Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Selling Premium Support Increasing In Popularity?

Is Selling Premium Customer Service & Support for your company increasing in popularity?
A recent study by The Service & Support Professionals Association reveals that the popularity in customers purchasing added value support has not increased by much.

Over the last five years there has been a slight increase in the percentage of premiere contracts, from 16% in 2003 to 21% today. But the lion’s share (71% vs. 68%) of customers continue to go for the no-frills basic maintenance agreement. In addition, it looks like maintenance contracts with Standard support is decreasing going from 71% in 2003 to 68% in 2008.

Source: Ragsdale Eye On Service

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poll Everywhere - SMS Interactive Polling with Realtime Results

So I stumbled across a great Web 2.0 Tool called PollAnywhere which enables you to ask Live Audience's questions during a conference call or presentation and view the results in realtime. The polling is done with SMS Text Messaging technology giving nearly everyone with a cell phone the ability to vote in realtime. Once the text messages are processed you can immediately display the results in either your Power Point presentation, Your Web Site, or any where Online.

So how can one use this in business aside from a Live Presentation? There are several applications that apply here in which I will review in this post along with attaching some video tutorials that show you how to use the service. Here are my top recommendations for using this in a business environment:
  • Customer Service - Providing a pre recorded message on your IVR before or after a call has been taken so that customers have the opportunity to rate their Service experience with your company. Your Service Executives can then see the results in realtime.
  • Product Management - Give your customers the ability to rate their product experience. Whether your an On Demand Solutions Provider of Software, Mobile Applications, or Hardware, you can get a good understanding on how well your products are being percieved.
  • IT Service Management - Upon the closure of a ticket, give internal end users the opportunity to rate their experience through text messaging and present that information to your CTO.
  • Mobile Social Networks - Soliciting Feedback via Twitter to your Professional or Personal Social Networks.
  • Realtime Presentations - Polling your Project Team or Presentation Audience in Realtime.
  • Project Collaboration - Conducting a Project Team Poll before or After a Conference call to your Road Warrior Sales force teams.
Introduction to PollEveryWhere.Com

How To Embed Results Into PowerPoint

Video: Kevin Rose Says Forget Web 2.0/3.0, Start Something During Web 2.5

Why to start a new startup in a bad

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Providing Service & Support To The Hispanic Demographic

Here is an interesting read with some insight on the value of Customer Service within the Hispanic Demographic. The study contains some interesting data points and perspective on the monetary value of the Hispanic community while also providing an insight to how this particular demographic likes to be serviced.

Download The Centris - Hispanic Experience Study

Are RSS Feeds For Geeks Only? - Forrester Research Reveals Low Usage

Forrester Research published a new report this week on the state of RSS feeds. In summary, it does not look like this technology is ready for the mainstream despite its beneficial uses. The results indicate the following:

  • 78% of U.S Online Adults are not using RSS Feeds, and 11% are using.
  • The 11% that are using is slightly up by 2% over the last 2 years.
  • 81% said they were either disinterested, or neutral about the technology.
RSS Technology pretty much drives all popular blogs and news sites, but it seems that individual online consumers are still regularly visiting multiple sites to consume information from various sources. Perhaps they need to integrate RSS directly into the Operating System like they have attempted to do with Widgets in Vista and Mac OS X. Let's wait and see.

Will Social Media Applications Kill The Traditional Resume & Offline Networking?

With tools and Networks like Linked In, Social Networking sites like FaceBook, one can question on whether updating your resume in your old Microsoft Word template is even necessary these days. To take it a step further, do you need to go Business School to tap in to an elite network of people? In this blog, I will be touching upon whether today's social media applications will replace the concept of a Resume and the Traditional Offline & Personal Business Network.

Linked In as A Recruiting Background Tool

It is estimated that 85% of Employers pre screening job candidates Google their candidates prior to hiring them. At the top of the Google Search results list you will usally find a Linked In profile, and hopefully not a MySpace Profile! :-) If it is the latter, chances are your not getting hired! These days, recruiters can learn much more about a candidate before and after an interview by the visiting a Linked In Profile. By visiting a candidate's Linked In Profile, you can validate employment, experience, and the network of professionals in which the candidate identifies with. So does this mean there is an end to the traditional resume? Perhaps not now, but certainly in the near future. The trend of emailing your resume is trending down, and applying online seems to be the norm. While there maybe a word version of your resume tucked away on your computer, expect employers in the near future to print out your Linked In profile or Professional Website. This appears to be more apparent as I come across resumes, and it will soon be the norm!

FaceBook Replacing Your Offline Company Networking

With companies such as IBM, and several other Fortune 500 Companies jumping on Facebook networks, you can't deny the fact that it is now a serious corporate tool for professionals. One of it's strengths however is in keeping up with what your colleagues or peers are doing both on and offline; at work or out of work. Some may ask, why would I care about what someone else is doing in another department or what their interests are? Well, I would say that you should see this as an opportunity to strengthen relationships in business, and Facebook makes it possible. Simple posts or updates to your profile give others the opportunity to learn about what your thinking or what your doing, often giving your colleagues the opportunity to comment and take an interest in you. Posting photos sometimes can create a better connection with you or your colleagues as they see photos of you and your family. The platform provides a great opportunity to take an interest in those you work with, while giving others the opportunity to learn more about you.

On the other hand, the same offline rules surrounding professionalism in the workplace apply with online social networking in a business context. Although most people keep 1 profile for personal and professional purposes, I am starting to see more and more individuals creating separate profiles to keep their personal and professional life profiles separate. If you decide to use Facebook professionally, keep your site professional and avoid taking pictures of yourself passed out on the couch at the last Keg party! Avoid any political, or religious views if at all possible, and most of all - keep it professional!!

Facebook Replacing Your Personal Offline Social Networking

When it comes to personal social networking, I have to admit that once I signed up with Facebook, I minimized my offline networking activities. Specifically with with old colleagues, former co workers, and old friends from high school. I used to meet regularly (once a quarter) with some old High School & College friends to catch up on old times. I am now down to 1 or 2 times per year with this specific segment of social activity since I am able to keep up to date with them online. A visit to my FaceBook profile keeps me up to date with what everybody is doing, what restaraunt they went to, what they ate, what movie they saw, and even what they are thinking. Facebook has made it easy to tell your network what your up to especially through its Mobile Applications that are compatible with nearly every browser friendly cell phone. The exception with Online Networking is that you don't get the face to face interaction. So while I do miss the drinking at the bar part, I can usually get virtual drinks gifted to me by several of my old classmates causing me to get Facebook drunk on a daily basis!

Can FaceBook Replace The Network You Get From Business School?

Both my current and former mentors in business have always told me to go to business school, and that "it is worth the money and investment especially for the Network". They then would follow that up with "Try and get into the best school as possible". While they would likely be reading this blog, I have to challenge them and say that these benefits are rapidly diminishing in the age of Facebook. No longer do I need to spend $100,000 in tuition just to tap into an elite network of which most people I will not see ever in my life again after graduation. Tools like Facebook, and Linked In make that possible at no cost!

Just by linking up with people with whom you currently or previously worked with, these tools make it very possible to build and sustain a powerful network of people. If that isn't enough, groups in Facebook make it very possible for you to communicate and collaborate with others who share your same personal, professional, or educational interests. There are many groups on Facebook that contain information that most libraries in business schools would not have since the groups tend to be frequently updated and relevant. In addition, specialized professional groups in your career area have relevant professionals in your field subscribed to them who would be more than glad to help you out. This makes it possible to get expert advice at little to no costs.

So what are your thoughts? Will Social Media Applications Kill The Resume & The Traditional Offline Network?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How To Use FaceBook & FriendFeed as A Business Collaboration Tool?

If you have been living under a rock the last 2 years and have not heard about Friendfeed, then please visit their Wikipidia links to learn some more before you read this. In this summary I will show you how you can use FriendFeed as a business tool for keeping up with market and industry trends, along with using it as a collaboration tool.

Friendfeed is the social media aggregation software that allows you to aggregrate various sources of information on the web into one central location. Whether it is your Facebook account, your social networks, your RSS feeds, Blogs, and Websites - you can take all these sources of information and centralize it in one repository.

While many use it for personal use, there are certainly many business ways to utilize this tool. Here are some of the things you can do with it to track your industry, competitors, or to follow specific companies.

- Add any company blogs of relevance - Follow those company's you invest in or want to know more information about by putting their RSS feed in FriendFeed.
- Add any external blogs of relevance
- Add search terms via Technorati and Google Blogsearch - If your following a particular company or competitor, you can set up FriendFeed to provide information or articles on that subject or company as the web publishes and finds content.
- Add search terms via Twitter Search (here’s how to search Twitter). - Twitter Search will help you stay informed about when your brand, company, or specific search term is being talked about
- Add any Flickr (or other web-based) photo groups.
- Add relevant news services using their RSS subscription URLs.
- Add YouTube videos.

For Work Group Collaboration, you can do the following:

- Add your coworkers’ accounts as friends.
- Create a group and invite those friends to the group.

- Send private updates to the group.
Send more public facing ones to the public timeline.

Check it out and sign up now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How Can Your Business Utilize Google Moderator?

Recently Google unveiled Moderator. Moderator is a tool that allows you to crowd source questions and suggestions and review them in a presentable format. The system even allows people to vote on the suggested questions in the event they want to ask the same one, creating a ranking system that presents the more relevant questions at the top.

So how would we in the Service & IT Business world utilize this? Well, in this summary I will spend some time on that topic providing examples of how you can possibly use it for the following areas of your business:

- Web, Video, & Audio Conferencing
- Project Management
- Product Management

How Does It Work?

Upon logging in you create a Series which would be a series of questions or comments based on a specific topic. You can then share the Series publicly or privately to designated individuals so you can share and see the results. To take a look at some examples of what people would ask World Leaders, click here.

Web & Audio Conferencing

Let’s say your running a large Web, Video, or Audio conference call and the time has arrived for participant's to ask questions. With Google Moderator, you can allow participants to suggest or ask questions during the call in advance using it's interface, and the Moderator engine will automatically tally up the most frequently requested or asked questions. The application presents them in an intuitive way to the either a Live Moderator or to the person who is responsible for asking the questions. You can see examples of this on the Google Moderator Homepage.

Project Management

Whether your running a small or large project, Google Moderator can help you to get anonymous feedback or direct questions from your project team. Specifically where your project teams are global, this tool would allow your project teams to submit questions, and comments relative to your project and enable you to better understand what stakeholders are thinking globally. If another stakeholder votes or agrees with the comment, suggestion, or question you can better prioritize and understand the impact of the comment based on its Series rating system. This is a great way to get ahead of addressing the issues before they come up on Conference Call.

Product Management

Are you interested in what your customers have to say about your products? Perhaps your organization may want to hear what suggestions or enhancements that can be made to products to improve them. This would be an ideal tool to utilize to help rank your most requested enhancements from your customers and recieve feedback. Start your own Series now and stay in tune with your customer base.

So there are my 3 possible applications for using Google Moderator. What other possible business applications do you think can be utilize? Let us know.

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