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Archive for April, 2010

Musing on Social Media and Customer Relationship

This excellent article by Eric Tsai is full of practical and useful information. I am glad Eric have addressed the issue of customer insights and how it can be used in an organization.

If the sales staff knows what words or questions your target audience used most frequently when talking about your product, they can craft a better sales pitch.  If product engineers realize how many different ways people actually use the products they create, they can improve and create better products. If the design team identifies how your customers come to visit your page and where they clicked, perhaps they can increase the conversion rate on your next campaign.

In my experience this knowledge, even if it is available within an organization, is rarely utilized for a process of resolving customer problems with a specific product or in a new product development process. Product Marketing organizations often seem to be more inclined to use “customer” feedback they solicit, via panels and focus groups other then analysis of unsolicited voice of the real customers, who actually purchased their products. I suspect it is the issue of control, and in my opinion, it contradicts the notion of “Social” relationship with customers. Another potential reason of the disconnect is a nature of “soft” raw data, extracted from chats and and forums, does not easily translates into the structured information required by enterprise processes and systems.

We have released AAI 2.0 today

The registration is no longer required to research customer satisfaction scores for the products or categories of the products you may be interested in. Just proceed to select a Category of product, subscribe and are ready to for analysis.

BTW the short cut for selection of a product subset is available – Ctrl-F would open the window you can use to identify a string of characters or size, then use Highlight All function and select boxes left of the highlighted products to Filter.

Cisco-Linksys EZXS16W EtherFast 10/100 16-Port Workgroup Switch

This week we analyzed Customer Reviews for Networking Products. As of this date we monitor 322 products in this category, but some of them have not accumulated enough reviews to produce statistically representative and accurate metrics, so we filtered them out of competition. The second round disqualified any product that failed to meet Customer Expectations with its Reliability or Support.  The winner of Piplzchoice Award is Cisco-Linksys EZXS16W EtherFast 10/100 16-Port Workgroup Switch.

The top 10 contenders are featured below:

Cisco-Lynksys EZXS16W EtherFast switch wins Piplzchoice Award

For full list of products in this category and Customer Reviews used for this research, select “Computers & Accessories/Networking Products” Category in Product Reputation Market Intelligence Report on this site.

Re Knowledge Transfer problem between expert and decision maker

We have all experienced frustration and disappointment of seeing the results of our efforts being wasted, the recommendations we have made not being followed on, insights we discovered not acted upon, and application systems we implemented not adopted by user communities, to name a few. If we assume for the purpose of this discussion that our efforts produced quality results, the problem that caused our unfortunate experiences is the problem of knowledge transfer between experts and managers in organizational decision making processes.

One of the Next Market Research (NGMR) LinkedIn group members shared with us a link to the study by Professor Martin J. Eppler of School of Communication Sciences, University of Lugano.

This paper is an excellent resource and I wish I would have access to it much earlier in my career. I’ll quote:

The efficient and effective transfer of experiences, insights, and know-how among different experts and decision makers is a prerequisite for high-quality decision-making and coordinated, organisational action (Straub and Karahanna, 1998).

For one reason or another, my experiences of these transfers were not often very effective, and most of these times, both experts and decision makers failed to build common context for the knowledge transfer.

The process of knowledge communication hence requires more reciprocal interaction between decision makers and experts because both sides only have a fragmented understanding of an issue and consequently can only gain a complete comprehension by iteratively aligning their mental models. All of this means that when we communicate knowledge, we are still communicating information and emotions, but we also create a specific type of context so that this information can be used to re-construct insights, create new perspectives, or acquire new skills.

I have been guilty on both side of the table: as an expert I often discounted value of my knowledge assuming that what I have learned is obvious to everyone around me, and as a decision maker I never had enough time and attention span to really understand intricacies that did not seem to address business problems I had to wrestle with.

How do you deal with this?

Sony MDR-XB500

Customers “voted” Sony MDR-XB500 for 2010 Piplzchoice Award for Customer Satisfaction in the Headphones product category.

Sony MDR-XB500 wins Piplzchoice Award in Headphones category

If you build it, will they come? Or use crowdsourcing to validate product requirements.

Product Requirements with Social Media

Product requirements development without true customer input is one of the most common reasons for a product failure to achieve its profitability expectations. The common practice of capturing this input is traditional market research methods of using customer panels and consumer focus groups. The results of these efforts are only as good as specific professionals conducting these studies that often lead to a very high costs, inconsistent results and unscalable processes. In my opinion, these techniques can be much more beneficial later in the Product Development process, at the Test and Customer Evaluation stage, when specific product assumptions can be validated.

Regardless of methodology you follow for development of a new product, at some point of the process you have to decide what segment of your market you are planning to compete in. That often involves a need to create and analyze a list of existing products your new product targets to displace, to identify target customers and what mechanisms to use for collection of their needs.

Careful analysis of experiences the customers had with the products you target to compete with, can provide invaluable insights into their original needs without any color commentary or interpretation. The critical, and often disregarded part, is that these people have actually spent their own money to satisfy their needs which make them uniquely qualified to provide you with very valuable information. Many of them, estimated 1%-2% total customers, have bothered to leave their comments and reviews on countless social media venues, such as retailer and manufacturer websites, user forums and customer communities.

“Traditionally, Marketing has had responsibility for defining customer needs and product requirements. This has tended to isolate Engineering and other development personnel from the customer and from gaining a firsthand understanding of customer needs. As a result, customer’s real needs can become somewhat abstract to other development personnel. Product development personnel need to be directly involved in understanding customer needs.”

Availability of customer generated product experience content allows all product development personnel to have direct and affordable access to understanding customer requirements.

The more intelligence you can find about your product segment of the market the higher is a certainty of your new product profitability forecast.

2010 Piplzchoice Award goes to Garmin nuvi 260

This week the Market Intelligence Report for Portable Vehicle GPS category shows that Garmin nuvi 260 3.5-inch Portable GPS Navigator enjoys the highest aggregate satisfaction ratings from its customers for its Functionality, Reliability and Support.

Piplzchoice Award 2010 goes to Garmin nuvi 260

The runners up are respectively:
#2. Magellan RoadMate 1400 4.3-inch Portable GPS Navigator, and
#3. Harman Kardon GPS-810 4.3-inch Widescreen Bluetooth Portable GPS and Media Player.

You can extract reports like this for any category of products we track by registering with us at the home page and clicking on “Try Us Now” orange button.

Winner of 2010 Pipzchoice Award for the best Netbook

We are going to select a winner of Piplzchoice Award in different category every Sunday for a product with the best reputation for Functionality, Reliability and Support as experienced by their customers and extracted from their comments by our algorithms.

Piplzchoice Award for the Best Notebook for the first quarter of 2010 goes to Asus Eee 4G 7″ PC Mobile Internet Device (512 MB RAM, 4 GB Hard Drive, Webcam, Linux Preloaded) Pearl White.

It earned the highest reputation of 182 netbooks for Functionality, Reliability and Support. We analyzed 23,722 customer reviews for the netbooks to come with these ratings.
The 2010 (Q1) The Piplzchoice Award – The best Netbook (out of 182)