Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Can Developing Customer Communities Make Money?

In what is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs Emergence Marketing comments on a recent experiment conducted on ebay Germany. They invited one group of customers into a community, and kept another group as a control. Of the roughly 60,000 participants: - 3,000 were active - 11,000 were lurkers So far, so very very good (however, these may be selection effects in that the survey was conducted among ebay participants, and thus have "self-selected themselves" as stronger potential candidates for wanting to communicate, compete, and collaborate online). The bottom line impacts are telling however:
  • Lurkers and active participants won up to 25% more auctions
  • Lurkers and participants paid prices that were as much as 24% higher
  • Lurkers and participants spent up to 54% more money in total
  • Active participants listed up to 4 times as many items
  • Active participants earned up up 6 times as much monthly sales revenue
  • For first time sellers who were lurkers and participants, 10 times as many of them started selling on eBay after joining the community

All in all the activities of the lurkers and participants resulted in 56% more sales during the year of the study - bringing in millions of additional dollars into eBay's bottom line.

In a previous post I mentioned that Dell should monitor blogs etc. for influence and try and manage trust and message. Well, good on Dell, their man in Austin Texas dropped me a comment, so they are way ahead of me! Now here is a thought, Dell has a pop up that tells me I have "wireless issues", or "low ink"... would I opt into a community where Dell would offer to link me to someone who solved this issue I seem to be having rather than a customer service rep? mmm....

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Filters Between Customers

Very nice piece over at Emergence Marketing on one of the challenges facing companies that might be thinking of using social networks as a form of enabling communications between customers and the company. How do you find, rank and rate the relationships among customers so that you can isolate the "popular" people, from the "influential" people, in relation to your product or service? For instance, I am sure Dell have many people that blog and email about their service or products. But can they pick out the ones that matter and influence them? As usual all of this, or most of it, will be influenced by the state of your data, and how well you are able to mine it. And to turn that on its web-head, could you make that data available back to your customers so it would help them find out who was most "influential" or "informed" in relation to that subject matter? I can think of instances where if people could find of ask the opinion of such a person, it might help companies better manage rumor mills that get out of control.

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Using Online Calenders and Notifications

The world of web 2.0 thought that one of the first things people needed to do on line was organise their personal lives. Calenders such as Google calender are pretty easy to find, and to use in isolation. But the real value is in being able to mesh applications together to suit your explicit needs. A good example of a company using their online events management service with YOUR particular calender is given here. Basically, if you sign up for the NY Times Automobile Club Events notification, they will post it to your calender, and update you via SMS if their are changes, or if just to remind you that it is coming up. Its a very small price to pay for getting people to turn up to your event. Given that new email platforms like www.zimbra.com are enabling email to be sent with a live embedded connection that constantly updates (i.e. your UPS parcel status), what it demonstrates is that there is a lot of value to be gained from looking at your existing softwares and meshing them with an online services. We may be a little way off yet though, especially given my personal experience in trying to get Outlook and Google Calender and my Nokia to sync seamlessly and without problems.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Generating Customer Insight

In a previous post said something like "insight equals value", and then "but how do you create insight". I think the question is important to everyone that works with customers because it is at these points of interaction that we gain important insights into customer behaviour. The ever excellent Dave Pollard has an posting today on How Knowledge Drives Innovation The upshot of his piece (I think) is that generating the capability to develop insight is a management commitment to deep interaction with customers. This interaction style can be developed within the context of the type of relationship they have with you and your company. How have you reached out to customers and asked them to comment on your service or product? Have you thought about how you could change the very nature of your product or serivce so that this feedback loop is part of the product or service consumption experience?

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Making Money Move

Its amazing. The cost of late payments to companies. In a presentation called make money move . For me, one of the most amazing things about late payments is that because you might not be managing them tightly, you actually have to go out there and make more sales, which again, needs to be financed. It is a spiral. But how many companies that are not "professional credit management" companies, or who don't have a full time credit manager, actually sit down and work out the cost of late payments to their company?

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Communicaitons as "Sticky" Factor

A very decent point about online services is that the communication relationships of those participating or using the service, are a very deeply entrenched "sticky" factor. Robert Young, writing on GigaOm notes this Communications In Social Networks

Robert makes the point that online services are a bit like going to the gym. At first you are full of enthusiasm, but eventually you "churn out" or narrow down to a few excercises that form a routine. One of the things that people "keep" is the communications relationships.

On mySpace and related sites, people post up their messages on a shared "wall". In time these will become "user generated videos" that are posted up on "the wall". Only you and your invited friends see them, and the communications are always relevant so you keep going back to the service. You may be attracted to a particular site such as Irish Health because it has great information, but you keep going back to the site because of the people that participate on the site, make comments, and offer suggestions. A good moderator service also keeps the site relevant and focused.

I wonder will we see the day soon when instead of going to the technical help desk, a companies "customer advocate" or "moderator" will ask to be invited into an online conversation in order to make pro-active suggestions about how they might be able to solve a particular computer problem. I'm thinking of someone like Dell here. Does that seem unlikely? Well, perhaps Dell will make a shift from "personalising your computer" to "socialising your experience".....

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Telco 2.0, Surveillance, and Notifications.

Very nice diagram of issues relating to Telco 2.0. The point of the Telco 2.0 is that as the world goes low cost and wireless the benefits of ubiquitious access will be reaped in different ways, for both the retail customer and the enterprise. I think exception reporting and alerting will be a key part of this ecosystem. For instance, you don't want an sms to tell you "all is well"! But you may want a "knock knock" on your 3G phone to show you the window of room 3 of your home. It's there right now, check out WiLife.com

Of course, knowing that something is "up with your house" is different from having some actions completed on the back of that. At VoiceSage we believe that companies like Wilife will need a rock solid notification system to contact everyone that needs to be contacted when an event occurs, they will need to configure it themselves. Think of it as emergency notification for the individual.

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Insight is Value. Ability to create insight, is ability to create value. Now how do we go about creating insight?

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What If Everybody Knew What They Could Be Paid Elsewhere.

Over the last few posts we have posted about the effect of "social software" and "social consumption" on customer interaction strategy. How people buy is about to change. Over on TechCrunch they reviewed a new service by which people can compare their payscales to industry norms. If it speads, it could get very accurate. In this service, you - the user- share your "confidential data". You get accurate data that is validated by "the edge", not by some central all knowing person, body or organisation. Perhaps this is the dawn of the "social employee", where employees are rated by their fellow employees, by customers, etc. I think it might all be about "exposing the value".

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Factors To Segment By!

The new 4 P's, for all those in CRM!
  1. Connected
  2. Creative
  3. Collaborative
  4. Content-driven
  5. Contextual
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Customer Interaction vs Social Interaction?

When we talk about customer interaction it used to be about managing the quality of each touchpoint, first time issue resolution, and other standard customer care measures. But what happens when the customer never calls you, didn't search for your product, and doesn't even know you exist? What happens when customer interaction occurs beween customers and prospective customers as "shared search", "shared bookmarks", "shared clips", i.e. as "social consumption"? In the Guardian today Joined Up Experiences it is pointed out that Microsoft is going to compete (or tying to compete) with the iPod, not at a device level, but as an overall experience. Who can deliver the better overall experience? MS bet that people want to tag, recommend and share songs, and they have the best system for doing this. And its true, I for one don't find the iPod and iTunes "a good share". Places like mySpace are "a good share" for Music. Could mySpace be the next iTunes? It could. Sometimes, tightly coupling systems with proprietary technologies actually beats "open systems". The iPod has proprietary DRM (digital rights management), Skype has its own standards (and not the open SIP standard),the Kodak phone and printer are "idiot proof". The basis of the Guardian article is that sometimes a proprietary standard makes it very very easy for the customer to adopt and to use AND it deliveres a better user experience for that customer segment. In a world where the "open standards revolution" makes it easier and easier to couple systems and services together (my iTunes on mySpace), it will be interesting to see the basis on which companies seek to compete with each other.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BubbleGen Customer!

Well, our good friends over at BubbleGen (UK based consultancy) have maybe had their Brand turn Meme on them! BubbleGen Meme BubbleGen might be an emerging term for all the people out there that think about technology and the internet in a completely different way from people that grew up with fur on the outside of their anaraks. These BubbleGen-ers must know where their friends are at all times, what they are doing, and you can only get their attention if someone within their circle endorses your product. They are just the kind of people that want to "broadcast their lives". Tell me who your friends are and what your media habits are, and I will tell you who you are as the old school media advisors might say. Some of the interest in YouTube no doubt comes from its social network capabilities and ease of use, and its potential profiling capability. But it also drives customers to content that people pay for! It is interesting to note that mainstream shows that preview segments (or allow you to taste the show), are gaining more overall viewers for their core offer, the programme on TV. Places like YouTube are at "the edges of your attention". For instance, YouTube is where The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are watched and shared. These shows are satirical, and attractive to those that want to be "in the know". (Perhaps these effects are why the Daily show is now a top source of "real news information" The Daily Show Top News Source ) So YouTube enabled viewers to rate content with their peers, vote stuff to the top of the list, gain attention, and spead to like minded people. To me, these principles are very old school. Its just the mechanisms that have changed. Is it possible that your product or service: (1) Can be sampled (2) Can be shared (3) Can be meaningfully identified with

You have a good chance of grabbing a bigger slice of the action.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Communicating With Teens?

Recent studies are showing that teens just don't like email anymore. They don't read it. Obviously they are using text, more and more they are using IM (instant messaging). One of the more creative ways colleges have of communicating with teens is by opening a mySpace profile. It would seem that colleges are having a hard time getting alerts to students regarding annoucements and deadlines.


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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Call Centre Expo 06 VoiceSage Team.

Well, we are back from two days at Call Centre Exp 06 in Birmingham, UK. It was a very exciting show for us at VoiceSage as it was in effect our "soft launch" into that market. We were joined on the stand by our new UK Corporate Sales Team and they jumped right in to the spirit of things, and they were needed. Just as well really, we fielded enquiries from hundreds of companies. More about the new sales team in a few days, and more on some of the things we learned from that show.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Call Centre Expo.

If you are around Call Centre Expo in birminham NEC, you can find VoiceSage at stand D50 Hall 9. Why not drop over and say hello!

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