How the ‘Biggest Mistake’ in Newspaper History Helped Fuel the World’s Largest Photo Competition
The world’s largest chemicals maker, BASF, says it will cut 500 jobs at its plastic additives and pigments divisions in the face of competition from Asia.
Read more: BASF to cut 500 jobs worldwide
Head of new Financial Conduct Authority says complaints data helps consumers and boosts competition
Santander has been named as the most complained about bank by the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Spanish-owned bank, which is advertising its 123 current account heavily at the moment, was the subject of four complaints for every one of its 1,000 banking customers during the second half of last year.
Overall, Santander had the fifth-largest number of complaints to the regulator, but the most banking problems per customer. On investments, it was the most-complained about firm with 2,236 complaints, and also received the most mortgage complaints, 14,080.
Barclays topped the new financial regulator’s figures in terms of the gross number of complaints, including banking, insurance, payment protection insurance (PPI) and other issues.
The FCA, which has just taken over from the Financial Services Authority, said that in total there were almost 3.5m complaints about financial service firms during the six months to the end of 2012 with 2.1m about mis-sold PPI. The figure was 1% higher than the first half of the year as the number of PPI complaints climbed by 5%.
There was some better news for pure banking customers. Complaints about current accounts fell 6% while problems with insurance rose by the same amount.
The figures show that Barclays was the subject of 414,302 complaints to the FSA, which is down 6% since the first half of 2012. Lloyds TSB had 349,386 (down 19%), Bank of Scotland/Halifax: 338,912 (down 7%) while Santander received 237,923 (down 1%). The card provider MBNA received a large number of complaints – 270,486 (a drop of 3%).
FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley says: “Greater transparency drives greater competition, and the publication of the complaints data lays bare the track record of the UK’s financial institutions when it comes to resolving customer conflicts.
“When I meet the bosses of the financial institutions they frequently tell me they do not want to be at the top of the table, which means they strive to improve both their sales and complaints handling processes.
“Not only does our data help consumers compare and contrast their current bank or lender, it also boosts competition among firms.”
The book industry’s biggest ever merger cleared its final hurdle on Friday when EU competition authorities approved a deal to bring together Penguin and Random House.
See the rest here: VIDEO: Merger of book giants gets green light
With so much noise in the social media space, it can be hard for smaller brands to get their message across. Here are some top tips to make your presence count
Social media platforms have huge potential to foster innovation in businesses of any size. They offer a space in which companies and individuals can benefit from having access to creative clusters of professionals who are willing to share their ideas.
However, this creative stock of ideas is very difficult to properly exploit, because there is also a huge level of fragmentation: the conversations are going on everywhere, all the time, and it can seem that you need significant resources to explore these virtual spaces properly.
However, small businesses can adopt some strategies learned from large corporations, in order to benefit from social media innovation.
Be in the right places
Big companies have the resources to invest in having a broad presence in the social media sphere. SMEs start from the opposite perspective, of working with fewer resources.
The best strategy in this case is to focus your attention on the social media spaces in which interesting content is more likely to appear, either from current and potential customers, or from other conversations. Instead of trying to be everywhere, an SME should start with cultivating a community in one or two social media channels at the most.
The company should investigate where its current and potential customers are, and design a strategy to reach them. A company which sell services to other companies, or small consultancies and professional firms, for instance, may find it is easier to connect using LinkedIn as the main social network.
The company should focus on matters that interest audiences. Big companies have realised social media is a space for marketing, but people become very tired of marketing-only interactions. Time is a scarce resource on social media: there are so many things to be seen and read, so people become selective about the conversations they wish to engage in. The only way of really engaging people is to start conversations which are in their interest. High quality, relevant content, from the perspective of a particular audience, is necessary to attract people to the virtual space, in order then to encourage their participation and for innovative ideas to emerge. People need to perceive a direct benefit of being connected to that particular space.
Cultivate customer communities
In addition to sharing interesting content, it is necessary to go a step further to benefit from the innovative ideas given by customers and potential customers.
Ideas come organically in any healthy community. In addition, companies may encourage the generation of ideas, for instance, by posting questions about the areas they believe it is possible to foster development. A simple question to the community may trigger an interesting discussion, bringing innovative ideas to the fore.
People give contributions when they believe their opinion matters, and when they believe their ideas will benefit themselves or others in some way. Translating these aspects into action, companies should keep up the dialogue with contributors. When a suggestion comes, the company always should give feedback, motivating the same people and others to participate.
Competitions and polls are also interesting ways of benefiting from the engagement with virtual communities. Polls are a more straightforward method for discovering particular opinions when the company already has an idea about the options to be tested with customers. In general, a poll offers a closed set of questions, thus it only works when the company wants to ask specific questions.
Competitions are more open, mostly starting from a problem to be solved, which allow contributors to bring a larger variety of ideas, from different perspectives. For instance, an SME may open a competition to choose a new logo or a new slogan for the company.
Additionally, companies should give a sort of reward to those customers who have given useful ideas. A straightforward gift (money, products or services) may be an easy solution, but is not always appropriate or possible. Especially in competitions, a gift reward may be the best option. In any case, the contributor should be praised publicly for the benefit the idea has brought to the company – and even better to the whole community – improving the quality of a product or a service. Some big companies even keep track of the best contributors, and regularly call them to networking gatherings. This is a good idea: invite the best contributors to an event, to share ideas and feedback with the company and other contributors.
Be prepared for the downside
Big companies know very well that social media can also damage their reputation. This may also happen with SMEs. Any space of interaction can bring great ideas for innovation, which may be utilised. It may also bring to light strong criticisms. Thus companies should be prepared to cope with both, with a high level of professionalism. In addition, companies need to be very diplomatic in coping in a sensible and sensitive way with those vocal contributors who have not much to say.
Magda David Hercheui is senior lecturer in project management at Westminster Business School, editor of New Media Knowledge
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NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Apr 5, 2013) – Dancing with the Stars is a U.S. reality show, based on the British series Strictly Come Dancing. Celebrities partner up with professional dancers and participate in a dance competition, following weekly elimination rounds to determine a winner. The ABC show’s host is Emmy-winner Tom Bergeron, with co-hosts Lisa Canning (season 1), Samantha Harris (seasons 2-9), and Brooke Burke Charvet (season 10 onwards). The show is now in its 16th season, having debuted on June 1st, 2005. Many celebrities have been participating in the TV dance competition, including professional and Olympic athletes, supermodels, actors, singers, astronauts, and teen-heartthrobs. Mel B, Stacy Keibler, Kelly Monaco, Nicole Scherzinger, Mario Lopez, Jennifer Grey, Kirstie Alley and Jason Taylor to name a few, they all competed against the other couples for judges’ points and audience votes.
Allowing new banks to operate with lower capital thresholds will make it harder for them to break into business banking
More competition between banks in the UK has been a policy aspiration for about two decades, even in the years when a green light was given to almost every merger and acquisition. The major banks swallowed half the former building societies in the late 1990s; Royal Bank of Scotland consumed NatWest at the turn of the century; and Halifax and Bank of Scotland combined in 2001 and then gave Lloyds TSB indigestion in 2008.
It is welcome news, therefore, that the Financial Services Authority thinks life should be made easier for anyone brave enough to launch a new bank. The soon-to-be-disbanded regulator says its successor will crack the whip internally to reduce to six months the time it takes to gain authorisation. More strikingly, new banks will be allowed to operate with lower capital thresholds than their bigger rivals.
The second reform is a U-turn, an acknowledgement that there is little point being in favour of greater competition if you then ask new entrants to clear higher obstacles. The change of tack by the FSA is sensible: the regulator has to show some willing if it wants to encourage more startups follow the lead of Metro Bank. As its report says, “a balance … has to be struck between the risk that new entrant banks will fail, and the benefits of easy entry”.
So how would failure be handled? In the age of living wills and so on, the rules are clear: critical functions have to be protected so that disruption is contained. Then comes the important clause “even if in some cases losses may be incurred by unprotected depositors”.
Post-Cyprus, those words have to be taken seriously. Protected depositors are those in a single account holding up to £85,000. That cap on insurance will, one must guess, make it very hard for new entrants to make a splash in the business banking market, where the need for greater competition is keenest. Of course, the insurance cap also applies to the big boys. But a business audience may hear the message that big banks have to hold more capital and conclude that they are “safer.” Tough for the new boys and there’s no obvious way around the conundrum.
The real mistake was allowing all those big mergers and acquisitions in the first place. Lloyds and RBS, under orders from the EU, are now being forced to shed a few branches. But a truly radical attempt to boost competition might mean enforced liberation of Halifax and NatWest. There is, however, no political will for that. In its absence, expect to hear grumbles about lack of competition and diversity in banking for another two decades.
Qantas Airways wins a final approval from Australia’s competition watchdog for its partnership with Emirates.
Proposed nuclear reactor in Somerset could be delayed by two years if competition directorate launches full-scale investigation
Britain’s planned nuclear reactor programme could be delayed for years, and the nation’s long-term energy policy thrown into turmoil, as European commission officials launch the first stage of a formal investigation into the use of taxpayer subsidies to support the development.
Sources in Brussels have indicated that Britain hopes to win approval for a multibillion-pound deal with French energy giant EDF at the initial stage, which usually takes two months.
But if after a preliminary investigation the EC’s competition directorate decides to launch a full-scale investigation, that would last at least 18 months and probably two years or more. Such an outcome is made more likely by reports that ministers and EDF are discussing a minimum or “strike” price for the nuclear-generated electricity of a little under £100 per megawatt hour – nearly double the current market rate. However ministers will be hoping that their regular meetings with EC officials will make it more likely that a full inquiry will be avoided.
Under the proposals, a nuclear power station – the first for a generation – will be built at Hinkley in Somerset, and the government will guarantee a minimum price for the electricity produced for 30-40 years, a deal which could cost customers a billion pounds a year or more.
News of the latest obstacle to the nuclear building programme comes before the expected announcement next week by the energy secretary, Ed Davey, of whether EDF has won planning permission for the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley nuclear plant. He is widely expected to give the scheme the go-ahead.
Expectations are rising that Davey could also announce some details of the new contract, including the strike price, in what would be a useful counter to critics that the coalition is not doing enough to stimulate investment to boost the economy and tackle the UK’s threatened energy shortages.
A delay imposed by Brussels would cast new doubt on the £14bn project as it would be likely to make it harder for EDF to raise the capital needed until its contract with the government was fully approved. That in turn would delay the entire nuclear build programme, under which the government wanted 16 gigawatts of new nuclear power operating by the middle of the next decade.
“The government wouldn’t need state aid approval for nuclear if it wasn’t trying to subsidise a risky technology that could wind up costing more than the renewable alternative,” said Doug Parr, policy director for the anti-nuclear campaign group Greenpeace.
Maria Madrid, spokeswoman for Joaquín Almunia of Spain, the European commission vice-president in charge of competition, told the Guardian: “The commission is in contact with the UK authorities on this issue, but has not received a formal notification so far. We are discussing this issue. It’s confidential. We never communicate on preliminary discussions.”
Shares of headphone maker Skullcandy were rocked after the company warned of a loss and weak sales. Competition is brutal.
More here: Not sweet music: Skullcandy plunges 20%
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