Thursday, 25 October 2007

Net Promoter Scores

I was recommended The Ultimate Question by our investors earlier this year. It is an easy read but not less compelling for being so.

It deals with asking customers - would you recommend the to a friend? A scale of 0-10 is provided and all scores less than or equal to six are deducted from all scores greater than or equal to nine.

The book is originated from a survey undertaken in the US and suggests that the strongest companies would have a net promoter score (the result of the sum above) of 70 or higher. When I initially looked at this number I was a little incredulous but the book includes the survey results. That companies in the US can achieve such a mark I think underlines the importance of customer service in the US and how it is actually rewarded.

The results in the UK are a lot lower. Thanks to Simon Andrews in his Big Picture blog for alerting me to the LSE survey for the UK. The report is excellent. No surprises that the mobile operators (the red bar in the chart) return hopeless scores.

This chart (which is more legible in the report) shows that O2 is the best of a bad bunch with T-Mobile bringing up the rear. This is not really that surprising (though the survey was in 2006 and I observe the laggard getting better and the leader getting worse recently) but I am interested that the sector as a whole is so far off the average for the whole UK.

Returning to a previous theme: if the operator wants to be more than a bitpipe - they need a BIG shake-up. Customers need to love them and they oh-so-clearly do not.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Oh dear! Oh dear! That's Oh! 2

Take a look a this post at ZDNET and then put your head in your hands as to how the collectively small-minded operators never fail to snatch a PR disaster from something potentially so positive.

So, O2 is to impose a fair use policy of 200MB on the iPhone and a limit of 60 hours per month of Free WiFi.

That latter in particular is a joke. Wasn't free WiFi given as compensation for the fact that the iPhone would be considerably limited by the lack of 3G? And, given that there is a lack of 3G perhaps a limit on data is less relevant or should be waived as compensation for the poorer download times and hence user experience.

What bugs me is that it is all so unnecessary. A tiny minority of users would actually abuse the system, compared with the huge PR and market share gain from launching with the iPhone.

What operators are failing to realise is that they co-exist in a high tech space which is covered and scrutinised daily by a wealth of early influencers, by reverting back to penny pinching ways and not seeing the bigger picture they sustain a relationship with the customer which is one of a necessary evil: not that of day-to-day buddy.

Apple will see it and you can be sure their PR team will be backtracking from this mess and laying the blame squarely at O2's door.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Rant at eBay

eBay: not really a fan.

It hit me again this week, as I tried to buy tickets for a sporting event from someone who never had the slightest intention of going, that this is just a money making scam for students and stay-at-homes who have the opportunity to block phone lines when tickets become available with the sole aim of turning that into profit.

I guess I'd be doing the same if it were me but surely this is one practice which should be actively discouraged - it is basically touting for the mass market. I thought that was illegal.

Data Protection: Update

There is an update on Read/Write Web concerning 'GooTube's' (I like it!) first crack at a solution to the data protection issues. I continue to believe that this will turn into nothing. What youtube proposes is reasonable given its business and resources but will not satisfy the data owners. The latter need to evolve to be able to deal with it and turn their minds as to how to make it of benefit.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Transcoding, blah blah

It seems at the moment that some industry message boards are jammed with comments over transcoding and the apparent hash Novarra and Vodafone have made of their recent implementation. A lot of people have become passionate on the topic and this week's Mobile Monday did not diffuse the situation as many had hoped. This lack of success was nothing to do with the organisers but more to do with the poor presentation given by Novarra who could have simply said:

- we underestimated the impact of this setting in our implementation
- here is the immediate fix
- here is what we are going to do about it long term
- we are on the same side

Job done.

Instead, the team tried to give their credentials. Guys, you missed out. You need to think: what does my audience need to hear?

For the record, I do believe that there is a role for transcoding. Simply put, people will always develop for where they get the most return. For many publishers this will always be the web and they will not develop for mobile. Transcoders can help bring complicated sites to life for the mobile user potentially - though we are at the beginning of the development curve if this is ever going to be more than a stop gap for commerce specific sites for example.

Nonetheless, the conversation is overblown at a higher level. Most sites do not need transcoding!

A huge amount of publishers try to help the user out by saying, "look, here is the meat of my site; all my content in a wrapper". It is called RSS and a service like Mippin cuts to the chase and makes it a mission to dress and monetise these feeds as elegantly as possible. RSS - what a wonderful invention.

I wish I could speak to all the frustrated users out there who are being forced through transcoders and getting frustrated by the results when there is no need. There is a better world. Try Mippin!

Monday, 8 October 2007

The future is Blyk?

So, Blyk is now live.

I had high hopes for this MVNO when it first became known that someone would attempt to provide a free service on the back of advertising to a targeted base.

I am not the only one and my only fear is that Blyk's future becomes a talisman for the health and potential of mobile advertising.

Of course, this fear is only a problem if Blyk does not succeed; if it blows all growth expectations out of the water then such association is good for all concerned.

But, where is the downside?

We know that mobile is the most intimate of channels which holds a special relationship with the user, increasing its usability with every new phone feature.

We know that there is a tidal wave of advertising money out there looking for a home as TV becomes less and less effective and advertisers look for other channels.

We know that there is a market out there for the 16-24 years olds: if you were to a brand recognition test on Genie in this age group today I think you would still get a reading most brands would kill for.

My fears can be conveyed with a KISS

Keep It Simple, Stupid

I had this drummed into me many times in the past and know from my own experience how I have always tried to justify subconsciously that the inevitable compromises will not matter, that the user will still go through the process because what you are (eventually) offering them is very cool.

My fears for Blyk are: what is free is not that compelling; how to take advantage of the offer is too complicated.

The offer is 217 texts and 43 minutes free each month. This is the communication tagline!

Rather than sounding a lot, it sounds scientific and as if Blyk is counting hard just in case you go over your allocation - operator speak and ethos infects everywhere. Aside from the communication, I am not sure it is even that much for this age group with overrun then at standard Orange pay-as-you-go rates, 10p per text or 15p per minute.

Then for the offer itself, you need to have an unlocked phone or an Orange phone to use the SIM card. You can buy the phones - undiscounted - on the Blyk site if you wish. If you buy a Blyk SIM card to put into your O2 phone - unlucky!

For the mass market, this kind of inconvenience matters and one user who has misunderstood the instructions repeats it to another which kills your viral effect.

This lesson comes from my own experience and leads me to fear for Blyk. Please guys, you have a phenomenal idea: please move mountains to simplify the experience from both a technical and a communications perspective.