Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From UX Magazine: Interview with Harley Manning Vice President at Forrester Research about customer and user experience

This interview was not done by us. But we think for our series Conversations, this interview by UX magazine is very relevant and important discussion. UX Magazine interviews Harley Manning Vice President, Customer Experience at Forrester Research at the Forrester Customer Experience Forum

Making User and Customer Experience a Business Competency

The only question we would ask Mr. Manning in addition to what UX magazine asked is "How to crowd source the user interface design?"


Friday, December 3, 2010

Conversations with Marianne Curran, EVP of Go Daddy, discussing Social Media as a channel to provide Customer Care

As Executive Vice President of Media & Communications for The Go Daddy Group Inc. , a Hawkeye, and a yoga enthusiast, Marianne Curran is responsible for the strategic expansion of Go Daddy’s communication efforts. She oversees Public Relations, Go Daddy Productions and Social Media. She also leads Go Daddy's Culture Team, which ensures that Go Daddy preserves its unique qualities and internal brand.

This interview with Marianne is the ninth in our series about learning, games, social media, crowd-sourcing and work performance.

RD> Are you a gamer?
MC> I haven't been a 'gamer' since I was a teenager. Back in the day, I enjoyed playing Mario Brothers.

RD> How do you learn?
MC> I'm definitely a visual learner.

RD> At the recent Customer Response Summit, you discussed how your company uses social media to manage customer experience. What led you to take on such an initiative?
MC> It's really Go Daddy's customers who led us into the social media space. A number of years ago, we took notice of many customers discussing Go Daddy and asking questions out in this public space. From years of experience providing the industry's best customer service, with 24/7 telephone and e-mail support, we've learned to make ourselves available in just about any and all of the communication platforms our customers might seek engagement.

RD> What were the unique challenges that social media channels presented that you and your team had to overcome?
MC> There are definitely challenges when communicating through social media. Expectations of real-time responses can be demanding from a resource perspective. To meet this challenge, we expanded our social media team to a "24/7" staff. We also cross train members in other areas where appropriate.

RD> Is Go Daddy focused only in B2B customers or personal websites (which is more consumer)? What % of your outreach are Small-Medium Enterprises v. Large enterprises?
MC> Go Daddy is focused on ALL of our 8.6 million global customers. Each and every one is important to Go Daddy as we want to provide them the tools and support to succeed online, quickly and affordably. A slight majority of Go Daddy customers are Small-Medium enterprises - but we have millions of personal users and large business customers as well.

RD> Do you use social media as a channel for selling (i.e. new customer acquisition) too? What kind of resistance do you see among B2B companies like yours in utilizing social selling?
MC> As the world's largest domain name registrar and top Web hosting provider, Go Daddy uses social media to interact with our customers, fans and followers on many levels. We discuss public relations events, brand initiatives, recruiting information as well as straight marketing promotions such as product discounts. For the most part, our fans and followers have been quite receptive to these types of promotions, which are geared toward them and offer a benefit. Go Daddy closely manages the frequency in which we communicate these types of messages out to our community - we are cognizant of customers' time and do our best each and every day to communicate only what they want to hear.

RD> I think employees, especially younger know how to use the tools faster than others but still do not know how to use the content to their advantage -- that requires critical thinking skills. How do you teach critical thinking skills now? Do you envision using games/simulations to teach employees what to do in this space?
MC> Go Daddy has an experienced, dedicated social media team. They are out there every day communicating with Go Daddy customers and potential customers. Our social media team members were selected because they have a strong knowledge of our company, our products and because they have excellent "people skills." Many of Go Daddy's social media employees have customer service experience from working directly within our highest escalation department, the Office of the President. Our external hires in the social media realm have spent considerable time training with the Office of the President team to build that knowledge.

As far as training our employees, Go Daddy uses a number of methods and is always looking to try out new techniques.

RD> How successful have you been in crowd-sourcing solutions?
MC> Yes, Go Daddy has had success in crowd sourcing. Through our ongoing engagement on social media platforms, we've built relationships over time, which is how crowd sourcing transpires. Go Daddy has a loyal community, which understands and appreciates our best-in-class 24/7-customer support, low prices and top-notch quality products - they love speaking about Go Daddy and we love to hear it!

RD> In your experience what are the key factors that are driving company adoption?
MC> There are a number of factors that help drive company adoption.
First, it is to acknowledge and address any and all service issues that arise. Until you step up and help the customer solve their issue, they simply will not be open to engage with you on any other level.
Second, bi-directional communication is so important - folks do not just want to be talked TO - they like to share and express their opinions as much as they like to hear what's going on around them.
Third, but certainly not least, when Go Daddy communicates with our community, it's around all sorts of topics - a charitable contribution, a business tip from our CEO and Founder Bob Parsons to help an entrepreneur succeed, an order-level discount, news about one of our famous Go Daddy Girls, and so on. In other words, Go Daddy stays open and is actively sharing company information on all sorts of levels.

RD> Thank you for your time Marianne. Good Luck with your strategies.
MC> You are welcome!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In the "Instant" world of "Push" Technology how long is 4 minutes?

Question: In the "Instant" world of "Push" Technology to upgrade web solutions, how long is 4 minutes to a user?
The answer: Per minute delay in instant connect, increases the probability of losing a sale (a customer) or disengaging an employee by 5%.

First, a disclaimer, our company blog is not a bully pulpit to bring personal gripes. This is a case study that I share in order to help us and our readers learn about critical thinking skills, crowd-sourcing, social media and customer service.

We are a remarkable learning SaaS company. We consider ourselves small, but innovative and agile and have maturity to listen and address prospect/customer's needs. So! what will happen 5 years from now, when we have grown and introduced the complexity and structure? Will that not bring down the level of innovation and agility to meet our customer's needs?

When people ask me, "what keeps you awake at night?" I can safely say, this scenario of impending downside of growth keeps me awake at night.

Why does this scenario keep me awake at night?
Let me share an example of a Great Company where some of my good friends have worked and some continue to work. It is a company whose innovation, business model and spirit of agility were something I admired and emulated for PAKRA --- that Great Company also happens to be a key technology provider for us. Their once innovative technology helps our company reach out globally, conduct meetings both internal with our employees and partners and is the place where every potential buyer experiences our products for the first time. In other words, this service provider is as valuable as fuel, electricity and water for our existence. Using their products, we do 100% of our sales and almost all our staff and internal meetings.

This past Monday, they launched and delivered their new upgrade on client-user instance via push technology (browser and O/S agnostic). This upgrade was supposed to bring some delightful array of features (which frankly we did not ask for). By their own estimates (and verified separately by three unrelated individuals) "it can take on average 4 minutes on a reasonable connection for a participant to download this upgrade on their side before they can connect".

This push upgrade brought our lives to a standstill.
After 24 hours of my first tweet (I heard from a conference speaker about their great use of social media to drive customer care) and retweets of other users, I finally heard from them and then it took another hour and half for them to call me.
Then the situation of mitigation became more frustrating.

The customer service representative who finally called seemed to be in a hurry and with a non-empathetic voice wanted to determine the root cause. In summary: why our customers are concerned about on average 4-minute delay; if it was a user related error i.e. us.

This is why?
"All participants over 6 meetings with innumerable O/S and browsers and their versions, from different parts of the world(India, US, Canada, UK) had problems connecting from 3 minutes to 20 minutes. Let me explain, it takes me weeks to coordinate a prospect company to get their team to agree to a 20-30 minutes meeting and coordinate their calendars to find a date and time. Let's say there are 1 to 5 participants and the last person -- the Boss Man joins and starts the process 5 minutes past the scheduled meeting time. Now we are theoretically into a wait of 9 minutes of a potential 20-minutes sales call. We are not even going bring in the statistic of variation, where in one case, one person could not connect over 20 minutes. We just lost a sell. Now do you see the problem?"

When we operate in the world where instant meeting connect means "instant". That 9 minutes just decreased our chance to win our prospect by 45%. Most of our meetings got rescheduled which given the timing of the year, meant delayed the sales cycle by additional 60 days. That's how long 4 minutes is.

What do we learn at PAKRA from this experience – because this can happen to our customers, as we grow?

First lesson:
If at any time, our developers tell me to push a new upgrade to all our customers, and in testing it shows that it will take the user X minutes wait time before they can use the product, I say, "No Go forward".

Second lesson:
Teach our customer service agents, critical thinking skills when discussing with the customer (our brand after all).
For example, teach the necessary skills to the customer service agents, such that they never say things such as -- (These are paraphrased quotes.)
(i) "Oh I am so sorry your customers are not nice to you."
(ii) "Ma'am, your participants delayed in joining -- we cannot be responsible for their actions."
(ii) "Oh! we are giving such a better interface. This is only one-time interface download. Upgrades are free. so! this should be only a minor frustration."
(iii) "How is a few minutes delay an issue?"

Third Lesson:
Teach all employees to understand
-- the impact on the customer when our product and services fail to meet the "must-have" and "more-is-better" Kano features of our products.
-- how the customer uses our products and how they get value out of them.
-- the value our company provides to our customers.

Fourth lesson:
Have 24X7 coverage to listen-in, since social media is the most important channel for us to listen-in.

Fifth lesson:

We must provide influence-capital to the employees who engage in social-media channels with our customers. The agents servicing this channel of in/outbound listening are typically handling situations where "must-have" needs of customers are not being met. Those inquiries require special skilled people not your "let me see which browser you are using M'aam?" problem solvers.

OK! Now I feel relieved, we are just beginning to define a plan to prevent and mitigate issues as they emerge while our company grows.

As I still feel loyal to my friends at this Great Company and I have no guarantee that other providers would not have lost their vision, their strength like Great Company has, I will not cancel our subscription yet. Plus, they said it will take 48 hours while they petition their Bosses, whether our company's account can be locked to past version such that no one invited to participate in our meeting ever has a 4 minute delay, --- I am dying with curiosity and want to see how this plays out.

Meanwhile, we have a company-wide moratorium to use our key provider's products for 2 days -- because we are loyal but not stupid.

Few days from now, on our blog, you will read a fabulous case study of another company that has figured out how to use social media channels to implement a great customer-care and customer acquisition.