Friday, March 30, 2007

Who Knows I'm Here?

Niall Larkin over on Chuky Flow draws our attention to an interesting paper by Daha Boyd at Etech2006. The basic underlying problem is how and when do we want to "exposure our presence" or even our "existence" to unknown others? Would you be happy if just anyone could call you at any time? Can just anyone ping your messenger? I tend to think of this as being a bit like buying a book. I could go on amazon and buy it if I know what I want, I could ask friends for recommendations, or I could just browse and discover a book by walking around the store. For customer contact solutions, these nuances are important. Should you enable your customer to speak to other customers "like them?" in certain situations, and if so how do you "expose their existence and presence to each other?" When you you open up an invitation to speak with a customer service person to someone who is only browsing? Perhaps its not there yet, but I believe that a mix of "presence engines" like and are leading companies looking to address this kind of issue.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Drinking From A Firehose is Nothing New

Every manager likes productivity gains, don't they. That's why multi-tasking is almost a job requirement these days. But does multi-tasking lead to increased productivity? Alec Saunders reports on recent reports that when a knowledge worker is interrupted by an email or call, it can take as long as 15 minutes for them to get back into the work they were doing. It was with interest that I saw Sam Seti of Vecosys cover the evolution of RSS feeds being turned into voice feeds. With this new service from HearMeAnyWhere the content provider gets a phone number and subscribers ring that number to get the feed as Text To Voice. Another company KnowNow has launched itself into the big time RSS-In-The-Enterprise space, landing over $12m in funding. KnowNow seem to be positioned as "information flow through RSS control" but that you can control that flow through subscribing to the flow (think of it as persistent search within the enterprise). The "push" element of KnowHow's Enterprise RSS should be of interest to anyone that is looking to move to the next level in their outbound email campaigns. As employees are "subscribing" to feeds with similar "tag clouds", it might also be possible to uncover previously submerged social networks within the company, and between the company and its ecosystem of suppliers, partners and customers. What all this is crying out for is some measure of "Return on Attention". Call centres and customer service managers have known for years that they need the right information in front of the agent to close out a customer query within the first call. In this instance, Return on Attention would be measured as the return on the systems and processes that you have installed to enable your agents to close out more calls within the first interaction. It might be worth while checking out Teqlo to see how their new RSS feed management modules might simulate a KnowNow functionality, and then you could trial and pilot how RSS feeds could be best sculpted to your real needs.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

MicroLending and MicroCollections?

Lifehacker, a site giving productivity tips to geeks, (ok, perhaps others as well), has an interesting story on one persons experience with Debt on credit card. They put their debt up for sale on Prosper. So you have 5,000 in debt, running at APR of 15% or something, and you get 9.8% on Prosper from a group of individuals, the world becomes interesting. How long before the price of this debt is reduced due to better "Social Ranking", ie on Rapleaf, or eBay? I think we may be seeing the world of Micro-lending re-engineering the world of traditional lending. Instead of just "Bad Debt", perhaps people will respond to "Bad Rep", and pay on time? I mean who wants to look bad in the eyes of friends and colleagues? Addendum: The Social aspects of Prosper surface the Risk Assumptions that underpin the Risk Rates and how they are applied to individuals with various formal credit rankings. This means that Prosper is effectively acting as a Prediction Market for risk.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

There is so much to write about

Watch out for Debt 2.0, a subset of finance2.0.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tom Evslin Nails Skype Potential

Skype and Paypal were always supposed to go together. Call, Query, Buy. Simple. But, and this is a very big but, what if people actually wanted to pay you in order to phone you and tell you things? What if, you had your own 1890/1900 number? Tom puts his finger on it when he says that this is a straight forward "dis-intermediation play". In this case, the telemarketing companies, or business intelligence agencies. If customers publish their own "lures" in the form of tags, or "attention streams", and then they can alter their "presence" to reflect the fact that, hey, for the right reason, and the right amount of money, I'm gonna let you interrupt me, then the world of direct marketing just does a spin on its head. Welcome to Telemarketing 2.0. (OK: Caveat: it may not take off, or may have limited take up within the Skype customer base because it doesn't break out into any phoneline, anywhere. How long before the advertising funded Mobile Phone companies hop onto this bandwagon?)

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Customer Emotions: When To Call?

Via The Wise Marketer: Six million UK savers state their intent to churn Nearly 6 million British savers plan to switch savings accounts, according to a survey by and Defaqto. The study found that 5.99 million people intend changing their savings accounts for a better interest rate during the next 12 months. Savers are reacting to recent cuts in rates by leading financial providers. The study interviewed adults aged 18+ and found that 57% (26.5 million) regard improving their savings as one of their biggest financial challenges for 2007. Around 3.6 million people said they do not understand savings accounts well, representing a significant opportunity for institutions that are willing to educate potential customers as part of an acquisition campaign. As a consumer myself, perhaps it would be more useful for the Banks if they identified their own "at risk" customers (switchers) and called them to invite them to discuss "what their concerns are" with a local customer service representative. Research conducted by Abhay Padgaonkar (president, Innovative Solutions Consulting LLC, 2006)and supported by other research ("Manage Your Human Sigma" – Harvard Business Review, July, 2005), indicates that
There is increasing evidence that emotionally satisfied clients contribute far more to the bottom line than rationally satisfied clients, even though both groups may appear to be equally satisfied
. This resonates with my today, having heard Jeff Bonforte from Yahoo at the eTel conference speak about "emotional" products, and products that address an emotional state. The example Jeff gives (rather colourfully) is that people hate getting their telecom bill. Hate is a strong emotion. Products that address this hate, will get customer attention, even customer action. Where the cost-benefits for the new service aren't even clearcut, customers will react "irrationally" because they are driven by emotion. Skype users hated their telco bills, so put up with bad initial voice quality, and a low number of "connections". Banks and other Financial Service organisations have very nervous, anxious customers at the moment. Yet, I wonder how many organisations have a segmentation variable that surfaces individuals that may need a call, right now.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Pre-Search Space

A found these guys when they launched and their name caught my attention, BazaarVoice. Their new service SyndicateVoice does something very interesting. It takes authentic customer reviews, and makes them searchable under natural language terms, i.e "is the dell x90 any good?". They provide some good statistics on why "user reviews" are important: * RoperASW reports the value of word of mouth as the best source of information on products has exploded from 67% in 1977 to 93% in 2001. * BizRate found that 59% of their users considered customer reviews to be more valuable than expert reviews. * Marketing Experiments Journal® tested product conversion with and without product ratings by customers. Conversion nearly doubled, going from .44% to 1.04% after the same product displayed its five-star rating. * The State of Retailing Online study, conducted by Forrester Research, found only 26% of the 137 top retailers surveyed offered customer ratings and reviews, but 96% of them ranked customer ratings and reviews as an effective or very effective tactic at driving conversion. When combined with the potential of something like the pre-search environment is becoming very interesting from a marketing perspective.

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Seriostity, Seriously?

VentureBeat has an interesting post on how one company is looking to solve the email overload issue. The idea is that people spend virtual money, or points, in relation to how important the email is. Thus, no doubt indicating that this is important, you should read it. The problem is that it is the receiver who ultimately puts the value on the email, so it should be the receiver that is empowered, not the sender. If you could rate "Jim", "Jim's CC's", "Jim"&"after 18.00" then you might have someway of ranking someones email. Seems to me an opening for social ranking within the business of the source of email, from the receivers of email.

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Time Is The Resource

Gilman Louie of Aslop Louie Partners in a presentation on The Venture Capital Approach to Finding and Driving Innovation points out the the number one asset a VC manages is their time. It's a brilliant insight in that a key input to the process is dealflow, and quality of dealflow. How you distribute your attention thus underpins your success. As if to underpin the point Seth Levine of VC Adventure recently turned his Dash device to silent and found that he felt much, much better, and probably got more work done. In a way, we have allowed the "default settings" of our devices and services to define how the world will interact with us. People are going to demand more control over their interactions. You can't just drop mail on their carpet and expect them to act. There is also a lot of emerging talk on tracking "RSS streams" as they are "attention streams" and thus, one can tell what you are interested in, and maybe even what the "intention" of your browsing is about. Someone somewhere probably calls it "attention stream mapping". From a customer service perspective this might not be a bad idea. If you were a financial institution, and your customers allowed you to see their RSS feeds, a la Grazr, you might see that their "intention" is to discover what is going to happen with Mortgage rates. Being in a position to make an "interruption" that was of value to that customer would thus be high impact. Waking up in Ireland this morning we are now told to expect up to 7 separate interest rate hikes on our mortgages. There are going to be a lot of very nervous people out there this month, many of them will start actively looking to assess and compare the value of their financial products. From the VoiceSage perspective I guess we are interested in when people need or want to be reminded of things and actions they need to take. If people simply "forget to pay" their bills, managing that interruption effectively, and with true value add, could be a really important competence. If I was a mortgage provider I would start pro-actively contacting my "at risk" customers, and offer to advise them on how to re-organize and handle their payment schedules in order to manage my own bad debt exposures.

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