Chatbots do look cool - but won't solve the biggest Problem Brands face when „chatting“ with Consumers.

A couple of years ago, a brand page on Facebook was supposed to be THE place for customer dialogue. Back then wall-postings by the brand and their fans were on an equal footing - hence: the Golden Age of Facebook shitstorms! Lots of fun for consumers, but bad for business (at times).

Then Facebook discovered their business model (sell brands the reach to their fans) and suddenly dialogue was relegated to the sidebar; down below where nobody will see it - hence: no more shitstorms, but shitloads of money from brands and their media agencies. Much better for Facebook and the brands, but no so much for a customer with a problem.

Fast forward to 2016. This year is supposed to be the year of something called „Conversational Commerce“ (short: #ConvComm) with a re-newed focus on starting a real dialogue with the customer - but this time no longer public and shitstorm-prone! Instead the conversations will (perhaps? probably?) move to chat services like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. And another big shift will support this - the shift from apps to bots

In theory a customer with a problem doesn’t care if a human being or a bot is on the other side of a conversation - as long as the problem gets solved. So with chat bots on the rise real 1-1 dialogue becomes economically viable for brands and a great option for the customer at the same time - win win (hopefully with a little bit of human assistance, if needed).

Sounds a bit like Science Fiction, doesn' it?

But as a matter of fact, it's already reality! KLM now started to use Facebook Messenger for customer support and it looks quite promising: 

This is one that I've been personally eager to solve for a while. Removing stress, and complication from air travel. I'm...

Posted by David Marcus on Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Receive your booking details via Messenger

Use Messenger to get on board. All your travel info in one place.

Posted by KLM on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So far, so good. But still: the real issues with customer dialogue usually aren’t technical in nature. Very often companies just try to deflect customer complaints because there are no processes to really solve them or a real solution is just deemed to be too expensive.

And with this bots won’t be able to help. Brands have to get serious about really becoming customer-centric first!

If the dialogue in Messengers is seen as just another (hopefully more cost-effective) way to talk TO a customer, instead of WITH him, those shiny new chatbots will start handing out useless links to dead-end feedback forms pretty quickly — as their human predecessors have done for “ages”…!?

For more interesting cases of Conversational Commerce check out Chris Messina’s #ConvComm page on Product Hunt.

What is your company focusing on?

Great quote from Tim Cook's remarks at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference

"And so, we're actually not focused on numbers, we're focused on the things that produce the numbers, right?"

Sounds self-evident, but isn't. Most companies focus way more on the numbers than their products and services. But these companies have probably also way more people with responsibility for a profit and loss than Apple

Related: HBR.org - "Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma"

How stupid was the Nokia / Microsoft Partnership really?

When Nokia-CEO Stephen Elop announced the exclusive partnership between Nokia and Microsoft in 2011 - abandoning all other options in favor of Windows Phone - he was Microsofts 7th biggest private shareholder! Since then he did a really fine job: making Nokia increasingly dependent on Microsoft, while driving down the purchase price of the company - in the end leaving Nokia with no other choice than handing over their consumer business for a few peanuts - killing the last European handset manufacturer left standing in the process... 

Mission accomplished, Stephen!

If you want to know how much of a strategic mistake the Microsoft partnership really was from Nokia's point-of-view, you can look at this chart or you can try the following thought experiment:

  • First: compare the hardware of the Lumia 925 with say the Samsung Galaxy S4 - design, build quality, camera etc. 
  • Second: imagine a world where Stephen Elop never left his windowless office in Redmond and Nokia has opted for Android instead of Windows Phone. 
  • Now: ask yourself where the Nokia brand would be today, if its only mission over the last 3 years would had been to build the best Android handset out there - competing only on the ability to produce really great hardware! 

Then you will become very, very sad! At least I did... #RIP #NOKIA

For more on that line of thinking, read the blog posting by Ben Thompson: "THE DEAL THAT MAKES NO SENSE" - which itself makes nothing but sense... 

How to build an Airline Website that doesn't suck

Nearly all travel websites I know suck... big time... Booking your travel usually is a real pain in the xxx... unfortunately...

But it doesn't have to be that way !

At least not if you look at this study from the digital design agency Fi.  They tried to imagine an airline website that uses all the magic of modern webdesign while focusing on a great user experience. And they came up with something that obviously doesn't suck at all... 

The Evolution from CRM to Social CRM

Get Satisfaction has published a very nice infographic which explains the meaning of social media for customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Some interesting stats from it:

  • 80% of US consumers use social media to verify purchase recommendations.
  • 77% of customers look for incentives and coupons on social media sites.
  • 60% of US consumers regularly interact with companies on a social media site.
  • 46% of customers turn to social media for effective problem solving.
  • 43% of US consumers say brands should use social media to help customers.

Leise rieselt der Schnee

In der Wiwo gibt es diese Woche ein Special zum Thema "Überlebensführer Büro: Unter Haien" und darin findet sich - wie passend - eine Sammlung von Strombergs besten Sprüchen. Mein Favorit:
"Ein Mitarbeiter mit schlechter Laune ist wie eine Schneeflocke. Einer allein ist harmlos, ein paar Dutzend sind schon ein Schneeball. Wenn Du dann nicht aufpasst, hast Du eine Lawine in der Hütte! (...)"
Mit unzufriedenen Kunden, Bloggern usw. ist übrigens ähnlich. Wobei Blogger allerdings schneller klumpen...
Read More

next07: Praktische Erfahrungen mit Enterprise 2.0

Okay, die Keynotes der next07 haben mich nicht so vom Hocker gehauen. Aber einige der anderen Vorträge waren dafür um so besser. Inzwischen sind sie komplett bei Sevenload verfügbar. Ganz praktisch, denn auf solchen Veranstaltung ist es ja eigentlich viel spannender, sich mit den Leute vor Ort zu unterhalten, statt ständig in abgedunkelten Räumen passiv zuzuhören. Deshalb schaue ich gerade mal so durch, was ich alles verpasst habe; z.B. den sehr interessanten Vortrag von Sören Stamer, CEO von Coremedia. Darin zeigt er, wie seiner Meinung nach eine zeitgemäße Unternehmensorganisation aussehen sollte und welche Erfahrungen er gemacht hat, als er eine solche bei Coremedia eingeführt hat.
Link: sevenload.com
Read More

manager magazin erklärt Web 2.0 & Co.

Bin gerade auf einen ganz interessanten Artikel bei manager-magazin.de gestossen: "WEB 2.0 - Waffe der Verbraucher" von Andreas Neef und Willi Schroll. Darin findet man einen Rundumschlag zu all den schönen Buzzwords, die gerade die letzten Jahre so durch's digitale Dorf getrieben werden wurden. Hier ein paar Kostenproben...
Unter dem Eindruck der Möglichkeiten des damals noch neuen Mediums World Wide Web schrieben vier weise Männer 1999 einen Text mit dem mysteriösen Titel "Cluetrain Manifesto". Darin verkündeten sie, das Web sei eine Kraft, die Märkte und Konsumenten umformen werde. Ihre 95 Thesen erweisen sich im Rückblick als erstaunlich hellsichtig (...). Vernetzte Konversationen, so heißt es da, statten den Konsumenten mit einer neuen Macht aus, sogar mit einer Überlegenheit bezüglich des Produktwissens. Die Konsumenten wüssten mehr als das Unternehmen über dessen Produkte und sie tauschten sich schonungslos aus. (...)

Im Umkehrschluss bekommen im Szenario "Networked Consumer Power" Nischenprodukte, die sehr genau auf die Bedürfnisse einer Special Interest Community passen, eine Chance, zum Kunden zu finden. Mangelhafte Qualität oder Mängel im Service dagegen werden von den Konsum-Bloggern schonungslos entlarvt. Die Nebelmaschine anzuwerfen, nützt hier also wenig. Unternehmen sind gefordert, mit Produktinnovationen zu punkten. (...) Die Skepsis gegenüber dem Modewort "Web 2.0" sollte nicht den Blick dafür verstellen, dass das Internet, die Medien, Marketing und E-Commerce reale Wandlungsprozesse durchläuft, die zum Teil bereits in den Mainstream diffundieren.

Für jemanden, der bei "Long Tail" nicht instinktiv an Golden Retriever denkt, gibt der Artikel zwar wenig Neues her. Stellenweise ist er vielleicht auch etwas dünn geraten. Aber insgesamt finden Deutschlands Führungskräfte hier einen recht kompletten Überblick zu vielen Themen, die den meisten bisher größtenteils entgangen sein dürften. Vielleicht macht sich unter ihnen ja ein Gefühl von Relevanz breit, wenn sie darüber im Umfeld eines Magazins lesen, das sonst eher für Artikel mit Titeln wie "Bis die Blase platzt" bekannt ist !?

Jetzt bin ich mal gespannt, wann es so ein Artikel von der Web- in die Print-Ausgabe schafft...

Read More

eBay to Acquire Skype

Skype today announced that they will be acquired by eBay. Accoording to Jeff Clavier this deal will cost eBay the lofty sum of 4.1 billion dollars, which looks pretty expensive:
"Skype generated approximately $7 million in revenues in 2004, and the company anticipates that it will generate an estimated $60 million in revenues in 2005 and more than $200 million in 2006. (...) On a long-term basis, eBay expects Skype operating margins could be in the range of 20% to 25%." So the forward revenue multiple is 40X (!!!), and the price paid per client is $45 (against $20 per MySpace users paid by NewsCorp).
Wow! And I thought the MySpace acquisition was overpriced. Not a bad deal for Skype's founders and initial investors. But what does the online auction giant wants with a VoIP start up ? Robert Scoble tries to make sense of it all:
Some people have come up to me and asked me "does this deal make any sense to you?" It does. eBay is a marketplace. It's about putting buyers and sellers together. Now, how can you make that marketplace more efficient? Voice and video. Selling things is easier when you can tell and show. Skype is all about that.
Well, that sounds plausible. But shouldn't a company like eBay be able to buy one of Skype's competitors at a much lower price and turn him into a successful VoIP player ? Perhaps by giving any new user 10 or 20 $ for free calls upon registration for a while...
Read More