MAD Perspectives Blog

The Third Dimension - Context

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The entertainment experience has been under invasion by social media and second screens for several years. Initially they were viewed with skepticism, then intrigue and ultimately accepted as the overall industry determined that they were more than a flash in the pan. They are more than a distraction and they are more than an incremental stream of revenue. They bring something extremely valuable to the audience experience. It is so valuable, in fact, that a lot of energy is being expended to ensure that they become even more tightly entwined with entertainment experiences, at home, or in stadium.

Yes, that's right at home or in stadium. Our entertainment experiences span many destinations. Not all of them are the optimal destination for accessing content via a second screen, so we'll focus on those locations that invite use of a screen to add context to the experience. Yes, context. This is the third dimension beyond time and content. Other than for live events, time has become a flexible concept (although, I suppose for physicists it has always been fluid). We access content as we like, wherever we are. In fact, we are willing to pay for that flexibility. However, the dimension that has been elusive has been context.

The rise of the second screen was initially touted as a distraction. It pulled the audience away from the action in front of them. However, comments on social media provided insight valuable to brands and advertisers. And, for sports fans, the second screen provided stats, comparisons and…yes, context. Context is defined as "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood".  Whether we are enjoying scripted entertainment, reality programs, music or sports, thoughts are provoked which results in our accessing another screen to tap into the volumes of information available on the internet. We seek to validate or debate the moment which provoked the action.

Behind the scenes this craving for context is driving technology innovation. Whether it is platforms bringing together fans of the new season of "Scandal" or the legions of Champions League football fans. Whether we are in our homes or enjoying a match at the stadium, technology solutions are available, allowing us to access supplemental content which will provide context. Increasingly, technology vendors are investing in enhancing the stadium experience. It is no longer just about sitting in your seat. There are screens everywhere - from the very large to the very small. There is content provided by the sports club itself - some designed specifically for the big screen and other to provide context to the events on the field. 

The data - oh yes, there is a LOT of data, is aggregated, sliced and diced, to provide insight. It brings fans together as they compare performances. While the primary focus for augmenting the audience experience has been the use of second screens at home. The rise of second screen apps/platforms for use in stadiums is on the rise. It is more than ordering food to be delivered to your seat. They are apps developed by the stadium developers or sports club or league, designed to enhance the fan experience. The goal is to provide a more immersive experience - and it's all due to adding context.

We wrote about the rise of context earlier this year. It's about more than collecting the data, it's about using the data of add value. How often do you turn to your second screen for information to enhance an experience? Did you gain perspective about the event that prompted you to take that action? Did you add context to the situation? I bet you did.

What's your perspective?




Social Network Enabled Customer Support - It's a High Wire Act

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 21, 2013

The decision to engage via social networks is not a casual one. Or, at least it shouldn't be.  As evidenced by the recent decision of a Charter Communications to cease its social media efforts related to customer support, social media is not easy.  There is a misconception that social media is "free".  Sure, it doesn't cost anything to create a Twitter account or a Facebook or LinkedIn Page.  However, an investment can be made in branding these sites. More importantly and investment MUST be made in aligning the right resources - human and other.

Charter's challenge was related to resourcing and responsiveness. Their decision was a wise one considering that they did not dedicate enough resources to managing their social customer support channels. If a business does not have the resources or tools in place to listen, monitor and react to issues raised via social networks, they should not use them. Especially when it customer to customer service. Any customer who posts a concern about a product or service on any social network, is looking for an immediate response. The answer may be provided by another customer, but the company must also respond. They must acknowledge the concern and take action to address the concern. 

Good social support often combines traditional methods with social solutions. Support communities are just that - a forum for open discussion of concerns shared by many. The benefit is that the community often resolves the issue on behalf of the company, based on its collective experience. A good community manager will thank the member who provided the answer and perhaps point the community to further information about the particular challenge. If the concern is larger than what can be resolved online, the community manager must facilitate the transition to a phone discussion with the right resources to solve the problem.

Social media has change the face of customer satisfaction. It has introduced a new level of urgency - a demand for immediate resolution of any problem. A customer support model that incorporates social media is a high wire act. It demands a balance of core strength - meaning a deep bench of expertise to solve a range of customer issues, and artistry - meaning the vision to understand how to blend traditional, online and social tools to serve the customer. 

Many will argue that companies MUST incorporate social media into their support models. Just as many are correct in delaying their use of social networks for support. These are the companies that recognize that they don't have the right resources in place to deliver the level of support their customer will demand. Or these are customers in industries that have been slower in their adoption of social media. These companies will slowly build their capabilities and when they are ready, they will take their first tentative steps. 

What's your perspective?



What's Up With Customer Service?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here we are, in the midst of the holiday season. It's supposed to be a time of good cheer, yet we are all feeling the stress of find just the right gift for that special someone, while we try to balance work demands and holiday social commitments. In the midst of this, I have been exposed to an appalling amount of poor customer service. Doesn't every business know, that it now takes very little for someone to share their dissatisfaction with friends, family, heck - the world, with just a few keystrokes?

Whether it is the online arm of a brick & mortar storefront whose website doesn't seem to allow you to enter your credit card information, or the furnace repair company who can't seem to return phone calls (or solve problems), or the grumbly girl at the department store checkout - you are the frontline of customer satisfaction for your business. Unhappy customers wlll turn to Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums to share their concerns in an attempt to find answers. This is the age of social media.

Angie's List has evolved to be the social forum for home improvement specialists. It serves, not only as a destination to seek recommendations but also to be cautioned about shoddy workmanship or poor customer services.  YouTube videos have been created by individuals who have been poorly served by airlines, restaurants, shipping companies or technology.  Twitter has almost become the default social network for complaints including a hashtag calling out the perpetrator of poor customer service.

Customer experience has become an overused buzz word, yet it's an apt description of where businesses must focus their energies. Our ability to complete transactions, to feel as if our needs are met or our concerns addressed are the keys to customer loyalty - and revenue for any business. Many large companies have turned to social media to augment their customer engagement efforts. This is a good step if it is well though out. Most companies have a LOT of data collected by their call centers.  However, this is data collected after a problem has occurred. The challenge may be determining how to prevent that challenge from occurring in the first place.

This can be done through education and communication.  and, this is where social media can make a difference. Rather than posting documentation to a website that no one ever reads, even though it provides valuable insights - repurpose that document as a series of blogs. Highlight best practices via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Host a group on LinkedIn specific to products and customer support. Analyze your call center volume and identify the highest areas of concern. Get ahead of those problems by alerting customers to potential problems that you know you can easily solve. Post solutions to recurring problems. Pay attention to social activity - listen for problems, acknowledge and address them quickly.

Social media can't solve every problem, but it can help with many. The manner in which your business engages its customers reflects their importance to you. A friendly voice is a plus, but it is meaningless if they cannot provide answers. The key to success in customer services is to listen, acknowledge and respond.  Give credence to your customer's concern and find a solution that works for them - and your company.  

It's the same in the social domain. Use social monitoring to listen.  Establish a policy for how to acknowledge and respond to customer concerns. The key is to act quickly. The longer a wound is open and festering in the social domain, the more likely it is to become deeply and widely infected.

What's your perspective?





Customer Support - Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 18, 2012

A client recently asked me about using social media for customer service. I am engaged with this client on a variety of marketing topics, but nothing related to social media - so far! I like that the client asked about how social media could help them enhance their ability to serve their customers. It shows their intent to satisfy their customers. It also reflects their curiosity about how different platforms can help them.

This customer has recently integrated Salesforce.com into their overall support process. They are able to track trouble tickets more effectively and manage potential escalations more efficiently. Their goal is to resolve problems as quickly as possible. However, they would also like to help their customers with some self-service options - allowing them to quickly diagnose and fix simple issues on their own. They would like to be proactive and prevent problems before they occur. This requires the capability to understand customer concerns before they actually call the help desk.

This client has a limited social media presence. They are using the primary social networks in a controlled manner, at present. Given their cautious approach to social media, I did not suggest that they start tweeting customer support answers (or create a Facebook page or LInkedIn Group dedicated to support). Rather, given their pre-existing relationship with Salesforce.com, I asked them if they were aware of Radian6 and its ability to monitor the social web to understand customer comments, concerns and sentiment. They were not familiar with Radian6, but were intrigued.

We discussed how platforms like Radian6, Visible Technologies, Sysomos, Attensity360 and others, provide the platform to listen to online customer conversations related to a brand and its products. We brainstormed how this client could combine its in-house data related to customer issues with social interactions related to product performance, installation, usability or competitive products. The client understood the power of gaining greater insight into customers concerns. They were intrigued to understand that they could use this insight to help define their strategy for self-service support.

The client is at the earliest stages of developing this strategy. Given their relationship with Salesforce.com, i'm confident they will pursue a discussion with them about Radian6. I anticipate Radian6 helping them with a trial to demonstrate the type of data they can obtain to help them understand customer priorities. Customer support is the most critical element in securing customer satisfaction. The power of listening to customers is an art that continues to evolve thanks to social media monitoring platforms.  Are you listening to your customers?

What's your perspective?



What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Say About You?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, August 11, 2011

i'm currently helping a business consulting business complete a 360º view of their consultants.  Given that their consultants are their key assets, my goal is to make sure that clients understand the value these consultants provide.  We are doing this using LinkedIn. 

As is the case with many happily employed individuals, they probably have a LinkedIn account and profile.  However, they have not taken the time to develop a robust, meaningful view of their capabilities.  Many users of LinkedIn see it simply as a platform for storing contact details or job hunting.  In fact, it is much more.

LinkedIn is your opportunity to share your value with prospective clients, colleagues and employers.  There are few meetings that occur these days where the participants have not checked each other out on LinkedIn.  In fact, a colleague shared a story about his high school age son who is caddying at the local golf course this summer.  His son is checking out the individuals for whom is caddying before he heads out to the course.  This gives him some insight which allows him to introduce conversation of interest to the golfers.  Guess what the end result is?  Bigger tips!

As I work with clients on their profiles, we are seeking ways to amplify their value.  This can be done through development of an interesting summary, calling out key traits and behaviors that differentiate the individual.  In addition, profiles include the ability to reflect links to key pages within corporate websites, online videos, blogs or publications.  Of course, one of the best ways to validate your capabilities is through recommendations.  The best example I've seen is a colleague who invited many of his connections to provide recommendations.  He was shocked by the overwhelming response.  He was able to win recommendations from teammates, managers, colleagues in different organizations, business partners, and most impressively, competitors!  This says a lot about his style of doing business!

In addition, LinkedIn enables you to join groups which show your areas of interest, list specialties or outside interests, which help those searching for key capabilities.  Or, select from a group of apps such as Tripit, Box.net or Amazon to share other aspects of your professional life.  You decide what represents your value.  You decide how to organize it on your profile page.  This is your profile. 

Business is about relationships.  People want to business with people they know and trust.  How about using LinkedIn to speed up the process of getting to know each other?  Share your interests, value and capabitilities.  It is your opportunity to shine!

What's your perspective?




Energize your Enterprise Video Strategy

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are you using video to share your company story?  I hope so!  Video is more memorable than thousands of  tweets or daily blogs or superbly written collateral.  Video is your opportunity to put a face on your organization and share compelling content.  What makes content compelling?  It's all in how the message is delivered.  Is the speaker confident and authentic?  Does he or she have a passion for the topic?  Are they sharing information that is meaningful to you - the viewer?

I am huge fan of video communications, whether it takes the form of a webcast, video conference or viral video.  In any form, a well thought out video tells a story in way that online words cannot match.  Coming from the high tech industry, I've been lucky to be exposed to all forms of video communication.  I have experience the high-end telepresence style video conferencing as well as the ad hoc services such as Skype.  I have seen live executive town hall meetings and taped product launch announcements.  Across the board, video is becoming a required form of communicaiton.

Two weeks ago, Konitiki and BT Conferencing hosted a webinar "Future Proof your Video Communication Strategy".  They discussed key technology elements for a successful strategy, including :

     - video production
     - signal origination
     - signal acquistion
     - encoding formats
     - operating systems
     - viewing devices
     - content delivery networks
     - managed event services

These elements are important and can make or break a successful video event.  However, even more important is the development of the content itself.  I was speaking to the team at Mad Bear Productions, who focus on a different aspect of video communication - that of creating and telling your story.  Their value is in helping you understand what story you are trying to tell - then humanizing that story.  What does this mean?  It means developing a storyboard that draws your audience to your brand by allowing passionate, yet professional, employees to represent the brand.  Think about:
 
    - who you want watching your video
    - what message do they need to hear (not the same as what you want to say!)
    - how and where will they consume your content (in the office, on a mobile device, live or on-demand, alone or with others)

Then consider how you're going to inform them about the video.  will you use email?  Internal announcements?  Or, how about integrating soci al media and attracting a wider audience through the use of Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?  If the video is available on-demand, consider distributing it via YouTube or Vimeo.  There are more outlets than ever for reaching your audience. 

Storytelling is an art.  Video is a technology.  Enterprise video communication needs to bring these two perspectives together to share a message that is meaningful and make it accessible to the desired audience.  When you're developing your video communication strategy, don't forget that all perspectives must be addressed!

What's your perspective?



Are Your Customers Helping You Innovate?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 27, 2011



Innovation - the magic word that inspires loyalty, adoption and disruption. It drives loyalty by employees to develop market shifting product and services.  It invites users to try a new way to address existing problems. It shifts the market landscape by providing a friendlier, smarter, cheaper or faster solution. Many consider the televison to be the greatest innovation of the 20th century.  In general, Apple is the company that comes to mind today, when considering innovation. They changed the way we buy and consume music through the introduction of ITunes and the iPod. What was so innovative about the service and the device? Ease of use. Apple was laser focused on the customer experience.

Other companies have been known for innovation (Google, IBM, Microsoft, Ford, GE, Facebook). Many continue to be innovators while others have become followers.  It's not easy to maintain a culture of innovation.  R&D budgets can be costly and don't always show significant ROI, at least not in the short term.  Subsequently these budgets shrink and grow as does the economy.  Is there a way to drive innovation in a more cost effective way?  One option is to leverage the collective intelligence and innovative spirit of the general marketplace.  Many would call this customer driven innovation.

This is not a new thought.  However, in today's social world, there are new ways to invite your customers to help you drive innovation of new products, services and business models. Social networks provide a new channel of communication with customers.  Whether you are interacting with them directly or they are talking about your company, product or industry with others, they are sharing their needs and concerns.  It's up to you to channel this intelligence.

A commonly referenced story is that of Dell and its customer support challenges.  Poor Dell, they had a great business model for quickly delivering customer defined PCs to their customers.  However, if that customer had a problem, they could rot in "Dell Hell" forever.  Dell used social media to encourage their customers to share their concerns.  Dell was overwhelmed with data, but turned around and asked these same customers to help them prioritize their needs.  This helped Dell to address the most important challenges first, with a significant improvement in their customer support model and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

How can your company use social media to drive innovation? As always, start with your business goals.  What are you trying to innovate?  Are you responding to customer satisfaction issues?  Are you hoping to launch a new product?  Have you disrupted your market and need to continue doing so?  Once you've define your goals, think about the pros and cons of crowdsourcing ideas.  The number one concern is that everyone will know what is being said.  Their is NO privacy in the social arena.

However, companies can invite debate on product initiatives.  They can discuss product features and the needs of their customers related to the product and its functionality.  Customer feedback can help prioritize the introduction of new features.  Customer comments can help improve online customer support and align support organizations to the real needs of their customers.  By using social monitoring tools, companies can quickly see market trends. 

Remember, social media happens in real-time.  Traditional market research, while valuable, is based on historical data.  Social networks are capturing conversations that reflect the current and immediate needs of your customers.  Your opportunity is to act quickly enough to deliver the solution that meets their needs.

In following the tech space, I'm saddened to see the news of Nokia's coming demise.  They provided my first mobile phone.  It was utterly reliable and easy to use.  Then there is the news of RIM's layoffs. The Blackberry was THE market changing device that created an expectation for 24x7 connectivity for business professionals.  when was the last time Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley stalwart, announced something earth shaking?  Remember, this is the company that changed enterprise and consumer printing forever.  They led the UNIX charge which enabled companeis to consider viable alternatives to large mainframe computers.

I wonder, are these companies paying attention to their customers' real needs?  If so, perhaps they would still be considered innovators.  If you want to innovate, pay attention to your customers.  They are online and they are not shy.  Leverage the power of social media to help you innovate the next big thing!

What's your perspective?



Get Smart with Social Media Analytics

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Last week I wrote about the importance of social intelligence.  The obvious companion to any kind of business or social intelligence is analytics.  Sure, it sounds boring -the collecting, crunching, parsing and analysis of massive amounts of data.  Yet, if done well, this data can reveal amazing insights about your brand, your customers and your competitors.

Business intelligence has been the holy grail of corporate america since the beginning of time.  of course in the "old days", this intelligence was gathered through human interaction and some possibly unethical behavior (can we say "News of the World").  Today, sophisticated applications collect data within a company to provide insight on sales performance, profit margins, supply chain effectiveness and more.  The challenge with these applications is that they primarily look at structured data from a historical perspective.

Social media has changed everything.  Not only has it changed the way we communicate, but it creates a lot of data!  This data can be collected and analyzed to provide real-time understanding of how your customers are talking about your company or your competitors.  A search on social media analytics will reveal a myriad of vendors.  Most of their solutions are available for a fee which is based on the number of keywords you decided to track.  The best vendors give you the ability to capture data and present it in a graphical manner.  They also allow you to drill deeper on the content presented.

Rather than regurgitate a list of vendors that can be found elsewhere, check out the review on socialmedia.biz.  Before testing any of these solutions, be clear about your goals and what data you really need.  Don't forget about the data you may already have and be sure to look at the complete picture.  Understanding your customer and how they are talking about your business can help you create and optimize marketing programs, customer service, acquisition strategies and more.  So, go ahead, get analytical.  It will help you get smart about your customers!

What's your perspective?
 



Social Media Is Driving Intelligence

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ok, you've jumped on the social media bandwagon. You're following industry pundits. You're checking competitor's blogs. You're tweeting, updating and blogging on behalf of your company.And, regardless of how much planning, aligning and preparing you've done, there are moments when you're wondering - WHY?  Sometimes as we become engrossed with the day to day activities, we forget about the big picture.  What is the benefit of all this social, online activity?


source:  Lee Bryant Headshift | Dachis Group June 2011

Aside from the basics of brand and market awareness, thought leadership, lead generation and customer service, social networks are a source of business intelligence. Think about the volume of data created EVERY day on the various social platforms. Data is the life blood of any enterprise business intelligence program. These programs now need to incorporate data generated and found on social platforms. The benefit of social media intelligence is that it is captured in real time. Whether you review the data daily, weekly or monthly, you can immediately see the volume, velocity and volatility of data about your company, your brand and your products. What does this data tell you?  It provides real-time insight about:

     - what your customers are talking about (industry, company, challenges, satisfaction product, service, sales, etc.)
     - how they are talking about it (emotion and frequency)
     - where they are talking about it (online and in real life)
    
There are many vendors who can help you capture and analyze this information. The key is to understand how you can use this data once it has been captured.  Social Intelligence will help you to:

     - refine your messaging to meet your customer's requirements
     - define where you need to be both physically and online (which events, which customers, what social platforms)
     - clarify how your present your content (website, social network, presentations, white papers, microsites, etc.)
     - improve products (features, upgrades) and services (contacts, solutions, availability of information) to improve customer satisfaction
     - enrich competitive insights

Get smart!  Increase your social business intelligence to benefit your business!

What's your perspective?



Watch Your Language!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Social Media is immediate.  Video is memorable.  Online interactions via blogs, social networks or communities are forever.  We search online support forums for assistance with our PCs, cars and travel reservations.  If I’m acquiring IT products for my business, I can investigate user experiences for printers, servers, software and more. We are using the internet to find information that can help us in our buying decisions.  However, we’re not only seeking information, we’re checking out attitude.  We’re trying to understand how that company represents itself and its products.  We’re looking for a solution provider who “gets” our needs and our style.

Steve Jobs and Apple have been uber-successful in understanding our desire for intuitive, stylish products that make our lives simpler for both work and entertainment.  Apple may keep the details close to the vest, this culture of secrecy has only made them more attractive to their customers.  We are compelled to watch Apple's announcements, not only to capture the information but see Steve Jobs share his passion and excitement for every new , very appropriately, as their ambassador - announcing every new product, service or content relationships with enthusiasm and passion.    We, Apple's customers, crave the information and the manner in which it is presented. 

In today’s hyper connected online community, our thoughts, rants and raves are ‘out there’ forever.  We need to think about what we say, how we say it and when we say it with an eye towards its impact on our target audience.  I don’t mean to say that we should be scripted and working off a teleprompter.  In fact, in the social arena, this is contrary to the desire for authenticity and transparency.  What we do need to think about are the nuances of language and emotion.  Here is just one example and you’ll see what I mean:

  • A business leader participates in a web video interview about a technology company’s participation in the first practical implementation of a new global initiative

o   He describes the initiative, from a technical perspective, without naming the participants

o   He explains his company’s role in the initiative, at a high level

o   He does not explain business benefits to customers

o   He does not acknowledge the intelligence of the other members participating in the discussion

o   He does not seem particularly excited about the topic

o   His body language is very closed (arms crossed, legs crossed, little eye contact)

  • This business leader failed to inspire action from his audience due to his lack of authenticity, passion  or interest in his topic. 

Personal style is increasing in importance as we communicate socially.  Think about your colleagues.  I bet there is a least one who just fantastic in business meetings.  What makes him or her so successful? Most likely it is their ability to align the conversation with their customer’s needs.  They communicate in a way that resonates with their customer.  They use the appropriate language or buzz words.  They listen and look for verbal or physical cues, and respond to them.

As we communicate socially, we need to listen and respond to those same cues.  It’s a little harder when your audience is not in the same rooms as you.  However, if you can inject energy, passion  and intelligence into content that is aligned with your customers needs, you will be successful.  As businesses, we must listen to our customers other via blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedin and understand priorities, needs or challenges.

Think about your customer’s needs.  Then watch your language!  Communicate in a way that is meaningful to them.  Use the language that helps them realize that you “get” them.  Use language to get them to want to work with your company!

What's your perspective!

P.S.  As I finish writing this blog, I’ve clicked on a link from one of my Facebook friends.  I’m not alone in my thoughts.  Check out:  http://eatsleepsocial.com/ we’re on the same wavelength!