Thursday, February 23, 2012

My sons first business trip

I have just dropped my son to the airport. At 13 years old, it's his first time traveling alone

We have had the most amazing trip this week. We came out 5 days ago from Dubai to Hong Kong where Shaan joined me on a business trip.

Arriving in Hong Kong

My son has always shown an interest in making things, and every time I come out to China to visit factories, I think of him, knowing he would enjoy seeing this.

So this time, I brought him out. These are hard trips. No time to adjust for time differences and long days with early starts, but Shaan managed this all admirably well.

We arrived in Hong Kong on a Sunday night, and immediately drove to Shenzhen, in China, where we stayed the night. We were out of the hotel by 9am the next morning (and the 2 mornings after that) traveling around southern China visiting factories.

Welcomed by one of our suppliers

It was great exposure for Shaan. To see his dad work, to sit in meetings (and I was pleased to see him take an active interest in the discussions), to visit the factory floors and also to be involved in our product development process.

A batch of our products ready at one of the factories

Shaan has always been an adventurous eater, so being taken out by our Chinese hosts for meals didn't phase him. Our meals included chicken feet, stewed crocodile and deep fried silk worms ... all of which he relished (he has a stronger stomach than me).

Selecting the crocodile part to be stewed !

Shaan also managed well with the long hours. With the early starts and late nights, he coped very well with the lack of sleep. He just accepted it as something we had to do and didn't fuss at all.

Then there were the factory visits themselves. Shaan took a great interest in these and saw plastic injection, metal stamping, motor manufacturing, aluminum smelting, copper wire production, PCB manufacturing and of course final product assembly. His observations led to  comments such as "developing products is much more difficult than I imagined" and "I thought there would be much more automation in factories", so I can see he learned a lot from this exposure.

Metal stamping

Copper wire manufacturing

It is clear that my son is growing up. He is better for having done this trip (and I am better for having had this precious time with him). He's grown a giant step in seeing something of "the real world" and I hope it stands him in good stead, even for his very immediate future.

For me, as Shaan gets older, I'm losing grip and losing sight of that precious little child who entered our lives 13 short years ago. I value each moment with him, and for me, this trip was priceless for that reason more than any other.

So I end this blog entry with a "thank you" to my son. For giving me this time and this chance to be with him. For making me proud of the person he is and has become.

I am sad to see my little boy slipping away, but am happy to see a fine young man arriving in his place.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Well done Singapore Airlines

I typically have a rant on this blog about things that irk me, but occasionally I come across some good stuff, and those stories need (perhaps even more so) to be told too.

This story is about a company with a fantastic marketing technique. The other day I received a phone call from Singapore Airlines about a forthcoming trip. The representative who rang me first confirmed that I was booked on a certain flight, and after I confirmed, she told me that a cheaper fare was available for that same flight and would I like to avail of that and get a refund for the difference? It took me a moment to grasp this most unnatural situation, but of course replied “yes”

This phone call stunned me. What company calls and offers you a discount AFTER a sale is made? If this is a genuine situation and normal practice for SQ, then that is fantastic customer service. Alternatively, if this was a marketing ploy (to which I was the lucky beneficiary) set up to make me feel good and simply spread the word about SQ’s exceptional service … then it worked!

Whichever it was, Singapore Airlines has bought my loyalty. I will certainly look to fly with them whenever there is a route I need that they fly, and I have already spread the word to anyone who will listen to me, including my adding this blog entry and my preaching it to the whole of our business as a case study in outstanding customer experiences.

Well done Singapore Airlines. Thanks for giving me something positive to write about.