Clear Thinking

Tactical Transparency
With Tactical Transparency, Shel Holtz and John C. Havens have written the best book on how social media is affecting business since 2008's Groundswell.  It's pragmatic, it covers the "do's" and "don'ts" of communication realities today, and is full of relevant case studies.

There were a number of things about the book that really stood out.  The style was down-to-earth — having had many conversations with both Shel and John over the past few years (both online and in-person), I can say they both managed to convey both the warmth and competence they have in the "real world" onto the page almost seamlessly.  A number of the chapters concluded with a  "What To Do Next" section that put forth tangible, tactical steps that an organization can take to begin to move from a "traditional" business culture to one that is far more transparent.  And the entirety of Chapter 17 is dedicated to helping organizations create a road map for change.

While most of the thinking that has been done on this blog has been how transparency and related concepts affect the customer-vendor interaction, one "a-ha!" moment came for me in the chapter on internal transparency ("Exposing the Company to the Employees Who Make It Work").  Example:

"Now, imagine that instead of writing a memo, the project leader – and even the members of her team – maintain a project blog.  Posts to the blog can include the following information:

  • Achievement of milestones
  • Notification of setbacks
  • Requests for information to help overcome an obstacle or reach a new milestone
  • Reports of problems encountered
  • Ideas introduced to enhance or alter the nature of the project"

I like.

This resonated well with a briefing that I received last week from Mark Woolen over at Oracle, which just released a raft of new updates to their Customer Relationship Management offerings.  (Paul Greenberg talks in some more depth about those here.)

I still think Oracle needs to be extending "Social CRM" to actually, you know, include the customer more concretely, and not just the sales rep.  That said, their new tools, especially things like Sales Library and, even more soundly, Deal Management, are tools that can be used that sync up with the vision that Shel and John put forth in their book in the internal transparency realm.  Deal Management, in particular is a really interesting step on the transparency path, showing individuals who are in the field how their peers are structuring similar opportunities to present to customers.  Historically, this is the type of information that was firmly locked away in the CFO's office, and now it's getting pushed to the front lines. 

So, anyway.  Pick up the book.  It's a good read and a great reference guide.

Customer Experience Leads to Loyalty

A new report from Forrester's Bruce Temkin shows the connection between customer experience and loyalty. The key bit, from here:

"Don't let the recession take your focus away from customers.  The strengthened correlation between customer experience and loyalty during the past year highlights the importance of customer experience, especially during this recession. Since new customers are harder to come by in an economic downturn, firms need to pay even more attention to building loyalty with their most important customers.

Firms will need to adopt three principles: 1) obsess about customer needs, not product features; 2) reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications; and 3) treat customer experience as a competence, not a function." (emphasis added)

The first 'graf above is EXACTLY right.  Right now, there are a host of companies looking to hunker down and hide their heads until the recession is over.  Many are doing that by cutting 10% (or more) of their workforce.  (And there are many, too, that are ceasing operations completely.)

While everyone else is hiding in their bunkers, doesn't it just make logical sense to try to provide the best customer experience you can, and pull away from the herd?

Hashtag…You’re It

"Hashtags" are a simple way to make things you are writing (or photographing, or video-ing) more findable on the web.  There's no science to hashtags, they are simply keywords that one adds to a blog post or Twitter tweet (or photo, etc.) to make it more findable later.

Here is a quick primer on hashtags from Amy Gahran.  (And the patron of all all this organic tagging stuff, which is often called a "folksonomy," is Thomas Vander Wal, who you should be following if you're not.)


(click on the image to enlarge)

What was so interesting is that nine of the top ten searches currently trending on are for hashtags, instead of "natural" words.  In fact, the only "natural" search right now is for "iPhone."

So What?

No big rocket science here, but an interesting bit for sure.  Individuals are starting to organically "tag" the things they are creating on the web so that others can find it.  And, apparently, people are starting to search on these tags in greater numbers, at least according to the trend that we're seeing right now.

If you are representing an organization…are you tagging things so that your customers can find them?

If you are running a conference…do you have an "agreed upon" hashtag that all who are chronicling it are using, so that those in the room (and on the web) can find all of the great things that are being created there?

If you are an individual…are you tagging your support issues with vendors that you are publicly documenting (you are doing that, right?) with tags so that vendors can find YOU, instead of you going to them?

This One Goes To 11

Guitar Store
Originally uploaded by hey mr glen.

Absolutely brilliant. From the Flickr page where this was found:

“So, this picture has made it to the front page of Digg and Reddit so I thought I would add a little bit of extra information. The store is called The Guitar Store and it is on Commercial Road opposite Southampton Central railway station, Southampton, England.”

The take-away from this: being interesting — and therefore buzz-worthy — doesn’t need to be expensive.

Take a chance.

Act on the impulse.

Offtopic: Tour of California Bike Race Videos

Very cool morning.  The Tour of California professional bike race came screaming through Half Moon Bay this morning in the rain.  Grabbed a couple of quick vids.

There were two packs of riders.  The first was a group of about ten riders in the "break away" group, and then the rest was the "peloton" who came through a couple a minutes later.  (Lance Armstrong was in the peloton.)  This was before they went down through the rest of Half Moon Bay and then up the hill to Skyline, before coming back to Highway 1 for the sprint to the finish in Santa Cruz.  Three vids in this playlist: the set up just before the riders came through, the leaders, and the peloton.

(RSS readers click here to see the vids.)

There's some good tracking of the race going on at the live feed site.

Trader Joe’s Customer-Created Ad

Some great commentary from David Armano on the customer-filmed, customer-edited, customer-scored "Trader Joe's Ad."  David's thoughts are here.

The key takeaway:

"The video is mostly complimentary but shows Trader Joe's warts and all.
Once input has been gathered from across the Web, put together a report
with some qualitative findings that can be discussed internally within
the organization. Remember, a brand isn't what you say it is—it's what
they say it is
" (emphasis added)