Sunday, 22 November 2009

Social Media 'Pimp' sells friends, fans & followers

It's human nature for a percentage of the community to want to rig the game; we've ranted before about pay-for-post middlemen before now there's a new social media pimp on the block - USocial.

These guys allow you to buy up to 100,000 'followers' on Twitter and up to 10,000 'friends' and 'fans' on Facebook.

Well that was the case until a couple of days ago, Facebook has said this service breaches its terms of service and served papers on uSocial, who in response has temporarily suspended its Facebook 'friends' service (but is still advertising its 'fans' service).

Also we're not sure how but it appears USocial has been collecting Facebook login information which is says it will now delete.

The company also claims to boost Twitter followers with several different offers, from 1,000 followers in a week for $87 to 100,000 within one year for $3,479. Surely we won't have to wait long for a response from Twitter.

It's suggested that you can market to these people (whoever they are, if they exist) and of course claim your company has more clout that it really does.

The 21st century equivalent of the direct mail list? Maybe so but somehow this practice seems both more personal AND even less connected and relevant, making it sadder and slightly grubby in the process.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

News Corp vs. the Google age. Guess who's going to lose

Murdoch may stop Google news searches. Really? :o)

The death of newsprint has been coming for years; it's interesting to see how newspapers are trying various tactics to monetize the shift to the Internet as the worlds of old marketing and news delivery crumble.

News Corp has previously mentioned charging for online access to news and now Rupert Murdoch has apparently said he believes search engines cannot legally use headlines and paragraphs of news stories as search results.

For someone used to leveraging a near-monopoly I think it's interesting he hasn't recognised he's met one far more powerful and this one's based on openness, not limit and control.

News Corp vs. the Google age. No prizes for guessing who's going to lose.

More from the BBC here

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

New FTC endorsement & testimonial guidelines, do they affect you?

The new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising come into effect on December 1st 2009. Any of us that work within the US, or with US organisations anywhere in the world will be impacted so please take note.

We have no definitive legal opinion yet however let's review the main points:

From a blogging perspective things are simple; clear disclosure of any material connection with a company/product/service mentioned is required.

The press release indicates these rules apply to Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers and Celebrity Endorsements; at the very least the new rules should be integrated into blogging guidelines (claims and full disclosure) and also claims-based advertising/marketing campaigns.

The large change is that it seems when making any claim one also needs to know what the generally anticipated outcome is; often easier said than done.

Taken from the press release:
‘Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.’

Imagine a diet DVD advert/press release/brochure claiming someone following the regime has lost 60 pounds. No issue in substantiating this however it could be that the generally anticipated outcome for diet regime DVDs is for them to be used once before becoming drinks coasters (probably for hot chocolate with marshmallows).

What we need to talk about is the generally anticipated outcome when the product is correctly implemented and I'm not sure how this is covered/differentiated in the new guidelines.

In summary
The blogging side is straightforward, other marketing activities less so. These new rules will impact any claims-based activity and therefore the need for rigorous case studies will increase.

Three questions still remain for me and I hope to be able to answer them soon:

1. How are advertising, websites, campaigns, events and press releases impacted?
2. Are case studies directly impacted? (specifically the collection/sign off of metrics)
3. Is there any increased liability for customers providing metrics in case studies?

The full guidelines are

This video from the FTC focuses on the blogging aspects of the endorsement guidelines.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Call (312) 416-9980 and talk to our CEO

I like this. 37signals is clearly not a boring software company.

Disagree? Phone their CEO and tell him.
Have a suggestion for a new product feature? Do the same.

Jason Fried, 37signals' CEO, takes calls at (312) 416-9980 from 3pm to 5pm central time every Tuesday and Thursday.

Taken from their website:

'Every Tuesday and Thursday from 3pm - 5pm central time, our CEO (Jason Fried) is standing by to take calls from customers, prospective customers, or anyone who has a question about 37signals.

Note: Unsolicited sales calls will not be taken during this time.

What can we talk about?
You can call and ask product questions, pre-sales questions, suggest feature requests, lodge complaints, offer praise, share ideas, discuss recent blog posts, or talk about good or bad experiences using our products. Anything that’s on your mind is fair game. Jason's here to listen, share, and be available to help in any way he can.

How long can we talk?
In order to accommodate other callers, we ask that you keep calls to 10 minutes or less. Thanks.

If I can't get through, can Jason call me back?
Jason is only available for direct calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm central. If he's unable to take your call he won't be able to call you back if it's outside these office hours. But you can drop him an email at jason at 37signals dot com and he'll try to get back to you as soon as he can.
You can also contact Jason via Twitter

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Glaswegian interpreters (rubbery gubs?) required

We've worked in and translated from 21 languages but have just become aware of a new translation service required in Glasgow, just a few hundred miles from our UK HQ.

A translation firm is recruiting interpreters to help visiting businessmen understand the Glaswegian dialect, which some consider the most impenetrable in the UK.

Normally this company translates documents but it seems there is a genuine demand for this service.

See the full BBC article here. Some examples of the dialect are:

  • Beezer - (something good)
  • Bingo Bus - (police van)
  • Boudo - (money)
  • Connie - (candle)
  • Donner - (a walk)
  • Dreich - (bad/wet weather)
  • Fae - (from)
  • Geeza - (may I please have)
  • Heavy Scran - (good food)
  • Melt - (face)
  • Naw, Nae - (no)
  • Piece - (sandwich)
  • Rubbery Gub (big mouth)
  • Shoot the craw (leave in a hurry)

Everyone's a Critic But They're Not Very Critical

Apparently online reviewers are not nearly nasty enough, tending to leave positive reviews - the average is around 4.3 stars out of five.

Interestingly, negative reviews seem to be trusted more; on the basis you can't please all the people all the time companies with some negative feedback will be perceived as genuine and worth dealing with.

Paid or company reviews make a mockery of review mechanisms; added to this there is a lot of online discussion concerning sites removing or making it difficult to add negative reviews. Not easy to police.

I think it's time for a score of 3 to be seen as good; 5 as excellent, or even better for a 10-point scale to be used.EBay does not like sellers with average feedback of less than (on a 5-point scale) so we have a way to go.

Go on, get real with your online reviews, not every transaction can be 5-point-tastic.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Huge numbers in just a few seconds - Gary’s Social Media Count

Well done Gary Hayes for creating this; volume is not the same as value however some of the numbers are simply mind-boggling. This table puts social media into some sort of context, even if it's just comparable.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Philips - half-right social media strategy is not good enough

Meet Mathias Thorell, known to me and the other 11,690 members of Philips Streamium Café as 'Tias'.

We've never met, emailed or spoken but it's clear Tias is an interesting guy. Originally from Sweden he was a Senior Flight Test Engineer on the Saab Gripen but now works as a Systems Engineer and IT Manager in Santiago, Chile.

In his spare time Tias contributes to Streamium Café , a user group for a range of wireless multi-room music players from the consumer electronics giant, Philips.

To say Tias contributes is somewhat of an understatement, 2,651 helpful posts to date which equates to over two per day.

It strikes me that Philips is treating their 11.5k members as an outsourced R&D and Customer Support team, offering virtually nothing in return other than a place to 'talk', either oblivious to the reputation-management issue coming its way or arrogant enough to think it can
do as it pleases.

At least they have got it half-right; to date Philips has enabled conversation among its customers and kept a very low profile other than removing spam and offensive (to members, not about products) comments. Commendable but not nearly good enough.

Unfortunately Streamium is not iPod-simple, nor is it inexpensive. The challenge for Philips seems to be how to move this technically-advanced product from the smallish early-adopter geek market to the mass consumer market.

Most Streamium users get the 'story' - the way products can change the way we live, some Café members are not only willing to put up with the glitches and idiosyncrasies, they are actively trying to solve the bugs and improve the product.

Take the software; if you have ripped 200 CDs onto a Streamium (slowly - plate tectonics will have moved your Streamium a few inches closer to Africa before you have finished ripping the latest Chili Peppers ' triple album) it's not something you would wish to repeat any time soon. The backup software supplied by Philips is lame and not open-source thus will remain so.

Back to Tias, he (with assistance from other members of the user group) has spearheaded the creation of the vastly superior track managing software (WACHandler), available to all, for free (donations welcomed).

Think about the cost of the forum and the benefit to Philips; 11.6k members helping each other and providing product roadmap ideas for an item with an average price tag of around $350 per room, that could either be returned to the stores, or worse.

Just think what Philips could achieve with:

  • Technical support given to Café members (a different entry point, not an additional cost)
  • Product idea competitions
  • Notification of firmware and product updates
  • A chance for Tias and others like him to review new products
  • Factory tours
  • Biogs of the developers
  • Streamium stories with photos - real case studies

Enthusiasts and user groups are powerful, I don’t believe Philips understands how fortunate it is - this is a response to members asking why its moderators remove spam but will not 'engage' more fully.

'The purpose of StreamiumCafe is creating a community for Streamium users. It is a community where Streamium users can help each other out with problems they are facing or where people can discuss about improvements that can be made etc. Unfortunately this is not a support forum where Philips engineers or technicians are available to provide support. This is the logo you see, when entering'

Just think what you could achieve with that number of engaged advocates, or just a few guys like Mathias Thorell.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Customers comment - Google Sidewiki meets Brands in Public

Not just one but TWO new ways for the opinions and comments from Joe Public, (both advocates and detractors) to be made visible in a relevant way, either gathered together or actually alongside an organisation's webpages, one from Squidoo and one from Google.

Brands in Public
Nice project this. My colleagues and I have been evaluating Radian6 and other social media monitoring tools this year with some success and it's really interesting to see what the Squidoo team has been cooking up around brand.

Brands in Public is a single page about a Brand, unofficial pages (but not for long I suspect with the sponsorship options) that aggregate together positive and negative comment from Twitter, YouTube, blog posts. Google trends too. The good and the bad.

here's Dell In Public so you can check out the concept

Google Sidewiki
This is far, far more controversial and I cannot believe Google will be able to keep Sidewiki in this form.
Sikewiki adds an expandable column to the lefthand side of your browser (via Google toolbar) where you can read and add comments about the content on the specific web page you are viewing at the time.
There is no 'owner' or moderator, rather Google uses algorithms to try and ensure the most useful content appears higher in the list and hateful comments are way lower.
'Open' and 'social' are good however this sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen IMHO.

Does anyone remember Third Voice? Exactly, we have been here before; maybe Google has the muscle tomake it work this time.

Sidewiki could be a game-changing tool which benefits everyone however there is a lot of bigotry, ignorance and hatred out there, as well as lame marketers that create negative comments about their completion rather than creating great ideas that spread.

I'm watching this one with interest.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Google does not use keyword meta tags to find your case studies

Recently the subject of keywords and META tags has come up with a couple of clients.

Case studies can be a large investment and quite rightly you want the reference materials you create to reach the largest audience possible and also for the major search engines to pick them up.

I was amazed to learn Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking (and Google is not alone here).

This change happened some years ago due to keywords meta tags being abused via the addition of hundreds of unrelated words or naming competitors and their products. Rigging the game can only be a short term ploy.

Google also states the 'description' tag is not used for search ranking but IS displayed in results (which I know as I had a typo in mine which took a while to propagate through once I had changed it)

Of course keywords may have a use for less sophisticated search engines and also many companies use these for the search functionality of their document management systems.
See video below or read the transcript.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The most annoying phrase of all time...

Is 'of all time'.

You will currently see or hear it ten times a day and when you think about it the phrase is total nonsense.

In fact it's the most annoying phrase recorded, or to date :o)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

UK approves TV product placement - are we heading for The Truman Show?

Traditional media is going through considerable change; some wonder if and in what format printed newspapers will survive (Ben M noticed UK newspaper loyalty schemes) while interruption-marketing such as TV advertising is trying to work out how to cope with falling revenues (not simply recession-driven as they would have us believe).

Until now UK TV channels have been fined if company logos are not obscured or covered.

According to the BBC the government now believes that placement should be allowed in some circumstances and will announce the change next week.

Product placement will not be permissible for the BBC or children's programmes on any channel.

As with paid blogs it's essential that viewers know that this promotion has taken part. My knee-jerk reaction was that this move has to be a a bad thing however as the BBC article points out, we are already watching masses of imported shows from the US and sports events already carry a large amount of sponsorship. Movies and rock concerts are full of product placement too.

In a world where TV and other interruption advertising has is becoming less and less effective (no one is paying attention unless they choose to) this move provides a revenue stop-gap.

The big question is where does 'push' or 'interruption' marketing go next?

Maybe we are not heading for The Truman Show however marketers and production companies need be careful; if product placement gets silly viewers will simply vote with their remotes and everyone will lose.

Friday, 11 September 2009

When we all know it's broken

It's Saturday morning and I've made a quick dash into B&Q (Home Depot in the US?). Heading for the checkouts I become aware that there are none open, not a single one.

Someone armed with a spreadsheet and some graph paper had worked out four self-service checkouts can fit in the same space as ones manned by humans AND they can save the staff costs by getting their customers to scan their own items. A great idea (actually no).

Not only this but they fitted them in a store that has never had more than half the checkouts open (does not need the space) and two members of staff were required to help and pacify the irate builders forced to scan their loads of bricks and numerous heavy items and placing them on the weight-sensitive box designed to lessen theft.

Of course using my rare gift I had managed to select two items without bar codes and rather than looking them up in a book (as would happen at any normal checkout) a staff member was send to obtain the numbers. He simply swapped the items for ones with codes so it's misery for the next person to select them, and groundhog day for the other staff.

All this to save the cost of two minimum-wage staff. The cost to their business of dissatisfied customers and negative WOM must cost thousands.

This reminded me of the website thisisbroken and the funny Seth Godin video on the same riff (the series/parallel taxi rank example is great).

I know it's broken, the shop-floor-level B&Q staff know it's broken, how much custom will B&Q lose before management realise it's broken too?

Express checkouts (which sort of imply it's quicker for you to do things than for trained staff) - great for cornflakes, less so for concrete.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Agency giants lumber onto the WOM bandwagon. Yawn...

Omincom and the other lumbering giants now feel its time to get on the WOM bandwagon. When you check the detail it's just the same old 'control' nonsense in a new format; this is still 1950s marketing.


When are agencies such as this going to realise their game is over? Buzz is largely vanity and an irrelevance and what drives WOM and advocacy in general is the total customer experience; companies that do remarkable things get remarked on. Simple as that.

The smart money backs the specialist agencies that help advocates tell their story effectively and 'spin free'.

The half-promised 'viral WOM in 5 easy steps' approach that occurs when large agencies try to 'productize magic' is a hoax; it cannot be planned by an agency, nor can it be bought.

This is not yet another opportunity to push messaging, it's a conversation.

Wake up, smell the coffee and if it smells great then tell your friends and see what they think :o)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Winning business in the age of reference

No so long ago we believed what we were told; politics and advertising are good examples, it was all about trust, respect for tradition, position and accepted opinion.
Information was not available in the way it is today, in fact some brands still survive on the back of TV advertising done in the 1950's, when it was OK to interrupt people (and they paid attention).

As a customer advocacy specialist I spend a lot of time with marketing professionals across all disciplines and three points always come up:

  • What you say
  • What you do
  • What others say about you

Although companies may be completely trustworthy and have great stories to tell 'What you say' is becoming largely irrelevant in the Google age.

'What you do' becomes everything as this creates the loyalty, advocacy and word-of-mouth driver; i.e. the 'What others day about you' piece of the puzzle.

So how does ‘What you do’ win business?
Firstly let’s look at how ‘What you do’ loses business; simply type ‘(your company name) sucks’ into Google and see what happens. You can’t please people all of the time however there are a multitude of horror stories out there of good organisations let down by their team when they least expect it (Comcast, United Airlines, Dell Hell and Domino’s are just a few).

Word-of-mouth works just the same in a B2B environment; decision makers within large organisations are simply consumers that spend other people's money; the key difference being (quote rightly) the higher level of evidence an organisation requires to prove that the investment is a sound one.

B2B needs include:

  • Proof of directly-comparable business benefits experienced by existing customers
  • Proof the company can deliver on their promises - has it done it before?
  • Proof the proposed solution a based on generally-adopted standards or is it a modern-day Betamax?
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Examples of how a company reacts to issues and rectifies them

Part of the decision-making process is still emotional (how will this decision be perceived, how will it affect my career?) and brand certainly plays a part (is this company ‘cool’, does it align with our culture?), the main takeaway is to become the company you say you are, at every customer touch point.

Easy to say, not so hard to do but possible with the right tools and leadership - adopting methodologies such as Net Promoter can help with this.

The bottom line is that customer delight is how you win business in the age of reference; sometimes the way your lowest-paid employees answer the phone or deal with a enquiry can be worth more to your company than any advertising or comms campaign.

The customer experience (let's aim for delight) is what is remembered and this is ‘What others say about you’; the key to winning (and more importantly keeping) business.

More on this topic to follow in the next few weeks :o)

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Seth on Social Networking - 2 minutes of realism in hours of hype

As always, Seth brings it back to basics; it's not about numbers (volume) it's about the value exchange, which paradoxically means it actually is about the numbers (dollar value earned though relationships built on value exchange).

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

My name is Robin and I am a shopaholic

My name is Robin and I am a shopaholic.
I have a weakness for Thomas Pink shirts; this is a company built on a great product and customer service.

In fact it's hard to walk past any of their airport outlets without finding a reason to add something stripy in a 17.5" collar to my hand-baggage.

The real test of a company comes when there's a problem; I recently ordered black'n pink number in the sale that (unusually) happened to be in my size.

One week later into the inbox pops an 'oops' email saying that they did not in fact have this item. Slightly annoyed to see it still advertised in their online store I called Pink to mention this (yes they gave me a name and a number).

The result? They tracked down a shirt an even offered to amend the sleeve length FOC.

Advocacy result? I would have forgiven them anyway however I'm even more of a Thomas Pink advocate thanks to Natasha D'Aranjo in their customer service/web team.

My name is Robin and I'm a shopaholic, it's been one week since my last shirt purchase...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Use power wisely, young Skywalker

I am a big fan of Steven Fry and his tweets, so are 655280 others making him one of the true twitterati. Imagine my shock when a few days ago I found myself confronted by a negative tweet from Steven concerning one of our clients.

We decided that our client should know so a colleague passed the information to the relevant team and we were pleased to see they immediately swung into action to see if there was anything they could to to help out what was a clearly disgruntled customer.

Less than an hour later Steven came back with the tweet 'Oh the power of Twitter. Moan about a product & their "communications" people are in touch offering to help. Feel like a big bully now.'

Followed by 'Yes deeply aware I'm in privileged position: a tweet for or against something, with so many followers... Use power wisely, young Skywalker'

This was a really interesting experience; the blogosphere is full of advocates and detractors; in the consumer space it's an easy and obvious customer reference linkage; also fairly intuitive for SMB.

Enterprise is embracing the 'Buzz' (brand and vanity - lots of cool charts and maps) yet not yet clearly associating social media with 'Business' i.e hard numbers worth investing in.

When so much of Enterprise social media is viewed as just another 'push' opportunity, or a reactive damage control exercise, it's no wonder that 'social media monitoring' seems set to be one of the top occupations for this year's batch of university interns.

I think it has a place, clearly online social networks will influence, key recognised influencers create consideration but it's still peers, family and colleagues that drive preference and the decision to purchase.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Harder, better, faster, stronger – 6 ways to increase ROI metrics in your case studies

One of the hottest topics for customer reference professionals; over the years we have found several tactics worth considering:

1) Create case studies later
If it’s business outcomes you seek the solution has to have had an impact on the business. Do the press release then wait until you have a story worth telling
2) Establish ground rules and expectations up-front
Make it clear to the customer that you will be seeking metrics. You can decide how to proceed based on the response however the customer must still feel valued if you decide not to proceed
3) Use writers with a journalistic background
Journalists get to the root of the story, asking the same question from different perspectives in order to get the required result. Similar to ‘is it safe’ in Marathon Man but in a positive way!
4) Consider independent case study endorsement
Sometimes a respected third party can add value; companies open up to independent analyst firms. They can validate and add weight to case studies
5) Leverage market data
Give the customer a starting point using industry or product benchmarks rather than just asking for ‘metrics’
6) Limited-use sign-off
Consider asking for a ‘one-to-one sales environment only’ legal release – i.e. not for marketing use. Customers release more information when it’s not used by the press or for brochures/adverts/events. Marketing can be frightening!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Funny how 30 seconds can last a lifetime

My favorite television advert advertises television advertising.

Telling, though
Thinkbox disagrees. I'm with Seth; no-one's listening. This is a marketing history lesson; creative but stuck in 1950's thinking.

The nostalgia is good; '30 seconds can last a lifetime'. Not so sure they are referring to the 30 seconds of flashing images that seems to last a lifetime as I skip over them as fast as possible to get past interruption advertising and back to the programme.

Break bumpers make it easier than ever before; if your reflexes are good enough then a combination of break bumpers and 12 or 30x fast-forward makes it possible to avoid television advertising altogether.

see also (oldies but goodies):

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Citizen Marketers? 10% of Twitter users generate > 90% of content

Interesting article on BBC News concerning a Harvard study into Twitter usage. It looks at 300,000 users. Survey insights include:

  1. Over 10 million visitors to Twitter; Facebook has 200 million active users

  2. More than half of all people using Twitter updated their page less than once every 74 days

  3. Most people only ever "tweet" once during their lifetime

  4. With typical online social networks the top 10% of users accounted for 30% of production

  5. Twitter is being used as much more of a broadcast medium

  6. Men had 15% more followers than women despite there being slightly more females users of Twitter than males

  7. An average man was almost twice as likely to follow another man than a woman, despite the reverse being true on other social networks (no pics on Twitter?)

  8. Ashton Kutcher is king of the tweets with more than two million followers

For me this largely supports the '1 Percenters' premise of the great book by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba - Citizen Marketers i.e. one percent of visitors to public social media sites (such as wikipedia) create the content viewed by the other 99%

Monday, 8 June 2009

Bean-counter culture

It had to be said. Bean counters can be dangerous to businesses, everyone deserves a good deal however everyone with marketable talent and knowledge deserves respect too.

This cuts both ways; the culture of unsustainable short-term gain is just as unacceptable whether buying or selling.

Nobody really wins and mediocrity is the only possible outcome.

A larger pile of beans is no use to a company if they don't do something remarkable with it; they may lose a few along the way however I can guarantee nothing amazing can happen unless the bean-counters are forced to plant some and help something develop.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Google Wave - really impressive integration

Integrated Email, IM, Twitter, Blog, and real-time collaboration. You have got to hand it to Google; they are never short of ideas and Google Wave (aside from search) is the best one yet.

I came across this video earlier today and found myself watching the whole 1:20 (sorry boss).

The integration is impressive (if you juggle email, IM, Blog and Twitter you will relate to this) however it's the real-time collaboration capabilities that I believe sets this future product apart. You don't have to read down a complete email trail, you can insert comments in relevant areas and see who said what, and when. you can even edit the edits.

A change in the way you think, but not a big one.

One moment that stood out for me was the contextual real-time translation and spell-checking capabilities. We have come a long way from Babel Fish and Word.

Some detailed reviews:

Monday, 1 June 2009

Net Promoter; a wasted opportunity?

Net Promoter (when implemented properly) is inspiring, creating organisational change, rewarding excellence while giving a voice to dissatisfied customers.

On its own as a 'vanity' number? A wasted opportunity (though many companies stop at just this point)

I believe you judge how seriously a company takes Net Promoter with a simple question (not ultimate!) 'Does your senior management pick up the phone and respond to any scores of seven or less? (or even five or less?). It's about how you deal with detractors that counts; even if you have taken the business decision not to invest time with lost causes and sack them.

Q) Has anyone any experience of IBM’s CFiq (Customer Focused Insight Quotient)?

It goes beyond a single measure of satisfaction or likelihood to recommend. After all, a happy customer isn’t necessarily one who automatically converts into new sales or even stays as your customer. The CFiq takes a more sophisticated approach by combining responses to three statements to obtain a more predictive and commercially viable view of advocacy.

The three statements advocates agree with are:
1. I would recommend my XXXX to friends and family.
2. I would buy my next product from XXXXX
3. If another XXXXX offered me a competitive product/service/solution I would remain with XXXXX.

Overall it’s an interesting progression; Net Promoter (Satmetrix) is focusing on certification to bring some rules to the game; good thing too. Fred Reicheld’s vision of meaningful feedback re customer satisfaction gathered as close to the point of delivery as possible, with organisational support is worth protecting.

See also CRP-specific post by Barbara Krasner

Monday, 18 May 2009

If you are going to buy 'A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates (paperback)' - I won't spoil the ending for you

While investigating positive and negative product reviews on Amazon I've come to the conclusion that:

1) Some people must have no time for doing anything other than creating huge volumes of reviews

2) Maybe if they had enough money to purchase all these products, time to read/listen/watch them or room to store them they probably do have a lot of free time

Anyhow, I have come across some great bogus reviews, an unexpected surprise. It's almost as much fun to read the comments on these reviews by those who do not appreciate the sarcasm/irony.

Christina Martin has created some good ones, also there is the classic review of the Bic Crystal ballpoint pen by Matt Williams.

When there are items for sale such as A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates you just can't help yourself...

Friday, 15 May 2009

Culture club

Recently we have been connecting with many more people in Asia Pacifica nd Japan as we grow business in this region, mostly on behalf of North-American-based companies.

Being British and working with colleagues from all over the globe I have become aware of the similarities and differences between the Brits and the Americans, the differences between North Americans and Canadians and also how major European county cultures differ dramatically.

Asia Pacific and Japan is a whole new learning experience and one I am enjoying immensely; the familiarity of Australia and Singapore's openness to the west, balanced with polite reminders that North American/British confidence can be perceived as arrogance.
Japan and Korea are next; my initial contact with Japan makes it clear I have a lot to learn but it's likely to be rewarding, professionally and personally.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


I'm a few weeks into trying life with Twitter and finding it really interesting. Thoughts thus far:

  • Use TweetDeck or some other content aggregating tool

  • There are seemingly hundreds of sad people simply wanting number of connections

  • Stephen Fry's twitter feed is delightful

  • Guy Kawasaki tweets way too much - I wish I could filter for the good stuff

  • Jeremiah Owyang's volume is about right (but seems to be increasing)

  • I blog less

  • Direct messages are nice

  • It's really nice to learn more about people outside of working relationships

  • There is a LOT of drivel out there (like this!)

  • I'm going to stick with it, currently more useful than annoying

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The good samaritan

I lost my wallet today, well for some of the day...
On my way to visit some colleagues and a client I purchased half a dozen creme eggs to spread some Easter good wishes and obviously placed my wallet on the car roof as I struggled to avoid making a chocolate omelette.
Cue a phone call two hours later from a lovely lady from 3M who found my wallet at the side of the road, retrieved all the cards and cash that had fallen from it, made two phone calls to track me down and would not hear of receiving a small reward for her trouble (not even a creme egg).

Just thinking about the hassle of replacing my driver's licence and bank cards gives me a headache.

Linda from 3M in Bracknell - thank you :o)

Friday, 27 March 2009

References available upon request

We have been developing a new reference tool over the last year or so; it's now starting to have some success and iis becoming what we thought it could be.
It's called Proof Points and is designed for field sales teams (the toughest of critics with the shortest of time and patience).

Developing software is really interesting, for me it's not about the technical stuff, rather how people think and act in completely different ways. Working on the basis that 'if you have to explain it or create a manual you have failed' is tough but rewarding. More to follow :o)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Walking the red carpet

Had an excellent evening yesterday.
My team is part of a company that in turn is part of a organisation comprising 36 companies. The group holds an annual awards ceremony called the 'Chime Cymbal Awards' for which there are 10 hotly-contested categories plus a special 'outstanding achievement' award.
This particular award is the only one that you cannot enter and is proposed and decided upon by the board of directors.

Guess which one we won? oh yes!
This award represents work done over many years, much of it before I joined the company however I was very proud indeed to be lucky enough to receive it on behalf of the team. :o)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Social Notworking?

I love this phrase, found on urbandictionary and defined as 'The practice of spending time unproductively on social-networking websites, especially when one should be working', applied to facebook etc.

Following a few instances of Social Notworking my team decided to ban access to these networks (other than LinkedIn) except in lunch breaks.

There is no much negativity in the corporate world around online communities (other than 'how we use this to push content') I wonder if this term is going to be applied to the impact of social media :o)

Monday, 9 March 2009

Is one negative worth five positive reviews?

This is a riff that started with an offhand comment at the Customer Reference Forum and has continued since amongst the inEvidence team.
Interesting stuff; we came to the conclusion that one negative review on a site such as Amazon held equal weight with five positive reviews.
Actually several members of the team stated they would consider the negative review but would ensure they read as many as possible before making up their minds concerning a purchase.

Lots of discussion around this including 'are people more likely to post bad reviews having had a bad experience than those posting positive reviews after a good experience?'

We will do some more on this.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Seth - looking for YES

As usual Seth is on the money with his post 'Looking for YES'. There is a minority that make stuff happen, ignoring red tape and just doing the right thing, finding ways to say 'yes' and not 'no'.

Jobsworths create remarkable customer experiences, but not in a good way. I recently decided to avoid queuing and use the online checkout when vacating a US hotel. The departure time was a couple of hours away so a colleague and I decided to go grab a coffee, forgetting that San Francisco is pretty much closed until 11am on a Sunday.

We walked some distance and while returning to the hotel the heavens opened and we were both completely soaked to the skin. Needless to say my key card no longer worked so Marvin from security came to let me in.

Marvin was a jobsworth, apparently I could go into my room to retrieve my luggage while he stood guard but under no circumstances could I dry myself and change my clothes for my journey home. Oh, and also I should have thought of this before using the online checkout...

Astounding, and the apology from the hotel manager was as wet as my Calvin Kleins were by this point.

Now looking for a another San Francisco hotel, preferably one without a Marvin.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Buy success, not just technology

Laura Ramos from Forrester had a great phrase in her recent Keynote speech in Berkeley, "Business buyers buy success, not just technology". As someone engaged in the business of helping companies use their success to sell I kinda like this :o)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

It's not the widget

I met with lots of people last week that seemed to share the opinion that lower marketing budgets = a clear mandate for a self-service customer reference model.

Sure this is logical for low-level activities with pre-approved content (quotes and case studies) however the most spangly of widgets does not replace relationships with sales teams and the organisational buy-in that required to be successful at providing good customer references; preventing reference customer burn-out.

Building another one-stop-shop will not change the typical behaviour of a sales person and defining how potential customers will engage with your company to satisfy their reference requests is nothing short of arrogant.

Applications play an important role but are simply a tool; the reality is you can build it and they won't come.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Social Media = Web 2.0? I think not

Had a great time in Berkeley last week at the 09 Customer Reference Forum. Lots of buzz around social media however I think it's time we looked again at some definitions: Social media can pretty much be defined as 'online 2-way communications/communities/tribes' however what it is not is 'anything digital' or 'web 2.0'.

While I think of it, does social media have to be online? hmm...

Videos and podcasts are cool however they are no more interactive than a PDF; surely customer-approved content is not the same as customer-created content or uncontrolled conversations?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Liverpool Street & T-Mobile - buzzworthy advertising

Thanks Jonathan for sending this link. Great advertising in terms of buzz and brand from the magenta-patenting mobile phone network T-Mobile. Just in case you have only caught part of it (or not come across this at all). The hi-res version is much better if you have the bandwidth.

Monday, 19 January 2009

it's good to talk

This used to to the the strap line for one of the funkiest mobile phone brands - Orange. I loved their marketing and wanted to belong to the club. Around seventeen years ago a phone cost £300 and Orange had about three transmitters in the UK yet I was still queuing outside the Orange dealer. The customer service was amazing - lose your phone and one would be motorcycle-couriered to you, anywhere, within a two-hour time window of your choosing. Amazing.

Fast forward to 2008/09. Confusing tariffs, even more confused staff and deals not designed for families. Add one year (yes one whole year) of speaking to call centres for hours on end without any success and we have arrived at today.

Today I leave Orange.

Even if I have to pay off the remainder of an 18-month agreement I am still leaving. What happened to such an amazing brand? I cannot believe that Orange's acquisition by France Telecom is responsible.

There is a lesson here for any brand. It's interesting how 'tribes' work; we forgive brands most things as long as the core experience remains special.

I note Orange is currently running a strap line 'together we can do more'.

Too little, too late. I loved this brand and they blew it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

2009 Customer Reference Survey - nearly there....

Number crunching finished it's being polished and about to be released. Interesting stuff - watch this space

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Customers - your biggest threat or secret weapon?

IBM is running a vertically-segmented advocacy campaign (advising companies re creating advocates through using their technologies). It’s under the banner of ‘customers - are they your biggest threat or secret weapon’?

It uses a measure created back in 2007 called Customer Focused Insight Quotient (CFiq) – aimed to be a more predictive and commercially viable view of advocacy. It is similar to Netpromoter in many ways and is based on an advocate agreeing with three statements:

1. I would recommend my XXXX to friends and family.
2. I would buy my next product/service/solution from XXXX
3. If another XXXX offered me a competitive product/service/solution I would remain with XXXX.

Their campaign is recognising the power of advocacy however I have just given up trying to find a link to their customer evidence/case studies.

hmmm :o)