Archive for the ‘Simplicity’ Category

Thoughts on Walt Disney World – Part 3

akl3.jpg

I’ll be picking up my wife and daughter at the airport this evening.  They wrapped up their marathon 9-day Disney vacation today and I’m sure they will have lots of stories to tell about all the things I missed.  Some I’ve already heard about, like the characters in the latest Castle Court show have mouths and eyes that move.  My daughter said it was “a little freaky”, but to me, adding animation to the typically static character costumes, makes them seem more expressive, more real, especially to the younger guests.   People like to talk about their experiences, both good and bad.  It’s the sharing of these experiences that can make or break a brand over time.  If people tend to talk negatively about their experience with you, you better listen to what they are saying and respond accordingly.  Disney Guests generally have very positive things to say and that reflects the fact that they are externally focused on the customer and their experience.

In this third and final note on my recent Disney experience is going to be a bit of a meandering catch-all, but hopefully you will like it.  The first topic on the agenda is:

Make It Easy For Me

disney_fastpass.jpgdisney_fastpass.jpgdisney_fastpass.jpgdisney_fastpass.jpgThere is nothing relaxing about spending a week at Disney.  You are on the go from the minute you wake up (early if you going to that character breakfast at another resort), to the minute you crash following Extra Magic Hours.  Disney has been quite innovative at designing and implementing programs that make it easier for me to get the most out of my experience and gives Disney more opportunities to generate more revenue.  I already mentioned the Magical Express program which, when it works well, makes it really easy to get to and from Orlando airport and saves me lots of cash.  My 40 minutes on the bus each way also gives Disney the chance to market the cruise line or the vaction club to me (in an entertaining way, of course).   

fastpass2.jpgfastpass1.jpgDisney’s Fastpass system is one of the best innovations I have ever seen in an themepark.  If you aren’t familiar with , it is a system introduced in 1999, that allows guests to avoid long lines at Disney theme parks. At an attraction featuring FASTPASS, guests can use their park admission ticket to obtain a FASTPASS ticket (essentially a reservation) with a return time later that day (an hour-long window) printed on it. If the guest comes back to the attraction during the specified return times, the guest can wait in a special line called “FASTPASS Return” and be able to ride on the attraction with a much shorter wait time than normal queue.  This is a “win-win” for both you and Disney.  A guest standing in line is a guest not spending money in the giftshops or restaurants.  By giving me a reservation. I can go do other things, which Disney hopes will involve spending money.

The third Make It Easy For Me innovation is called PhotoPass.  If you’ve been to virtually any big theme park, you know about the gauntlet of park photographers that you have to get past to get into the park.  Disney wasn’t any different until a couple of years ago, as described by Deb Wills on her excellent AllEarsNet website:

Prior to December 2004, Disney photographers were easy to spot and eager to take your photo as you entered the theme park. In fact, their eagerness and zeal could be found quite annoying after a while. I know that some folks really did like this photo opportunity, but to me, there was something about this process that just wasn’t “magical.” Once they took your photograph, you were given a paper card with a number on it. You were instructed to return to the Photo Center in a few hours for the viewing and purchase of your photo. At each location where you had a photo taken, you received yet another paper card. If you were like most people, and waited until the afternoon or, worse, closing time to get your mementos, you found yourself crowded into a small store with the anticipation of a long wait.

Theme Park Photo Pass MachineWith Disney’s PhotoPass system a Disney photographer gives you a plastic PhotoPass card with a magnetic strip and an ID number on the back. Each time you see one of the roving photographers and want a photo taken, just go up and hand them your card — they’ll get you situated, snap the pose, scan your card and off you go.  When you’re ready to view your pictures, you can either go to the Photo Center at the park or wait until you can get online at your resort or back home.

These guys are really good and will often get you in creative poses.  While I enjoy taking my own pictures, we hardly ever get shots of the whole family.  PhotoPass makes it easy to get great family pictures.  The cost per print is a little high for me, but there is no obligation to buy any of them. 

I should point out that Disney has been listening to their customers and has made several significant improvements to the program over the last 2 years including integrating the system into the several major attractions like TestTrack.

No Negative Surprises

We experienced two of these on this trip.  First, we went to MGM Studios of Father’s Day because I am totally addicted to Rockin Rollercoaster.  I have been known to ride it back to back for hours on a slow day.  We came through security, ran our passes through the scanner and entered the park.  Once we were inside there was a sign posted saying that Rockin Rollercoaster would be closed all day…….  on Father’s Day……. when dads should be able to do what they want like ride Rockin Rollercoaster!  I later found out why it was closed, but they really picked the wrong day for it.  What’s worse is that they didn’t have the notice posted outside of the park.  I’m sure there were people who used up a day on their pass only to be disappointed.  The reason it was closed was that they were adding a single rider line.  I came back the next day and was able to ride it 6 times in an hour – w00t.

Second, Disney notified us the night before we left that they would not be able to honor our reservations for the second half of the week at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Althought the reservations were made months ago, the construction of the new Vacation Club villas has closed parts of the resort.  Disney offered to put us in villa accomodations in the Downtown Disney area, but having a kitchen is not the same experience as having giraffes outside your balcony.  They eventually upgraded us to a better room at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we didn’t have this resolved until the day we were supposed to move.

Be True To Your Brand

I was in the Magic Kingdom and had just watched a stage show at the castle.  All of these shows follow a similar formula:  The good guys vs. the bad guys with Mickey saving the day plus a princess or two thrown in for good measure.  Like the show format, the musical style for these productions hasn’t changed much from what was typical when Disneyland opened in 1955.  While there have been a number of attractions replaced or updated through the years, the feel is still the same.  Disney has built some pretty intense attractions in the other Disney World parks, but not in the Magic Kingdom.  Traditionally, the Disney brand begins to fall off for boys at about 9 or 10 years old and girls a bit older. This is a hole in Disney’s guest demographics that they would love to fill.   I was Twittering pretty much through the trip and posed the question:

Would putting a hyper-coaster in the magic kingdom make it more attractive for teens or would it be inconsistent with the park’s brand?

I got a couple of responses with opinions on both sides, but in general, the feeling was that it would fundamentally change the park and that would not be a good thing (can you say “New Coke”).  As Tim Siedell pointed out, “Universal caters to that age and crowd (thrill coasters) and the Magic Kingdom pounds them in attendance.” 

So a couple of takaways from this final post on Disney World:

  1. Look for opportunities to make it easier for your customers to enjoy their experience.  Don’t assume these will add costs to you operation.  As Disney has shown, “Make It Easy” innovations can be win-wins.
  2. While Surprise and Delight is good, Negative Surprises are not.  Be vigilant about identifying and addressing potential negative surprises before the customer encounters them and when they do happen, have alternatives and solutions ready that will meet or exceed the customers needs.
  3. Be careful about introducing changes that fundamentally change your brand.  You may be able to attract some new customers, but you may also lose some of what makes your experience special in the first place.

As I mentioned in Part 1, Walt Disney World is a great case study for people passionate about customer experience design.  I’d love to hear your thought on Disney World.

Surface Computing – This is Cool!!

surface.jpgMicrosoft announces “Surface“.  Click the link.  Better seen than described.

v

f

 <Via Scobleizer>

Jott This Down

logo130×55.pngJust when Twittering seems to be all the rage, a new player hits the stage. It’s called Jott.com and its one of the coolest innovations I’ve seen in a while. Here is the basic idea:

You call Jott on your mobile phone. You speak the name of the person or group you want to send a message to. You speak for 30 seconds. Those sentences get transcribed and e-mailed. It could be a “note to self”, or a client, or an employee, or your team, or your spouse who never seems to have either of their two cell phones turned on (that’s another story).

Instant speech to text conversion with messaging. Kinda like a 30 second Twitter version of a podcast.

I often judge the coolness of something by using my 13-year old daughter as a barometer. She thinks Twitter is “totally geeky”, but when I showed Jott to her, she was instantly hooked. She immediately started playing with it; not for anything productive mind you, just wanted to see how much abuse it could take (singing, laughing, nonsensical jibberish). She also told her friends about it and they started Jotting each other. The hyper-connected youth have yet another way to communicate.

I have to agree with Drew McLellan who predicts that Jott “is going to be the breakout of 2007″. Drew suggests several ways he is going to use it:

  • Dictate notes from meetings and send them to myself for a record. Jott it.
  • I’m pulling out of a client’s parking lot and send a note to our Project Manager about opening a new job. Jott him.
  • Forget milk? Never again. Jott me.
  • Have a breakthrough idea while waiting to board a plane — jott my entire staff before I forget said idea. Jott the team.
  • Want to remind my daughter to do XYZ but she’s going to get home before I do. Jott her.
  • See someone across the way at Panera and want to remember to call them in a week or so. Jott me.
  • Have forgotten to grab a book from the office 3 times. Jott me.
  • All the stuff that I try to write down before I forget it. Jott me. Jott me. Jott me.

The other reason this may be big is that it is potentially disruptive to the wireless carriers. Think about it. Text Messaging is hot.  Over 80 Million US subscribers sent over 100 Billion text messages last year (Pew Research). Teenagers have made it a routine way to communicate. Most individual subscriber plans charge $.02 per message sent and received. With Jott, you never have to pay to send a message, so you can send more messages under you current plan, or reduce your monthly costs by switching to a plan that allows fewer messages.

Now if someone will just build a simple interface to allow me to Jott to my Twitter account, I’ll be in lifelogging heaven.


AppleTV Interface Walkthrough

If you’re thinking about getting the AppleTV next month then you should checkout this walk through of the interface. It looks very slick. Again, Apple has scored in making a piece of hardware (AppleTV) and software (iTunes) that integrates seamlessly and makes it quite easy to use.  Beyond being seamless and easy, there is something else about the interface design that really clicks with me.  Perhaps it’s just the “cool factor” that seems to come naturally to Apple engineers or the fact that the interface itself is both beautiful and entertaining.  Whatever the reason, the design is totally engaging and very well may be disruptive to the CE industry which has been unable to find a way to make products that are easy to integrate & use, and also exciting for the consumer.

<via The Wibrary at Untangled Life>.

When Fewer Choices Mean Bigger Returns

One of my deeply held beliefs regarding Customer Experience and Loyalty is that if you act as an advocate for your customers, they will reward you, not only with their business, but by advocating for you to their network of friends and family.  There are many ways to be an advocate for your customers (and potential customers).  One of them is to find ways to keep them from becoming overwhelmed with choice. 

American society has become all about choice and most of us believe that all this choice is good.   After all, it seems reasonable that we live better lives than we did 20 or 50 years ago, when the American economy was less advanced.  Thanks to the ever-increasing pace of business, enabled by PCs and the internet; along with changes in business models, social values & government policies, choices now dominate the activity of our every day lives.  We should get satisfaction from all of this choice, but the fact is, it is making us unhappy.   It’s what the folks at Blackfriars Communications call “The Tyranny of Too Much“. 

Think about how it feels when you open a restaurant menu and see dozens or even hundreds of items from which to choose.  Almost makes you lose your appetite, doesn’t it? There’s a reason why all of the big fast-food chains now feature a handful of combo meals on their menu—they’re more profitable for them, to be sure, but they also make their customers’ lives just a little bit simpler.

This approach has been a part of Costco’s success for years.  They have a small but high quality selection of just about everything.  Their buyers do the work of selection a handful of high quality items across several pricepoints so I don’t have to decide between 18 different toasters (for example).

According to a story at BusinessWeekOnline, WalMart(WMT), which has not historically been known as a great customer advocate beyond offering low prices, is currently running a radio commercial in which boasts about how small its selection of HDTVs is.  The spot wasn’t apologizing for Wal-Mart’s lack of selection, nor was it saying the fact that Wal-Mart carried fewer options than the competition didn’t matter.  The commercial actually touted the fact that Wal-Mart had improved the HDTV buying process by limiting its selection to only the most popular models.   That perked the author’s attention:

“I have been pondering the purchase of an HDTV for some time now, but dreading the long hours of research I was going to have to put into the process. I’ve read a few articles that explain the differences between plasma screens and LCDs, between $3,000 starter models and $10,000 big dogs. And I’m more confused than ever.”

“What Wal-Mart did was counterintuitive, but like AOL’s strategy during the early days of the Internet, it’s right on the mark.  Conventional wisdom suggests that having more HDTV options under one roof is better for consumers.  After all, if a retailer carries all of the options, it’s more likely to be able to meet the needs of every customer who walks through the door.” 

“What Wal-Mart has recognized, however, is that most people’s purchasing needs aren’t merely tied to product features.  Early adopters aside, most people don’t need or want to not spend hour after hour sorting through product reviews and comparison charts to find out which model is best.  Most need to know that when they plunk down two, three, or four thousand dollars (or more), they’re going to be happy with their purchase.  And they need to know that in two years they won’t be stuck with obsolete technology. (Betamax, anyone?)  If they can go to Wal-Mart and choose from a handful models that will do the job just fine for the average person, they will be happier than if they are required to sort through 40 or 50 models at Best Buy (BBY) or Circuit City (CC).”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff and I think they may be on to something.   More isn’t always better.  Too many choices are often too confusing, and too much selection can become a burden, not a benefit.  Whatever industry you’re in, if you can avoid the Tyranny of Too Much, you are acting as an advocate for your customer.  That will drive loyalty, and simplify your own life as well.

How’s Tivo Doing….

Over at Gizmodo, Brian L Clark writes an in- depth piece on the fate and fortunes of the video-recorder Tivo. He suggests that Tivo hasn’t been able to maintain its growth and now needs to look to advertisers to ensure that the technology is not consigned to history:

Frankly, TiVo’s 4.5 million subscribers can only take it so far. And the cost of acquiring new subs has increased by nearly 50 percent in the last year. Not good, particularly since the vast majority of its current subscribers came from the recently ended partnership with DirecTV. As a result, analyst Michael Kelman of Susquehanna Financial says TiVo’s best long-term prospects are in advertising. Ah, sweet irony–the service that allowed you to skip ads now needs advertising to survive. All that remains is to convince media buyers TiVo really has found the religion.

Point: How is TiVo Doing After Launching Series 3? – Gizmodo:

 

The Top “Technology Values” for the Future

12_values

“Technology-related products and services will increasingly be shaped by 12 underlying principles, or “technology values.” These values —- such as simplicity, efficiency, and personalization —- represent the characteristics that consumers will look for in products, services, and technologies over the next 10 to 15 years.”

So says Social Technologies, a Washington, DC-based research and consulting firm in a newly released study entitled The 12 Consumer Values to Drive Technology-related Product and Service Innovations. The study makes its conclusions based on today’s trends and change drivers and by looking at emerging technologies were going to help fulfill these needs and desires in the future.

I think this is some really insightful stuff. Businesses that embrace these values early are the ones who will succeed the customer-driven economy. How many of these values are you building into your latest initiatives?  The full list follows.  It’s worth the read!!!

Graphic courtesy of David Armano – Logic+Emotion (also worth the read!)
Top Technology Values—Highlights

User Creativity
Consumers increasingly want to create, augment, or influence design and content, and share these creations with their peers. Supporting user creativity will be increasingly important to consumer technology, and will become more mainstream in coming decades.

Personalization
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that align with their specific personal needs and preferences—whether in the aesthetics of a product or in its functional design. More goods will be created to match individuals’ unique specifications.

Simplicity
Simplicity will have growing value for consumers confronted with information overload, time stress, and technological complexity. Simplicity’s influence is already evident in new, stripped-down devices that offer just a few functions, as well as in minimalist interfaces that conceal breathtaking complexity. The common denominator of all these efforts is that they are human-centered—and thus easy to learn and integrate into busy lives.

Assistance
As consumers are bombarded with more tasks, choices, and information, and as demographic changes such as aging reshape consumer markets, they are looking to assistive technologies for help. Consumers will seek to bolster and extend their natural abilities—with technologies ranging from pharmaceuticals that enhance mental performance to robot aides for the elderly.

Appropriateness
Products and services will need to embrace the principle of appropriateness to ensure that they are suitably designed for users with varying physical needs, resources, cultural characteristics, literacy levels, etc. Appropriateness will aid in the spread of technology products and services to new markets and to diverse user segments.

Convenience
Already well-established in mature markets, demand for convenience will rise as a technology value for consumers all over the world. Consumers will look for technological products and services that give them what they want and need on demand and that reduce effort and relieve time pressure.

Connectedness
Connectedness gives consumers what they want, when they want it, and will grow exponentially with the expanding global information infrastructure. Consumers will look for products and services that seamlessly integrate with this global network.

Efficiency
Efficiency is the ratio of output to input—or, put simply, the ability to do more with less. It will become more important to technology as consumers search for products and services that let them manage emerging resource uncertainties, rising costs, and other pressures.

Intelligence
Intelligence will be enabled by innovations that increasingly shift information and decision-making burdens from the user to the device or service. The demand for greater intelligence will come in response to factors including complexity, aging, and the desire for personalized experiences.

Protection
Protection will be sought by consumers in a world that feels increasingly insecure. Consumers will look for technology-enabled products and services that strengthen their sense of personal security and protect their families, homes, wealth, and privacy.

Health
Consumers will look to technological products and services to maintain and, increasingly, improve their health and wellness. The search for health-enabling solutions will extend beyond traditional health and medical products and services to include more of the things consumers use in their everyday lives, whether at home, work, or play.

Sustainability
Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that embrace sustainability—reducing the “human footprint” on the environment while maintaining quality of life. A variety of technologies offer ways to minimize resource use, waste, and pollution while improving human welfare.

DVD Jon, DoubleTwist crack Apple’s FairPlay

Jon Johansen (a.k.a. DVD Jon), the 20-something hacker widely known for helping crack the piracy protections on DVDs several years ago, is taking on Apple Computer again. He has reverse-engineered Apple’s FairPlay, the digital rights management technology used to make iPod and iTunes a closed system.

He has started DoubleTwist Ventures to license the technology which will make other online music stores work with Apple’s iPod device and let iTunes songs play on gadgets other than the iPod.

In an interview with ZDNet, Monique Farantzos, Johansen’s business associate and DoubleTwist co-founder provides details on the company, the technology.  It’s easy to understand why the start-up has been profitable since day one:

When you buy a DVD, you know that the DVD will play on your Toshiba or Sony or Philips player, but when you buy music or video online, you don’t have that. It is kind of like the zoo: Every animal is singing a different tune. We hope to make sense of that, and we have developed a technology to enable that.

No matter how much you wall in your garden, people will find a way to make things simpler.

Cisco patents the “Triple Play”

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Networking

If you haven’t heard of a Triple Play yet — you know, where some service provider tries to shove TV, internet and phone service onto one pretty little contract for supposed cost savings and convenience to you — then we applaud you for your apparent skill at avoiding the incessant advertising of such services from the major media companies. Unfortunately, it seems the US Patent Office possesses just such a skill, since they’ve granted a patent to Cisco Technology for the concept of “providing integrated voice, video, and data content in an integrated service.” Now, Cisco did apply for this patent way back in 2000, before the idea had quite gotten so pervasive, but we’re still a bit miffed that something this common-sensical can be patented at all. No word yet on what Cisco plans to do with the patent, but there are a whole lot of “infringing” services out there that they could potentially go after if the mood strikes. Luckily, Cisco has some pretty neat ideas of their own for a Triple Play network offering listed in the patent, so we’ll remain cautiously optimistic — safe underground, of course, in our tin-foil shielded bunker.

[Via Slashdot]

New technology could nip DVD format war in the bud

According to an article in Computer World, the format war around next-generation DVDs may be over before it has begun, thanks to a breakthrough from a British media technology company.  London-based New Medium Enterprises (NME)  has developed a technology which allows multi-layer hybrid DVDs have Blu-ray on one layer and HD DVD on another, and have lowered the cost of production to just 1.5x the price of regular DVDs.

By putting the same film on a single disc in the two competing formats, movie studios can save money, and consumers do not have to worry if they are buying the right disc for their player.This announcement come just a few weeks after after three employees at movie studio Warner Bros. filed a patent for the application of multiple formats on a single DVD.   NME says there is no patent collision between the two.  The Warner guys patented the idea and MNE is patenting the technology to make it work.

Multiple format DVDs can solve the emerging war between the two new high-capacity DVD formats: Blu-ray, which is backed by Sony Corp. and Toshiba-supported HD-DVD.   Hollywood studios have been choosing sides in the DVD format war, each supporting one of the two formats. Some have said they will produce films in both, in addition to the standard DVD format.

How Apple Will Change the Rules (Again)

While most of the tech bloggers were going gaga last week over Apple’s announcement of new iPod devices and wondering when the iPhone is going to debut, a few guys with much more insight than me were writing about the real stories behind the “iTV” headline. 

I highly recommend both of these outstanding posts.

Carl Howe over at Blackfriars’ Marketing writes a great commentary predicting Apple’s entry in the flat panel TV market.  Lots of big boxers like Home Depot and Office Depot are announcing their entry into this rapidly growing market, following robust profit reports from Circuit City and Best Buy.  While the success of these Johnnies-come-lately is dubious, Howe makes a great case for Apple’s winning in the TV business.

Apple has design icon Jonathan Ive (among many other great designers), one of the best and most powerful brands in the world, incredible differentiation, and is repeatedly ranked number one for product support. It has a chain of 161 stores that generate 67% of the revenue of Best Buy with 10% of the floor space. And most importantly, Apple sells experiences, not low-priced hardware. They’ll offer two or three choices to avoid the tyranny of too much — and amaze everyone again by making more profits on fewer products.

Over at the Mac Observer, John Martellaro’s take on the “iTV” story is that Apple’s strategy:

  • Leverages 4 key competencies (customer inertia , the power of “the culture to influence”, large software development capability, & technical leadership),
  • Will lead to success, and
  • Will simultaneously confuses competitors and the analysts.

The result, Martellaro predicts, is that Apple has a strong chance of owning the game in home video entertainment.

Today, the home entertainment industry is confusing. Customers muddle through. Some dare to ask questions; some just plug it all in and hope things work. Issues linger: Is my 1080i HDTV already obsolete? What is HDCP, HDMI, de-interlacing, scaling, 802.11n? Should I go with cable or satellite? Will Blu-ray finally win? No one company has stood up, with courage, and said: “We have a vision. This is how to do it. Follow us.”

Now, Apple is starting to provide that leadership in home theater. They’re defining an architecture, putting the product pieces into place, and developing leading edge products.

But most importantly, Apple is inserting this orchestrated scheme of pre-planned and well defined technology into a massive technology consumption machine fueled by the consensus thinking on the Internet. If it sucks, it’s history. If it’s cool, it’ll be embraced, and any company that tries to force the issue against this massive thinking machine will fail.

The platform dubbed “iTV” will be revolutionary.  Apple has demonstrated the ability to bring simplicity to complicated things and they appear to be poised to do it again for home theater.  What’s more, iTV will bring video iChat and the internet to the living room.  When they introduce a flat panel display, you can bet it will have an “iSight” camera built into the top bezel just as their computers do now.  iChat, along with inevitable higher bandwidth connections could revolutionize home-based communications and the “internet from the sofa” will certainly bring increased impulse buying online, including of course, movies and more from Apple’s iTunes store.

Motorola Cell Phone Vending Machines

<via thedailyjournal.com

Motorola is installing “Instantmoto” vending machines in nearly two dozen malls and airports nationwide.  According to Bob Many, Motorola’s director of automated retailing, the machines will sell 12 kinds of phones and 18 accessories. 

The products are delivered to consumers by a robotic arm and are run from a central location, similar to the way automated teller machines are operated.  Shoppers will be able to use credit cards to purchase mid- to high-end models, including the Razr and the Q, and can buy with or without a service plan for T-Mobile, Verizon and Cingular service. Using a touch-screen, customers can pick a phone’s style, color and accessories, such as car adapters and chargers.  Shoppers starting a new service plan must go online to sign up for service with their carrier.

Motorola is trying to bring retail closer to the customer through what they call “convenience purchasing” and this is clearly an innovation test that could be rolled out if successful. 

The stores are operated by San Francisco-based Zoom Systems.  You may remember them as the developer of the innovation vending model for iPods, digi-cams, and other CE products.

The Music Store in Your Pocket

Seems that I am on a Zune kick lately, but I am not alone. Wired has an insightful story on the new content models that are emerging from Microsoft and the satellite radio guys. The big deal is that these models allow you to bypass the centralized store to get content wirelessly from other users (in the case of Zune) and from hundreds of channels of programming over satellite. The article discusses the Sirius Stiletto model, but XM has a similar offering. Regarding Zune, the article points out that it…

gives you another way to discover music without hunting and pecking through a multimillion-song, computer-based catalog on your lonesome. Users can beam songs directly to each other using the devices’ ad hoc wireless connections, significantly reducing the friction between a friend recommending something to you and you acquiring it. The beamed song will play three times before asking you to buy it — or, if you’re a Zune subscriber, you can keep it without paying an extra dime.

All of these new approaches are attempting to gain traction in the Apple-dominated digital music market through simplicity. An MP3 player with a music store and hundreds of music channels built-in could make the iPod seem unconnected, which is rarely a good thing to be.

Love & Respect Your Customers

issue coverThere are lots of Customer Experience evangelists out there spreading the gospel.  Unfortunately, most companies are just not listening.  Earlier this year, my company had Jeanne Bliss give a customer experience presentation at a large corporate event.  Last week, she was the guest blogger at Fast Company.  Her “Ten Ways to Love (and Respect) Your Customers” serves as a “Ten Commandments” for the heathens.

Via Fast Company’s blog – Jeanne Bliss: guest blogger 

10 Ways to Love (and respect) Your Customers

“1.Eliminate the customer obstacle course. If you asked customers they’d say that the obstacle course for figuring out who to talk to and how and when to get service is over-complicated, conflicting and just plain out of whack

2.Stop customer hot potato. He who speaks to the customer first should “own” the customer. There’s nothing worse that sends a signal of disrespect faster than an impatient person on the other end of the line trying to pass a customer off to “someone who can better help you with your problem.” Yeah, right.

3.Give customers a choice. Do not bind your customer into the fake choice of letting them “opt out” of something. Let them know up front that they can decide to get emails, offers or whatever from you and give them the choice.

4.De-silo your website. Our websites are often the cobbled together parts created separately by each company division. The terminology is different from area to area, as are the menu structures and logic for getting around the site. What’s accessible online is frequently inconsistent, as is the contact information provided.

5.Consolidate phone numbers. Even in this advanced age of telephony companies still have a labyrinth of numbers customers need to navigate to talk to someone. All of these grew out of the separate operations deciding on their own that they needed a number to “serve” their customers. Get people together to skinny-down this list and then let customers know about it. There’s no big red button to push to make this happen. It requires the gnarly hard work of collaborating and collective decision making – but get it done already! Customers are fed up.

6.FIX (really) the top ten issues bugging customers. We have created a kind of hysterical customer feedback muscle in the marketplace by over-surveying our customers and asking (ever so thoughtfully) “how can we improve?” Customers have told us what to do and we haven’t moved on the information.

7.Help the front line to LISTEN. We’ve robotized our frontline to the customer all over the world. Let them be human, give them the skills for listening and understanding and help the frontline deliver to the customer based on their needs.

8.Deliver what you promise.  There is a growing case of corporate memory loss that annoys and aggravates customers every day The customer has to strong-arm his/her way through the corporate maize just to get basic things accomplished. They’re exhausted from the wrestling match, they’re annoyed and they’re telling everyone they know. And, oh, by the way, when they get the chance they’re walking.

9.When you make a mistake – right the wrong. If you’ve got egg on your face, for whatever the reason, admit it. Then right the wrong. There’s nothing more grossly frustrating to customers than a company who does something wrong then is either clueless about what they did or won’t admit that they faltered.

10.Work to believe. Very little shreds of respect remain, if any, after we’ve put customers through the third degree that many experience when they encounter a glitch in our products and services and actually need to return a product, put in a claim or use the warranty service. As tempting as it is to debate customers to uphold a policy to the letter of the law, suspend the cynicism and work to believe your customers.”

PSFK: Disappearing Electronics

The folks over at PSFK have an interesting observation regarding consumer electronics.  I think their observation is correct:

“The shrinking of technology has meant that we’re no longer forced to show off technology. Our TVs are on wheels and can come out when we feel like moving the projector from its cubby hole is too much of an effort, speakers are beginning to look like pictures. Our desktops have become laptops filed away in the magazine basket. Our music player is the ubiquitous little white box and the stacks of CDs and DVDs are quickly disappearing to storage (before they end up in recycling).”

What do you think?? 

 PSFK: Disappearing Electronics

  • Recognition

    Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

    Top Customer Service Blog
    Online MBA Rankings
  • Recent Comments

    call contact center on How to Poorly Represent for Yo…
    josie maran argan oi… on THE UNCANNY X-MEN (AND NEWS CO…
    Lavon on The Music Store in Your P…
    reExperiencing Starb… on Starbucks – The Way I Se…
  • Top 10 Posts

  • Amazon Apple Best Buy Blogging Brand Engagement Brand Management Circuit City Co-Creation Content Conversations Customer Experience Customer Made Digital Home Disruption Entertainment Experience Economy Gaming Generation C (ontent) Global Connectivity Greatest Hits Innovation Lifestyle & Leisure Loyalty Marketing & Advertising Microsoft MP3 orthodoxies Power to the Pocket Retail Retail Close to the Customer SecondLife Sensors Services Simplicity Social Media Social Networks Sony Techno Wars Telecom The New Media This Changes Everything Uncategorized Virtual Life Wi-Life Youth
  • RSS Archive Favorites

  • Where Are You?

    Locations of visitors to this page
  • Archives

  • Next-Up

  • Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.