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Something that Facebook, Twitter and Google have all missed

Of late, I have realized that I the time I spend on G+ or FaceBook or Twitter’s site has gone down drastically. However, my activity on these networks has substantially increased.

I have done this by using FlipBoard where I am able to not only stream all my social network in one place but am also able to cross share across the different mediums seamlessly.

Though, twitter and Google+ allow you to share content via email apart from sharing within their platforms, that is not enough.

As a user, I want to be able to share my content seamlessly across platform. I spoke to a few of my other friends who are active on the social media have also indicated similar need.

By not enabling cross-platform sharing capabilities, the platforms are only inhibiting the time that people like me on their sites.

In this way, Youtube has done really well by enabling cross-platform sharing across the different platforms. I guess, this is also one reason why the average time spent on YouTube is on the increase and that on FaceBook, Twitter or G+ on the decline..

Hope that they realize this strong need and enable this soon. Till then the aggregators like FlipBoard will rule ;-
)

Is there any thing else that these social media behemoths have missed ? Do share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting me  @rmukeshgupta.

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What can Sales Teams Learn from Performing Arts?

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Selling has a lot in common with performing arts than visible at first glance.

One of the most important goal of a performing artist is to take their audience on a journey with them, the more immersive the experience, the more successful is the performance.

The same is with selling. The goal of a sales executive should also be to take the customer on a journey with them. The more immersive this experience, the more successful will be the sales executive.

Some lessons that sales executives can learn from performing artists who are very successful are:

  • Weave a story: There is always a story that flows through any performance. The more interesting the story, the more interesting the story-telling, the more likely that you have a hit performance. So it is with selling. Every sales executive should lead his interaction with his customer with a story and hone is story telling skills.
  • Create and manage emotions: The artists know exactly what they want their audience to feel at any given point of the performance. Emotions are a very integral part of every successful performance. No performance is deemed successful until the audience did not feel about the performance. Selling is not just about logic, value and RoI. It is also about managing the emotions of the buyers. More often than not, it is the emotions that decide the final outcome irrespective of the logic, value or RoI. So, do not ignore this important facet of selling. More important than empathizing with the customer is to take him/her on an emotional journey knowing fully well, what you want them to feel at every stage. 
  • Continuous Experiment & learning: The artists continually experiment with their approach to learn what works best for them and then try to keep improving. So should sales executives. What works with a customer might not work with a different customer. It is always good for the sales executive to know his and his organizations strength and to continue to explore different approaches within these areas to have a repertoire that he can dig into in any given customer scenario.
  • Hidden planning & activity: There is a lot of planning and behind the scenes activity (frenetic) that goes on to enable the performance that is hidden from the audience. All the audience sees is what it needs to see and feel what they need to feel. So should the sales executive manage the performance. He needs to manage the entire show without the customer needing to know about the frenetic activity behind the scene. He/She does not need to know the kind of madness (controlled or otherwise) going on within your organizations.
  • Practice, Rehearse & more practice: It takes enormous amount of practice, rehearsals and fine-tuning to bring to life a good performance. So it should be with sales executives. The sales executives should also put in a lot of practice, rehearsals and fine-tuning before they go in front of their customers. They should also keep fine-tuning their pitch as they get feedback from their interactions with the customers.

These are some lessons that I have taken from being a performing artist & a sales executive myself and they have served me really well so far.

Everything mentioned above for sales executives can also be held true for Customer service executives. They can take similar lessons from the world of performing arts to create a stunning experience for their customers.

What do you think? Do you agree with my observation or do you have a different experience? Do let me know by commenting below or tweeting your thoughts to me at @rmukeshgupta.

Ideas for Big bazaar to improve their check-out situation..

May 31, 2012 3 comments

I am one of the many people who dread the thought of going to Big Bazaar for shopping but do so due to other social compulsions.

The reason I dread going there for shopping is the time it takes to check out once you have completed your shopping. There have been instances when it has taken me more than 60 minutes to check out. There have been times when I’ve dropped the articles I had selected after seing the que at the check-out counter and left for home as I thought it is not worth standing in a que for an hour or even more for the articles that I have picked up.

I also know that this is not just true in my case but also in a number of my friends case as well.

Now, is Big Bazaar (or for that matter any other large format retail store) not aware of this problem? That can’t be the case as they are smart and would know that this is a problem.

So, what is stopping them from solving this problem? Inertia? Maybe they do not realize the magnitude of the problem.

I wanted to think about this from their perspective and to try and find a solution that not only fixes this problem, but does so in a manner to increase the total sale per customer as well.

I could come up with the following ideas:

  1. Implement the teller system used by banks. All customers who have less than 6 articles can get on the que and get their wares billed and leave. All others will get a token for their carts. These customers are then free to roam about in the store or wait at a lounge (where coffee or tea can be served).  Just like the teller at a bank announces the token number and the customer can then go and get attended, the check-out counter announces the cart number and the customer can then join the counter, get his wares billed, make their payments and leave. No long ques and killing time (the most precious commodity of all).
  2. Implement the ATM concept: Introduce billing machines that the customers can use themselves to bill their wares, pay and check-out. These machines have been available for some time now. Though this involves a lot of investment, it also improves customer satisfaction. Also, the next generation of consumers are a generation which will grow up in a DIY (do-it-yourself) world and would rather prefer this than waiting in a que to be served.
  3. Order online, collect at the store: This model is already working at many stores. For example, “Groupe Casino“, a french departmental store has already deployed this model with great success. Their customers can place their orders online, make the payment and collect their goods in 2 hours from the store on their way back.
  4. Flip the billed to the biller: With the proliferation of smart phones and appification of our lives, they can think of developing an app which could recognize the bar-codes and can be used to scan all the items, generate a bill, collect payment from the stored credit card and generate a bar-code which can be verified at the gate to ensure there is no theft.

These are just 3 ideas that I could come up which would not only make it easier for the customers and improve customer satisfaction, but will also increase impulse purchase and last-minute drop-outs at the counter when the consumers have time to think and rationalize their purchases and some of the impulse purchases get dropped just before billing. This will increase the average bill size of the customers.

If given a good thought, we can come up with many more such creative solutions for many such problems.

Makes life easier for people like me!

Question is “Do they want to make our lifes easier?”

How has your experience been with the different departmental stores? Have you come across any interesting solution to solve the problem of the wait time at the check-out? If yes, please share the same with us..

Let’s stop being a jerk

Today, I was flying from Bangalore to Mumbai in a 6Am flight operated by Indigo. There was a delay of 5 mins to start the boarding due to multiple reasons:

  • There were not enough coaches to ferry the passengers to the aircrafts. The airline was boarding 3 flights simultaneously and looks like the capacity was only to board 2 flights.
  • The security guard was late in arriving at the boarding gate.

Though this was something that the airline needed to get right everytime to ensure customer satisfaction, I think a delay of 5 minutes was something we could make up.

I was the first person in the que at the boarding gate and the person behind me was a part of the industry as he know a lot about the time it takes to board a flight, how the airline industry works. He was getting very impatient with the delay and started fussing about the delay. He started to continuously question the attendant about the delay. After a couple of minutes, he started questioning the competence of the attendants.

I shall appreciate the fact that the attendant for she was patient for all the time and did respond back to him respectfully.

Once we were through the boarding gate, we had to wait for a few minutes for the coaches to come to ferry us to the aircraft. The passenger i was referring to, again started fussing about the delay and started to question the competence of the airline staff and even got a bit personal.

Now, the flight took off about 10 mins late and arrived about 5 mins late at the destination.

Though it is important for all organizations to shore up their customer service, processes to ensure customer satisfaction, i think it is also our responsibility as a consumer to stop being a jerk and harassing the employees trying to help us.

As they say,

  • if you have a negative feedback to share, do so individually. Write to the organization or tweet about this, but with dignity and not get personal.
  • if you have a positive feedback, do share it openly with everyone. This will only increasingly reinforce this behavior and you will continue to get great service.

Have you seen similar behavior and what do you think about such behavior?

 

Referral programs

It always feels great when we get some really good service. Also, looks like the restaurant has figured out the most important criteria for a successful referral program:

  • Simplicity (The program should be really simple to explain, understand and share with others.
  • Thank and reward your referring customers (It seems really simple and common-sense to do this, but you will be surprised to know how many businesses fail to thank their customers who refer the business to new friends.
  • Keep up the service levels (Once you start getting new customers, businesses thrive and a lot of them fail to keep up their standards. That is when the downward spiral begins).

Hope airlines learn from this and instead of creating frequent flier programs, start creating referral programs.

likethisbiz

An impressive follow-through after enjoying a great dinner…

Our waiter upon presenting our bill asked if we wanted to take part in their referral program. “Sure” we said. “We love this place”

He registered our name and email on a portable tablet and presented us with three plastic cards that we could hand out to our friends.

“If your friends go online and enter the code on that card” the waiter stated, ” They will receive an email with our introductory offer of a free appetizer with their meal. If they come in and dine with us we will send you our thank you reward of a free dessert with your next meal.”

“Sounds pretty straight forward” I said “We can do that”

When I got home I noticed that I had received an email from the restaurant with an additional “virtual card” that I could email and Tweet to…

View original post 175 more words

How personal is your personalized customer service?

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

 

This is a hilarious video about visa’s personalized customer service.

My experience with the banks with whom I have a card account is eerily similar to the customer’s experience in the video.

1. I am always forced to listen to my balances whether or not I want to know about them.
2. I am always informed that the call maybe recorded for quality purposes. I dont know if it was or if it was not.
3. Even after having entered all the validation, I am again required to validate myself.
4. I am asked to be put on hold almost everytime I call, irrespective of the query.
5. There are times when all I want to do is to talk to a representative and be done with. Instead, I am forced to wait and wade through a lot of options (at times with no clear instructions on how to reach an operator).
6. When I do opt to talk to an operator, the wait time is so loong.

A simple solution to this problem could be to provide the following options:

1. Know your balances
2. Know your transactions
3. Talk to a customer service representative

There is a choice that the banks need to make regarding what is more important to them:

1. Is it satisfied & happy customers or
2. Decrease in the cost of managing the customer engagements.

There could be another alternative for the banks which could be a win-win arrangement for both the bank and their customers.

“Customers can talk to their service representatives once a week for free. In case, they do more than that, the bank can charge a small fee to provide the service”

Before making claims of personalized customer service, organizations should first ensure that their service truly is personalized.

If not, it is better not to claim this as customers do understand the meaning of personalized customer service and can’t be fooled.

Hope the banks and other financial institutions are paying heed to this advice and change the way they connect to their customers.

Have you had any such experience and what would you want to tell these banks about their services?

 

AUDI – Managing customer expectations?

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
I was at the UB city mall a couple of days back and was amazed at the brand new Audi E5 which was displayed at the mall. Right next to the car, there was a big poster asked prospective customers to SMS AUDI to 561611 for more information about the car. In my enthusiasm to know more about the same, I immediately complied and sent an SMS to the number mentioned on the poster.

I was then waiting impatiently for either a SMS response or for someone at the AUDI dealership to call me and explain all the great new features that the E5 had. Alas, it has been more than 2 days now, with no response from the company.

Now after 2 days with no contact from AUDI, my interest in the car has diminished and their reputation for me is also considerably lower.

Hope AUDI knows this and can correct whatever is the trouble at the SMS gateway and do it quickly.
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