Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for May 2012

Today I watched a great webinar (recorded) called “How to create Rockstar Presentations”. This was created and presented by “Empowered Presentations”, a leading design firm specializing in making personalized presentations,

We all write slides, and present them. For some of us (especially trainers), its the full time work, few others do it as part of their job, may be 10% or 20% of the time, In any case, we focus a lot on the way we explain stuff, body language, interacting with students etc.,

What about the slides themselves? Are we making them good enough? Or still sticking to that 1980s mindset “Slide = Text in BIG BOLD characters”? This presentation questions that and explains how to create Rockstar presentations.

Actually, Rockstar is an acronym for 8 things we need to remember when making slides:

  • R = Rehab (your old slides)
  • O = Over the top (Don’t use cliched stuff!)
  • C = Creative
  • K = Keep it Simple
  • S = Structure (One thought per slide)
  • T = Timely (Finish it ontime, or early)
  • A = (Call for) Action
  • R = Rehearse (a lot)

This may sound very simple, but this webinar recording explains why all these 8 points are important and how to do them right. It is a must for everyone who wants to make good slides, and become a great presenter.

Unfortunately, There is no direct link to this webinar, You need to follow these steps:

1. Go to http://www.authorstream.com/webinars/ (If you are not a member of this site already, you need to register for a free account there)
2. Search for the word “Rockstar” and locate this webinar
3. Click on “View Recording”
4. This presentation runs for about 55 minutes, The first 15 minutes, the presenter talks about her personal life, interests etc., So you can feel free to jump ahead 🙂

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N. Chokkan …

28 05 2012

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In the last few months, I observe that Email Newsletters from Indian Brands are improving a lot, in terms of design / look and feel / quality of content etc.,

However, these mails are not targeted right / smart. Most of them (even the biggest brands) still treat this as a pure, high power Mass Emailing system, with zero brains. They want to mail couple of million people, and hope that even a slim hit rate will give them huge business returns.

This may be true, but the fact is, they don’t seem to understand / appreciate what they are missing. Mass Emailing is much more powerful when combined with smart market segmentation.

For example, let us say I need a rare book on history, which is out of print. The only way I can read it is, by borrowing it from a library or an individual.

Approach 1:

I have 250 people in my Personal EMail Contacts List, one of them may have this book, Why not send a mail to all those and ask? It doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cost a dime.

Approach 2:

Out of these 250 people, only 20 people are interested in reading history books. Let me send a mail to only those 20 people

As far as I am concerned, Approach 2 is much harder than Approach 1, because I need to manually hand pick those who are history buffs. But when I do that, I am writing only 20 mails instead of 250, and, my chances of success are much higher.

But does it really matter? Emails cost $0. Why invest that extra time in hand picking 20 people out of 250? Just blast a mail to everyone and see if someone responds.

This is exactly what many brands are doing, even today. Let me illustrate a good example from my own personal experience.

Recently, my bank started sending “Net Banking Basics” kind of educational newsletters. They have wonderful graphics and text to each ABCs of Net banking to customers. Nice initiative.

But guess what, they send this newsletter to all their customers. Including those (like me) who are using Net banking for the last 10+ years.

For me, these mails are frustrating / silly. Why waste my time with “How to login to your net banking” kind of Emails, when I am doing it almost everyday? Worst part, My bank knows I am a regular Net Banking user and still sends me these mails as if they are issuing bit notices on the street, Carelessness? No Value for your customer’s time? Big mistakes!

This is the problem with wrong targeting (or “No Targeting” in this case). Unlike my personal “Rare Book Search”, this “Net Banking Basics” mails should only be going to New Customers, or those who rarely / never use Net Banking. For all others, they are a waste of time.

Not only that, most of the Mass Emailing solutions charge you money, based on the number of Emails you send. From that perspective, Every single mail that my bank sends to me on “Net Banking Basics” is a waste of time, resources AND money.

Instead, what should they be doing? My suggestion is this:

  • Design 2 newsletters : “ABCs of Net Banking” and “How to do more from your Net Banking?”
  • Create 2 Segments of your customers : Newbies to Net Banking, Advanced Users of Net Banking (How? You have the net banking login particulars, USE IT!)
  • Target Newsletter #1 to Segment 1 and Newsletter #2 to Segment 2

Sounds too simple? Even Silly? Believe me, many brands are not doing even this simple segmentation and are happily sending Mass Emails, which bring a negative customer experience.

Zero Segmentation / Brainless Mass Emailing is not only a bad strategy, it can even create bigger problems. Here is another example, again from my Bank’s Newsletters.

One of their recent Newsletters had this Subject line “Use Net Banking and Get a Travel Bag Free”.

Wow, Free gift, I opened the EMail immediately and learnt that all I need to do is Login to my Net Banking account, Request for a statement and that’s it, I get a Travel Bag.

But wait, there is a fine print, This is only applicable for first time users of Net Banking.

Oops, Tough luck. Bye Bye Travel Bag.

Now, what goes through my mind?

  • Why send me an offer for which I don’t qualify (Bad Or Zero Segmentation, We already discussed it)
  • You are giving a free travel bag to a newbie logging in to Net Banking for the first time, But no gift to me, who is a regular user of Net Banking, Unfair!

Of course, I understand the motivation behind my bank giving away this gift to attract more and more Net Banking customers, but the point is, they shouldn’t have told this to Regular Net Banking users, which leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Again, the culprit is Zero Segmentation. If only the bank sent that “Free Travel Bag” offer mail to only those customers who never used Net Banking, I will never know about that offer / feel bad about missing a freebie.

OKay, we covered Bad Segmentation / Zero Segmentation, there is a third category, its called “Unfit Segmentation”.

Few days back, I got a newsletter from a super market. It was in Kannada, a regional language spoken in the state where I live (Karnataka, India).

I really liked the idea of sending marketing newsletters in regional languages, I don’t remember any other brand doing it.

But, the problem is, My super market never asked me whether I could read Kannada. Thousands of people living in Karnataka, can’t read the local language. All those will get zero value from this newsletter.

So, What went wrong? My guess is this:

  • The store has decided to segment customers based on the state they live
  • They designed a newsletter in each state’s regional language and sent it across
  • For example, if you live in Karnataka, you get a Kannada newsletter, If you live  in Tamilnadu, you get a Tamil newsletter and so on (Nice!)

When compared to my Bank, this is Smart Segmentation. They haven’t mass mailed something to everyone, proper segmentation is done and each segment got relevant content.

But the problem is, they totally missed the fact that I may be a Tamilian who is living in Karnataka. In that case, this rule will send me a Kannada Newsletter, which I can’t read / use / buy.

So, the segmentation strategy adopted by this supermarket is Good, But unfit for their requirement (Newsletters in more than one language). They should have gone for something like this:

  • When people register in your super market, ask them “Preferred language of communication”
  • Create your segments based on this information and send newsletter accordingly
  • Means, irrespective of where I live, if I prefer “Tamil” as my language of communication, I will get the newsletter in Tamil

To summarize:

  • Zero Segmentation is bad, and creates a negative customer experience
  • Depending on your marketing requirements, choose your “customer information” on which segments will be based on. Wrong Segment / Unfit Segment is as bad as Zero Segmentation

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N. Chokkan …

22 05 2012

Today I listened to a wonderful talk, given by Tony Schwartz, For Google Employees. Tony is an author of two best selling books and he argues that the way we all work, is not working any more. Too much focus on “Time Management” has to be shifted and we need to think about “Energy Management”,

Sounds a bit fuzzy? Don’t worry, listen to this audio file Or Watch this video, Tony explains in detail and gives superb (and simple) tips on interesting topics such as:

  • Sleep : How important it is? When to sleep? How much to sleep? (Minimum 7 hours per day!)
  • 4 Sources of Engergy : Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual (We need all of them)
  • Can we really mutitask? (Nope!)
  • What should we focus on? Doing easy things? Difficult things? Why? (Stretching your energy muscles)
  • What is the best way to work, so that we are focused and motivated whole day? (90 Minute Work Slots)

I would recommend this audio file ( I am not a big fan of videos 😛 ) to everyone, move it to your phones NOW and give it a try!

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N. Chokkan …

04 05 2012

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

Few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a super market, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about few of those models, and asked the sales person.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any question my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forget machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store’, she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain her how retail industry works. ‘This super market deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products, it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division which looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division which makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions which take care of the selling process and Support division to take care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions have their own problems / solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your twitter page / facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touch points can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management, that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!

(086)

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N. Chokkan …

03 05 2012


Disclaimer

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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