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Archive for July, 2011

10 ways to become more customer focussed

10 ways to become more customer focussed

In the free-enterprise system, the customer is king. Those who please the customer best win.  The same is true with internal customers. Those who please them most will win. Winners are always customer orientated and responsive. Here are ten actions to help your organisation become more customer focussed.

1. Keep in high-quality touch. Pleasing the reasonable needs of customers is fairly straight-forward. First you need to know what they want and expect. The best way to do that is ask them. Then deliver that in a timely way at a price/value that’s justified. Find ways to keep in touch with a broad spectrum of your customers to get a balanced view: face-to-face, phone surveys, questionnaires, response cards etc.

2. Customers complain; it’s their job. Be ready for the good news and the bad news; don’t be defensive, just listen and respond to legitimate criticisms and note the rest. Vocal customers will usually complain more than compliment; you need to not get overwhelmed by the negative comments; people who have positive opinions speak up less.

3. Anticipate customer needs. Get in the habit of meeting with your internal or external customers on a regular basis to set up a dialogue; they need to feel free to contact you about problems and you need to be able to contact them for essential information. Use this understanding to get out in front of your customers; try and anticipate their needs and provide them with positive surprises.

4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were a customer of yours, what would you expect; what kind of turnaround time would you tolerate; what price would you be willing to pay for the quality of product or service you provide; what would be the top three things you would complain about?

5. Think customer in. Always design your work and manage your time from a customer in, not from you out.  Your best will always be determined by your customers, not you; try not to design and arrange what you do only from your own view; try to always know and take the viewpoint of your customer first; you will always win following that rule.

6. Create an environment for experimentation and learning. One principle of these techniques is to drive continuous improvement. Never be satisfied. Always drive to improve all work processes so they deliver defect-free goods and services customers want. Don’t be afraid to fail.

7. Look at your own work habits. Are they designed for maximum effectiveness and efficiency for your customer or are they designed for your comfort? Is there room for some continuous improvement? Are you applying the principles you have learned to yourself? Remember, this is one of the major reasons why these efforts fail.

8. Think of yourself as a dissatisfied customer. Write down all of the unsatisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month. Things like delays, orders not right, cost not as promised, phone calls not returned, cold food, bad service, inattentive staff, out of stock items etc. Are any of these things happening to your customers?

9. Think of yourself as a satisfied customer. Write down all of the satisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month? What pleased you the most as a customer? Good value; on-time service; courtesy; returned calls?  Are any of your customers experiencing any of these satisfactory transactions with you and your organisation?

10. Play detective. Be a student of the workflows and processes around you at airports, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, government agencies etc. As a customer how would you design those things differently to make them more effective and efficient? What principles did you follow? Apply those same principles to your own work.

Thanks to William Montgomery of AskTen for this piece on becoming more customer focussed.

In business, we all need to be reminded from time-to-time that ‘the customer is king’! It is all too easy for some employees to see your customers as ‘an interruption’ to their day!

Regular sales/staff meetings (ideally morning meetings before the day begins) are a good opportunity to get the staff on board and re-iterate what it is the company is trying to achieve, and what rewards this may mean for the employees if they do their bit (commission, bonuses etc for hitting targets).

Google+ iPhone App Now Available

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Update: Google has already released an update to the Google+ app. For those that are having problems, check the App Store and download the latest version.

The official Google+ iPhone app is now available.

The app is available as a free download [iTunes link] from the App Store.

Here’s a list of the app’s features, along with their descriptions.

  • Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.
  • Stream is where you can get updates from your circles or see what people are saying about things nearby.
  • Huddle is super-fast group messaging for everyone in your circles.

First Impressions: Buggy, But Fun


First impressions of the app are that while useful, it’s buggy. The app doesn’t work on iOS 5 beta 3 — so cutting-edge adopters, you’re out of luck (for now) — and is crashing in iOS 4 at regular occurrences for some users.

Punit Soni, lead product manager for Google+ Mobile responded to some of the complaints on Google+ and he is promising updates.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Here is a great article from MASHABLE and contains all you need to know about using the new ‘Google +’ App on the iPhone.

Enjoy!

Eric

‪The Power of Words‬‏ – YouTube

THE POWER OF WORDS

This is very powerful.

Watch the video and see the power of words.

Remember this when copywriting your marketing messages.

Knightsbridge parking spaces now cost more than the average UK house

House prices in Prime Central London have increased by approximately 8-9% over the first half of this year according to Prime Central London independent estate agency W A Ellis.

In its latest Prime Central London property market comment, the firm says a Knightsbridge parking space can now cost in excess of the average UK house price.

70% of W A Ellis’ buyers are from overseas – a year-on-year increase of 15% whilst ‘Gazumping’ is becoming increasingly common in its lettings market.

The firm also reports a 50% increase in tenancy agreements during June due to student renters and some landlords are already adapting tenancy agreements in anticipation of next year’s Olympic games.

Daniel Wiggin, a partner at W A Ellis, comments: “The property market in Prime Central London is extremely resilient and continues to buck the trend for house price increases. At W A Ellis, we have seen a very busy spring market with price per square foot values in prime areas far exceeding the 2007 peaks. The Office for National Statistics state that the average UK house price has reduced by 0.3% over the first quarter of this year, but in our market, we’ve seen increases in the region of 8% – 9%.

“The average house price throughout the country is £204,439, which in Knightsbridge, will buy just a small two bedroom flat with one bathroom and a 4.25 year lease – and the premium for a lease extension of 90 years will be in excess of £1 million.  This shows the enormous difference between our particular area and the UK nationally.  In fact, it is true to say that underground car parking spaces of approximately 19 ft x 8ft, in the recognised Knightsbridge blocks are often sold for prices in excess of the national average house price.

“Recently, we marketed a flat in Knightsbridge which had been in the same ownership for over 35 years and needed modernisation.  We had 30 viewings in the first two days and through careful management, we went through an informal tender and managed to achieve the very highest price possible for our client together with many backup bids. This example clearly denotes the strength of the Prime Central London market. For the longer term, it is predicted that residential property values in Prime Central London could increase by 33.4% in the next four years.

“We have been complaining for some years that stock is too low to meet demand; most thought this would be a temporary scenario and the market would return to normal in the near future, however, I think that a return to more typical market conditions is unlikely. We must accept that the severe shortage of good quality flats and houses within the market is here to stay.

“One explanation for the low levels of properties coming on to the sales market could be that people are increasingly viewing Prime Central London property as a long-term investment. For example, foreign investment has outstripped domestic purchases – in the first quarter of 2011, 70% of our buyers were from overseas; this is an increase of 15% from the same period last year. Foreign investors do not need to sell, and in many cases, their investments here are seen as the equivalent of a high interest bank account.

“This means that domestic interest rates are now not as influential in the market as foreign exchange rates, and so we look closely at political posturing in other counties and international markets in order to predict what will happen in the market. The dollar remains relatively weak against the pound which does not help us, however, sterling continues to be relatively weak against the euro, which is attracting European buyers.”

Lucy Morton, senior partner and head of lettings at W A Ellis, comments: “The lettings market in Prime Central London continues to go from strength to strength – in June, we completed 50% more tenancy agreements than our usual monthly average. This increase is largely thanks to an influx of students and families who are keen to finalise their accommodation arrangements ahead of the start of the new academic year in September. Also, because there is a shortage of studio flats and one bedroom apartments on the lettings market, those that are available are hugely sought after by students and therefore, rents have increased by as much as 10% since the beginning of the year.

“Another feature which exemplifies the strength of the rental market in Prime Central London is the increase in ‘gazumping’ which we are experiencing. Gazumping – where a vendor / landlord accepts an offer only to pull out later on in the deal after receiving a better offer – is a phenomenon which, until now, was usually only seen on the sales market, but is becoming increasingly common on the rental market. Our 19 strong team all experienced a degree of gazumping, sealed bids or bidding wars in June.

“For example, we were recently in a bidding war on an apartment in Chelsea, which was being marketed at £595 per week. Our applicant offered £600 per week initially in a bid to secure the flat but eventually, the flat achieved considerably in excess of this figure, such is the demand for good quality one bedroom properties.

“Moving up in value, we had two asking price offers on a stunning apartment in Lowndes Square, Belgravia, at the start of marketing at £2,750 per week.  Bids started to escalate, ending in ‘best and finals’ being taken and the landlord secured a tenancy in excess of £3,000 per week for a two year tenancy with the first year paid up front, such was the strength of the bidder.

“This is obviously an excellent market place for landlords, and a clear indication of the significant shortage of good quality stock available at the moment.  Any savvy tenant is well advised to offer quickly and sensibly on their chosen property and not bargain or they run the risk of being out bid and disappointed.

“The short term let market is also extremely active and I expect this to continue over the summer because historically, people come to the capital for various events such as Ascot, The Henley Festival and Goodwood, as well as, Ramadan which has fallen early this year. Next year, the Olympics will be in town and demand for short term lets is expected to be high – in anticipation of this, many landlords are already adapting their tenancy agreements to include break clauses so that they can benefit from the games – it may be possible to achieve up to six times the usual weekly rent during the three weeks of the Olympics, but possible void periods before and after the games could have a significant impact on potential financial gain.”

Marketers Root For Expanded Opportunities Represented By Google+

Marketers Root For Expanded Opportunities Represented By Google+

Marketers have had a close eye on the launch of Google+, and what I’m hearing at this point is similar to what I once heard about Bing. In short, it’s great to have a potential competitor to the behemoth in the space (Facebook, in this case), but how important Google+ becomes to marketers will depend on what kind of scale it achieves, and what kind of audience it ends up having.

As Efficient Frontier’s senior director of business analytics Siddharth Shah notes in a blog post: “While features and tools might draw advertisers to a platform, it’s access to large audiences that is the biggest draw for advertisers when it comes to the adoption of a marketing platform.”

The most obvious Facebook analogue that was missing at Google+’s launch was the brand Page, which Google executives said would be coming soon, though they wouldn’t indicate when the new feature would launch. It’s apparently in the works, though, and head of commerce and local Jeff Huber said the company wanted small business profiles to be “great” and said “we’re coding as fast as we can.”

But as Ian Schafer, CEO of branding-oriented agency Deep Focus notes, there’s no obvious way for brand Pages to take part in Circles. Does a user have a special Circle for businesses, or does he include the Page for the local kayak shop in his “krazy kayakers” Circle?

AdWords+?

It’s pretty much a no-brainer that AdWords will show up at some point or another, but how exactly they will be targeted remains to be seen. The challenge is to make it as effective as possible for advertisers, without alienating consumers. One could imagine contextual targeting, based on the content of the page, as Gmail users have grown accustomed to seeing related ads beside e-mail messages. But Facebook-like targeting on demographics and interests doesn’t yet seem to be in the cards, as Google profiles don’t yet invite the same level of intimacy. Perhaps it’s because most of the folks in my Circles thus far are business contacts (the early adopter crowd), but I’m not as up for discussing my favorite TV shows on Google+ as I am on Facebook.

Craig Macdonald, Covario’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president for products, believes the eventual advertising opportunity on Google+ will resemble Facebook (demographic, interest-based and push) much more than search (keyword and pull). “Targeting should be do-able on any data provided by the user that is considered ‘public.’ In Facebook, this is data that is in a person’s public profile record — their home town, their residence, their hobbies, favorite book, etc. — as well as on the real time data stream from day-to-day comments, which should be target-able by ‘keyword.’ So a potential use case is: Let me serve a banner to everyone in California who uses the keywords ‘laptop’ or ‘personal computer’ or ‘HP’ or ‘Lenovo’ over a particular period of time. That seems like a completely reasonable use case – so long as the user understands the conditions.”

Differentiating Factors

Shah from Efficient Frontier suggests that Google has an opportunity to outdo Facebook by offering more transparent reporting about more complex targeting. “For instance, on the Facebook platform advertisers cannot target logical combinations of different interest segments (you can target people who are interested in bikes OR scooters OR cars but not those who like bikes AND scooters but NOT cars),” he said.

One interesting possibility for brand integration might also be the Sparks section, if it catches on. This area, seemingly meant for serendipitous discovery of items worth sharing, also allows users to bookmark, or pin, areas of interest so they can more easily find them again — enabling interest-based ad targeting. But it also serves as potential entry point for brands seeking to introduce wanna-be viral videos, or other content-based marketing efforts.

“Six Apart used to have an ad product like this, a thought-starter for bloggers, on their platform,” notes Deep Focus’ Schafer. “Google has that potential with Sparks.”

The caveat to any excitement about Google+’ possibilities as a marketing platform is the big question we started with: will it have a substantial enough user base to make it worth marketers’ while. Needless to say, the fact that so many are already logged-in to Google accounts for Gmail or Google Docs — as well as the potential for Android integration — are substantial advantages, but sharing, and keeping up with what your friends share, is an ongoing effort, and it remains to be seen whether people will make a place for it in their daily lives, as they have for Facebook. Marketers seeking new opportunities certainly hope so.

“I want them to be succesfun, because the more successful parties there are, the better we all are,” Schafer told me. “I’m sure there’s a lot more to come out of this.”

All interesting stuff, and it will be interesting to see how Google fairs with this…..

Turn ‘Google+’ Into Facebook!

Turn Google+ Into Facebook
Alexia Tsotsis

The social networking wars have dialed it up to 11 this week, with Google unleashing its highly anticipated (and highly leaked) Google+ social initiative upon the world on Tuesday — to not a bad response, to be honest. So it’s not that surprising that today Facebook countered the + hubbub with its own “we’ve got something awesome” unveiling planned for next week. You crazy kids!

The resemblance between the two social networks is uncanny — my Tweet-length opinion is that Google+ is like Facebook with a more usable, streamlined Photos and Groups interface (and that might be enough to win). Only time will tell.

In the meantime, for those of you who have the decidedly middle class problem of social network fatigue, there is a solution. Thanks to the unlimited creativity of  humans, you can now actually make your Google+ look like Facebook, with the Google+ : Facebook Stylish extension or this CSS code.

I love this.

I found this interesting and just wanted to share it with you all.

I’m a big fan of all things Google (well, apart from Google ‘Buzz’!), and there isn’t much that they do wrong (well, apart from Google ‘Buzz’!), so this hopefully could prove popular as a social network as people could potentially feel very comfortable using it from the off.

What are your thoughts?

Eric