Q&A has evolved from being a service that consumers use in place of search to rich network applications that integrate with Facebook and Twitter, as well as offer brand companies opportunities for thought leadership and commerce.
The call to action among leading companies in recent years has been that customer service is the new marketing. This is true but it has always been true, companies as diverse as Southwest Airlines, Avis, Lexus and Johnson & Johnson have been at the forefront of the trend to use great customer service as a competitive differentiator and a way to attract that best employees that the market has to offer.
If an appreciation of customer service is not a new thing, then what is? Clearly it is the ability to technology to efficiently connect companies with consumers and with social networks the number of channels that companies have to maintain in order to connect with customers has been blown up to a daunting number.
The role of Community Manager has quickly evolved from a new age social ambassador, a supporting player, to being conductor of the orchestra. Today more than ever before companies are relying on individual customer engagement to cement brand loyalty and leverage word of mouth marketing, The Community Manager has the daunting but essential responsibility of keeping the various resources of the organization in sync and playing to the same sheet music, ensuring that customer needs are met, concerns are addressed, and their product and service ideas and suggestions are brought into the process in order to shorten product lifecycles and better map to needs. If customer service is the new marketing then the Community Manager is the new CMO.
I support Jeremiah Owyang’s quest to make the 4th Monday of every January a time to honor the dedication and hard work of community managers. Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day and at Get Satisfaction there is no group of professionals more important to our success so we put together a survey of community manager insights for you to enjoy, and hopefully learn from as well.
Here are 3 products I use everyday that I am exceptionally happy with:
1) My Evo mobile hotspot… yeah the Evo is a great handset and if the batter life were better it would rise to the level of amazing but for me the mobile hotspot feature that Sprint enables through this device is the clear slamdunk winner. I use it multiple times a day and the availability of having a data connection pretty much wherever I am has redefined how I look at data connections in general.
2) Logitech H760 wireless headset. I bought this to use with Skype although I find myself using routing calls to Google Voice (using the Voice Chrome extension to route outbound calls through Google Talk) now that I have discovered it works so well. In fact I even did a roundtable conference call a week ago using this, judge for yourself the sound quality. I use it with Pandora while I am sitting at my desk as well.
What makes this product a clear winner in it’s class? The sound quality is amazing, it’s hassle free wireless connectivity, integrated volume controls are easy to use, and the headset itself is super comfortable. The only thing that would make this better is if I could use it with my mobile phone, but the USB wireless connection that makes this so easy to setup precludes it from being used as a Bluetooth device.
3) 13″ MacBook Air (2nd generation). I initially had a lot of hesitance about replacing my trusty 15″ MacBook Pro with the new Air but I’m glad I did. The obvious immediate benefit is the light weight and small size of this laptop, and it’s really something that doesn’t wear off in appeal. For me it is the battery life that is the biggest game changer because if you dial down the screen brightness a few notches you can get battery life that gives you freedom to not have to worry about bringing your power supply and/or looking for the wall receptacle.
The instant on is pretty amazing but the more appreciated benefit of the solid state storage is that the machine in general seems to run a lot cooler than anything from Apple with a hard drive in it. I miss the extra storage that the bigger MacBooks deliver but with more and more options for storage in the cloud and a wireless hotspot wherever I am (see above) extra storage isn’t a primary concern.
UPDATE: I thought about this a little more this morning… in the first dialog box they say they won’t contact any of my google contacts without my permission but in the second dialog box (captured below) the implication is that I am giving them permission to do so. If my interpretation is correct then the UI goes from simply being poorly designed to purposefully misleading.
I finally got tagged in enough photos on Shoppybag to give it a try… here’s the problem, their user experience leaves so many unanswered questions that I simply gave up.
The signup process is pretty straightforward until the 2nd step and it is an entirely self inflicted wound. I fought back my initial hesitance about connecting my Google account contacts to the service but this 2nd step is so poorly presented that I abandoned the process. Nowhere on the UI is there any explanation of what they mean by “connect with friends” and this comes despite a note on the first dialog box that they would not contact anyone without my permission. So if they are not going to contact anyone what is meant by “connect with friends”.
They have clearly mined my Google contacts list and I gave them permission to do that but I simply don’t know what they are going to do when I click “connect” therefore I won’t do it. This is a great example of how poor UI decisions drive new user abandonment in applications that depend on access to a social graph. It’s a leap of faith to give anyone access to my contacts, it is essential that at every step in the process the UI reinforces my confidence that I won’t regret doing so.
We have been doing a lot of work with videos for marketing purposes, which is a new area for me. Couple of things I have learned:
1) Short is better.
2) Video engagement metrics are evolving but in general web site visitors really like video content.
3) Generalize as much as possible because changing existing video is as expensive as creating new video.
4) Video done badly amplifies the negative much more profoundly than when video done well amplifies the positive.
When I hear people say “this is the year of such-and-such” I am reminded of the mobile industry. Since at least 1999 people have been saying that, finally, this was the year of mobile and sure enough, 2009 may have finally been legitimately the year of mobile… which only proves that it is best to say the “year of” without actually pinning oneself down to a specific year.
Will 2011 be the year of the electric car? No, I don’t think so… eventually it will be but not this year.
Here’s the major problems:
1) Cost: These vehicles depend on taxpayer subsidies to make them more appealing and it’s doubtful those subsidies will continue. Aside from the purchase cost there are many many issues that will cause prospective buyers pause. For example, these vehicles require 240v hookups for overnight charging, how much will it cost you if you don’t have one in your garage? I can tell you that it isn’t an inexpensive proposition but let’s say it’s a couple thousand dollars by the time you cover permitting/fees and have an electrician do the work. It all adds up.
2) Range: I don’t care what people say about “well you can drive to work and home on a single charge”. That simply does not reflect how people use their vehicles and when you are paying insurance, licensing and registration fees that, at least in California, amount to a serious amount of money each year, having multiple vehicles becomes difficult to justify. Ironically, electric vehicles are most appealing to people who, on a relative basis, do very little driving.
3) Unproven: There are still a lot of questions about the life cycle of EVs and given the numbers are so very small (Nissan delivered 10 – yes 10 – Leafs in the 4th quarter) reasonable people will hold back before dropping $25-40k on what is really a special purpose vehicle.
5) Recharging: What do you do if you live in an urban area and park on the street or in an apartment complex with shared parking? These are the kind of details that get glossed over by proponents but these are also the kind of details that become barriers for prospective purchasers. Another irony for EVs is that the logical buyers are urban dwellers who are the least likely to have a dedicated garage. 1/3 of San Francisco parks on the street every night.
Hybrids have overcome most of these objections and they are collectively less than 5% of the auto market sales and the thing that prevents hybrids from dominating the compact car category is on a relative basis they are much more expensive than comparably classed non-hybrids. A Honda Civic is considerably less expensive than a Prius yet delivers fuel economy numbers that are not far off (at least not so much so that the payback period for the Prius would be under 10 years). A Mini Cooper puts up mileage numbers not far off that of most hybrids and it’s premium priced compared to a Honda Civic, yet pretty much in the same range as a Prius and so much more fun to drive.
We can argue about the ideological merits of EVs but even Apple failed miserably with the Newton 17 years before they were ready to come to market with a completely different product that did work for the market.