Does Wall Street have an inkling that "heh, if I take care of my customers, they will take care of me..." ??? Via the Good experience Blog, from the NYT:
Does Wall Street have an inkling that "heh, if I take care of my customers, they will take care of me..." ??? Via the Good experience Blog, from the NYT:
After my experience with register.com I am sure it will eventually fade into the Internet dustbin. So it was time to renew a domain and they wanted to charge me $35.00/year to register the domain with them again. This included a free page, one email and "technical support"... I told the first tele-agent I spoke to that I wasn't interested in any of the services, I simply wanted a domain renewal and that I expected the cost to be competitive with what I could get from godaddy.com. She said "ok, we're happy to oblige, the cost will then be 35 dollars." How is that different? "I'm sorry sir but at register.com we don't unbundle our services." Can I please speak to someone else? "Sure"...on hold for ten minutes, I hang up and call again. Speak to another rep... I get the same story. I explain that I only want to pay for the services that I want and will use and NOT for features and functions that don't interest me. Give me a competitive price for just the domain registration. "Ok... that will be 35 dollars." Clearly, their tele agents have been informed that there is to be no unbundling, no price negotiation, and the company is banking on the fact customer won't go thru the pain or process to transfer domains. Perhaps they are also compensated on the number of "standard" packages they sell. Can I please speak to a supervisor? A very pleasant woman gets on the phone and proceeds to tell me that the only price they can offer me no matter what is $35.
I get on the phone with godaddy and in 5 minutes the domain is set to be transferred.
Then I call back register.com to get the domain unlocked and I speak to a customer support rep. She is sorry I am leaving register.com and asks if the only reason I am leaving is price. Pretty much was my reply. "Oh, well you know, we have a special low cost domain registration program for customers who only want to register their domains!" Flabbergasted that no less than three customer renewal reps didn't bother to try to retain me by making that offer, I declined. I got a great deal from godaddy - 6.99 to transfer the domain for as many years as I wanted.. so I took multi-year option.
This is how customer experience or lack thereof kills companies. Register.com had me as customer since 2000. I wanted to pay less for less services - a fair and equitable request. The company either intentionally or unintentionally was unwilling to be flexible in trying to keep me as a customer. But rather than simply lose a customer they have gained a detractor. Which is worse because my negative comments about the company will draw off more customers and create more detractors. Promotion, detraction and user generated commentary in general are powerful tools in todays conversational economy. You MUST manage your customer experience appropriately to drive promotion not detraction or your customers won't just get upset, they'll leave! Stop doing business in short term mode and think about the consequences to not preparing for the user revolution.
I haven't looked alot at Web 2.0 Video other than what I see at the NY Web Video Meetups and what I myself play with, so I was surprised to see this email in my Inbox yesterday.:
My name’s Kimberley McKee and I work for social search/social networking start-up Searchles.com. I've been keeping tabs on AbleBrains to stay up-to-date on social media innovations. Recently, Searchles has been focusing on online video tools to make video-sharing and customizing as easy as possible for our users. We just launched in beta a video editing tool - Searchles TV Remash - which lets anyone edit any youtube video and subsequently mash the video clips up into one, embeddable player – no downloads or plug-ins.
We're aware there are other video editors out there - Cuts, Jumpcuts, etc. - but we like to think of Remash as the most functional and easy-to-use for the casual web-user. Having created Remash, we obviously think the interface and process is pretty clear - but, you know...we've been looking at it too long. Given the focus of Ablebrains’ posts on social media and the user-experience, we were wondering if you could have a look at Remash and provide us with some feedback if possible. Here is the link: http://www.searchles.com/misc/remash
The request seemed tailored enough for me to pay attention to it so I asked them a few questions which got forwarded on the founder, Chris Seline. He told me...Write a brutally honest blog entry, edit our wikipedia page, create a Searchles TV channel about Searchles TV.. We just need input
Ok Searchles team here goes... first off, I had my brand hat on when I first visited the site, wondering why a Video Mashup company would name themselves "SearchLess" - oh drop one L... you still have Searchles. Chris tells me he came up with the name. And it combines Search with Circles. When a company or product name induces confusion or has to be explained, its a poor choice of a name. I do like the name Remash though and conveyed to Chris that I think he should make a small investment in trademarking and legal to get control of his IP, including the names of that IP.
Regarding the Experience
The experience is basic, simple and clean which I like but there is so much more to that can be added to the experience to enrich it without complicating it. To name a few:
From a Design Perspective
Just a couple of points: (1) Think about duplicating critical functions at the top and bottom of pages to make it easier for a user to access them. Also you should review what content and functions should remain above and below the fold. Currently there is not a lot of content, and it would be a better experience if everything was above the fold - as long as you dont sacrifice simpicity for that goal.
Finally, while I always love to do this kind of stuff and I think my feedback can help, Searchles... why are you talking to me???? Get out there and watch, really watch, your key demographic, work with Remash. Basic user ethnography is easy to do and provides so much value. To that end, you should be talking to late and early stage Millenials. I'd be happy to hook you up with my son (and with ethnographers)
That'll be $5ooo.
Bob Jacobson over at Corante tells of a
poor destructive customer experience at his local Super Market
What wasn't to be expected [at the local Albertson's Market] was being hammered while a captive in line by something called “Avenu,” a continuous, loud, insulting program of banalities blasted at us from flat-screen TVs and powerful speakers at every cashier's station. It was horrible. I can't remember a single advertisement among the two score or more forced upon us by Albertson's experientially lame but craven management, but I do remember wanting out of there. Avenu is apparently the creation of the Jewel-Osco retail conglomerate. Now both Jewel-Osco and Albertsons are both about to be assimilated into a corporate retail Borg, Supervalu (which resembles nothing so much as a sentient supply chain. It's not your corner grocer.
Wanna lose your customers? Then deploy foolish tools and techniques that infringe or insult your customer's inner space. Innovation in customer experience and customer service still has a long way to go in many verticals. Further, enterprises truly need customer experience teams to optimize physical layouts of retail establishments, perform user-centered web and product design, follow customers home to see how they actually use product as opposed to how they say they use product and drive the voice of the customer for product, process and institutional co-creation and innovation.
I believe that failure to build and leverage customer experience teams will shortly put many companies at a competitive disadvantage, especially as their products and services commoditize. The only true way to create a compelling advantage is thru the experience a customer has when he engages with your brand.
Dan Greenfield wrote a nice post on Tapping Customer Advocates in which he says:
From a marketing perspective, their word is invaluable in reaching other prospective customers. From a customer service perspective, their input on company-sponsored forums not only deflects expensive calls to contact centers, it deepens their loyalty.
But why would customers be willing to volunteer their time and how are companies enlisting them?
This new band of volunteer marketers and customer support experts rarely do it for money; that would turn what they do for fun or personal satisfaction into a job. Perhaps that’s why Google pulled the plug on its online answer forum, and Yahoo’s thrives; Google paid, and Yahoo doesn’t. It has become customary for companies to devise a competition where participants vie for points, but even achieving a high score doesn't tell the whole story.
Maybe instead it is a feeling of helping or influencing others, showing off an expertise, being part of something, having new things to talk about or receiving new products and service before anyone else.
Our experience shows that in addition to the reputation-building, the fun, the satisfaction that Dan mentions, which comes with being an evangelist, there are relationship and expert status aspects of such a role. As I've said many times before, sometimes providers are just not credible and that the most effective way to speak to a potential customer is through another customer. In so doing the customer evangelist, is seen as an expert in his own right not only by the community he or she is serving but by the vendor/solution provider they are evangelizing for. Acknowledged expertise is not only fun and ego-stroking but leads to honest to goodness business opportunities for many folks.
Mark Yolton and Craig Cmehil tell me that on SDN, many of the high profile contributors with great reputation scores, don't need to actively solicit for SAP consulting gigs any more... they are sought out because of their great reputation on SDN.
So superior reputation has its own intrinsic and extrinsic reward systems. Now, cracking the code on reputation management and making it portable across web domains seems like a logical step. There are solutions out there but none that makes comporting my reputation easy, ACCEPTED and embraced by another web property. And finally, how does one break the reputation log jam? eBay jealously guards its reputation management and does not want reputations made portable because they've become expert on monetizing reputation.
In the recent Business ByDesign launch, SAP had many cross-functional teams working together to create not only the product experience but the web experience that supports our new business model. I have to say it was one of the more difficult exercises I have been thru at SAP because of the sheer complexity of the effort.
From my perspective, one of the issues we faced was around designing these experiences. The issue with design and design thinking is that most people think they know how to do it. This induces a higher propensity to fail. “Failure” in this instance has a very particular meaning to me. To paraphrase my good friend Charlie Federman, those organizations that fail, face an issue, address the issue – not completely and it comes back to bite them in the ass, 6 or 12 months later. Only this time the problem is much bigger and harder to put to bed. To avoid the “bite in the ass” problem, I recommend the following:
The Journal (subscription required) quoted Henning:
"We're not just launching a new product," Chief Executive Henning Kagermann said in an interview. "We're creating a new business model and a new market."
To pull that off, SAP itself is going to have to learn a new bag of tricks. The company can no longer build the software and collect its fees all at once. It must now help firms set up and use the software on a continuing basis, something that is usually done at big companies by fleets of consultants. And its sales force, used to courting big, tech-savvy customers, now must sell in large volumes at lower prices to more inexperienced customers.
But its not just what we are doing.. its how we are to do it. Henning said it, "We're creating a new business model" and one of the foundations of that model is an entirely new customer experience. I've referenced this before but it is worth repeating...we recognize that the economics of the software market have changed. We recognize that it is a conversation economy and that consumers consume our information and software using similar tools and techniques to the way they consume a car or a phone. We recognize that our customers are holistic! This is an important point. I don't know about you but I'm the same person in the office as I am at home (for better or worse :) ... I don't check my personality or capabilities at the door. So the consumer orientation I have when my wife and I shop for a home stays with me. We recognize that in order for SAP to be successful in this market, customers must be in control of the buying cycle and that the notion of a "sales cycle" evaporates out of the SAP vocabulary. So our customer experience strategy is a simple one but difficult to execute given our corporate DNA:
So now that we are moving into the market and carefully scaling for volume, we will have the opportunity to adjust these strategies and dial up or down on each accordingly. Time will tell.
Its finally happened. SAP today announced its new onDemand software suite... code named "A1S" the solution will now be known as SAP Business ByDesign. I was lucky enough to be part of this craziness as one of the Total Customer Experience leads for the company. Our team's role was multifold and our success was a result of the collaboration with our colleagues in IT, marketing, telemanagment, our volume business initiative, our community and social media teams, and go-to-market teams. We were responsible for:
I am also very proud of the experience design work which Peter Ebert (one of the most prodigious inventors at SAP) and his team did in the areas of design. Peter and his small team, working extremely long hours, created a compelling customer experience that (1) delights customers, (2) puts them in control and (3) takes the best B2C thinking and integrates it into SAP's B2B model...
As you can see below, the design is clean, efficient and is focused on facilitating customer "moments of truth" in a buying cycle. If you think about your own experiences in buying, there comes a time when you make a decision in your own process and move closer to procuring that iphone or new car or home... but you work YOUR process. B2B customers are no different. Why? Because individuals buy, companies don't. Its an individual who "writes the check." And as much as we want to think of selling software as a logical process, its not. Yes there's due diligence and RFPs and business pain mapping but at the end of the day, its emotional... you WANT to buy, you need to buy, you have to buy... all emotive responses, not necessarily logical.
SAP Business byDesign has its own portal, its own "Business Center" that is protected currently and is only turned on for countries where we are rolling out first and for qualified prospects. But here's how the puppy looks. Notice how simple the design is. Notice the self-guided nature of the process. Three clicks to a best-run business - Explore, Evaluate & Experience - a phrase which for better or worse I coined. We initially had gone with a guided experience of See-Try-Buy but eventually opted for the E-cubed approach to ensure we included the after sales and service aspect of the experience. Other things to notice - immediate product immersion. All of our research tells us to enable the prospect to get in the products early and often. And the notion of a personalized trial that a prospect can make his own and take into production when he sees fit is another critical competitive differentiator. Community for the first time is front and center in an SAP Web Property as well. This is the first time that the company has embraced social media as a critical element of its GTM strategy. This will of course continue.
And of course its available in German as well and very shortly in UK English, French and Chinese. We are getting ready to begin another innovation cycle in advance of volume readiness as Henning discussed this morning. So be on the lookout for some radical changes coming to a hyperlink near you soon.
David Armano posted on Technorati + Authority, which discussed Technorati's new rating system. Related to his post were some comments on content in general and its quality. I mentioned to David that content "design" and the related experience seems to lag functional and interface components of experience design. In essence, content is the stepchild of design. David promised to chew on this and get back to me so here's something to chew on.
At SAP, content has been a continual effort. How do we get our content to the level that it becomes a value added part of the customer experience? What we hear from customers is that there is too much, not enough third party or co-created content, and that the content is jargon rich.
Content is the cornerstone of a superior customer experience because it provides the context in which the experience takes place. To date our internal efforts related to content and customer experience does not match the product or route to market experiences we are aiming for. Now we've dedicated a team to focus solely on the content aspects of the experience. We're looking at the obvious:
Things like radical transparency, entertainment value, co-creation are all critical elements of a next generation customer experience but without contextual based content, its all just window-dressing isn't' it?
I am CEO of AbleBrains. We're dedicated to helping companies use the science of marketing to create and lead great Market Categories. I used to be a GVP @ SAP leading mid-market initiatives including, Social Media Strategy, Total Customer Experience, Competitive marketing, Market Intelligence and Services Marketing teams.