Thursday, November 14, 2013

Value is in the Eyes of the Customer

The Subjective Theory of Value states that value of a product or service is based on the subjective importance of it to an individual. You can read more about the details and economic theory behind this on the link here.

Lets look at this theory in the light of customer relationships. There is evidence all around us that the value of certain relationships is different from customer to customer. Where one will value a social network presence of an organization more than visiting their physical office, others will have a different opinion.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making Customers Smile

A lot of us know that we do our best work when we are happy. If there is stress or tension, we generally either try to avoid the situation or choose the least challenging avenues to get the work done. Those are not always the best pieces of work, they are generally just mediocre.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is your organization "human"?

Relationships are personal. Some more than others, but none-the-less quite personal. Similarly, buying decisions can be personal. It is not necessary that I will go out and purchase the cheapest and most positively reviewed product. I may spend a few more dollars to get the product from a local store, or a store where I like to visit, or an online store that accepts my PayPal account. The reasons are un-ending, the irrationality behind the reasons is constant though. But I digress, I will surely touch on this in more detail in a later post.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Golden Rule and the Customer

Recently, I read a post from Don Peppers, talking about what it would take to make a genuinely trustable airline.  In his post he refers to the Golden Rule, "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you." That sparked a thought in my mind about how we treat our customers today.

Do we really follow this rule? A bigger question is, do we need to?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is your data beautiful?

Some people say, "Beauty is skin deep". Others disagree with that statement and postulate that there are many factors that make someone beautiful and it is not only the visual appearance.

This is true about data visualization also. There are people who think of visualizations based on what they see visually. When it comes to the data though it is quite clear, in my opinion, that good visualization (read: beauty) is not just about what you see, but what the viewer understands from it.

The visualization you choose is as important as the data being shown. Let's take two very public and common examples showing the same type of information. These visualizations show country based information about different activities in the internet.

1. The "Bubbles":

This visualization shows the countries that viewers of your LinkedIn profile belong to. The visualization shows each circle representing a country. The size and color density of the circles here show the relative number of visits from that country. For the smaller circles, the user has to hover over the circle to understand the information about the country and the number of viewers. 

This may look like a neat way to show this information, with the country where your largest visitor base is being at the center of your universe (i.e. your focus point). However, is it a good visualization? Does it pass on the information that it is representing? 

In my thought, the answers to those questions is "no". The visualization as problems at multiple levels. First, it is not easy to understand that the circles mean countries. If I want to highlight my largest visitor base (i.e. center circle), shouldn't I also mention the country that circle represents? I have a name for the second largest country. The smaller circles really don't mean anything. A couple as you see are just dots.

Overall, maybe a "neat" way to show the data, but not "beautiful"

2. The "Map":

Google Analytics on the other hand shows country data in a map visualization. This visualization shows a map of the world. The density of the color indicate the relative rank of the countries based on visitors. The darker the country shading, the more visits from that country. 

This chart does show me all countries and takes my eyes to the countries which are darker shaded to focus on those. However, like before, is it a good visualization? Does it share the information that the user is looking for?

Perhaps "not". The visualization is surely better than the "bubbles", since now I can see all the countries and quickly understand the ones that are important to me (i.e. the darker shades which stand out). It is also intuitive as I can see that the data segmentation is based on geographic locations (i.e. countries). But that is about all it does. It does not tell me how much better one country is over another. Given the size of the map, it is not able to do justice to the smaller countries, ones that are not big enough to show up in the map.

Overall, more beautiful than the bubbles, but still does not show the full beauty of the data.

From these two public visualizations, it is clear that they do not do justice to the underlying data. Lets look at one that does.

3. The Simple Bar Chart:

Consider a simple bar chart with countries listed as categories, using the length of the bars indicating the amount of sales. This visualization example is easy to understand by the user. It is clear that some countries have more sales than others. It is easy to sort it and show ranking with the top countries at the top or bottom, depending on what you want to highlight. You can also add some more data values to show the numbers on the chart, though that may not be always needed.

Is this a visualization that does justice to the data? I think so. It shows the data for what it is. It shares the complete beauty of the data and brings that across in the visualization for the viewer to quickly grasp and make decisions on.

Incidentally, both Google Analytics and LinkedIn use similar bar charts to show other data about visitors. Which look spectacular. I wonder why they chose such mediocre visualizations when it came to country based data.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you about these and other visualization examples. Do you think "Beauty is skin deep", or does the statement "There is more than meets the eye" more accurate according to you? 

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Close are Tomorrow's Gadgets?

Today, I am going to talk about something slightly different to the regular Customer Management related posts.

I recently read about two completely different technological innovations coming into the market which got me thinking about gadgets of the future. The first was Leap Motion's recent launch to the consumer market. The second was a discussion about screen sizes on smartphones and tablets.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Customer Experience Innovation: Does Innovation Require a Framework?

Recently, I shared an interesting article, on one of the social network sites, that I had read about Customer Experience Innovation. Among the comments that I got, one was regarding organizations going about customer experience innovation by requiring employees to simply "do it". Without a framework or a business plan or strategy behind it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How Many of Your Customers Are Your "Friends"?

Lets start with the definition of "Friend" here. That shouldn't be a hard question, but if you ask someone what is the meaning of "Friend", you will find a lot of different answers.

A friend defined by an online dictionary is:
1. a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate
2. an acquaintance or associate
3. an ally in a fight or cause; supporter
4. a fellow member of a party, society, etc
5. a patron or supporter: a friend of the opera

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Customer Centric Are You?

Many organizations tout that they listen to their customers and gather customer feedback. These organizations have a good presence in social media and say they have a good understanding of their customers. If you go and ask them, they will be able to tell you why customers buy their product or services.

But is that really being customer centric? Is just listening to the customer and maintaining a knowledge base of customer buying trends enough? Is just implementing customer feedback sufficient to becoming a customer centric organization.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The "We got your back" concept for Customer Services

We all know that Customer Services is a very important, if not the most important, touch point to maintain a great customer relation and influence the customer experience overall. If it is through call centers or through the growing social media channels, the same rules apply and we see the same impact on the overall experience.

With all the different ways that customers can reach us today, and the large customer service teams, are we strangling our own capabilities to influence the customer experience? This question led me to think about, what I call, the "we got your back" concept. This is based on what the organization philosophy is with regards to the freedom that a customer service representative/agent has to influence and manage the overall customer experience.