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HelloFresh - it isn't your fault, but it is your problem.


The old saying in customer service rang true for me recently - It isn't your fault, but it is your problem. My family has been enjoying the home meal service, HelloFresh for months.  We started with Blue Apron.  At first we enjoyed the fancy meals and cooking with ingredients that we had never used before.  After a few shipments from Blue Apron the kids didn't love the menu so we decided to give HelloFresh a try.  Same concept, but different menu.  The first few months were great.  The menu was great, food quality was great.  We began to depend on our Tuesday delivery and would factor two nights of family meals from HelloFresh into our grocery shopping.  

The first problem was two weeks ago.  Tuesday came and no delivery.  Calling customer service resulted in the response that they don't know what happened but it would not happen again.  The thing is, NO attempt to get the delivery made, just an apology and assurance that it will not happen again.  Then, this week the same thing.  NO delivery. 

I called at 7pm to find out what was wrong (the box had normally been delivered around 1pm-2pm).  I was told that the delivery service had until 8pm and their tracking still showed my dinner was out for delivery.  8pm comes no delivery, 9pm no delivery.  At 10pm the shipper (a company called DiCom) says that the package was delivered at 2pm.  IT WAS NOT delivered.  

HelloFresh has a great product, that wasn't the problem.  Their choice of suppliers is what cost them the business.  


Big brands with small insight teams


Last week I attended The Market Research Event in Orlando.  The conference has been one of the largest conferences for Market Researchers.  After sitting through three days of sessions I was struck by how many sessions that included large brands mentioned the size of their teams and just how few team members they were working with.  These are not small companies.  For example I attended sessions with speakers from; Dominos, Roche, IBM, Sephora, Lyft, Coke, Colgate, and many others.  Each one, at some point in their talks about how they addressed a research challenges mentioned the size of their team.  I was surprised at how many global big brands are operating with research teams less than 10 and most with teams of 5 or less.  

Another common theme to all the talks was the adherence to a short cycle methodology.  Many of the presentations talked about Agile and Lean.  Only one from the Garage Group detailed the way they used the build–measure–learn from the Lean methodology but each one had cues to how their internal processes were structured.  Going beyond rapid research methodologies and technologies some clients mentioned their usage of communities and platform data analytics.  

The talk in the hallways and exhibit halls was about shrinking staff and budgets in the research function.  This theme was echoed this morning in Bob Lederer's daily YouTube report.  Bob's story of the day highlights the major players in market research reporting down numbers.  While the numbers may be off a little, they are not off much, many companies are reporting a 5% or less miss of their targets.  In my opinion this is a signal to shifting efforts and not a signal to an industry downturn.    

The future is here now, for some

I am currently reading "WTF What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us" by Tim O'Reilly.   Early on I was struck by the passage; "William Gibson famously observed, “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”".  A big part of my conversations with clients and potential clients is uncovering their perspective.  I ladder the conversations so that I can understand their 'today' and what they want their 'tomorrow' to be.  It helps me to determine if my company is a good fit to help them achieve their goals.  In some conversations they are interested in understanding their data and have only a popular news understanding of machine learning and Ai.  In other cases they are very versed in the nuances of machine learning and artificial intelligence and automation as it relates to their data and business.  The quote from William Gibson helps me to keep perspective that "The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet."

Sometimes you will get crapped on


We are having a very mild fall in New England so yesterday we took some time and the family went apple picking.  When we got to the orchard there were tons of people that had the same idea.  Despite a little concern that the crowds were going to get all the good apples we decided to give it a go.  As we were walking in, I felt a knock on the top of my head, but then it was warm....  yep, a bird shit on me.  Not a little either, but a direct hit on top of my head.  My wife was kind enough to stop laughing long enough to use a napkin and kind of clean most of it out.  It was a nasty way to start, but I was not going to give up.  We hiked to the top and wandering down we found a section that was ripe and ready.  The moral of the story is, sometimes when you start something you might get shit on...  wipe the crap off your head and keep going, the sweet fruit in the end will be worth it.  

When is a Rock not a Rock?

I am reading a great book called 'Turn the Ship around' by L. David Marquet.  I found out about it from an off hand mention by Simon Sinek in an interview he was giving.  

"A little rudder far from the rocks to prevent needing a lot of rudder next to the rocks"  

The idea being that if you adjust your ship earlier to avoid a known problem it will take less effort/work than if you wait till your close.  For a submarine no one debates weather a rock is dangerous for the ship.  In business how can we apply this?  It got me thinking how not all hazards to the business are agreed that they are hazards, sometimes a rock isn't a rock. 

In what ways can we identify the rocks in our business path so that we can apply a little rudder?  How do we unify everyone on the team so that we can all agree that running ashore isn't what we want to happen to our ship?

A note on the power of social proof

Your current customers can be great advocates for your brand.  They can take your marketing, add their personal perspective and show the world what being a customer of yours can be like.  Turning customers into advocates is the basis for the Net Promoter Score (NPS) where your 9s and 10s are your promoters.  This is based on the question, how likely are you to recommend ____ brand?  

Yesterday we were taking a hungry group of teens out to lunch in busy Provincetown, MA.  The challenge was finding a resturant that could take 12 people and a dog with no notice.  As we wandered down Commercial Street we found Govenor Bradford had a back porch with open tables.  

We approached the hostess and asked (even though we could see 4 big open tables) if they could accomodate 12 people and a dog.  The hostess disappeared without saying yes, no, wait and I will check...  nothing just walked away.  As we were standing not sure what to make of her reaction a mom who was sitting at one of the table leaned over and told one of our group to NOT EAT HERE.  She said you will not be happy.  The Governor Bradford had a good menu, outdoor seating, and, seamed like a fun atmosphere from 30 feet away.  BUT the social proof of a fellow parent when we were standing there was all it took to take our business elsewhere.  

As we wondered down Commercial Street in search a resturant that could handle the group we passed The Crown and Anchor (  As we approached (with our dog) to look at the menu there was a group already eating and said you will love it here, and look they have dog bowls at every table.  Guess where we had lunch.  

Negative Social Proof:  A fellow parent with a warning that this place isn't good for families and we would be better anywhere else but there. 

Positvie Social Proof: A fellow pet owner that showed us how happy their dog was with the accommodations.  

Enough marketing for today, I'm on vacation :-). 


A little wind blown while trying to find a place for lunch.