Category Archives: Customer Experience

Missing the customer — how your brand’s
street cred suffers from poor execution

 

How would you come to describe the emotional reationship towards your insurance provider? Pure business? Not viable? Suspended? Well, then you are probably not alone….
 

Ad: Help when it matters most.

 
Being quite aware of the difficult standing with clients in their industry, the Zurich insurance company lately came up with a quite innovative and ambitious concept for their Normadz® offering to hit the road and probably every other location frequent travellers would find themselves in a hassle. With a target market of "anyone using a Blackberry on a regular basis" they set up "help points" at Europes most frequented airports i.e London Heathrow and Frankfurt, where a lot of their targeted customers were likely to pass by on a regular basis.
 

At these service outlets travellers can get free internet access, basic concierge services and, of course, an introduction to the Nomadz service, which provides from a mixture of emergency alert and rescue services to concierge style amenities.
 

To make sure the effort gets noticed, e.g. at Frankfurt airport the entire way from the main check-in hall to the help point has been plastered with fullsize ads making often heard (bold goes without saying) claims like "Need a question answered?" or "Help when it matters most.".
 

Ad: Need to get online before you fly?  Ad: Need a question answered?

 
However, as the accompanying – and after two years still not quite complete – website suggests, some not entirely thought through points come with the promotional demo:
 

You won’t get any assistance (or even the free internet service) at these spots outside regular working hours, not on weekends and, of course, not on holidays. And the loudly advertised power outlets are available for free to passengers all over the airport anyway.
 

empty Zurich Help Point

Left-alone and all monitors dark (except for reflections and the advertising):
The Zurich „Help when it matters most”-stand.

 
Though, isn’t exactly this the core benefit of any insurance offering (and even more with the one being promoted)? A service providing "help when it matters most" and not "when it comes along the cheapest"!? Just as emergencies don’t use to restrict themselves to opening hours.
 

You may now argue, if there is a lot of sense in keeping such promotional stand occupied at times, when salaries for the operating staff are higher, with the number of prospective contacts decreasing at the same time. But if, as with insurance, your entire industry’s main USP is to be reliable come what might (and with the advertised offer even focussing on this fact…), then saving on the pennies for an approach to publicly demonstrate it may backfire quite rapidly. Because if already your very own promotions fall short of delivering the advertised values, how will then your services do for a customer?
 

So think again when planning the next pitch to prospective customers: How can you have the way you deliver your presentation support, rather than contradict, the message you want to send out? Get this answered right and you’ll be surprised by your audience’s honest and welcoming reactions.
 

 

Working @ Starbucks — the other way…

No, this is not about making the perfect frappuccino. Nor about being member of a union.
 
It is about the observation at my favourite Starbucks outlet that more and more creative class freelance professionals seem to discover the cozy local coffee shop as a convenient replacement for working alone or in home office.
There is lots of well-brewn and affordable “cheap-refill” coffee available throughout the day, enough space and stylish interior to host client conversations, as well as large-enough tables for team-meetings. And free wifi along with your cellphone ready on the table makes sure, nobody needs to notice you’re not, well, “at work”.
 
While the ability to check your e-mail at the coffee shop isn’t exactly new, the idea of regularly going there for work, just as you would normally to an office (read: from early morning just until the late afternoon, when she location starts to get occupied by the more noisy “private” coffee-sippers) at least for me seems put new perspective on it.
 
As an interesting alternative/supplement to the contemporary co-working movement with probably somewhat less cross-pollination intended, working at Starbucks however doesn’t come without benefits on the house:
The coffee shop gets its rooms filled at times of the day when commonly “to go” is the appreciated bestseller. Fortunately, at the same time, the new guest group won’t alienate the more traditional customers by staring a their laptops with a shining blue glare spread over all their surroundings (as common in the early days of free wi-fi offered in cafes). The aforementioned screen-workers just by their nature flee from more lively visiors during the afternoon hours, who regard the coffee outlet more as their favourite Third Place, rather than a work enviroment.
 
And even though Starbucks management by now may as well not have fully gotten the actual business potential coming with providing public co-working space — their prospects definitely have.
 

Hamburg and the Semantic Web Paradigms

Joining a seminar session on practical semantic web applications yesterday evening, I found myself in a conference room at Hamburg’s Haus der Wirtschaft, mostly among what seemed to be scientists, consultants and librarians.
 

While the talk by a Adobe representative’s talk on XMP did not exceed much what can be found on their respective websites, Hans-Peter Schnurr, CEO of Ontoprise GmbH, brought in not just some very insightful experiments with the audience, but also impressive case studies showcasing their Service Resolution Management software, a structured and centralized repository of technical repair information to help companies fulfilling contracts all over the world learn from mistakes.
 

If you like to take a peek at the lecture yourself, I recommend having a look at the video documentation on the event organizer’s website.

Book Review: Never Eat Alone — with Keith Ferrazzi

 
Do you know, what it’s like to drive a real Ferrazzi ?  Well, as far as this book is concerned (with a German Edition available as well), this Ferrazzi (model "Keith") clearly is driven by making both a connection and a difference.
 

Once you got used to sentences starting with expressions such as "networking super-hubs like me" ;-), you find this book to be a suprisingly complete guide to Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazzienhancing your very own interpersonal skills — always one connection at a time.
   At the beginning Keith Ferrazzi convincingly explains, why he believes reaching out to other people and offering your help being together the most effective (if not the only) way towards a happy as well as successful life, constantly telling examples from his own experience. You learn how to define your personal goals and then identify the right people to help you complete it. Then one gets instructions on how to get into the right mindset, while avoiding common pitfalls.
   Afterwards, Keith Ferrazzi teaches you the trade of how to successfully making connections, from in-advance research on the people you would like to meet, over pre-warming "cold" phone calls and adding meaning to small talk by showing some vulnerability, to detailed Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazziadvice on how to make sure, the people you once contacted won’t forget about you, while you still successfully survive the information flood caused by phone calls, appointments and contacts you gather.
   Then you proceed to the advanced concepts, containing guides to mastering typical business scenarios: You learn to systematically expand your network by e.g. finding "anchor tenants" out of other social groupings, getting most out of conferences by adding your own events and finally, well, not eating alone by inviting other people for dinner.
   Here it has to be said, that Keith Ferrazzi knows the art of pulling together the right people inside out and that his single chapter of tips on running successful dinner parties probably makes up for more substance than some entire magazines devoted to solely that topic.
 

Though some of the author’s advice may need some adjustment to your particular cultural environment, following his guidelines building your own brand by neither giving in to hubris, nor getting boring, will inevitably allow you to get along with other people in your own life much more joy- and successfully.
 

Want to give Ferrazzi’s practical approaches a try ?  Take this video as an example:
 

 
Unfortunately the book-accompanying website has been replaced by the one of its reportedly even more renowned successor Who’s got your back ?. But it’s still worth a visit, especially for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, containing a multitude of valuable networking tips (many of which "never eat alone" discusses in greater detail…), and its community section where you can connect to and exchange with many other people practicing Ferrazzi-style business networking.
 

Checkout Re-Visited: Step 6 — when the deal is done; The ORDER SUCCESSFUL Page

 

If one would really want to add use to this page (thereby exeeding its functionality beyond the one of a simple check mark…) probably adding some of the following features could do the job:

 

  • Display a copy of the order just taken.
     
  • Tell the customer what the next steps towards the fulfillment of the order are going to be and and how long these are being assumed to take. Let the customer know when he will be going to hear from you for the next times.
     
  • If possible provide a clickable URL to a page where your customer can query the processing status of his order and allow him to make final adjustments there (this will save you money in the end).
     
  • Provide your customer with a simple way to keep track of his order. Allow for printing out all of this information. Peace of mind is a really important issue here and not to be underestimated.
     
  • Facilitate later reference as well as re-orders by including appropriate links and materials with a downloadable version, as well as sending a copy of all information on this page to the customer’s e-mail account.

 
That’s it, an overview of possible outcomes to be created by developments currently underway on the web. Those of you accustomed to catching up with the latest developments on the web, will likely have heard of one or the other approach, though what in my eyes has been missing by far is a combined usage scenario for for all of these ideas.
 
My intent has been to show both potential and side-effects coming with some of the latest developments that are growing from nowhere today, but may soon have serious impact on how we live our lives online.
 
You hopefully enjoyed the trip alongside the cutting edge of what is already possible today, let’s see which of these ideas are going to successfully make it to ease life on the worlds online markets and which one we will possibly not appreciate being offered us with our own online purchases within the next years.
 

See you. 🙂