Posts Tagged ‘customer’s world’

Online Tools Built By Researchers for Researchers

I came across a few online research platforms this morning that are new to me.  It sort of spread to a little hunting expedition, which led to a few more interesting discoveries.  Here’s a snapshot of my quick read on a few.

Picture 2

Revelation and QualVu were both launched in 2007.  They stand out to me, however, because they’re legit social media-style platforms, but built the way a researcher would think and want to use the information.

Revelation appears to be the next generation of blog, chat room and bulletin board type research tools.

QualVu is a very robust online video sharing platform.  Their VideoDiary product is a complete solution for easily facilitating face-to-face and/or personal video diary-stye feedback from real people in their real environments.

Picture 3I can’t wait to try them both out.  I’ve heard QualVu has been used by a lot of people.  I’ve still not found a Revelation user yet.  I’d love to get real user feedback.

Of course, this little discovery led to a chase down of a few other interesting tools worth checking out.  One I already bought a subscription to this morning after finding it.

First, CiviCom has it’s own set of 3-D virtual community solutions for marketing research.  I’m not totally certain on the nature of this company in terms of being built by researchers for researchers.  But the idea of helping to facilitate interactive collaboration in virtual environments is very cool.

Picture 5My favorite find of the day (or the one I really hope works as I’ve bought an initial month subscription to give it a shot) is GuapoVideo.  What I love about this is it is built for internal audiences to collectively annotate and analyze video gathered through research.  Brilliant idea — a tool to help make internal collaboration and co-creation even easier.  It’s like a video-editing suite built from a researcher point of view to upload, annotate, and then cut and past clips into your presentations or share via a web page they create for you.

I also wonder if GuapoVideo could also be used as a way to reach back to the person(s) you interviewed and have them respond to your interpretation of their comments in a more co-creative way.  An added-value step in a hybrid research or ethnographic project.

A funny, but practical one, too.  Ask500People is a totally different online feedback tool, but one brand managers, account planners, and strategists could use in a pinch to get some basic feedback on concepts, ideas, etc.  While I take issue with the way they represent margin of error for polls on their site (I wouldn’t call this scientific sampling for the market research purests by any stretch of the imagination), the concept of a quick question feedback tool is an example of easy, collaborative methods for getting others to think about the issues you’re consider.

Finally, in my brief field trip to discover interesting online research tools I came across this informative slideshare presentation by Carol Phillips of Brand Amplitude.

Share more you’ve come across that have been helpful.


05 2010

Apple Store – Another Sweet Retail Experience

There are some places that just get it.  Sure, they have their problems, but, generally speaking, you come to almost always expect the best when you get there.  When it comes to Apple, for me they deliver.

imagesThis morning, after an all too exciting meeting with our accountants, I had to drop out to the Apple store at the Barton Creek Mall here in Austin.  I needed to pick up some software and I was in a hurry.

I walked straight into the store, found the display version for the software, and then a nice young lady approached me and asked me if I needed help.  I showed her what I was there to buy, she went in the back and brought me the copies, and then the magic happened!

Ok, so it was the first time for me!

She pulled out her iPhone (maybe iTouch) and proceeded to complete my purchase with a bar code scanner and card reader right there


on her phone.  Within about 10 seconds I was signing my name with my finger and the receipt was emailed.  I got back to the office,filed the receipt in its appropriate place.  Apparently, they shifted to this procedure this Fall.

Obviously, I was impressed enough by the experience to now take the time I had expected I would spend in line (that place was packed and I figured I was stuck for a while just to make one quick purchase) instead sharing the love about the Apple experience.

Awesome demonstration of putting the customer first and creating relevance and utility in the experience.  Yeah, I realize they’d done it before with the PC-based handhelds, but this was way better, faster, and certainly had the cool factor.

Thanks, Apple!

Now, back to using that software to get some work done… the really weird part, I was purchasing MS Office (PC) software for the Mac (see my previous post and you’ll understand why).


01 2010

Physician Heal Thyself… On Being Consumer-Centric

How often have you found yourself doing exactly what you counsel others not to do?  I’m a parent of four kids, so I have to admit I’ve experienced that awakening once or twice at home.  But yesterday I found myself, and our team, facing the issue at work in a way that was ironic given our trumpeting the consumer-centricity horn.

Since we launched PURSUIT one year ago, we’ve put a lot of effort into the look and feel we wanted to maintain, project, and deliver as a brand.  We decided it was critical to convey a simple, modern, and elegant, but not aloof, feeling in everything from our logo to our letterhead.

Early on we made the switch to Mac over PC so we could use the presentation prowess of Keynote, Pages, and the like to be able to incorporate a higher order design into our work.  And we figured we’d deal with compatibility issues by always giving our clients nicely packaged PDF versions of our work.  No problem.  Well, not always a true statement.

Most times this has worked well.  And we’ve received the feedback about the look of what we do aligning with the value it provides many times.  But with one of our biggest clients we’ve continued to run into difficulty when we prepare our “deck” in Keynote and then convert to PowerPoint because this client wants to be able to view and manipulate files in the collaboration process.

It came to a head again yesterday when we had spent weeks getting what we thought was one of the best project deliverables yet.  The team even worked around the clock in the final hours the days before to make sure we posted the working draft for the client ahead of the scheduled time.  That’s when the “fun” began anew.

First, the PowerPoint conversion we did had problems when they uploaded it from Basecamp because of different versions of PowerPoint on either end.  Immediately, past frustrations on the part of our client emerged again, distracting right away from the content and thinking central to our deliverable (product).  Quickly, we fixed the version issue and re-posted only to hear they were still having issues with certain slides not appearing correctly even though on our machines it was clean.

Finally, we discovered we were using a specific font, part of our initial look and feel effort we worked on to set ourselves apart, that was not on their machines.  So, a few slides in the deck were still totally messed up on our client’s side when they opened it up on their end.

The frustration was high at this point because we knew little attention could be given to the content of our work and we knew our client, who appreciates what we do for sure, was reaching a point of wanting to figuratively slap us upside the head.  I kept thinking aloud (with members of our team) that I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just let us use the PDF version and communicate that way… then none of the compatability issues would be there.  Then they’d see the really great work we’ve done.

At some point, I heard myself talking and realized the obvious.  When have I heard a company say, “if only my customers would accept our way of doing things then they’d appreciate our work and see how good the thing we’ve made for them really is?”  Or, how about… “why do we have to make something that our customer can use?  We’ve made something that we know works, don’t they get it?”

Ok, so the obvious lesson, or slap upside the head, was the cliche “physician heal thyself.”  Our use of the tools we’ve chosen for our work meets our needs, not our client’s.  When we are able to present and control the delivery of the results it is useful, impressive, and helpful to our client because it’s clean, clear, and concise.  But, when our client needs something they can use and work with when we are not there, what we produced has considerably less value.

Relevance and utility.  That’s what we preach all of the time to our clients.

You have to consider your customer’s point of view and determine how you add relevance and utility in their life, on their terms.  If you miss that perspective you’ll push out products/services that look great to you, things that cost money, but things for which the value of is considerably less to the people paying for them.

Moving ahead… clearly we need different versions for different purposes:  (1) those in which we control the full delivery and, therefore, can use our Mac software tools to make them shine and tell a powerful story, and (2) those in which our clients need to be able to use the material on their own, so we’ll need to deliver the same quality on different software platforms.

The less obvious lesson in this experience is that companies who find themselves creating things that don’t add utility and relevance from the customer point of view are not always self-absorbed egotists.  Many likely find themselves in the exact situation we were yesterday… having created something they expect is grand, only to realize they’ve failed to truly listen to their customer.

The point:  it’s not easy to be consumer-centric, even when it seems obvious as does this example of our struggle.


01 2010

Sport-Tweet Udpate: SEC Caves, NFL Going Crazy… Why?

Just as the SEC reversed course on its unrealistic ban of all social media by fans at SEC games, the NFL continues to take more steps toward restricting the use of Twitter and other tools to share content they want to “protect” for themselves.  Still sounds so much like the Napster scenario now being played out in the world of sports entertainment content rather than music.

As Adam Ostrow reported last month on Mashable, the SEC ultimately changed, or clarified, its policy to allow personal messages and posting.  But they are very clear about any video or footage intended to be used for commercial purposes as being outlaw.

“No Bearer may produce or disseminate in any form a “real-time” description or transmission of the Event (i) for commercial or business use, or (ii) in any manner that constitutes, or is intended to provide or is promoted or marketed as, a substitute for radio, television or video coverage of such Event. Personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable. If the SEC deems that a Bearer is producing a commercial or real-time description of the Event, the SEC reserves the right to pursue all available remedies against the Bearer.

Absent the prior written permission of the Southeastern Conference, game action videos of the Event may not be taken by Bearer. Photos of the Event may be taken by Bearer and distributed solely for personal use (and such photographs shall not be licensed, used, or sold commercially, or used for any commercial or business purpose).”

But the NFL took the opposite approach.  Some talk has been that in an effort to prevent Chad OchoCinco from flying in a fan to tweet during the game on his behalf, the NFL has officially banned social media starting 90 minutes before and during all NFL games.  According to Steve Raquel on the Bleacher Report, the restrictions put in place include:

  • Twittering during a game by either the player themselves or someone on their behalf.
  • Any social media activity within 90 minutes before and after the game.
  • Restriction applies to not only players, but coaches, team personnel, and officials.
  • Restrictions on play-by-play descriptions of NFL games (e.g. Twittering) to only authorized media.

Ok, so the idea of a player Tweeting in the end zone or on the sideline is a distraction and I get it, I guess.  But isn’t this about entertainment.  Doesn’t Twitter suddenly make the fanatic follower of a team feel he knows exactly what Chad OchoCinco is thinking at that very moment.  Doesn’t that make same said fanatic follower even more fanatic about following that team?

I love Adam Ostrow’s quote reported by Jennifer Van Grove, also in Mashable, in her very well written summary of the issue:

“Sure, these days someone could theoretically live stream a game from their camera phone. But a shaky, low resolution video from the upper deck of Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the same as watching FOX’s telecast on your big screen TV. Social media should be viewed as a fantastic compliment to sports that is good for both fans and the TV networks, but at the moment, it seems that’s anything but how it’s being perceived.

That’s the point.  Hello.  Just like the blackouts that force their content to not be shown in local markets if the stadium isn’t sold out… the NFL needs to think about the people who feed their empire.  Sure, so many of us love football to the point we watch even with this silliness… but how much more would we do if more efforts were made to connect with the fan.

I think a bigger issue is the concern the focus in on the player and not the team.  If Chad OchoCinco tweets on the field, it’s not helping the Bengals, perhaps, as much as it is Chad OchoCinco.  They can’t allow individual player brands to be established, shared, and extended.

But, teams can do the same thing, and in an even more powerful way because they have the content people want or need to be fanatics.

Consider what the NY Jets have done (all since losing Brett Favre, of course!).  In August they held a contest to give away tickets to games to followers of them on Twitter (@NY_Jets).  They now have 4,500+ followers on their official Twitter ID.  The contest was put on by the Jets, not by their fans… an important difference, and an indication of an organization trying to reach out.

But the Jets seem to get it.  Again this week they launched a promotion partnership with JetBlue with discount fares for games in Buffalo and Florida — all promoted, shared, and extended via social media connections as well.

The Jets efforts very well may be attributed to blogger, Twitterer, wine connoisseur and social-networking guru Gary Vaynerchuk.  Apparently, he has launched Vaynermedia and lists the NY Jets as one of his clients.

Compare this with the Dallas Cowboys.  I couldn’t find an “official” Twitter feed, but there are 20+ fan-created follower groups of “America’s Team”.  The most popular, @Cowboys, has 13,000+ followers.  Imagine what the team could do with an official feed offering content, access, and connections to fans.

Another argument against the use of Twitter at sports is sharing confidential information, like the recent ban by the US Open to restrict players using it.  Andy Roddick called it right in my view when he explained you’d have to be a moron to share “insider information” that would call into question the integrity of the game.

Ian Paul reported on other decisions by teams in the NFL regarding social media during training camps and in the preseason, apparently to protect their trade secrets (avoid the infamous video taping of signals fiasco):

The Dolphins allow the media to tweet as much as they like for the first 20 minutes or so of practice, but once team drills begin all electronic equipment including computers, cameras, and cell phones has to be turned off, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Dolphins fans, on the other hand, are forbidden to blog, tweet or even send SMS messages while watching their team practice. The Dolphins aren’t the only NFL team wary of new forms of communication either.

Teams like the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions all have similar restrictions, while the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers are running tweet-friendly training camps.

I suggest, rather than being so focused on protecting trade secrets or trying to ban players from branding themselves or try to keep fans from distributing content that they own, the NFL, and other sports entertainment brands, should look to how these tools can enhance the relationship with their most important assets: their customer base.

Bring some fan on Twitter who keeps up with what’s going on to the primo seat for free, in exchange for his or her building, promoting, and living the essence of that team. Conduct press conferences for exclusive content that only goes to your followers on Twitter first.  Incentivize your players to get a following, create venues for them to get together with these people who love what they do.

Have a relationship.  Don’t try to enforce or create an “arranged marriage”… those don’t work so well in our world today.


09 2009

The Opposite of Consumer Centric? Enter Company Name Here.

I have so many other things I need to get done that I really should stop this post right now and get back to work. But, alas, some experiences offer such perfect subject material to demonstrate key concepts that you just can’t pass ‘em up. 

Enter American Airlines. [To be fair, you could enter any number of different names here and it would fit].

If you do any travel at all you’ve been here before:  Realize this morning a business conflict requires me to change my outbound flight. Simple change… need to leave Austin to LAX next Monday instead of Tuesday. Same itinerary. No change to other flights on Wednesday or Thursday. Easy. Right? Wrong. $485 later in extra fees, the change is made (to a ticket that originally cost $419).

For 45+ minutes of mostly wasted prime work time, I was the lucky participant in a game of, ha, you think this is about you, think again! The experience epitomized a near-perfect example of the opposite of being consumer-centric:  too bad for you, there is nothing I can do, and it’s not worth our time.

Too bad for you, #1. As far as frustrating voice-directed phone systems go, the American Airlines line has got to be among the most obnoxious. Have you ever used a system that actually responds to your request for a representative by scolding you: “I understand you’d like to speak to someone. If you’d like to try again, please say…”? Wow! So… basically… I know you want to talk to a human being but you can’t until you do it my way… you’re not going anywhere until I say so! You have to ask scary computer girl three more times before she relents! Hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating.

Too bad for you, #2. You should have booked this earlier. Without the seven-day advance purchase, the change will cost you $335 extra plus $150 for a change fee (to a ticket from Austin to LAX to JFK to Austin bought for $419). Great idea! If only I had thought of it first… plan this last-minute change when I first bought the ticket more than seven days ago. Why didn’t I think of that? Duh…

There is nothing I can do for you, #1. Now I’m speaking with the shift supervisor. “The computers tell me the price for each flight, there’s nothing I can do”; it’s the computer’s doing if it costs more. During this conversation, supervisor extraordinaire actually quoted me $584, $785, and $900, consecutively, for changing the same ticket. She explained the (evil) computers change the ticket price almost every second as the flight gets more full–”that’s how we can afford to offer the really low advance-purchase fares.”

Luckily for me, my fourth call to the 800 number (two disconnects) got me to a new gal whose computer miraculously decided my incremental cost would only be $485 (I guess there was a massive sell-off of tickets on flight 311 in a period of 3 minutes).

There is nothing I can do for you, #2. My favorite such moment came after I asked my supervisory friend if she would please at least waive the $150 change fee given the circumstances. She replied that while she has discretion to waive or lower fees, American only does so if American is at fault. My situation was not their fault and, once again, there was nothing she could do more for me.

It’s not worth our time. After sharing my point of view and asking to do the same with a customer relations specialist, my friend the supervisor–just doing her job she assured me–explained American Airlines discovered it took too much time to answer calls and it was more productive for them to review emails rather than talk with people. “They get so much more done that way.”

My point is not to slam American Airlines. Rather, to ask… what would happen if American operated as if the customer’s world mattered most? Would they make more money? Or would they lose money? Done with genuine intent, they would most certainly make more money.

What if they knew I am a business owner? I travel a lot? I’m going on a cross-country trip next week (Austin to LA to NY to Austin) in a short time period? 

Well, they knew all that, and more, about me already–before I got on the phone with them (four times, no less). So, I guess the real question is what if they planned their marketing, their product, pricing, and service based on what they know about me (and you)?

  1. They would incentivize their agents to solve my business conflict. 
  2. They would let me talk to a person when I need to and work with a computer when I don’t. 
  3. They wouldn’t double the price of my ticket for a 12-hour shift in the time I need to leave. 
  4. They would close the conversation by asking me what other trips I have coming up so they could see what rates I could lock into right now if that would be helpful to set up sales meetings with my prospects.
  5. They would… (enter idea here)


In short, they would have me at hello. That is consumer-centric. Actually, it is people-centric.

What they actually did… well, that’s the opposite.

Your thoughts?


04 2009