Archive for the ‘web 2.0’ Category

Google Gears – any guessing who will come next?

May 30, 2007

Google have announced a platform for building offline capable web applications (Scoble covers the details well). I think everyone has noticed the inherant problem that SaaS desktop applications only work online (in fact, even I posted about offline problems with SaaS a couple of months ago), but this now removes that barrier.

This is a huge deal – it really challenges he traditional software model – and Microsoft must be a little concerned about how this impacts MS Office!

Scoble, also just posted an update that someone else is “going offline” tomorrow. With all the talks of acquisitions lately I’m hoping that it’s salesforce.com. Now that would be something!

<update> So I guess I got that one wrong – looks like Real Networks have taken video content offline. I’d still love to see SFC do the same.

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How would Google build a customer reference program?

May 11, 2007

In a recent post Tim O’Reilly asked what would Google do if they were your bank or credit card? It got me thinking about Customer Reference programs, and how they would change if Google (or Amazon or any Web 2.0 company) built them. Most of the reference programs that I’ve been involved in have been run by the marketing department, and they gather the positive feedback of top customers and turn it into reusable material (like case studies, videos, podcasts or a customer-to-customer phone call). They essentially consists of a one way publishing process where the company controls the information and pushes it to potential customers (phone calls are a bit different, but the company still controls who’s involved in the conversation).

In a web 2.0 world all of this changes. Jeremiah’s written a lot on the subject of social media and reference programs, and I think that it all boils down to the fact that reference programs should be conversations with your customer, and they should be embedded deeply into your organization. Sure, if a customer says something great about you then it should be fed out to PR, advertising and sales. But equally if your customers have a problem with your product then the product team should know about it, and you need to be able to respond in a sensible way. In other words, you need to listen, as well as talk.

The LSE published an interesting study in 2005 showing the importance of dealing with negative as well as positive word-of-mouth. A 2% reduction in negative word-of-mouth has the same effect as a 7% increase in positive word-of-mouth. Those are pretty compelling numbers to encourage you to expand your reference program to deal with negative comments as well.

So what would such a program look like? It would impact the scorecard of every department in the company, it would provide instantaneous monitoring and response, and it would open up the company so that everyone knew the customer. Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a customer reference program at all, it would simply be the way that we do business.

 There’s one company that I’ve found that already implement programs like this – Satmetrix (in the interest of full diclosure, Satmetrix have been a client of ours in the past). They talk about the netpromoter number a lot, which is great, but I’m not sure how involved they are in the instantaneous monitoring/response side of things (I’m sure they can answer that).  Anyway, I’d be interested to hear what’s really happening from all the reference professionals out there, and if there are any other companies who are doing a good job implementing their own (or other peoples) Reference Program 2.0.

References aren’t all good

March 16, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of concern from marketers about “the dangers” of exposing negative customer comments as well as positive ones. This concern is obviously heightened in today’s social media age. However I think that the approach of encouraging an open conversation between customers has long been recognized by sales people.

Last week I interviewed a sales rep as part of a consulting engagement with a hi-tech company. During the interview he mentioned a sale that he’d won by asking a current customer to have a direct call with his prospect. This is nothing new, and isn’t unusual at all, except this was a competitive bid against another hi-tech vendor. The competitor also arranged a reference call. However, the sales rep at the competitor insisted on sitting in on the call! My interviewee was convinced that his openness to letting his customer discuss their product, warts and all, contributed to him winning the deal.

Customer Advocacy and community marketing

March 16, 2007

One of the areas that I work on is customer advocacy. In particular, Metia (the company that I work for) designs, implements and manages customer advocacy programs for a number of high-profile tech companies.

We’ve recently been working with Bill at the Customer Reference Forum and Jeremiah over at PodTech, talking about customer advocacy 2.0 (that’s pretty rich really, cause most people didn’t know there was a CA 1.0).

I’ve long thought that customer advocacy is just one end point of the word of mouth marketing activities that have become so popular today. In particular, customer references are asking to be integrated with social media. If one of your customers is blogging positively about you, then why aren’t you aware of it, or asking them if they’ll help you in other ways? My gut feeling is that most reference professionals don’t know what’s being blogged about them. The “community managers” within the company might be keeping on top of the blogs, but I haven’t seen much communication going on between the community managers and the reference professionals. Perhaps I’m wrong? I’d love to hear that this is already happening.

Maybe the reference professionals are already hanging out with the community guys? Jeremiah’s posted a question on his blog to see if this is true. I’m really interested in the results.

Now this iLike

March 2, 2007

I’ve only just discovered this wonderful little plugin for iTunes and Windows Media Player called iLike. It posts your music playing history to a community site that you can then use to find new music, or simply see what your mates are listening to.

 If you’re at all interested, my recent plays are all here.

Web 2.0 and intranets

February 14, 2007

In my post on “The Death of Internal Communications” I mentioned the fact that “Web 2.0” technologies are altering the way that intranets are governed. In a recent article, Colin White discusses something similar. Usefully, he separates out two elements of Web 2.0 – “information collaboration” and “application development”. For me, these two are at the heart of everything 2.0’y.

The collaboration piece addresses the function of 2.0 – it aims to bring people together, to democratize information, and distribute the governance.

The development piece addresses some of the technical benefits – providing easy ways to integrate disparate applications (mashups) and rapid development of server based applications that run like desktop apps (AJAX et al).

I find it helpful to have a clear distinction between the two. The first is about the site vision, the second is about implementation. They are separate but equally important to define.

For any particular project I might want to deploy a web 2.0 vision (collaborative spaces) without the web 2.0 implementation (ajax), or conversely a web 1.0 vision (publishing company info) in a 2.0 implementation (a mashup). Understanding which elements the project calls for (if any) helps me to avoid getting caught in a sticky 2.0 web just for the sake of it.

One final thing, I’m convinced that for an enterprise deployment such as an intranet, the 2.0 vision doesn’t work in isolation. You always need the traditional top-down publishing piece to support it. So the Razorfish example in Colin White’s post only works if there is an “official intranet” to support it.

The death of internal communications?

January 24, 2007

Toby Ward writes in his blog that “internal communications is evolving, if not dying”. His comment may be a bit melodramatic, but in general I agree with him. I’ve also found that Internal Comms are managing most of the intranet projects that we work on these days, and they’re having to come to terms with a dramatically different way of looking at one of their key tools (the corporate intranet).

Social software (web 2.0) has been popular on the web for quite some time, but in my experience there has been a lag in seeing the social element appear on corporate intranets. One of the main reasons is that word – “corporate”. Many see that as a justification for turning the intranet into a one way publishing tool. But in the same way that corporations have started talking (and listening) to their customers through the web, they are now finding that the intranet is the perfect platform to do the same with their employees.

This means that Internal Comms are losening their grip on the information that they are managing. Sure, there is still a need for the “official corporate view” – a company is not a democratic institution, and the views of the senior management are final (almost), and still need to be communicated. However, if these views are to be respected, there has to be an open conversation and weighing of the evidence/views of others (employees, ciustomers and shareholders) before any decision is made. Again, this is where the intranet helps. Some of our IC clients definitely get this evolution in roles, others are slightly behind, but catching up.

I’d be interested in hearing if any Internal Comms people out there feel that there is a change afoot, or am I just imagining it?