Saturday, January 31, 2009

When service is easy...

I like doing things the easy way and am always pleasantly surprised when companies offer great service that's quick and easy. This has happened twice in two days:

1. Applying for my Velocity rewards card with Virgin Blue

2. Getting a doctor to visit after hours and on Sunday for free!

In both cases finding information on the Internet was easy and my first point of call:

Virgin Blue intercepted me as I was booking my flight - and offered double points if I joined. So I did - the ease of use, the transfer of my information from one site to another made the process quick and simple. I even had to call Virgin where he had my info waiting seemed - after 30seconds I had redeemed my points. I booked my flight - applied for velocity rewards and spoke to a human in under 5 minutes.

A sick child on a Sunday with a high temp and sore ear was the other problem. My partner looked at me with scepticism when I suggested the after hours doctor - His reasons - it would cost a fortune and did such a service really exist. Yes it does (The Family Care Friendly Society!) After locating them online a quick call got a doctor out to a sick 2yr old in under 3 hours. Yes there was some waiting time - but the whole process of finding the service and dealing with the operator (to get a doctor to visit my home for free on a Sunday )took...yes you guessed it...5 minutes. Who makes this possible? My regular doctor who subscribes to the service and takes the extra effort to provide his clients with the best service everyday!

Service is really important - we live in a service society - innovation in communication has created an expectation of swift networks - The faster people can network and create easy pathways between one another leads to greater expectations of service. Your customers expect YOU to organise it for them. It doesn't mean you have to know a lot about technology but you need to understand your customers pathways, their expectations and communication habits - and thats all part of market research!

It might cost you a little more - but the reward is customer loyalty.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I have recently begun a new career diversion. Having completed my PhD and spent 10 years trolling the university landscape I realised that I needed a job that wasn’t based on the weeks of a semester’s duration. I am in the real world – with a real job, a grown up hair cut and wearing semi professional clothes. And you know it’s not too bad except for the 8:30 to 5:30 business hours (but I am working on that!).

My new role is in market research - online market research - which is good.

It’s on the edge exactly where market research needs to be. And I feel like a quazi pioneer making up my own rules as the boundaries aren’t set for innovation in market research sector.
Online research tools are the new thing – yet I believe that such research needs to be place firmly in context. It has to be done (the research) with some forethought about how such tools are actually going to benefit the client and research objective. It isn’t a carrot to dangle in front of every client in an attempt to show how “cutting edge” your company is.
So how do you go about understanding such context, what are the question’s you should ask to determine if online tools are necessary?

1. Look at your client carefully – is the use of these online tools going to excite them into seeing the capacity of such a strategy. If it isn’t I probably wouldn’t bother.
2. Is the research objective going to benefit from online tools? Are the participants geographically dispersed? Are they a time poor sector that usually doesn’t respond to invitations to research even when the incentives are extremely high?
3. Are you dealing with the consumer 2.0 – the savvy group who walk, talk and live online – the always connected, meta networked group who aren’t even a demographic!
4. Are your deadlines tight – and can you benefit from using a fast programme of research you can churn over in a nick of time.

If you answered yes to any of the above go on be brave !