Oops...CX the Accenture way; and Global's testosterone overload

13 May 2019  |  Dominic Mills 
Oops...CX the Accenture way; and Global's testosterone overload

Dominic Mills looks at how a multimillion dollar lawsuit over bad website design has cut to the heart of Accenture’s new advertising business. Plus: Global's pale and male leadership is at odds with its audience.

Sometimes you can’t beat the thrill of seeing someone’s dirty washing exposed to public view.

Most readers will have heard of the $32m lawsuit Hertz in the US dumped on Accenture last month.

What they may not have done is had the chance to read the details in full. You can get it here, 16 pages of masterful lawyerly understatement detailing a catalogue of failures and, I would say, seeming arrogance on the part of Accenture. Its legal defence is not yet available.

And what a tawdry tale it is, full - as Hertz’s lawyers put it - of “pervasive deficiencies” on the part of Accenture (not, we should note, Accenture Interactive).

I won’t go through the full details, but strip them away and it cuts to the heart of Accenture’s addition of advertising and creative services to its consulting and digital re-engineering proposition. The logic of this is fairly straightforward: from its core consulting and IT services, Accenture can cross-sell its creative services. And why not? Once you’ve dug into the entrails of a company and updated its digital/e-commerce offering, it is but a short step to saying ‘hey, we can be your agency too’.

Wind back to 2016, and Hertz came to Accenture seeking a complete rebuild of its digital identity, not just in the US and for the main Hertz brand, but globally and for its Dollar and Thrifty brands. As the lawsuit says: “the primary objective [was] to redefine the customer experience on Hertz’s digital platforms by developing a market-leading website at Hertz.com and a complementary suite of mobile applications, all based on a platform that Hertz could readily extend to its other rental brands, including Dollar and Thrifty.”

In other words, Hertz was looking for a significant improvement in its customer experience proposition.

Over the next two years, everything that could go wrong pretty much did, Hertz alleges. Accenture ignored a key requirement that the site be fully responsive; it didn’t test it properly; Hertz could not deploy, as requested, assets globally or across its other brands; key Accenture members of the team moved and were replaced by inferior staffers; and deadlines were missed.

Moreover, when Hertz asked that Accenture fix the responsiveness issue, Accenture demanded extra money, it is alleged. Finally, it kept Hertz in the dark about its decision to ignore the cross-site asset utilisation brief, saying “we felt that creating a generic base and extending Hertz from that would have been less useful and less productive.”

Much of this, I suspect, happens from time to time in such large-scale, multi-million dollar IT projects. But what gives the story such piquancy is the way it completely undermines Accenture Interactive’s proposition. You can read it here but let me offer a few choice quotes from it.

“We are the Experience Agency, a new breed from the ground up to empower marketers to own experience from start to finish...”

“Focusing on customer experience is a proven driver of sustainable growth. One-point increases in CX scores can turn into millions of dollars of annual revenue...”

“...[we are] a new breed of agency, part business consultancy, part creative agency and part technology powerhouse...”

Ahhh...hubris is a wonderful thing to behold.

Hmm, well let alone the experience of a Hertz rental customer, Hertz’s customer experience of Accenture will see the latter’s CX scores drop more than a few points, and cost someone - whether Hertz or Accenture - more than a few million dollars. It goes without saying that Hertz’s claimed losses don’t just include the $10m extra that it says it had to fork out, but a significant lost opportunity cost.

And that includes a few hundred dollars of my cash: later this month I will be hiring a car in the US. But it won’t be from Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty.


Global — it’s Testosterone City

A few weeks ago Global announced the new management line-up of its OOH division.

Here it is — all blokes — with another three (not pictured) also men.

It was, to be honest, not much of a surprise. This is OOH after all, an industry where the gender balance has long been skewed.

But a little digging around the Global corporate website suggests OOH is not the only media business like this. Global, from the main board down to the operating units, feels like Testosterone City. Diversity is notable by its absence.

If you start with the main board, there are eight men, all pale. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't too much of a surprise, although it doesn't mean we should applaud it. 

 

Going further down the organisational food-chain we come to the four senior executives, of whom two (hooray) are female.

Down to the next level, the regional management team, we have six executives listed, of whom four are male.

Finally, we have the list of eight programme directors and managing editors and — guess what — they are all male.

And this is where I am surprised. Across the Global brands, many have female-dominated audiences. Heart, for example, says that 59% of its audience is women and Capital's female audience size is similar. Similarly with age: Heart boasts 42% of its audience is between the ages of 25-44. Yet this lot gives off all the appearance of gammon. 

 

See yourself here, scrolling from top to bottom.

So, doing a quick bit of maths, of the 24 top bananas important enough to get a picture on the corporate site, just four are women. I make that 16%.

I can only think of Jo McCrostie, head of creative, who deserves a mention, but surely there must be more women at Global in senior positions.

In case you’re wondering if this testosterone overload is characteristic of radio, it doesn’t quite look like that. Here is the top-level Bauer Media board (OK, I know it covers publishing too), which lists seven executives, five of whom are women.

Global doesn’t have a mission statement, it has an ‘obsession statement’, in which it claims to celebrate different types of obsessive.

They include, and you just can’t make this up, the obsessive ones who: 

- ‘have the courage to say when something isn’t good enough’;

- ‘the humility to receive those comments well’; 

- and those 'who don’t walk by anything they can put right themselves'. 

Dangerous things, mission/obsession statements, especially if those who create are entirely lacking any sense of self-awareness. 

And on that cheery note, I hope readers enjoy Radio Audio Week over the next few days, the industry’s annual celebration and showcase. Among other things, one of the events is titled ‘Content is Queen’, a focus on women’s podcasting. Hah.

 

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