Thursday, February 22, 2007

Anyone Seen This On Google?

I saw that one of my contacts was "out" on Google IM. I went to leave a message so that they could pick it up whenever they logged on. In red, over the bottom pane where you write, Google message said "X is busy, you may be interrupting". The use of language is interesting here, and perhaps indicate that Google are listening to the problems of the Always On culture. This evening on TodayFM there was a long piece on various forms of nervous disorder based around the idea of compulsively checking your email, and the norms of messaging in terms of how long you can leave it before you have to reply to an email. I think this might be the year that terms such as "attention", "interruption", and "intention" hit the mainstream.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Dell Get Interactive

Sadagaopan posts interesting news on dell 2.0. Basically, dell are soliciting information from customers on how to do things better. This is a good start to "opening up the conversation". Given that dell has millions of customers that are "trained" to design their computer their way, is there room for dell to enable customers to post up ideas for entirely new computer-electronic products or services, have other customers vote on them, and then specify "if we hit this level of interest, we will make it!". It's there for consumer products at CafePress and broadband companies have been using "sign up triggers" for demand management for a few years now. If Dell did this it would be a big wow. And dell have a core competence in delivering this kind of thing from a logistics point of view. In effect, they could change from a Computer Logistics company to a "network collaborator", or as John Hagel III puts it the orchestrator of "Creation nets".

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blackberry As A Status Symbol

Putting a slightly different spin on a survey reported by Alec Saunders,: if Blackberry users actually do work longer hours, and do get paid more, and do overachieve, is the Blackberry now officially a fashion-based product? This might seem an odd comment right now, given that Blackberry is all about the email, but as services like Talk-Now, and Push-2-Talk become pervasive across devices, maybe the emotional and social connotations of being a Blackberry user will become more important than pure functionality. Just a thought. For VoiceSage users, it means that there are many Blackberry users out there that want to keep connected away from the desk, the question is which mode is appropriate for that communication, and if everybody you need to reach is not on a blackberry, how do you connect across devices, quaranteed.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Young People Disloyal To Banks? or Just In General

So its official, Young people have no loyalty? The Wise Marketer reports on the Claritas 2006 market audit's results, which (broken down by age) showed that 12.6% of the so-called Generation Y (under 30 years old) households said they had no primary banking institution. Other age groups, such as Generation X (age 30-39) came out at 11.4% while Seniors (70+ years old) came out at 11.1%, Baby Boomers (aged 40-59) came out at 10.4%, and Empty-Nesters (aged 60-69) came out at 8.6%. It is interesting to consider this piece of research the day after Vanson Bourne for Irish IT firm CA, found that 60% of Irish people now solely dealt with their bank on-line, and 30% dealt solely with their credit card company on-line. They find it more convienent, and less costly than calling a 1850 number were contributing factors, as was the fact that:
A worryingly low 8 percent of people found getting information from call centres on additional products and services a snap. Meanwhile, 69 percent of people have been asked to call back because the (in this example, telecom providers) provider systems have been slow or have gone down. With more than half of consumers willing to jump ship to telecoms rivals for bad service, companies would do well to keep an eye on the quality of customer service.
I think the on-line environment is a ripe space for customer migration. Once customers can compare and migrate with little or no barriers, you as a company are competing on the quality of your customer data, what you do with it, and how you use it to invite customers into conversations.

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Message Modes During Meetings

We've all been at meetings where people are checking sms/text messages, emails, even their voicemail. But how do you feel about that? Personally, during a meeting I think its pretty ok to check an sms, but not to take or initiate a phone call. Paul Kedrosky over at Infinite Greed quotes the WSJ survey of people's feelings about checking email during business meetings. It would seem from that graph that Talk-Now from iotum is addressing a real pain. The underlying thinking here being that both sides of the communication must come to some kind of an agreement about the context in which they want to be called.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Financial Services Fraud: $6,383 Average Loss Per Person

Ken Elefant over at VentureBeat makes some interesting points about credit fraud. Yes, it costs $49.3bn and $6,383 average cost per customer. But most of the "solutions" are based on data analytics and data aggregation.
The solutions they offer are typically client-server based, requiring months or even years of installation and training
. And what are banks doing according to Ken?
The reality is that banks have a hard time telling if the individual in question was a fraudster or simply someone who wouldn’t or couldn’t pay their bills. It takes work to figure it out, with the effort traditionally performed by fraud analysts working the phones to try to solve it. It’s a costly approach that hasn’t scaled well as identity fraud losses have risen in recent years.
As is the way with Blog conversations, one of the comments to that VentureBeat post is very interesting. A guy called Tom Fragala of quotes a Javelin study on customer attitudes to Fraud, and guess what, the customer sees it as their problem! In my books this means that if companies give the customer the option of adopting a fraud prevention option, they will usually buy into it. With nearly 100% of consumers carrying mobile phones, surely their is a process that can be deployed that could call a customer to ask them to validate a transaction? I don't think I would be giving the game away if I said that VoiceSage were talking to a number of financial sevice organisations about this very issue.

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Tick Tick! Credit Timebomb?

Maybe it's the media mentions, but debt is becoming an issue for everyone again. John Kennedy over at Silicon Republic brings our attention to a recent report by Intrum Justitia, which handles over 95% of all the Telecommunication companies debts in Ireland, that :
Consumer debt levels in the telecoms sector in Ireland are the fastest growing of any industry sector over the past 10 years.
And we are not talking small change, the average outstanding debt is reported at 300 euro. For smaller entrants into the telecoms market, the ability to finance this outstanding consumer debt could even be considered a barrier to entry. Perhaps we will see more start up's adopt pre-paid models to overcome this financing requirement? Pat Phelan reports that Vodafone are now enabling miropayments (and potentially perhaps even making their "text credits") convertible to cash through a deal with CityGroup. So the question might become, "Are Telecommunications Companies poised to become the next generation of credit management companies"? And perhaps the very nature of debt and debt communications is about to change. What if you could loan your friends money directly via your mobile phone? What if a group of people could give a micro-loan to another group of people? Well, with Vodafone now connecting people on social networks, and with an exchange mechanism, this now becomes possible. Watch out for Prosper and Zopa in this respect. Micro-payments and Micro-debt may also change the absolute amount of debt outstanding due to the mechanics of "systems dynamics" and "feedback loops". For instance, I am not waiting until the end of the month to get my credit card bill, or my telecoms bill. I know how much I owe every day, and demands or reminders might be due on those obligations at any time. And as if to announce that debt management is now firmly on the agenda, in the same SiliconRepublic piece Intrum report that they have just done a deal with Goldman Sachs to purchase about 200m euro in debt from other Irish business sectors this year.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can Emails Be Made Useful?

For most executives, email marketing is at the top of their list for online initiatives. And God knows, there is nothing wrong with a good email newsletter. What Don Peppers of 1to1 Marketing has a problem with is that "newsletter" does not equate with "relationship". he quotes extensively from a Forrester Research study on email marketing "The Best and Worst of Email Marketing In 2006,":
"A lot of emails are still newsletters, with no call to action and no way to interact with what's been given to me," says Shar VanBoskirk, senior analyst and author of the report. "And a lot are still brochures -- they send a pretty picture, but I have no way to respond with what I think about it or to get more information."
This kind of language is exactly what VoiceSage likes to hear: "call to action". How simple it would be to have a click to call function at the end of your short and to the point email alert, where when the person clicks, the call is automatically routed to the right person, because you know who got the email, in what context, and what they probably want to talk about. This kind of thinking probably brings a better focus on why your customer would want to receive the email in the first place (i.e. is someone receiving an email to enhance their relationship with you? do you benefit from receiving this email?) Forrester studied 63 email marketing campaigns in six verticals -- business products and services, consumer goods, financial services, media, retail, and travel. The research found that from start to finish, the emails are still plagued by misdirection and a lack of customer focus. Thirty-three (52 percent) of the subject lines described the email content, but did not hint at the value the user will experience by opening the message. And only 11 programs passed basic usability requirements: easy to scan, had a digestible volume of content, and effectively used bullets and headers to aid navigation. Twenty-nine programs placed calls to action below the fold, and 25 were almost impossible to understand without graphics. Surprisingly, financial services firms ranked last among the verticals. Typically they are considered leaders in online customer contacts, but VanBoskirk is unimpressed with their email strategies. "Two factors are dragging financial services down. They have been slower to adopt email as a medium, so they haven't had as many chances to try different things," she says. "And their emails are very focused on pitching products. [Customers] want their needs met, not just to hear about what you have to sell them." Media companies, retailers, and travel were the top three verticals, helped along by calls to action, the ability to transact, good use of text and images in tandem, and good marketing communication. Consumer goods and B2B companies followed, with financial services in the bottom spot.

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The Cost of One Bad Apple?

It seems obvious that happy customer service staff give better service to the customers. But could one disgruntled bully wreck an entire customer service team? William Felps and Terence Mitchell of the University of Washington Business School think so. They report in their study of 51 manufacturing teams, that teams with one bad apple were more likely to have conflict, poor communication and cooperation breakdowns. The outcome was inadequate performance. Felps says that "Managers at companies, particularly those in which employees often work in teams, should take special care when hiring new employees,". "This would include checking references and administering personality tests so that those who are really low on agreeableness, emotional stability or conscientiousness are screened out," he said. Considering that a recent report "Multichannel Service and Support Survey" by estimates that 17% of companies will lose a customer if they have 2 negative experiences, and a full 41% of the responding organisations to their survey said they would lose a customer with 4 negative experiences, perhaps there is value to be reaped in old fashioned team profiling tied to old fashioned customer satisfaction measures.

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VoiceSage Nominated For Best Irish Business Blog?

It would seem so. Well, we are of course very pleased to be nominated for Best Business Blog in our first year of Blogging. If you are a reader, and find what we do interesting, why not pop over to the Irish Blog Awards! Of course we wish everyone nominated for awards the best of luck and hopefully new and interesting connections will be made through them.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Device Ecosystems

When devices connect to the internet, and to widgets, you can get some pretty interesting personalisation. For instance, the new Nike-iPod relationship means that you can "connect" your running times from your shoes, to your iPod, and then examine your data for performance. If you take it that 97% of all music players are iPods, and that, lets say, 30% of all running shoes are Nike... that's a pretty big data field. Now if this data tells us (perhaps through a widget that we post on our mySpace account) that Paul is hitting targets but has a potential high blood pressure issue, that is interesting advertising information. If you make gym equipment, or personal fitness equipment, or if you provide personal fitness services, ask yourself "how will I get and share the data to create value".....

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