Friday, January 30, 2009

Will you be attending NACCM?

If you're planning on attending, speaking or sponsoring in Phoenix November 2-5 for NACCM, we invite you to add NACCM to your Events on LinkedIn. Join us here: http://events.linkedin.com/pub/32740

Will you be attending The Market Research Event?

If you're planning on attending, speaking or sponsoring in Las Vegas October 18-21 for The Market Research Event, we invite you to add The Market Research Event to your Events on LinkedIn. Join us here: http://events.linkedin.com/pub/32743

Will you be attending Community 2.0?

If you're planning on attending, speaking or sponsoring in San Francisco May 11-13 for Community 2.0, we invite you to add Community 2.0 to your Events on LinkedIn. Join us here: http://events.linkedin.com/pub/30308

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Car dealerships focusing on service

With the plummeting sales of new cars, car dealerships are being forced to find other ways to bring customers into their stores. They're turning their attention to their service operations and replace the lost revenue of new cars sold with that of customer loyalty. A study by JD Power and Associates shows that this trend is across the industry, the article stating overall satisfaction with dealer service averaged 866 on a 1,000-point scale, an increase of three points since 2007. For more on this new trend, read the article at SearchAutoParts.com.

Marketo gets new social networking service

Marketo, the market automation leader, has opened up a new online community to better service its market. The social network, Success.Marketo.com, allows access to product documentation, quick start guides, best practices, and communication between Marketo's customers and partners.

Phil Fernandez, president and CEO at Marketo, had this to say about the new online community:
"Our new social customer success community is yet another example of our innovation in all aspects of the customer experience. The community portal not only provides 24x7 support and best practices information, but also provides a forum for ongoing communication between Marketo, our growing user base, and our partners. Today's customers are no longer satisfied with static support solutions, and our new community-based portal is a great way for customers to get and share all the information they need to be successful."

Source: MSNBC

Sales of organic produce remains steady

With the current slow down of the economy, many companies are facing lay-offs due to customers who are not buying their products. One sector not facing this problem is organic foods. Although typical yearly growth of 20-30% has eased, sales of organic food were up 5.6% in December of 2008. Sales are not falling in this category. Customers are sticking to their green products, and are willing to scale back on other products instead of cut out the high cost of organic foods completely.

The dedicated consumers of this market are willing to scale back on other products to maintain a green lifestyle.


What other industries do you see like this one? What other markets sales are remaining consistent throughout this recession? Why are they appealing to consumers?

Source: Reuters

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Using Social Media and Crowd-Sourcing for Quick and Simple Market Research

Steve King outlines easy and free ways for companies to use social networking and crowd-sourcing for market research. He outlines the uses of LinkedIn, Twitter and Blogs. He notes, that social media tools are making it much easier to connect and converse with customers, prospects, and broader audiences. And while asking questions on blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites does not produce statistically valid results, you can learn a lot from the responses.

What do you think? Have you used these outlets for your market research?

Help Shape the Customers 1st 2009 Conference Agenda

I am the producer of the NACCM Customers 1st Conference- the evolved North American Conference on Customer Management. With all the changes happening in the world, I are trying to get a clear sense of how customer focused executives are responding to change to address key issues and solve customer and business challenges in order to shape the 2009 program. If you have 10 minutes to spare this week or next, please let me know a date and time that work for you and the best number to reach you and I will follow up then. Thanks in advance and I am hopeful we can connect soon. As I know budgets are tight, I am pleased to offer you a 15% discount for participating in this research should you like to attend the event this year!

Amanda Powers
Senior Conference Producer NACCM's Customer's 1st
apowers@iirusa.com

Is AOL Selling Bebo?

Mike Butcher has the scoop on a possible fire sale of Bebo by AOL. AOL acquired Bebo only a year ago and its reported that the AOL execs aren't too happy with the performance of this social networking site. According to Butcher's article, the problem lies mostly with advertisers. As Bebo competes with Facebook and MySpace, advertisers are looking to explore more eyeballs through revenue on the more popular sites. Of course this info is speculation but Butcher has enough solid sources for us to keep a watch out on AOL. Read the article here and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Increase your Twitter Followers

I came across this guest post on TechCrunch from Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and cofounder of Revision 3, in which he highlights 10 ways to increase your twitter followers. After all, Kevin is the 2nd most followed person on twitter with 88,000 followers, only second to President Obama! Here are his tips:
  1. Encourage your followers to retweet your links.
  2. Fill out the bio section on your page, people want to know you.
  3. Put links to your twitter profile everywhere on the web.
  4. Tweet about things that you are passionate about, and #hash tag them.
  5. Broadcast your twitter account in the physical world, ex: business cards, presentations, podcasts, etc.
  6. Take lots of pictures because they are heavily tweeted and retweeted.
  7. Start contests to get you in the number one spot.
  8. Follow top twitter users and see what they tweet about, this can give you some ideas.
  9. Reply to/get involved in #hash tag memes.
  10. Track your results to see how well your profile has grown.
Enjoy!

Face-to-Face Customer Service

Yesterday we posted that Columbia, which is based on BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, opened up a new strip mall that will sell policies and answer any customer service questions. To add to that story Spokeswoman Lauralee Shapiro mentions:

"I just think with the confusion in the marketplace, it gives an opportunity for people to come in and actually get information for their health care plan."

Do you think that with the current economic situation we will be seeing more personal face-to-face customer service interactions?


Archived Webinar: Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents

If you missed the webinar Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents last week, here’s your chance to view the archive. Martin Oxley, the managing director of BuzzBack Europe, presented BuzzBack’s recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes to Sustainability and "Being Green," and how unique interactive techniques were used to develop traditional quantitative data and qualitative insights in the same online research study. Take some time to view this hour long webinar at your own leisure.

Watch the archived webinar

Monday, January 26, 2009

College admissions and social media

A study was recently published about the use of social media in college admissions offices. An astounding 41% of admissions offices in US colleges and universities have blogs. This is considerably more than the 13% of Fortune 500 companies who are currently blogging. Universities are also integrating social media into admissions, as they do research the students, 23% of universities using search engines and 17% using social networks. Click here to view the full report presented by UMass Dartmouth.

Health Insurer Opens up Shop

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina has opened up a strip mall store in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Relatively new to the health insurance industry, this store will provide a way for customers to buy individual, group and children's insurance. It will also provide an alternative to calling help numbers, as employees in the stores will answer questions about insurance program benefits.

This type of customer care is new to the health insurance industry. Do you think this will catch on beyond Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Source: AP

Market research critical in new businesses

At the Norman Transcript, they cite that 50% of new businesses fail within the first two years and 80% fail within the first five years. One of the key reasons for this is lack of market research before they enter the market. Companies are not taking the time to get to know the landscape of the market before the enter. Market size, creating a target market, studying the competition are all important factors that should be researched and written into a business plan at the very beginning of any business launch.

Friday, January 23, 2009

China Leads the Way for Headsets in 2009

Despite the worldwide decline in mobile headsets, China is expected to see a growth in the industry in 2009. According to EETimes.com, this can be due to wireless operators continuing to attract new subscribers by reducing service fees, attracting first-time buyers and enticing existing customers to add a second number. The Chinese government has yet to issue 3G licenses to the country, but may do so in 2009. More growth will be expected. So how did China seem to grow in mobile headsets whilst the rest of the world struggles? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

Bank of America Using Twitter to Solve Customer Problems

Bank of America has taken a new approach to customer service--Twitter. The banking giant, now in a bit of hot water thanks to Merrill Lynch, has decided to reach out to the masses in with help in only "140 characters." Many readers on Consumerist.com have reported quick help with the website, refunds in fees and cancellations. Check out the Twitter helper at: twitter.com/BofA_help

Adults Taking Over Social Networking Sites

The Social Media Club of Salt Lake City was featured in KSL.com amid new reported research that adults were taking over social networking sites. No surprise to any community 2.0 member. With the growth of such inter generational social networking sites, i.e., Facebook and LinkedIn, more adults have found that connecting with their friends online is beneficial in private and professional matters. Again no surprise. If you're in the Salt Lake area, check out this club and let us know what they're discovering and learning. We'd love to hear more.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Virgin Media Improves Customer Service

According to this post on Mycustomer.com Virgin Media, the UK telecommunications company that is not known for its customer service, has completed a data migration and customer relationship management software project that is intended optimize technology and operational performance.

Virgin teamed up with Convergys to launch a customer care and billing system to improve customer service. Riki Allon, senior vice president and general manager for Convergys in EMEA mentioned:

"With ICOMS in place, Virgin Media can now execute more innovative product launches across the entirety of its customer base and reduce time to market to maintain its competitive advantage."

What companies have you partnered with to improve on customer service?

Read the January Community 2.0 Roundup

Here’s your chance to view our monthly newsletter that we send out to our Community 2.0 LinkedIn group with the latest updates in social media and online communities. Remember, to join our Commnunity 2.0 LinkedIn group and update your email addresses on LinkedIn in order to receive it on an ongoing basis. Enjoy!

http://www.iirusa.com/upload/wysiwyg/Community2.0_January_Newsletter.html

Obamarketing

Today, I'd like to introduce another guest blogger for TMRE, Frankie Johnson. Frankie Johnson is the Founder and Principal of Research Arts where she consults on emerging trends and conducts qualitative consumer research, much of it online. Her specialties include the impact of economic and environmental shifts on consumers' choices. She was educated at the London School of Economics and began her career on the client side in senior research and brand marketing roles with Quaker and Sears.

In this first full day of the Obama administration, I have been thinking about the lessons we can take away from his masterful campaign. There are probably hundreds of them, but a few seem to me to be particularly relevant for marketers:
  1. Listen before you talk.
  2. Make each and every person feel that they matter to you.
  3. Stay in touch with your supporters. Honor their loyalty and safeguard their trust.
  4. Treat your supporters with respect, regardless of how much they contribute financially.
  5. Tell the truth. If you can't do something, admit it. If you make a mistake, admit it.
  6. Be consistent. Know who you are. Convey your message simply and stick to it.
  7. Reach out to your competitor's supporters but respect their right to make another choice.
  8. Do not speak ill of your competitors. Point out differences but without malice.
  9. Represent values people admire and want to adopt.
  10. Build a team of smart and committed people who believe in what they are promoting.

You can probably think of many other lessons. These are the ones that occur to me today. Here's hoping and praying that this day marks a turning point in our country, and we can look towards the future with optimism and courage.

Frankie Johnson

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Customers in the recession

So what are customers still buying during this economic downturn? It's important to know what they're buying so a company can offer products that are still relevant in a consumer's buying options. According to Forbes, here are the top 10 things Americans are still buying in this time of economic recession:

1. Smart Phones
2. Video games and Consoles
3. Gym Memberships
4. Personal Care
5. Toy Building Sets
6. Car Maintenance
7. Dress Casual Shoes
8. Restaurants
9. Movie Tickets
10. Netbooks

Does anything on this list surprise you?

City council focuses on customer service

The city of Janesville, Wisconsin is making customer service top priority for their citizens. City Council President Amy Loasching has realized that a lot of the complaints coming into the city have to do with poor customer service about departments in the city. It's important that employees of the city improve their services skills so that everyone is happier, including the citizens and those who work for the city council.

Hear the podcast report here.

Agriculture starts to understand social media

Michele Payn-Knoper has set out to help the agriculture community of America embrace and understand social media. She is now conducting web seminars to help those involved in agriculture fully understand how to integrate themselves into social media to help protect the reputation of American agriculture.

She talks in-depth about it in this podcast.

Source: Brownfield

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twitter as a Target Research Tool

Karri Flatla recently posted on Search Engine Guide several ways on how to use twitter to research your target market. Here are a few of these tips:

"Chat up your friends and family."
Take polls and tweet about topics that relate to the market you are trying to understand. You must stimulate conversation and be interactive in order to achieve results.

“Talk to strangers."
Find people in your target that you do not know and shoot them a question.

"Immerse yourself in popular culture."
Take a notepad with you and jot down any gems you come across in Twitter.

"Divine the answer."
Follow the trends and techniques of competitors, which is rather simple to do with Twitter.

"Check the polls."
Use the search engine to track new tweeps to follow.

Are you using any of these tips for market research in your company?

Recession can improve customer centricity

Graham Hill recently wrote a post at Customer Think about how, even though the current rough times, companies can focus on and build customer centricity. Should companies are following his five ideals to build customer centricity, they should have a customer base to carry them through the recession. Are you?

1. Having a deep understanding of customer needs (based on customer jobs and outcomes)
2. Mass customisation of products, services & experiences
3. Dynamically reconfigurable delivery system
4. Lean business support systems
5. Customer value management across the customer portfolio


Enterprise Customer Communities: Hot Topics for 2009

Today we have a guest post from Community 2.0 speaker Joe Cothrel. He is Chief Community Officer at Lithium Technologies, which powers some of the largest enterprise communities on the web. He’ll be speaking at Community 2.0 on five key trends in customer communities. Today he shares some of his insights with us.

* * * * *
What lies ahead for enterprise customer communities in 2009? I’ve spent the last eight weeks talking to our customers about their plans for the new year, and here are the common themes:

Return: The economic downtown didn’t create the need for return on investment from communities, but it has certainly made the need more urgent. Few companies are abandoning their hard-to-ROI efforts, but every company I spoke to talked about the need to quantify what can be quantified – and to justify any new spend with projected cost savings or revenue increases.


Success: The days of a “success neutral” approach to social media or community will end this year. Companies are asking for ways to measure success – not just in dollars, but in the breadth and depth of impact to their customer base. What that means is that engaging a hundred or a thousand people out of a customer base of thousands or millions won’t be enough. Good benchmarks will be important to this effort.


Integration: Today, social media efforts are often siloed in different locations on company websites. Customers are asked to register once to comment on a blog, again to submit an idea, and again to participate on a forum. Needless to say, these databases are rarely integrated with a customer database that contains transaction data, or prospect databases that track leads. Single sign-on (SSO) efforts abound – those that don’t have them will get them this year.


Flexibility: Companies want more control over how the social media efforts on their web sites are presented to customers. More companies are talking about using APIs to create an experience for users that is distinctive and more “Web 2.0.” Yet there is little awareness of the impact these changes will have on participation, conversion, and customer satisfaction. Look for companies who don’t get good guidance to “take some lumps” in 2009 in this area (not our customers, of course!).

Enthusiasm: In 2008, more than 70% of our customers had community efforts that were two years old or less – which is probably representative of enterprise communities in general. But the number of companies entering the “mature” phase of their community efforts grows every year. These communities have a different set of problems and opportunities than young communities. Flattening growth curves make it harder to assess community health, so new ways of measuring them are needed. On the opportunity side, internal stakeholders are looking at mature communities and asking “what’s next?” One big trend is taking well-functioning support forums and moving them up the curve toward greater enthusiasm and engagement. We’ll hear more about “superusers,” “enthusiasts,” and “Influencers” this year as a result.

Every company has a host of other priorities this year, but those are the themes that unite them. I’m looking forward to sharing more on these topics in my presentation at Community 2.0 in May. See you then!

Monday, January 19, 2009

We're all Twittering (Everyone's Doing It)

In July, we posted about the role of “digital care manager,” a position Mr. Eliason from Comcast Cable filled in order to proactively search for complaints and problems in twitter. Since that time, several other companies have joined the bandwagon and are now doing the same. The brightkit blog has posted a huge list of all the companies that now use twitter to track what their customers are saying about them in real time. Here are companies that already have their own twitter pages Southwest Airlines, Dell Computers, Comcast, Starbucks, Jet Blue, Home Depot, Whole Foods, H&R Block, Zappos, Kodak, General Motors, Pandora. And the list goes on for companies that have also responded to problems and complaints on twitter.

Has your company joined the revolution?

Interesting ways to use the collaborative web

In the more recent years, the web has reclaimed its nature of being collaborative- the way it was meant to be in the first place.

There are collaboration tools galore- some that have achieved fame as the collective noun- “social network”. Some others including the social network form what has come to be known as the “social media”

Wait. Before you think this going to be a shpeel on social media and its importance (It IS important though) let me declare otherwise now.

What I do want to highlight though, is the fact that today the web is full of collaborative tools that could be used by businesses in a variety of ways- some that encourage connect-ability and yet others that thrive on rationalizing the wisdom of crowds.

There are comparison and review sites that attempt to give rational advice- say on specifications and even price points. And then there are blogs and other engagement tools that people so freely use to express, discuss and activate about a subject. Not only this, the collaborative web today can even get inside the mind of people- when people speak their minds in the high reach and safe anonymity of the web.

The great things about these tools is that they can be manipulated by companies in a myriad of ways to not only to connect and collaborate, but also listen to what the market is saying about them. It can help them get some of those elusive customer insights for which they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and still feel, well…somewhat blank.

To establish context, I showcased one such popular tool- called BrandTags on chasingthestorm.com recently. It is a collaborative experiment to assess people’s perception of brands- what’s the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of the brand. Something that the ad guys are quite used to doing while planning communication strategies (unaided recall or brand personification type studies)

To show that it can be used a little beyond frivolous interpretation (though it has quite a following), I conducted a basic perception audit. I chose some top computer brands and analyzed the outputs from the tool.

I plotted top 30 tags that the crowds cumulatively attributed to the brand and divided them into positive, negative and neutral mentions. The ones that referred to a brand name or a product were categorized neutral. Ones with positive or negative connotations were then labelled similarly. It was not as easy as it sounded though- how do you classify “cheap” for example? And how do you classify “India” or “China” as tags? Remember these are largely ‘western’ perspectives (I classified countries as neutral though).

When I published the first post, I wanted micro analysis done. I had many brands and models in the consideration set- but soon realized that (A) the tool was not meant to be micro enough to give model specific response (B) Fewer (top) brands analysis will do just fine- to showcase the kind of inferences that could be drawn.

Now, as you read the analysis post, you will realize that the insights are far from scientific and do not offer detailed insights. But the fact is- when you use more such tools together, it is then that they have the potential to deliver more insights. A simple example could be combining this tool with a tool that collates Net Promoter Score- leveraging the Crowd wisdom.

I also mention that listening and leveraging the collaborative tools can help brands develop engagement strategies best suited to engage their stakeholders.

See the analysis of brands like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Apple. Some astonishing results and some others that you’d probably be expecting anyways. Tell me what you think about them. What are the other ways in which this can be used? Any other similar tools that you have come across? I’d love to know, experiment and spread.
Happy New Year to all readers.

Which Websites will Win in 09?


With so much going on in "online social networking", I find it difficult to know just where to spend my time online. It's one more thing that has been added to my list as a B2B marketing tool.

So, I found this article in the NYTimes helpful. It gave a perspective on the sites that will most likely have staying power in the months to come. Although the audience was meant for IT professionals, I found it applicable as a market researcher, or anyone who wants to keep up with the latest business trends.

Carolyn Duffy Marson, Network World, IDG wrote the article on December 31, 2008, titled: "Nine Web sites IT pros should master in 2009."

She claims: "Master these Web sites, and you’ll prove you can innovate during the most trying economic times. And you’ll do it more efficiently than your 20-something employees, who waste too much time chasing the new, new thing on the Internet that may not survive the downturn."

Top of the list was LinkedIn while Facebook was discounted. If you're interested in seeing the full list, you can view it here at the NY Times site.


Thanks,

April Bell

Friday, January 16, 2009

Social media diary 16/1/2009 - London 2012

Official Logo of the 2012 Olympic Games

Image via Wikipedia

London announces social media strategy for 2012 Olympic Games

This week came the first announcements of the social media strategy that will accompany London's 2012 Olympic Games. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will work with the sponsors of the Games to launch a social media campaign in the run-up to the games in three years time as part of it's campaign to get younger people to get involved in both the Games and sport more generally.

They are currently negotiating the involvement of the various official sponsors, and Adidas will be the first to launch a project as part of the campaign. Their involvement will include what is called an "online sports activation project", a set of online social media activities, and presence in social networks, that will sit alongside a campaign offering free gyms to London schools and communities.

According to Alex Balfour, head of new media at LOCOG:

"The main driver for it will be around social values. It will be focused less on the people who are already active in sport or aspire to be lead sports people and more on those who have some interest but don't see the social rewards in it."

So what can we learn from this?

The announcements to date seem to be focusing on ways to engage younger audiences, through online communities and social networks. They appear to be building social media elements into their broader projects to encourage mass participation in sport and hope that this will help their drive to get young people involved.

This is undoubtedly a laudable effort. It is great to use the focus that the Olympic games provide to encourage and promote sport; and especially to motivate younger people to get involved. Social media undoubtedly has a significant role to play in any activities like this and I look forward to what I hope are well-planned and well-executed activities online. The Olympics is a big deal, and it deserves great and innovative use of social media.

Of course, I really hope that London 2012's social media strategy goes much further than what we have seen announced so far. Whilst it is great to try to engage young people in this way, I hope they will try to engage the rest of us too! As we wrote earlier this year, the Olympics should be the perfect social media event. As we wrote at the time:

...if there were ever a perfect candidate for coverage in social networks, online communities and social media, then the Olympics surely must be it.

From my experience with clients, the aspects that are common in successful online communities typically include:

  1. A shared or common interest or goal
  2. The subject may be broad but allows interest groups to form
  3. A subject people are or can be passionate about
  4. Enthusiasts and leaders who will help to shape the community
  5. An experience that is or can be inherently social, that people want to share with others
  6. A subject that can create strong opinions and passionate views
  7. Regularly changing and updated content
  8. Media and varying content types so different people can interact in different ways
  9. You can be more interested in the issues as you are in the people you are discussing them with
  10. An ability for the online experience to be supplemented with offline experience

A full social media strategy should look at ways to engage and involve people before, during and after the Olympic games. If Beijing this year was the first time people have been able to use social media to report on events, London in three years' time should be the first games to fully integrate social media into the Olympic experience. That's why I'm looking forward to watching LOCOG's social media strategy develop and to more elements of it being revealed. By 2012, social media will use tools we don't even have yet in ways we can't imagine. I hope London is ready to make the most of them.

From the FreshNetworks Blog

Read all our Social Media Diary entries

Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog

Who is in your target market?

I recently found this presentation on the Amarach Research Blog. The gaming market is huge, this presentation looks at how its capturing its new customers, and how it's continuing to keep the gamers already playing.

Video Gaming Trends
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: marketing advertising)

An interesting case for customer service

I recently found this article at TMC News. Recently, two brothers from Australia were in New Zealand on a glacier, and died when buried under a landslide of falling ice chunks. Their parents were contacted a few days later by the rental car service the boys had used, letting them know they had late fees to pay because they hadn't received the the car back that the brothers had rented. The keys to the rental car were in the pockets of one of the brothers. They did not purchase insurance for the car, and the company claims that they've lost at least $390.

The Minister of Tourism of New Zealand has told the company they are "crass at best" for trying to collect the money, and Edwin Chen, the director of the rental company, had this to say about the 'unfortunate' situation: "We feel for them. If there are things that are going to cost the company, we have no choice but to recover the costs. They should ... travel with insurance. It's not up to us as a company to pay for the costs."

What would you do in a situation like this? Travel insurance was created for emergencies. These brothers did not buy it. There's a business to run. However, your public image may decrease if you pursue the matter too closely. What would your service business do in this situation?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bob Liodice, President-CEO: Ten Rules when Times Are Tough

b2binternational.com has a great excerpt on their blog concerning 10 golden rules to remember when times are tough. These rules are taken from Bob Liodice, President-CEO of the ANA and provide insight into the b2b world, and for this blog's purposes, market research.

His first rule:
1. Passion And Leadership Are ImperativeThe most successful brands are headed up by strong, visible and vocal leaders, who have total belief in the business, the brand, and what it represents. Such passion is inspiring and infectious; it will spread to others in the organization, who then all play their part in ensuring success.

I find to be the most inspiring, though the other 9 are pretty fantastic. This number one rule is particularly imperative for market research. Be passionate about what you're researching, find your audience and with a full voice--move forward.

Check out the list and get back to us. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

rmbrME/beamME: A Innovative Way to Share Your Contact Information

rmbrME/beamME is a social networking tool that's sole purpose is to "beam" your contact information to anyone using a portable device, ideally a smart phone. This effort will aim to replace the traditional business card and aid in "green" corporate communication.
After a quick sign up process and nominal fee, you can rent your own txtme name. For example, John Smith could be contacted by "get John Smith" to rmbrme. John's contact information would be sent directly to your phone and, if applicable, his vcard could be downloaded on your mail server. The service is hoping to expand their reach by releasing an iPhone application, that makes the process even smoother.

Do you think we'll see a wave of services like this? Post here or on our LinkedIn group.

Customer Service and Cloud Computing Make Service Cloud

According to ZDnet.com, Salesforce.com has unveiled its Service Cloud, a customer service application that’s designed for cloud computing and plugged into conversations that occur on Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Customers can use the Service Cloud as a community on these websites and social networking sites to talk about specific products--a more 2.0 version of the message board. The goal of the Service Cloud is to "absorb information into a corporate knowledge base," i.e., find out when and what people are talking about and use that to enhance their customer service and understanding of consumers.

Also, Salesforce.com promises that Service Cloud results will be ranked near the top of Google results and multi-channel–phone, email and chat–support hosted in the cloud.

It seems that these online retailers are looking to be a "friend" with the consumers online and will try to engage the consumer about products on a candid level.

Post your thoughts on Service Cloud here or on our LinkedIn group.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leading Research Shows Shift in Shopper Spending

“The days of shopping til you drop are over,” according to David Lamb, chief strategic officer at diamond giant De Beers, as stated in this post on Forbes. Lauren Sherman points out that latest market research shows us that shoppers are rethinking their shopping habits. Instead of purchasing many lower-priced trendy items like Coach bags for example, shoppers are now spending more on a single longer-lasting luxury item like a handbag from Chanel or Hermes which can run into thousands of dollars.

Many believe that 2009 will be a year for luxury brands to embrace, because the focus of products is now being shifted towards quality and dependability. What do you think?

Enhanced Customer Service through Text Messages

The worst part of taking a car to a service center in my experience is the time you wait for a call back on the status of the job, price of repairs, or whether or not the mechanics even got a chance to look at the car. According to this post TMC.net, many auto dealers are looking to improve on the customer experience by delivering text messages to customers during the service appointment lifecycle.

The amount of text messages sent and received on a daily basis exceeds the total population of this planet. Astounding numbers! This is a great way to get quicker response times and avoid wasted time on approvals and chasing voicemails all day long.

Community 2.0 Speaker Profile: Joe Trippi

With the Community 2.0 event coming up in May, we're going to take the few months before that to introduce you to our keynote speakers for this year's event. Twice a month, we'll share with you one of our featured key note speakers. Community 2.0 is May 11-13 in San Fransisco, California at The Palace Hotel. This week, we're featuring keynote speaker Joe Trippi, the mastermind Barack Obama's social media campaign.

Joe Trippi's career in campaign management began in 1980 when he ran Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign. Throughout the years, he has been behind many famous campaigns, including Barack Obama and Tony Blair's re-election to British Prime Minister.

In 2004, he ran Howard Dean's presidential campaign, and was credited for using the internet innovatively to collect small donor fund raising. With that campaign, he collected more than any democratic national campaign, with most of the contributions amounting to less than $100 each.

Read here to find out more about Obama's internet and social media campaign. Hear his interview with the National Journal here.

Sources:
Joe Trippi's blog
Twitter
Trippi Media

A Conversation with Joe Trippi

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Marketers see value in market research in 2009

In a new post at the B2B blog, they share research that shows marketing executives know that market research is vital for the coming year. One in every 10 US marketing executives foresees a greater use for market research and three of ten executives are expecting growth in market research activity. Read the post here.

The value of online sharing services

Gary Eckstein recently posted on Social Media Today about the value that social bookmarking can provide to website owners. They look at sharing services, like Digg, which allows viewers to vote on what they found interesting. Bookmarking services allow bookmarking of individual web pages, but a web based bookmarking program allows anyone to access the bookmarks across the web.

Eckstein offers these advantages to these two services:

1. Links: Every time someone shares or bookmarks a web page an additional link to the shared/bookmarked page is created. These links are indexed by the search engines (e.g. Google and Yahoo). It is common knowledge that search ranking is weighted heavily by the number of links to every web page i.e. the more links the more ‘important’ the search engines deem the page.

2. Expanded Audience: Sharing and bookmarking services (especially sharing services) list the pages submitted to the services. Anyone visiting and searching the sharing (or bookmarking) service may be presented with a link to the original content. This translates into a greatly expanded potential audience.

Do you frequently participate in a social bookmarking service? Have you seen it increase the amount of traffic you have visiting your website?

Customer service classes now in session

KTUU of Anchorage, Alaska recently ran a report on a customer service course being offered by the Cook Inlet Tribal School. This two week course teaches students how to learn how to effectively deal with customers and manage their employees properly. As noted in the video below, there is a lack of workforce in Anchorage, so it shows when employers put their employees directly to work with out first training them on the basics of customer service. Watch the news report here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blu-ray Sales Historically Higher than DVD

According to market research by CEA, Blu-ray disc players have historically sold faster than their DVD counterparts. By looking at the slow rise to DVDs, its apparent that the Blu-ray's ascent into the entertainment vehicle du jour has happened much faster than previously thought. This can be due to the lowering cost in Blu-ray players and the capability by PlayStation to play the Blu-ray discs. Check out the article here and give us your thoughts.

With Customer Service, Email is #1

Charlie Gaffney's article in CIO Today talks about the measures that companies must take to survive in this economic climate. One of the most cost-effective ways that companies can save money is to use email. He claims that email has now surpassed telephone service and its a valuable tool to reach the customer. What do you think? Should customer service be more, if not all email driven? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

New Report: Forrester Wave Report: The Leaders in Community Platforms for Marketers (Part 4/4)

The new Forrester Wave Report is out and we encourage you to check it out. Follow this link to learn more!

Check out their findings on:
  • Communities are a powerful way for businesses to grow
  • What you must do before you select a vendor
  • Over 100 vendors in this commodity market
  • Therefore brands seek solution partners–not technologists
  • Key findings of the 9 vendors
  • Customize the Wave report to your business needs
Forrester Wave Report

Friday, January 9, 2009

Social media diary 9/1/2009 - Skype

Sony Corporation ソニー株式会社

Sony crowd-sources name for new online community

Sony this week launched a beta version of it's new online community this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The site combines company blogs with videos, photos and polls as well as allowing users to create profiles; it's a site for users to engage with Sony as a brand and as a company. They're using the site at the Show both to report on product launches but also to allow people to engage with their bloggers and content. From the perspective of launching an online community, many of the usual criteria appear to be met. The community is missing just one thing: a name.

Sony are looking to co-create the name for their online community, working with those people who are first to use and try the site both to get feedback on the content and the interactions, but also to suggest a name for the community. As their chief blogger and senior vice president of corporate communications, Rick Clancy, says:

We want to get feedback from users and also we thought it would be great to reach out to users for suggestions on a name for the site. My favorite so far is 'Sony No Baloney,' which I used for the very first blog post, but some of my colleagues disagree. Hopefully, the community members themselves can suggest something more clever.

So what can we learn from this?

There are many things right about how Sony are launching their online community. Getting the strategy and launch right can really help to maximise the chances of success, including:

  • seeding the community with content and members even before the beta launch
  • bringing together the ways the company interacts - making the user experience simple and not making them do work to find out where to interact
  • launching alongside an event - capitalising upon the PR the event will bring and also establishing the clear relationship between the online and offline community of consumers - they are the same people after all, just engaging in different ways
  • using the first members to help you finalise and develop the community

By working with these first members to co-create the name for the online community itself, Sony is allowing them to have real input into a significant part of the community member experience - what the community is actually called. There are many ways to engage community members and confer a feeling of ownership of the community too them, but I particularly like the idea of getting them to name the site. Naming conventions in society are important - those who help to name something feel ownership of and responsibility for it. By getting these first community members to work together to name the site they will create a set of people who feel responsibility for the success of the site and who want to work to make it a success.

Understanding the social dynamics at play in online communities is important, and if you capitalise upon them you can really help maximise the potential for success at launch and whilst you grow and develop your site.

From the FreshNetworks Blog

Read all our Social Media Diary entries

Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog

Nintendo's great customer service

Recently at The Consumerist, Alex Jarvis wrote in about the exceptional customer experience some had with Nintendo and their broken Wii. The customer had the game consult for two years, and green artifacts starting popping up on the screen when he was playing two specific games. Upon checking on the internet, his warranty was out, but called customer service, and they told him to send his Wii back in with the UPS packaging label they emailed him. When he received the Wii back, he not only had a new motherboard in his consult, but the two games that were malfunctioning as well, at no cost to the customer.

Join Us for a Free Webinar

Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents – A Case Study

Thursday, January 22, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM - 10:00 AM EST)

Using a case study approach, BuzzBack will showcase its recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes to Sustainability and “Being Green,” and how unique interactive techniques were used to combine traditional quantitative data with new types of qualitative insights to yield new levels of understanding. Examples given will show how improved digital approaches can infuse your research and help you think about online research in a totally different way.

This approach was awarded the 2007 MRS/ASC Technology Effectiveness Award.

What you will learn by attending:

• Understand new online research techniques to gain richer, more emotional understanding of respondents’ attitudes

• See how to use the Internet can be used to change your research from the boring, click-a-radio-button survey to a respondent interaction that is much more interesting and engaging

• Review examples of research findings from recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes towards what “being green” means to them Featured Speaker Martin Oxley, Managing Director, BuzzBack Europe

Register Today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Use telemarketing calls for market research

Telemarketing does not often return an interested customer, or someone who will purchase your product. However, it can still be a useful tool for collecting market research, as you can learn something about your current products, market approach, and target markets.

Here are eight ways Vendorseek.com suggests to use your calls as market research:

  1. Create different pitches for different telemarketing teams. Rather than guessing at the most effective pitch, a company can try different ideas and then concentrate on the most successful one.
  2. Assign different target markets to different telemarketing teams. While most brands aspire to go up-market, sometimes going down-market makes up in volume what it sacrifices in margin.
  3. Adjust the value proposition for different telemarketing teams. Using segmented telemarketing efforts is a good way to find out what difference it would make to adjust a price point here or credit terms there.
  4. Track reasons for rejection. From a sales standpoint, leads are gold and rejections are trash. However, from a bigger-picture market research standpoint, there is much to be learned from the reasons behind rejections.
  5. Find out who is getting the business. In the course of a telemarketing effort, a key thing to learn is who has what business. This can be valuable for competitive analysis and for targeting specific competitors in the future.
  6. Be sensitive to declining demand. Telemarketing callers could try to discern if rejections are based on choosing someone else, or simply on waning interest in the product or service.
  7. Watch out for substitution trends. Similar to the above point, be aware if there is a type of different product or service people are turning to as an alternative.
  8. Be alert for possible new offerings. Find out what people want, and it might help guide product development efforts.

FreshDirect caters to customers wants

FreshDirect knows it has to keep up with its customers in this economy. As the largest online grocer in New York, they must keep up with the fast paced consumer base. So after a summer spent doing market research, they've now changed a few of their business practices and seen it pay off with larger orders and more repeat customers.

They've initiated a new system that can tell their consumers how fresh their produce is. Since customers ordering food online can't judge the freshness of the vegetables and fruit, a new five star system allows customers to see the quality of the next days produce as judged by the managers at FreshDirect. They've also changed their packaging, eliminating Styrofoam containers for 50% of their orders, and better packing their cardboard boxes so that a box doesn't arrive with just one or two items. They've also opened up more delivery slots for most popular time slots such as Saturdays.

Fresh Direct has made it a point to focus on the needs of their customers. Have you made changes recently that your customers have responded to? What were they?

Source: Internet Retailer

The use of online communities for different purposes

In a recent article at the Huffington Post, Jared Cohen gave his opinion on a new hot topic: terrorists and how they use social media to congregate. Terrorists use the internet to congregate just as everyone else does on a daily basis. The new reality we face is that the digital space we all use is just an extension of everyday life, everyone's daily life. It is a new set of tools that we use to capitalize on our liberties given to us by governments.

He spends the majority of the article focusing on how they these tools were used to recruit for and plan the Mumbai attacks. Terrorists are using social media to their advantage, but is this any different from how they use NGOs and other fundraisers for aiding their attacks? Yes, they use these tools. But so do we, and in effect better, because the majority of operations can be focused into one social networking tool. They must spread their efforts across multiple platforms such as email, chat rooms and social communities, so they don't raise any red flags during the planning stages.

Social media may be yet another threat used by the terrorists to congregate and communicate, but it's a far greater advantage for those who are using it for other purposes. We can also monitor what's going on online, and see how the terrorists are using the online tools.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Front End of Innovation Discount for TMRE Readers!

Hundreds of leading design and innovation experts will gather in Monte Carlo 26-28 January for a world class information exchange focused on driving innovation forward. T

Through real life case studies, they will showcase practical strategies and techniques to guide you in developing a profitable ecosystem for innovation.Attending companies include: Shell International, Volkswagen, Nokia, P&G, Swarovski, Bombardier Aerospace, BBC, Best Buy, Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco Systems, Coloplast, Eli Lilly & Company, Halliburton, IDEO, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, LEGO, Philips, Siemens, Nestle, Whirlpool and many more.Space is still available.

Visit http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eiirusa%2Ecom%2Ffeieurope&urlhash=_Cji&_t=disc_detail_link for more information and to reserve your spot.Mention code XM2150LQA and save 15% off the onsite rate.

Feel free to pass this discount along to any colleagues who would be interested.

Register for the Event

Customer Retention and Satisfaction Named Top Priorities

According to Bluhalo.com, customer retention and satisfaction have been named the top priorities for marketers in 2009. This stems from the understanding that companies are looking for ways to keep their customer's coming back and keeping consumer confidence in the product high during this tough fiscal times.

From Bluhalo.com,

The Marketing Executives Networking Group (Meng) and Anderson Analytics released their Top Marketing Trends for 2009 survey this week, which found that out of 62 identifiable marketing concepts, customer retention and customer satisfaction came out on top.

As a customer service professional how do you feel this will affect your business in the coming year? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share with us here or on LinkedIn!

What is the Future of Social Media?

Jim Tobin over at Ignite Social Media posted 5 trends to look for in the future of Social Media. His focus is exclusively on corporate social media marketing and the list provides a neat insight into where the industry is headed in seemingly uncertain times. I am particularly fascinated with his prediction that we'll see fewer "Shiny New Tools." Marketers and corporations are working with less and its important to not be sidetracked by something new that may not prove to be an alternative to tried and true applications. Check out his list and think about your own list. What do you see happening in 2009? Post your comments and share with us on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Effective Niche Marketing Research before Selling Anything

There is usually a lot of work involved in niche marketing research, and marketers tend to avoid doing it. I came across this post on Web Media Networks that details 3 pillars that marketers must build on when doing niche marketing research. Here they are, enjoy!

  1. Look for a Proven Market for the Service or Product – You must be sure before entering a niche that people are buying the product or services available. This can usually be done through research companies.
  2. Make sure the market is willing to pay the price of the product – You want to make sure that the market that exists for your product is willing to spend money to purchase what you are selling. You can find this information through eBay, Amazon, Google, and Forrester Research.
  3. Find and use the best keywords for your products – Your customers will be using keywords to find your product, and so it is imperative that you select the right keywords.

Zappos.com Remains a Customer Service Rock Star

It’s no surprise that Zappos.com comes in the Becky Carroll’s list of top customer service rock stars of 2008 in her latest post in Customers Rock! Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com once mentioned to Becky that they are a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes. Their main focus is keeping customers happy, as Becky explains when a customer service rep recommended a competitor’s website to her when they told Becky that she would not have her sandals in time for Christmas. Few companies do this, and this is what makes them stand out from the rest. Is your company focused on keeping customers happy?

Join Us on Friend Connect

Yesterday we posted about the benefits of implementing Google's new social networking tool called Friend Connect. We've finally added this new feature to our site, so take a second to join the community and interact with the followers of this blog. Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Go local for customer service

Recently at Business Week, Charlie Gaffney recognized the fact that levels of customer service are falling as companies are reducing their workforce. He brings up two ideas that are good for both a customer service perspective and your local workforce.

As the use of email has surpassed the use of phones, so it's a great time to turn to email for your customer service. It's also something worth investing in, because good customer service is a great way to advertise. Invest in your local community, and hire locals to work the inbox. Customers will recognize the easy and quick communication and great service they'll receive. You'll also be providing jobs for your community.

What do you think? Is your customer service located locally? How have you seen this affect your business?

Continue engaging your brand with your customers

Over at the Examiner, Scott Gringold recently posted a quote from David Morehouse, the President of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We wanted to see what people thought our brand was in the marketplace,” he says. “We researched people within the organization to see what we thought our brand was and then we matched them up, and as we are rolling into a new arena in two years, we decided what we wanted to do was enhance the things that are prevalent in our brand that we liked. (Then) eliminate those that are prevalent in our brand that we didn’t like, and roll out an enhanced brand strategy as we try to market this new arena and this hockey team.”

It's important to stay in touch with your customers in hard economic times, and it is necessary for you to be engaged with all aspects of your product, including your brand, your customers and your employees. Doing market research, and staying in touch with all parties, is a great way to understand and maintain your customer base.

Google's Friend Connect

Joel Burslem recently took a look at Google's new social networking tool, Friend Connect. It's a way to add a social networking feature to your website that will allow people to connect on your website while using a pre-existing account to avoid social networking fatigue.

Through this tool, readers can join and see the profiles of other users also following the blog. It's a great way for your readers to build word of mouth marketing and drive traffic for you. It also allows users to post reviews of your blog.

Have you had a chance to add this feature to your site? What results have you seen?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Being green important to customers

At the B2B Blog, they reveal the latest studies about how consumers are looking at the new green revolution. Of the customers surveyed, three in four have defined themselves as green, and 57% of those have made a green purchase within the past six months. The younger generation, those age 18 - 34, 24% believe that it's trendy to be green. What is your company doing to capture this new trend?

Alaska Airlines focuses on customer service

Although Alaska Airlines is facing turmoil along with the rest of the airline industry, they're determined to maintain their high level of customer service. They recognize that they need to maintain and grow their customer base to stay ahead in the future. Information Week has the story. That's why they've come up with a new system to keep their customers informed as to their airline delays and a new innovative way to help customers reschedule their flights using Oracle's Siebel Loyalty Management. Their first test was on December 20, when a bad weather along the west coast, an automated service emailed their frequent fliers who had flights canceled, and allowed customers to alter their travel plans online, instead of waiting in line to deal with a customer service representative. They're looking to make the flying experience less stressful for their customers, and have developed this innovative service which will appeal to frequent fliers.

A community to help you keep your New Years resolution

I Am the Solution is a new social networking site for the New Year. Sponsored by Family First, a non profit organization that focuses on family services, this online community encourages you to create a New Years resolution that is selfless, such as volunteering, giving money, or acknowledging a personal need, and through your online profile, you're held accountable for maintaining your resolution. Family First will highlight individuals who stick to their resolutions throughout the year. For more information, read here.