Archive for July, 2012

Dear Facebook: Please Give Us A ‘Sympathize’ Button

Vinay Iyer recently wrote a very interesting post about the importance of Capturing the real 360 degree ‘Voice of the Customer.

You can read the post here: Dear Facebook: Please Give Us A ‘Sympathize’ Button.

There are some very interesting things that he talks about:

Find smart ways to “mobilize the promoters” and “recover the detractors.

He also explains why context is key in any form of survey done with the customers.

Though, I agree with all of his suggestions, I still think that this is a reactive way to engage with your customers and could work for simple transactional situations. For example, this process works really well if you are selling books on the web (like or selling a consumer durable products.

In situations which are more complex, like for example, selling enterprise software to large corporates, the execution of the process breaks down. There are many reasons to this, most important being

  • Long sales cycles involving multiple engagements between the buyer and seller organizations involving many different people. In this situation, everyone has a different view of the elephant, so to say, and hence, no one able to provide the right context, in which case, the entire premise of the net promoter score and the contextual feedback is lost.

So, how does one get this contextual information in this situation?

In my opinion, we should then change the question a bit, in order to gain the insight:

  • Instead of asking if “Would you recommend the product/service to your friend”, we could ask “Would you recommend this engagement to your peers in the industry?” and then add the contextual question – why?

What this does is the following:

  • Collect the feedback relevant to the most recent engagement with the buyer and provide the contect to it (good or bad)
  • This infomation is clearly insightful and actionable for the team that did the engagement with the buyer and provides them an opportunity to improve their engagement model.
  • This also helps the seller to identify and fix any process or engagement that is broken so that he can continuously improve their sales process.

This can then prove to be the foundation on which the 360 degree customer engagement model can then be built.

PS: He also provided some interesting ideas for Facebook to work on (creating a dislike, sympathise, want or a Jealous (ok, this was my addition to the list) buttons apart from the Like button that they already have.

You can follow me on twitter: @rmukeshgupta



Interesting point of view about the relevance of the business books written by stellar performers or the Gurus, on the TIME Ideas blog..


The success story is a staple of business books and magazines: the faces of top investors and executives smile at us from the covers, and inside their words invite us to emulate their actions. But research suggests we should be cautious in modeling ourselves after extraordinary performers or adopting their much-praised methods; these paragons may offer less wisdom than they promise. Greater value can be found, studies show, in less sexy but more substantial theories, and in the practices of those who are second best in the field.

In an article published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Jerker Denrell of the University of Oxford and Chengwei Liu of the University of Warwick reported on experiments that modeled the results of a game played in many rounds. Over time, the most skilled players came to inhabit a second tier of reliable competence. Those who…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Education Unleashed: Now It’s All Up To You

Education Unleashed: Now It’s All Up To You.

Very interesting and informative piece, put together by John Mayerhofer, Vice President, Innovation, SAP.

Notes section has a lot of information on all the resources currently available for anyone who wants to learn (anything).

I have taken a course on Coursera and can talk by experience that this is a great tool for continuous education for anyone with an internet connection and a will to learn.

In my opinion, education as a sector is ripe for complete disruption and online education offerings will play a big part in this disruption.

The current education system is fundamentally flawed in todays context. Schools & colleges that are able to use the online resources as a tool to enable a sense of discovery, instill some amount of intrigue in the process will be the one’s that will succeed in the new reality.

It will be very interesting to watch this space closely.

Great use of Social Media

July 23, 2012 3 comments

Japanese car maker Nissan wanted to showcase the benefits of electric cars and promote its award winning electric car – Nissan Leaf, in the UK. Their approach was fresh, engaging & effective.

Nissan used Twitter to engage with its target audience. Nissan enlisted a series of Leaf cars as taxis and offered a free ride to anyone who tweeted their destination on twitter along with the hashtag #6XCHEAPER. Authors & content marketers have been using the ‘pay-by-tweet’ option for sometime now with moderate success. The combination of online engagement with offline engagement proved to be a clincher for its customers.

The emphasis of the entire campaign was to promote electric cars as an effective, cheaper, greener alternative for travel needs within the city. This also provided Nissan an opportunity to test if LEAF can be effectively used as a fleet taxi (thereby opening new markets for the vehicle).

In my opinion, the entire campaign was successful due to the following elements in the campaign:

  1. Clear objectives for the campaign: The clarity of intent was very evident from the design of the campaign. As with any good marketing campaign, this campaign had all the classic elements like (brand visibility & PR opportunity, clearly defined target audience (Young twitter users), clear purpose (showcase the benefits of using electric cars – cheaper and greener).
  2. Focus on total customer experience:  The focus was clearly on the total customer experience (right from the tweet with a hashtag), the smooth ride to their destination – free of cost.
  3. Give your prospects something to talk about: The entire campaign provided the prospects an experience that they would like to share with their family and friends, thereby creating a word-of-mouth buzz.

Most interesting aspect of the campaign was the mix of online and offline engagement with the target audience, which is where most brands fail and Nissan has succeeded.

Below is the video talking about the campaign:


Now, question is what more could have Nissan done or do to make this campaign even more effective? What do you think? Do let me know by leaving your suggestion as a comment here..

Leadership crisis

While reading the newspaper today, I realised that we are living in a world with a leadership crisis.

Whether it is lack of strong political leadership or strong leadership in the corporate world.

Is this because the current set of leaders never wanted to step down or nurture the next set of leaders?

Or is this because we are living in a time of rapid change and the current crop of leaders don’t understand the dynamics of the change and are at a loss on how to navigate the change?

Or is it because we, the common men know way too much to realise the failure of the current leaders?

Whatever may the cause be, it is time for a new set of leaders to come forward and take charge!

The question is will you lead this charge?

Why Dan Pink’s radical prescription for sales could be misleading

In his blog on HBR, best selling author Dan Pink argues that paying commissions to sales people has  a counter-intuitive effect of undermining enterprise profitability.

You can read his post @

I would agree with him on most of his arguments. However, as with most theories, this theory has its limitations as well.

In my opinion, sales commissions work if the following conditions are true:

  1. The sales process is simple and involves only the sales person with no dependencies on any other colleague.
  2. There is no upper limit on the commissions that he/she can receive.
  3. Earnings via commissions (as a percentage of total earning) is substantially (> 60% ) more than the base pay.
  4. The sales manager’s pay is not commissions’ based.

Also, viewing this in isolation can lead us to wrong conclusions. There are many more conditions that govern the performance of any sales team. Some of the critical one’s are

  1. How does the organization set & measures goals for the sales teams?
  2. How long term is the organizations vision (does the sales team live month-month, quarter-quarter, year-on-year, etc). The shorter the vision, lower will be the profitability.
  3. Does the system penalize high performers for the low performance of others by expecting them to bring in more sales so that his manager can achieve his quota?
  4. Do you cap the maximum commissions that can be earned?
  5. How complex is the sales process for the products that is being sold?
  6. What is being measured & compensated via commissions (is it only the revenue or do you also measure things like % of revenue from existing customers, net new customers added, % of customer lost to competition)?
  7. Discipline of the senior management to exhibit predictable in their decision making (irrespective of the situation). For example, their discipline in approving discounts. IF they do not approve more than X% of discount during the start of the year/month/quarter, do they approve a higher discount at the end of the month/quarter/year just so that they are able to achieve their sales targets?

Answer to each of these questions can provide you a good view about the health of the sales team and if sales commissions structure that they have in place is really working for them or hurting their profitability.

Categories: Customer Engagement

Step by step guide for success with social media

July 18, 2012 5 comments

In the past week, I have now met three people who head marketing functions for their organizations and all three have complained about how their foray into social media has received such a lukewarm response. They all indicated that they are not sure if this is something they should continue to support or just let it die their natural death.

They were not the only one’s who were finding it difficult to sustain the initial rush of getting on to social media. So, clearly there is a need for a detailed framework or a step-by-step guide which organizations can use to plan their approach better.

I think the following suggestions will help organizations to help get their social media strategy in place:

  1. Listen: One of the first step that any organization should do before they get on the bandwagon is to start listening.
    1. Is there someone talking about you, your brand or your organization.
    2. Where are these people talking about you?
    3. What are they talking about?

It is so simple to set-up google alerts, create yahoo pipes, save twitter searches, etc for your organization, brand or product.  Identify influencers, key customers, media or your competitors who are already on the various social media channels. Listen to what they are talking about.

  1. Define your objective: What do you want to achieve by presence on this channel? Do you want to
    1. Use this channel to build your brand or improve brand recognition
    2. Use this to build a community for your customers
    3. Create and run marketing campaigns to generate leads
    4. Use this channel to provide a better customer service, etc

This clarity of purpose will allow you to create activities and engage your audience better.

  1. Identify your target audience: Define your target audience. This will flow from your objectives. For example:
    1. If you want to use the channel to build a community for your customers or provide improved customer service, you will need to engage your existing customers.
    2. If you want to run marketing campaigns, you need to engage your prospects.
  1. Determine the channel: Find out where your target audience is already present. Is that Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Yahoo groups, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. This would be the channel that will work the best for you to serve your objectives.
  2. Re-design your business processes: Review the different business processes in your organization and identify those which will be affected because of the introduction of this channel of communication. Re-design these business processes to incorporate the new channel. For example,
    1. If your customers use twitter to seek support, question if you really need a call center for the same job! If yes, what will the workflow be?  Social media is a like an accelerator. People on social media expect and get almost real-time response.
    2. If you want to use Facebook to enable your customers to form a community, explore if you can add a field in your customer’s order form to seek their Facebook ID or any other social media identity and seek permission to connect.
    3. Define the clear path for escalations.
  3. Seek buy-in from the top management. Any social media strategy can’t succeed if it is IT or marketing driven. This has to be an enterprise-wide initiative with buy-in from top management. This is also critical, so that you are able to respond to any situation with speed. Social media acts like an amplifier/accelerator as it spreads information far and wide and does so quickly. In case there is a situation, it is critical to have an official stand or response as quickly as possible. So, define a clear process for escalations so that they can be addressed with speed.
  1. Activities plan: Brainstorm and list down about 50-60 different activities that you plan to do on the chosen channel. Create an activity calendar. Involve your entire organization in this exercise so that everyone is aware, prepared and contributes!
  1. Be interesting, human & remarkable: And in that order. Start slow! Engage! Help! Provide value! Connect people! Remember, on social media, you are not just competing with your competitors, but are also with the best brands in the world and the friends of your audience for their attention. You will not get it if you don’t stand out from the crowd!
  1. Have patience: This is a very critical aspect that most organizations  do not estimate. It takes time for you to engage and build a network. It takes a lot of effort, but the time and effort is worth every bit once you start seeing participation and engagement.

Finally, remember and understand that you can’t control what’s said or interpreted by your audience. So stop trying to do so! Instead, allow your audience to take control and do what they want to do. It is always about them and not about us on social media.

Success on social media usually leads to an increased rate of success in your business.

So, it’s important to get it right!

These are my thoughts on building a social media strategy. What do you think of this topic.

Is there something that you would do differently?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!