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We continue the sometimes joyful and sometimes painful path to try to be better human beings - this is only possible because we can rise above logic, that we find the wonder and hope, the language and words to inspire us and keep us going. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Relationships reinforced by Social Computing

Great presentation on social computing by Charlene Li -

A quick overview

A. What is social computing?

Social computing = technology puts power in individuals and communities, not institutions

It's the social aspects that are important for businesses to understand and take advantage of

Blogs are reverse chronological journals that are very easy to use
GM's vice chairman Bob Lutz has a blog - gives a human face to GM. People are writing back to him. GM is developing relationships with people before they even buy a GM car

What are the things people are passionate about? You'll find social networking there:

Blogs: e.g. www.dogster.com
Advertisers are there: Nintendo is advertising a new dog game there

RSS = Really Simple Syndication e.g. Burpee.com for gardeners

Podcasts: www.Whirlpool.com
Supporting families, talking about topics families are interested in

Viral Marketing: e.g. Microsoft targeted gamers in stealth campaign "IloveBees.com"
Halo 2 as a result of campaign got 1.2 million pre-orders

Social computing adoption is small but growing, here are the increases in percentage of people who use these social computing media at least once a week or more, between 2004 and 2005:

Use blogs at least once a week or more
5 to 11% of households

Use a social networking site once a week or more
4 to 6%

Use RSS once a week or more
2 to 6 %

B. Successful social computing requires ceding control to build the relationship

Charlene Li's 5 rules for successful social computing

1. Engage in conversation
e.g. Microsoft's Channel 9 - videos of engineers talking about product, community discussion boards, individual profiles
e.g. Maytag's Skybox - blogs provided product support for customers

2. Enjoy the conversation
customers can tell if you are not being truthful or if you are faking it
Bob Lutz of GM"Often I find your comments insightful and compelling. At times your criticism is harsh, but..."

3. Let customers tell you what they need
e.g. iTunes gives users great control over their RSS to customized to their needs

4. Put experience in the hands of the user
e.g. Austin City Limits Festival
Let readers be the reporters and blog their reviews and their passion for the music
e.g. www.SubservientChicken.com - let people tell the chicken do any one of 400 things
its an ad!

5. Admit when you've made a mistake
- Deepens the relationship to increase the level of trust

C. Charlene Li's recommendations on how to get started:
- at a minimum start to listen e.g. Unilever turned Dan Entin into a Brand Advocate when they noticed him complaining about the difficulty of finding a store that stocked one of their products

- Start small e.g. recruitment, press release RSSS feeds, earnings call podcast

- Promote social products: Allowing customers to customize your brand deepens their engagement with your brand

- Measure engagement e.g. try examples and measure results - how many come? how long do they stay? (like Forrester is doing with these videos of their analysts: Charlene and others)

Risks of ceding control are actually less than not ceding control, do proceed, but take some precautions for example: Confidentiality can be an issue, if so, have someone else check it first before publishing

Social computing resources

Measurement: Biz350 Cymfony, Intelliseek
Blogs: Six Apart, WordPress, Roller


1. Successful social computing: marketers to cede control to consumers
2. Technologies come and go, relationships will always be there
3. Tap into the power of consumers: Let them drive your brand and products

Social computing is a way to develop brand advocates

Great talk by Charlene, if you have 20-30 minutes, give it a whirl. She's a fun and engaging speaker. Look for her reference to "man cave" - its hilarious.

Thought from Mei Lin - I found out about this because I have a Google Alert on Charlene Li, so that's yet another social computing tool that's out there that customers are using to gain more control over the information want to find.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Apply the People Prescription to Call Centers

Jan. 22, 2007 published at www.CustomerThink.com (see above link) Reprinted by permission.

Apply the "People Prescription" to Call Centers

By Mei Lin Fung, The Customer Innovation Excellence Institute

My friend Cindy made 85 calls to the same number. She refused to give up in her quest to speak with someone able to use human judgment. And hers isn't the only modern call center war story. Just one of the worst.

If you dare to talk about call centers at any gathering of adults in the United States, you will get an earful. Odysseus took 20 years to get home after the Trojan War. Today's call center stories seem to be about 20 years in sales and service hell.

A sick joke is circulating—one I heard among presenters and practitioners at the International Call Center Management conference in 2006. It goes like this:

So we train and motivate the heck out of our agents to meet their key performance indicators (KPIs) so that our team leads and supervisors can meet their KPIs, so our call center director meets her MBO bonus target, so her VP meets his executive bonus target ... and so on up to the CEO, who gets to collect as many bonuses as he can before he ... goes to jail.

What are people saying about your call center?

Consider the health industry, whose story is highlighted by Daniel Goleman in his book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships (Bantam, September 2006). In it, he coins the term, the "people prescription." Goleman points out the forces of change that will cause healthcare professionals and organizations to pay closer attention to relationships.

Malpractice suits, for example, are based more on the people. Goleman cites the Journal of the American Medical Association, which in 1997 found that it was poor communication with patients—not the events, themselves—that predicted whether a physician would be sued for malpractice. JAMA found that doctors who communicated well, did some simple things: They told patients what to expect; reassured them; shared laughs with them; checked if they understood what they needed to do; and asked for their opinions, encouraging them to talk.

It was poor communication with patients—not the events, themselves—that predicted whether a physician would be sued for malpractice.

Yet, malpractice insurance premiums generally don't reflect whether a doctor is a good communicator or not. Based on the JAMA study, good communicators should pay significantly lower premiums, just as good drivers and more experienced drivers pay lower car insurance premiums.

Perfect WordPerfect
My CIE Institute colleague, Casey McNeal, Ph.D., started in technical support with WordPerfect, the well-beloved word processing software application now owned by Corel. Every single WordPerfect user I've met is a raving fan.

In its heyday, WordPerfect didn't even need to pay for advertising, according to McNeal; employees just talked with their customers and heard their problems and solved them there and then—or told the product managers what the customers wanted. The company's monthly phone bill was $26 million. In McNeal's group at WordPerfect, they kept track of performance by organizing teams of no more than 14 people each. Everyone knew each other's expertise. They cared about their customers and their team mates. Customers loved it.

McNeal and I recently met a former WordPerfect customer who told us, "WordPerfect customer service knew me when I called by the sound of my voice." She spent an hour telling me wonderful, joyful, exhilarating WordPerfect stories, stories of how WordPerfect made her a champion in her company, allowing her to innovate and experiment. She talked about how, when her corporation moved to Microsoft Word, she bought a copy of WordPerfect for her home computer. I reckon that's the platinum standard for customer loyalty.

Think about your customers: Would they continue to buy the product to use at work, using their own money? Could your service or product be valuable and useful to that degree to your individual customers? To the companies they work for?

Goleman says there is a scientific case to be made for "rapport building." In an earlier book, Working With Emotional Intelligence (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, September 1998), he introduced Emotional Intelligence (EQ), a factor he said was equally important as, if not more important than, intelligence quotient as a factor in one's personal happiness and success.

Goleman cites a study that found that nurses who most strongly wanted to leave their jobs had more work that upset them, had lost their sense of mission and caught and spread negativity in their interactions with co-workers and patients. Nurses who escaped this contagion did simple things, including speaking warmly and showing affection; building nourishing relationships with patients; improving their moods; benefiting themselves emotionally; enjoying better health; and having a sense of a meaningful mission. And they were less likely to leave their jobs. Would you rather be a patient at a hospital that created a intrinsic motivation and supportive environment for the health care providers or one that doesn't even recognize the problem?

Kevin Schwartz went to Massachusetts General for lung surgery. A harried nurse took the time to get to know him and went out of her way to reassure him that someone in that cold sterile hospital cared about him, an act of kindness that, he said, "made the unbearable, bearable." As a result, when he died, his will directed a bequest to the hospital, which established an annual Compassionate Caregiver Award to honor medical staff members who show extraordinary kindness in caring for patients.

Today's call centers suffer from customer churn and employee churn. Counting the number of calls and average call time just because they are easy to count is wrong. It costs in lost customers, lost employees and the loss of your company's hard-won reputation. Is your call center guilty of robotic misapplication of industry benchmarks and metrics that might not apply to your unique customers? What might be inadvertently happening call by call everyday in your call center that erodes the hard-won trust of your customers?

Apply the "people prescription" and provide meaning and mission to employees. It's about time we truly earned customer trust. Demand technology that furthers this goal. Your customers will be delighted, and they'll tell their friends and colleagues. Isn't that what business and ROI is all about?

Blog footnote: Read Daniel Goleman's book Social Intelligence - its a must read for all interested in Social Networking http://www.amazon.com/Social-Intelligence-Science-Human-Relationships/dp/0553803522/sr=8-1/qid=1169801278/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-9933075-4666238?ie=UTF8&s=books

How to calculate the ROI of Blogging, and skypecast on social networking Jan 26

Forrester has published a report providing an approach to calculating the Return on investment on blogging. At his Micro Persusasion blog, Steve Rubel has given us a neat summary complete with table. The simple description of this approach is:

Take the cost of other means of creating the buzz, the pr awareness or the marketing outcome and use that cost as the number to assign as the "value of the blogging".

The ROI or return on investment is: Value of the blogging divided by the actual cost of having the blog

It's a start.

Lots more thinking to come about how to evaluate new media and social networking.

For my money, lifecycle valuation is the most complete approach to ROI. Any point ROI calculation ends up being a justification for an intuition someone has about what is the right thing to do. In the end, its the series of interactions over the lifecycle of the relationship that really make the relationship valuable. Activity Based Costing and Revenue forecasting is critical for getting this stuff right.

Upcoming event Jan 26 2 pm ET
that you might find interesting on social networking and community

Shared Insights starting a Skypecast series focused on leading companies leveraging community and social networks to improve their business. The inaugural Skypecast will be this Friday, January 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT:

Sylvia Marino, the executive director for CarSpace at Edmunds who oversees all aspects of design, features, business operations and strategy for CarSpace, the online automotive social network for car and truck enthusiasts. She is responsible for all consumer-generated content and interaction on three web sites that make up the Edmunds Automotive Network: Edmunds.com, Inside Line and CarSpace.

Join by going to: https://skypecasts.skype.com/skypecasts/skypecast/detailed.html?id_talk=294081 at 2pm ET/11am PT and clicking on “join this Skypecast.”

Must have a Skype account to join the conference!

The Skypecast will be recorded and posted on this site.

Visit the "News/Press" section of the Community 2.0 Conference site http://community2con.com regularly for a schedule of upcoming Skypecasts leading up to the event.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The History of Civilization in Seven Words

More People Pooling Resources In New Ways

These are the 7 words summing up the history of civilization. I was reminded of this remark quoted in Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold, when I read Gerry McGovern's latest newsletter "The Web is the Organization" - this is a spin on the Sun MicroSystem tagline "The Network is the Computer". I don't know that I agree with Gerry McG's title, but he is reflecting the history of civilization summarized in these seven words, when he says: (I've created a collage from the words in his article)

"The Web has become the organization.

...a billion people with a billion things to say....a million ways to work together.

The ability to organize is .....the basis of civilization....

The Web allows for new forms of organization....

(having) a profound impact on how we live, work and play ...

Today, your office can be at Starbucks....

....work with your team using Skype....

....delivered to the highest standards without any fulltime employees;

This is a new way of working. This is different.


We don't need to be told what is cool.....

We decide. ....

We vote by visiting one website more than another,

by watching one video more than another,

by rating one book or song higher than another.

And we like it that way, and we trust each other.

According to the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer:

• Trust in the Web as a source of information is growing, while
trust in TV is declining.

• Employees are more trusted as spokespersons for an
organization than CEOs.

• "A person like me" is more trusted than doctors, academics and
other such experts.

In the U.S., trust in "a person like me" has shown a dramatic increase from just 20 percent in 2003 to 68 percent in 2006. "

End of extended quote from Gerry McGovern's newsletter
Content management solutions: Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

Earlier this week, I wrote about the announcement by Apple Inc. of their iPhone - it continues to be a great example of the trust in "a person like me" as individuals comment and blog by the thousand on the web about the upcoming product

Thursday, January 11, 2007

CRM 2.0 is going to be the most profitable concept for pioneering companies, like, for example Apple Inc.

You know that idea of getting customers help to design your product....

Apple Inc. is going to be the guinea pig and already it looks like its an amazingly brilliant and profitable idea.

Well with the "iPhone" annnounced by Steve Jobs this week, over the next 6 months, you are going to watch the first customer-designed product that is created by millions of people, 1000's of experts, 100's of pundits and dozens and dozens of journalists from around the world in specialized fields. And Apple will get all of this market research, feedback, good, bad, well thought out, ill thought out, whatever...... FOR FREE, before they have invested in manufacturing set up, committed to final features, etc etc. Imagine the free PR, marketing, intensity of anticipation, the backlog of excitement..... PRICELESS!

Just take a look at this blog about the iPhone....

The Apple iPhone debate by ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes -- The blogosphere's went wild with opinion, comments and fears about Apple's iPhone, but a lot of it was ill thought-out. In this post I aim to take a more objective look at the iPhone.

And just in case it isn't enough, look at Steve Job's strategic use of controversy:

Hey, have you heard? Cisco's decided to sue Apple over the use of the name iPhone

The settlement is going to be less than what they'd have had to spend to get equivalent advertising....at this rate, they are going to get the noun iPhone right smack into a listing in both Websters and the Oxford English Dictionary before the end of the 2008

And they both win:
The Cisco and Apple names keep front and center in the press for as long as the controversy keeps going.

Have you thought about how you and your organization are going to develop your CRM 2.0 skills?

It's a whole new world out there!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thought for the day

Life is an upstream, not an uphill, battle, and it results in just one story:

How and alongside whom, one used his (her) paddle

Walter Kirn

After all the Trendwatching, this piece of prose that seemed particularly apropos.

From Walter Kirn's review of Prime Green, the diaries of Robert Stone. in the New York Times Book Review Sunday January 7 2007

Customer Connection Trends to watch for 2007 - all by courtesy of Trendwatchers.com

Back to business - what a different world is being born. I've "cut and pasted" and summarized a great report from Trendwatching.com - they have their finger on the pulse in the birthing room. Here's the highlights and links to examples.


Attractive to consumers driven by experiences instead of the fixed, by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions.


For these creatives, status comes from finding an appreciative audience…. it's becoming increasingly important to hone one's creative skills. Status symbols, make way for STATUS SKILLS? E.g.: Nespresso’s AAA Campus.


From networking sites to buddy lists to meetup.org to a boom in members-only clubs, social status 2.0 is all about who you connect to and who wants to connect to you, tribal-style. CONNECTING LIFESTYLES is a subset of

ONLINE LIFESTYLES, which encompasses everything from status gained from the number of views for one’s photos on Flickr, the real estate one owns in Second Life, to the good looks (and outfit) of one’s avatar. E.g. Trendwatcher's YOUNIVERSAL BRANDING briefing.


Status from leading an eco-responsible lifestyle is both more readily available, and increasing in value. A substantial subset of consumers is already bestowing recognition and praise on Prius drivers while scorning SUV owners. See top 10 eco & sustainability ideas).

TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY 1+ billion consumers are now online, and the majority of them have been online for years. They're skilled bargain seekers and ‘best of the best’ hunters, they're avid online networkers and they're opinionated reviewers and advisors (tripadvisor.com now boasts 5,000,000+ travel reviews).

As camera and video phones are becoming both ubiquitous and more powerful, reviews of anything and everything will go multimedia. EVERYTHING brands do or don’t do will end up on youtube.com, or a clone to be born which could be dedicated to product reviews.

, Consumer reviews will increasingly become real time and on the spot, i.e. expect ever shorter gaps between a consumer experience (good or bad) and the rest of the world knowing about it. Oh, and those web-enabled phones will also come in handy for in-store price comparisons; check amazon.co.jp a bit of inspiration.

Real-time TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY daily and hourly reviews on any topic imaginable.

PROFILE MANIA the missing link in the above is profiles: Expect a host of new TWINSUMER ventures to monetize collaborative filtering and profile matching in 2007, most likely by partnering with sites that are already centered around profiles, like MySpace and Bebo.com. Collaborative filtering and profile matching ranges from social shopping (check out Crowdstorm, ThisNext and Stylehive on Springwise) to the Last.fms and Yoonos of this world. Expect more niche price comparison sites like Red Roller, which compares shipping prices for small businesses.

Web N+1 Educate yourself about as many WEB N+1s as you can. Quick tip: start by (re)reading everything by Kevin Kelly, who has been correct in predicting the Next Big Online Thing over and over again. When it comes to the shift from offline to online, the predications are out there, we haven’t seen anything yet, and you have no excuse not to know about it. * Web N+1 was cleverly coined by Steven Pemberton.

TRYSUMERS: “Freed from the shackles of convention and scarcity, immune to most advertising, and enjoying full access to information, reviews, and navigation, experienced consumers are trying out new appliances, new services, new flavors, new authors, new destinations, new artists, new relationships, new *anything* with post mass-market gusto.”

Trying out and sampling is the new advertising. An entire TRYVERTISING infrastructure, from 30 second samples on iTunes to firms specializing in relevant product placement is now in place, enabling consumers to try before they buy. “introducing yourself and your products by letting people experience and try them out first, is a very civilized and effective way to show some respect.’’ Amen. And Trendwatchers walks the talk, you can sign up for regular Trend briefings yourself for free at their site. www.trendwatching.com/trends/2007top5.htm

Global C2C infrastructure is now in place, from eBay to classifieds, enabling (or even encouraging) TRYSUMERS to quickly dispose of what's no longer needed. From Daniel Nissanoff, author of FutureShop: "An interesting phenomenon that somebody shared with me was that, as eBay began to grow, people began to buy musical instruments, especially guitars, much more frequently, because they weren't as worried about taking up the wrong instrument or buying the wrong instrument and getting stuck with it. The auction culture is beginning to empower the consumer to reach because they can afford better items since they're not paying the whole ticket for them. They know there's going to be residual value at the end of the day and they're willing to take more chances because they know there's an exit if they made a mistake." (Source: Daniel Nissanoff interviewed by Tom Peters.)

THE GLOBAL BRAIN: all of the world’s intelligence and experience, fully networked, incorporating not only the usual suspects like gurus, professors and scientists, but the experiences and skills of hundreds of millions of smart consumers as well. With the 'shortage of talent' that every brand on every continent seems to fear in 2007, expect many corporations, small and big, to aggressively court the 1% of most creative and experienced individuals roaming the globe.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Which Superhero are you?

Happy New Year everyone!

Here's a fun thing to find out which superhero you would be if you were a superhero.

As you can see, I found out that Wonder Woman is where my choices lead me.

Pretty neat.

Have fun in 2007

Mei Lin

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Oh, there's more serious stuff.........

We're working on a new definition of Customer Relationship Management at the behest of Paul Greenberg who tells you all about it in his blog and how to get involved in PBWiki - or the Peanut Butter Sandwich Wiki