orient and threatened to open fire if they did not stop broadcasting. Witnesses said Hezbollah militiamen disabled their video surveillance systems and then disconnected their broadcast cables. Lebanese army soldiers protected employees as they left they buildings to go home.There have been clashes between Hezbollah militiamen and supporters of the anti-Syrian majority for more than 24 hours in several west Beirut neighbourhoods. Receive email alerts Reporters Without Borders condemns armed attacks and threats by Hezbollah against four news media owned by the family of Future Movement leader Saad Hariri. “Lebanon is undergoing a serious political crisis and we hope the gagging of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority’s news media is not a harbinger of even greater violence.” RSF_en Lebanese journalist found shot dead in car News May 9, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Hezbollah threats force rival party’s news media to close Organisation Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” to go further November 11, 2020 Find out more Follow the news on Lebanon Help by sharing this information News LebanonMiddle East – North Africa News January 14, 2021 Find out more LebanonMiddle East – North Africa
HerbeautyAre You His Ms. Right? 12 Signs He Thinks You AreHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyBet You Didn’t Need Another Reason To Stay Coupled Up This SeasonHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty9 Of The Best Family Friendly Dog BreedsHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyRub This All Over Your Body And He’s Guaranteed To Swoon Over YouHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyThe Most Heartwarming Moments Between Father And DaughterHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyYou Can’t Go Past Our Healthy Quick RecipesHerbeautyHerbeauty Sports SOCXS Launches Social Brand Platform for Sports and Entertainment with the Release of 32 National Football League Fansites Brands Give Fans, Friends, and Followers, an All Media Access Pass from a Single Dashboard Designed for Web, Mobile or Embedded Widgets From STAFF REPORTS Published on Thursday, September 25, 2014 | 5:15 pm Name (required) Mail (required) (not be published) Website SOCXS Technologies today announced its SOCXS Social Brand Platform along with the release of 32 football team mobile fansites for Android. SOCXS brings fans back to the brand with a single consolidated view of all the social content around players, teams and artists. The SOCXS platform is a social brand multiplier that dynamically collects all the social content from fan tweets, photos, videos and posts, as well as official content and RSS feeds, into a single fansite. With SOCXS, brands can create real-time websites, mobile applications, Facebook pages and embeddable widgets in just a few minutes. SOCXS brings fans back to brands and delivers a ten-fold increase in engagement.To showcase the SOCXS platform, 32 NFL team apps were created using fan content. For superfans around the world wanting to track all the conversations about their favorite teams download the SOCXS team app for Android here. NHL, NBA and IOS apps are coming in the next few months.â€œI live and breathe the NFL, so when football season starts, I’m looking for a place to go to feel like I’m part of the game, 24×7. The SOCXS NFL apps give me the fan community I need, with the real-time live updates and conversations that make the game last well beyond Sunday,â€ said Ato Boldon, NBC Lead Track and Field Analyst and four time Olympic Gold Medalist.Brands with numerous products, artists and entities struggle with the social multiplier effect – the ever increasing number of social profiles they need to manage in order to engage with fans. SOCXS allows brands to consolidate this experience for fans and brand managers.â€œSOCXS made social network integration a snap for us. Starting from scratch, in a matter of days we had a fully integrated social web experience for our recent Nashville live music event. Brilliant!â€ said Ted Vucurevich, CEO and Founder of Enconcert and former CTO of Cadence.The SOCXS Platform allows marketers, brand managers, designers and agencies to immediately streamline their brand presences for fans, friends and followers into a single webpage or mobile application in minutes.Now organizations, teams and companies and talent can:â— own their social communities.â— allow fans to interact with each other.â— build completely customized mobile applications in minutes.â— increase brand presence and recognition 10X.â— deliver responsive marketing and exclusive offerings.“This is the best platform ever for managing social media strategies,â€ said Ann McCormick, Founder of The Learning Company.About SOCXSFounded in 2010, SOCXS is the only brand publishing platform that allows marketers, brand managers, designers and agencies to immediately streamline their brand presences for fans, friends and followers into a single website, application in minutes. The SOCXS Platform allows marketers, brand managers, designers and agencies to immediately streamline their brand presences into a single mobile application or website in minutes. With SOCXS you gain control, a10X increase in reach and social interaction, and the ability to offer exclusive marketing campaigns to your entire community. Try SOCXS and multiply your social brand presence. For more information visit www.socxs.com Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. Subscribe Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday More Cool Stuff 6 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it Make a comment Community News First Heatwave Expected Next Week Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy Business News faithfernandez More » ShareTweetShare on Google+Pin on PinterestSend with WhatsApp,Virtual Schools PasadenaHomes Solve Community/Gov/Pub SafetyCitizen Service CenterPASADENA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES CALENDARClick here for Movie Showtimes EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS Community News Top of the News Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena
News UpdatesDelay-‘Courts Are Doctors Of Bleeding Rights’: Madras High Court Cautions Bar & Litigants To Honor Court Appointments LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK21 Dec 2020 7:43 AMShare This – x”Courts may not be solely responsible for delay in disposal of cases”The Madras High Court recently cautioned the members of the Bar and other litigants to responsibly follow the dates set by the Courts for hearing in any case. A single bench of Justice N. Seshasayee observed that every time the Bar or the litigants are given a posting for their hearings, the Court is giving them appointments. They should ensure that these appointments are…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Madras High Court recently cautioned the members of the Bar and other litigants to responsibly follow the dates set by the Courts for hearing in any case. A single bench of Justice N. Seshasayee observed that every time the Bar or the litigants are given a posting for their hearings, the Court is giving them appointments. They should ensure that these appointments are not wasted. The remarks were made while hearing a civil revision petition filed by one Fathima, against the Trial Court’s order dismissing her interim application seeking an opportunity to cross-examine a Defence witness. The High Court observed that the impugned decision was passed by the Trail Court in the backdrop of immense “agony”, put upon it by the Petitioner, who failed to abide by the dates set by the Court on multiple occasions, repeatedly sought adjournments or appeared unprepared for hearings. Deprecating such practices, the High Court explained that the Courts exist to provide justice to the aggrieved. The people come to the Courts themselves. They are not invited by the Courts. But, once the people approach the Courts for a legal remedy, it becomes their duty to be disciplined and follow a reasonable timetable. The Court stated, “It is time they realised that Courts are doctors of injured rights, and the appointments they grant them are honoured and made use of.” Justice Seshasayee asked, “When the litigants do not miss, say a train or a plane in time, miss a marriage or other social events in time, miss a cinema or a live show in time, miss an examination or an interview in time – and the list is endless, what makes them believe that their appointments with the courts alone should figure the least in their list of priorities?”The Court expressed that the slow disposal of cases is always chalked up to judicial delay, but people never take into account the factors such as the litigants not abiding by Court dates, as one of the problems that contribute to the huge pile of cases that are still pending before the Court in this country. “Is it a problem of inadequate professionalism of the Bar, or plain irresponsibility of the litigants, or unmindful generosity of the Courts that they themselves choose not to the take the appointments that they have given the litigants seriously? The pathology of delay in disposal of cases lie somewhere in this malady. The courts may not be solely responsible for this, but it cannot seek an exemption either. However, it is passed for, and derided as judicial delay,” asked the Court. It added,”The same stakeholders who do not spare an opportunity to abuse and/or waste their appointments with the courts, and at times even with a design, blame them. With pain it has to be stated that, for the sin of a section of the Bar and the litigants, the Courts are forced to carry the cross all alone, struggling to explain the delay for the disposal of cases to the citizens of this country all the time.”The bench stated that it understands the unforeseen circumstances that might affect human affairs, but this benefit of a doubt cannot be extended beyond a limit. Extreme delays caused by litigants who don’t abide by these Court appointments will, as the bench states, defeat the very purpose and objectives of the Court and impinge upon the promise and duties that they have towards the citizens of this country. The Court further, in this context, added, “We, the People, may not betray the trust the Constitution has reposed on us, and shame it.” The Court discussed the challenges faced by the District Judiciary in handing procedural discretion. The Court said, “The Procedural law is a rule book of fairness, and the mindless abuse of procedural discretion, no matter who is responsible for it, would necessarily breed processual inequality among litigants.” It observed that showing an extreme amount of solicitousness to one of the litigants might be procedurally fair to that litigant, but will be unfair to the other litigant. The Court asserted, “Right to justice is a composite concept: it includes both right to substantial justice as well as procedural justice.” The Court here stated that the ‘Watch, Weigh, Value’ approach might be the most reasonable one for the District Courts to balance procedural justice in individual cases. Everyone has a right to justice and it should not be overlooked by grouping everyone in a common denominator. “It is hence, imperative that the Courts should watch, weigh and value each of them for accommodating their request for exercising procedural discretion,” advised the Court. The bench reiterated with firmness that the appointment given by the Court is as important as an appointment given by a doctor. It should be valued and honoured by the Bar and the litigants. Coming to the matter at hand, the Bench held that the Trial Court was clear in its reasoning and judgement. It was stated that the Trial Judge had dealt with a litigant (the petitioner) who had made it a habit to miss and abuse the appointments given to her by the Trial Court. The bench stated that the judicial system has evolved a Doctrine by which the litigant should not suffer due to the faults of her Counsel. But, Justice N. Seshasayee rhetorically remarked, “What is that point where a just compassion turns into an undeserving charity? And, is it not true that a section of the bar that has once abused the procedural opportunity is helped with unending opportunities to escape from their inadequate responsibility?” The High Court in this case stated, “The attitude of the revision petitioner is plainly and painfully nonsensical, and somewhere this game should end. And it has ended now.” With this statement, they dismissed the revision petition. Case Title: Fatima v. Rahamutullah & Ors. Click Here To Download Order Read OrderNext Story
ABC News(MOBILE, Ala.) — Tropical Storm Gordon came ashore just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border late Tuesday bringing gusts over 75 mph and half a foot of rain to Pensacola, Florida. The storm also claimed the life of a child in Pensacola when strong winds toppled a tree on his family’s mobile home.As of 4 a.m. local time, over 40,000 customers were without power in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida — about 21,000 of which were in Alabama.Officially, Gordon made landfall Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. local time as a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph. It never became a hurricane, as it was just 4 mph short of reaching the classification.Gordon is weakening even more Wednesday morning and is a low-end tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.A tornado threat and flash flooding will continue for the central and eastern Gulf Coast states of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida through the morning.Moving forward, Gordon will continue to weaken and become a tropical depression later Wednesday morning and then just a remnant low as it moves into the Mississippi River Valley Thursday.Even though Gordon is weakening, it is also slowing down and will produce a lot of rain in the central U.S.As Gordon’s remnants move north and hit a slow-moving cold front, the storm will come to a crawl and dump more than a half a foot of rain on the Midwest.Because of the forecast for all of that rain, flood watches have been issued from the Gulf Coast all the way to Upper Peninsula of Michigan.Some areas in the upper Mississippi Valley had more than 15 inches of rain in the last week and all of the new rain will be running into the major rivers as well.An additional 6 inches or more of rain could produce significant flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries as we go into the end of the week and into the weekend.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Are you being served?On 22 Aug 2000 in Personnel Today The more companies spend on service delivery, the less consumers are satisfied. To bridge the yawning gap between what the customer wants and what they get businesses need new strategies. Jane Lewis reports.“If you’d like to leave a message press one. To be left on hold and plunged into a silent telephonic abyss press two. To listen to a tinny version of Greensleeves press three. To be transferred to our understaffed call centre where our operators are too busy to take your call press four. To speak to an operator who is very nice but no help at all press five. To be cut off for no apparent reason …”If this recent advertisement for KitKat strikes a chord with your own experience of customer service in Britain, you are not alone. The call centre experience – so often unsatisfactory – has come to represent what is now recognised as a yawning gap between our expectations of the kind of service we are entitled to and what is actually being delivered. As the 21st century unfolds it is clear that most people accept that service will play an increasingly important part in the economy. As we get richer, so our appetite for services seems to be almost unlimited. Yet authoritative surveys show that the more companies spend on service delivery, the less their users or consumers are satisfied. It represents a worrying and potentially very expensive puzzle.The recent formation of the Institute of Customer Service, a body dedicated to elevating service to the status of a respected profession, is evidence that this is an issue that companies are beginning to take very seriously. Given the bearing that good customer relationships might have on their future competitiveness, this is hardly surprising. At a time when the marketable differences between products per se are diminishing very rapidly, the level of customer service backing them up is set to become an important differentiator in its own right. Indeed some commentators, including the institute’s Paul Cooper, maintain that in some sectors service is set become the main purchasing criterion. “When we buy something we have to make our judgement as much on the customer service as we do on the product. “The problem is that you usually only find out how bad somebody’s customer service is after you’ve bought,” he says. Near miraclesBut as Cooper points out, the combination of high-tech systems and well-trained, responsible staff can result in “superb” results for those organisations that get the formula right. The statistics show over and over again how very much more expensive it is to find new customers compared to keeping the ones you’ve already got,” he says. And professional customer service can bring about near miracles in terms of transforming complainant groups into dedicated customers for life. “Those that have woken up to this have stolen a major competitive market,” Cooper says. “It’s terribly difficult for companies to catch up with something like customer service because it’s very intensive from a time point of view. “It can take three or four years to turn a company around. So those that started two or three years ago have a very strong lead.”The real problem, of course, lies in how you go about achieving this transformation. While staff training is clearly important, there is clear evidence that something more intangible – in terms of overall attitudes – is marking the winners from the losers. This is apparent in call centres themselves. Contrary to the prevailing status quo, the best operatives are not those that have been trained to stick to the rule book, so much as those with equipped with the self-belief and autonomy to believe in their own competencies. “The biggest problem you can come against in some companies is to get rid of rules that stop [operatives] being able to use their own personality,” Cooper claims. Thus it is more a question of fostering an overall company attitude that fosters good service. “I think much of the responsibility for this falls at the feet of the boardroom. They have to realise there’s a lot of money that needs to be spent,” he says. “But it’s much more about attitude, about the development of employee satisfaction and the realisation that this is where good customer service is going to come from.”Christopher Hobden, a partner specialising in service delivery at management consultancy Bain & Co, agrees that recruiting and training customer specialists is a real difficulty for companies. Yet he also points out that many organisations are continuing to fall at the first hurdle when it comes to providing good service – few have the gift of seeing themselves as their customers see them. More important, many are unable to recognise exactly who their customers are, and what they actually want. Indeed, making the wrong assumptions about what drives customers has led to some interesting discrepancies in service provision. Individualised customer“For example, one company told us they used to recruit people who were good at mental arithmetic, because that’s what they thought their customers wanted. In fact, they needed people who could take responsibility for solving their customers’ problems – and that’s much broader than just being good at mental arithmetic,” Hobden says.But the biggest change in the way those at the forefront of the revolution are handling their client bases has come in the realisation that not all customers are the same. In fact, the ability to segment – to identify key customer groups and discard others – has been a leading factor in the strategies of many newer organisations. Hobden points to the example of airlines such as EasyJet and BA’s Go. “There is a huge disparity between the traditional airlines and [these new operators]. What they have done is to figure out which customers are most valuable to them and what those customers want. They then set out to provide the appropriate level of service for their chosen customer bases.” In this instance, that means fewer frills, lower prices and the guarantee of getting from A to B with the minimum amount of hassle.Hobden believes the chief mistake many organisations make is trying to cater for too wide a customer base. “They cannot expect to be good at serving all customers.” Indeed, future winners will be marked out less by their ability to appeal to a wide range of customer types and more by their skill at providing an appealing range of services to specific groups. “In the future any buyer of a product or service should be able to find an organisation that is setting out to attract him in particular – and therefore offering the type of combined product and service which that individual is looking for,” Hobden says. But the process of shedding “unwanted” customers, or re-educating them to fit a new company direction, is far from pain-free, as Barclays Bank found to its cost earlier this year when it embarked on a programme encompassing the planned closure of some 171 rural branches. With what can only be described as unfortunate timing, the bank simultaneously ran a high-profile ad campaign in which Hollywood big shot, Anthony Hopkins, extolled its virtues as a “big, big bank”. Barclays’ director of consumer and community affairs Martin Moseley admits the reaction from the public “was not a happy one… we will certainly have learned lessons from recent experiences”. The bank did try to redress the situation via a programme of customer education as to why it was making the move, and how customers could themselves benefit from moving into a more ATM/Internet-centric banking environment. “I personally went to a number of meetings in communities to explain in some great detail. After those meetings, there was a strong understanding of why we had to do it. But the timing, I hasten to add, was never going to be easy,” he says. Nonetheless, Moseley maintains that even a PR debacle of this magnitude can be turned to a company’s advantage. “We face a significant number of customer complaints but out of those complaints come service improvements. We actually encourage complaints because it’s a real way of testing the temperature of the water with customers.”But even when companies are committed to the notion of providing enhanced customer service, many face a dilemma when it comes to actually following through on these proposals, as Michael Wilmot of the think-tank Future Foundation points out. The problem is that investing in customers is not a strategy that immediately shows up on the bottom line and can thus have serious ramifications on how market values are perceived. “Shareholder value often works against the idea of customer focus,” he says. “Giving better service to a customer costs money, and it can only be justified if ultimately revenues come in. “But obviously the costs normally come first and the revenues later. It requires companies to take rather a bold and longer term view about their position and their competitive advantage in the medium term, rather than the immediate short term.”The refusal of some organisations to bite this particular bullet might be one reason why the notion of “customer service” has already gained such a dire reputation in certain sectors, most notably in the former public utilities and the NHS. While these organisations will willingly talk the talk, they won’t actually walk the walk, claims Wilmot. Service as servitude“The trouble is that they are still not driven by customer focus. They have called them customers but they don’t treat them like customers. It’s still the case that if you go to the hospital, you know you have to wait. In a truly customer-focused commercial organisation you couldn’t do that and survive,” he says. But a secondary reason why many organisations find it so hard to go wholesale down this route is that empowering customers, by definition, is likely to have serious ramifications on the prevailing power structures. “The problem is that the model I’m proposing – basically companies run for the consumer – is threatening [to senior management]. It’s because consumers now drive the business because they say what’s needed,” says Wilmot. “All management is doing is responding to what the customers say, so it’s not surprising that people feel threatened by that. And you have structures in these organisations which were built for a different world, different sorts of markets and different sorts of consumers. They have to change that.”One public-sector organisation which has responded to this challenge is the East London Borough of Newham, which is concentrating on the quality of its service as a means of encouraging people to stay and live in the borough. The council’s assistant chief executive in charge of strategic human resources and development, Eata O’Donovan, describes a dual-pronged approach to the issue which majors on both technical and human skills. In tandem with a new call centre which aims to provide citizens with immediate detailed information on any area of concern, the council has instituted a series of local service centres dotted around the borough. “That means that people who don’t have a phone, or who don’t feel confident on the phone, can get to a council office much more quickly. And that facilitates a greater dialogue between the customer and the council,” says O’Donovan. Despite the importance of “soft” communication skills in customer-fronting staff, IT also plays an important part, she explains. “We don’t want staff to feel exposed. They’ve got very good IT and, if they face an issue, they can immediately connect with the back office and get the information so that the person goes away satisfied then – rather than, say, in three weeks time.” She rejects the notion that this might be a dangerous step in terms of raising customer expectations of service to unreasonable levels. “I would be very reluctant to inhibit any individual or public’s right to be demanding of service. What you hope is that you engage them more in a really open dialogue – that they will begin to appreciate the complexities of what you are doing. That is really the future of democracy, because if people understand more, they’ll contribute more.”Nonetheless, many commentators believe that the UK continues to lag behind other societies, most notably the US, when it comes to understanding what real customer service means. Nigel Barlow, a consultant specialising in inspiring organisations to improve their service – and author of Batteries Included, Creating Legendary Service – claims this is largely down to a continuing “Upstairs Downstairs hangover.”Too often in this country, he claims, the notion of providing service is associated with a kind of ritual humiliation. “I think it is because we think of service as servitude. There is almost a ritual dance where the server has to establish that they’re socially and intellectually your equal – and only then will they deign to serve you.”This might explain several national “service” traits which invariably prove more uncomfortable than reassuring – most notably the ubiquitous “Are you enjoying your meal?” when you’ve just taken the first mouthful. Consequently, Barlow also advocates throwing out the rule book when it comes to defining what constitutes good service. Discover your own legend“If there is a rule it should be not to copy others – this has been a great mistake. “There has been a rise in business of what’s called benchmarking. If it’s done well, it means stealing good ideas from others. But you’ll find many companies trying to compare themselves with others who are equally mediocre or average. You have to discover your own legend.”A new breed of operation is attempting to do precisely that. Ten UK (Ten standing for time, energy, network) describes itself as a “pure” service company. Its remit, explains founder Alex Cheetle, is to act as a butler, concierge – almost a spouse – rolled up into one telephone service. “A lot of it is the everyday stuff that needs doing every week or month. We organise plumbers, electricians and flights; check insurance and get cars MOT’d. But we do the occasional big one-off as well.”The essence of the service is to put customers, or members, first – and that means investing heavily in staff, particularly given the personal nature of many of the services provided. “Our people need to be empowered to have that relationship of trust with members. They need to be motivated, they need to be loving what they’re doing and be able to make decisions,” Cheetle says. “We actually went out there and chose the most difficult people we could imagine when we set up business – we chose American corporate lawyers. We thought that if we could make American corporate lawyers happy, we’d have a good business.”• This is an edited extract from Radio 4’s In Business programme. The next series begins on 21 September.
Related posts:No related photos. Gain from entering into the union spiritOn 17 Oct 2000 in Personnel Today Coarse employer tactics and the resultant strike action do not sit well with partnership, says Gregor GallWhat have Floplast, Arts Factory and Pick-a-Pack got in common? Yes they are companies most of us have never heard of – but more interestingly they have all been reported as sacking union activists engaged in union recognition campaigns in the past year.The headlines may all pick up on the spirit of partnership between trade unions and employers, but the reality on the ground is more complicated. At print firm Floplast in Kent, six print union members were sacked for taking a cigarette break outside the factory gates without clocking out. They were sacked for disciplinary reasons. But their union alleges this has been done to send a signal to the workforce: the union isn’t welcome here. Undaunted, the members (who comprise over half the workforce) have taken three one-day official strikes to get re-instatement for the sacked staff. Their fight is also for union recognition to gain better wages and conditions.The Floplast case is one of over 100 cases where unions are accusing employers of suppressing recruitment and recognition campaigns. Employers are accused of tactics including sackings, dismissals and redundancies, or of threatening them, for violations of rules and regulations, and “under-performance”. Unions also claim employers have had spies at union meetings, videoed staff during work and break times and held captive presentations on how unionisation leads to falling company profits. I believe the impulse behind these type of activities has been the approach and existence of the statutory mechanisms for gaining recognition within the Employment Relations Act 1999. How does this fit with other employer responses to the question of union recognition? It has already been well established that most of those so far approached, where membership is significant, have signed voluntary deals. Other companies have attempted to pre-empt campaigns by offering employees a positive, often material reason, for not joining a union. This carrot approach contrasts markedly with the stick approach of which Floplast and others are accused. Here the spirit of partnership counts for nothing. An obvious question is will there be more Floplasts, or for those of us with longer memories, any Grunwicks? The new laws and a more active union movement looking to re-establish itself after 20 years of managerial Thatcherism will inevitably mean unions will confront employers. As unions sign new agreements some of the anti-union organisations may opt to settle for a “progressive” union. But this will still leave people like the manager and founder of Synseal windows, who told Channel 4 News recently, “This company is my company. I started it, I built it and I own it. I’m not prepared to tolerate their intrusion … We have made it clear to our workforce that if the new legislation created a situation where we were required to recognise unions then I would have to consider closing the company.”Both the TUC and the Labour government are keen to play down these possibilities. Such actions and resultant strikes and picket lines don’t sit well with “partnership”. Bodies like the CIPD, Industrial Society and IPA as well as leading HR and personnel managers should come out and condemn these autocratic employers and support the democratic right of workers for representation of their own choice. Only if they do that will the spirit of partnership mean anything to employees.• Gregor Gall is senior lecturer in industrial relations at the University of Stirling Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article
Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. The French experience of the 35-hour week has not been the calamity sowidely predicted, writes Stephen OverellWhen the National Union of Teachers called for a 35-hour working weekearlier this year, the Education Secretary Estelle Morris dismissed the idea as”potty” and incompatible with being a professional. It has always been the fate of the 35-hour week to be called mad, and it isevidently no less mad now that the French experiment of le trente-cinq is underway, not so very far from the apparently sane, orthodox shores of Blighty. The law reducing the “statutory length of actual work” to 35 hoursa week averaged over a year has now been in force since January 2000 (January2002 for organisations with fewer than 20 staff). French employers call it an”absurdity”. President Jacques Chirac says it is “ideologicallyobsolete”. Economists fall over themselves to denounce it. Yet it seems that French workers, with their Wednesday afternoons off andshort Fridays, are not quite so convinced of its lunacy. Surveys have foundthat four-fifths believe their lives have improved because of it. The new centre-right administration may seek to water it down, but it ishard to envisage a return to the 39-hour week becoming a popular slogan. Forsome workaholic Anglo-Saxons, meanwhile, le trente-cinq is both a compelling andappalling spectacle in equal measure. The 35-hour week was the flagship policy of the former left-wing coalitionled by Lionel Jospin. At its heart lay a beguilingly simple idea: more workersdoing fewer hours. If existing workers cut back on their hours, the unemployedcould take up the slack – a redistribution of working time that would in theprocess increase flexibility. But as economists pointed out at the time of its introduction, the idea thata fixed quantity of work exists to be parcelled out is a fallacy; there is nosuch thing as a limit on the amount of work that needs doing. Moreover,aggressive state regulation is not the normal way to go about increasingflexibility. Confusing it may be, but what has been the result? On job creation, therecord is mixed. In 1997, unemployment peaked at 12.4 per cent and now sits atabout 8.8 per cent. Yet Martine Aubry, the former employment minister, admittedonly a fifth of new jobs were directly spawned by the 35-hour week. Most werethe result of robust growth.1 On flexibility, ironically, the impact seems to have been more apparent. Aspart of the law, employers and unions were encouraged to negotiate how to bringin the law at plant level by collective bargaining. This has entailed anexpansion of influence, both direct and indirect, for trade unions, which havealways suffered from low membership – about 10 per cent. But in exchangeemployers have wasted no time in stripping away decades of accumulatedrestrictive practices. At Samsonite, the luggage manufacturer, workers agreed to 42 hours a weekduring summer, when the demand for baggage is high, in exchange for 32 hours aweek in winter. And Renault and Peugeot have learned to love the 35-hour week because itmeant they could ‘idle’ workers in slack months. Yet among many small businesses, especially in sectors such as restaurantsand trucking, the law has succeeded only in driving up costs while dazzlingemployers with complicated formulas for calculating overtime. Meanwhile, someoccupations, such as civil servants, senior executives, doctors, lawyers andsoldiers, are deliberately excluded and are suffering the consequences. Needless to say, as a result of a shorter working week, wasting time at workhas become a crime of heinous proportions. Productivity – always at the heartof all discussions about curtailing working time – has risen smartly since2000, with France sitting as the fourth most productive country in the world.The insurance union has complained its members are becoming stressed, whileothers have noted unforeseen problems. “The risk of the 35-hour week is that it can affect the workers’motivation,” argues Valerie Fiton, HR manager with Advanta, an Agen-basedcompany manufacturing grains and cereals. She adds: “There are strict controls governing the hours worked.Sometimes employees might not get their work finished. It’s frustrating forthem not to see a vision of the work as a whole. But we’ve gained inproductivity and efficiency.”2 The number of hours the average person now works has had a noticeable effecton the rigidities of French social life. Prior to the law, just 1.6 per cent ofthe workforce worked a 35-hour week. By June 2001, 62 per cent were working 35hours – a figure sure to have risen since.3 Weekends now start on Thursdays andend on Tuesdays. Middle-ranking executives find they have an extra two weeks’holiday a year – on top of the six they already had, and the leisure and DIYsectors are booming. Questions remain, however, about how France can afford its working week.Companies that reduced working time through collective agreements in advance ofthe statutory application of the law, and which took on new recruits as aresult, were entitled to state aid. Employer social security contributions werereduced in proportion to the workers covered by the reduction (although stateaid was only temporary). In addition, for recruiting 9 per cent more staff, employers could get anextra government grant. The National Economic Planning Agency has estimated thecost of subsidising new jobs is running at £4,600 per job and has left theGovernment with a £1.5bn bill. With the new Government committed to tax breaks, the question is whetherproductivity growth will be enough to offset the costs. The main employers’ organisations, MEDEF and the CNPF, remain deeply opposedto the 35-hour week in principle, though in practice they are advising memberson tactics. Few would call it a runaway success. Yet even US think tanks have beenstartled by just how great a margin the French experiment has not been acalamity. “The French Government has succeeded in applying a complex,socially contentious and economically ill-advised policy reform with unexpectedélan,” as one analyst put it.4 Could it ever happen here? The distance between France and Britain seems farmore real than physical space would indicate. References 1 Reduction of working time: lessons from its analysis, Commissariat generaldu plan, 2001 2 Interview on Newsnight, 29.5.01 3 Commissariat general du plan, as above 4 France’s 35-hour work week: Flexibility Through Regulation, by GunnarTrumbull, Center on the United States and France, 2001. Research Viewpoint plusRead related articles on this topic from XpertHR’s extensivedatabase free. Go to www.xperthr.co.uk/researchviewpointJoin the Xperts take a free trialBy calling 01483 257775 or e-mail: [email protected] is a new web-based information service bringing together leadinginformation providers: IRS, Butterworths Tolley and Personnel Today. Itfeatures a new Butterworths Tolley employment law reference manual, a researchdatabase and guidance from 13 specialist IRS journals, including IRS EmploymentReview. Vive le 35-hour week?On 23 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today