Using Storyboarding to Communicate to Your Audience…

I’ve been following a few posts on “the secret to twitter” interested as I am on how people evolve their use of social technology to fit their needs.

Interesting in itself but I thought I’d revisit the Twitter home page to remind myself what they thought the secret to twitter was and I was pleasantly surprised by their method of communicating how to use twitter.

Twitter in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

The video was produced by CommonCraft whose sole purpose is to produce videos to explain things in plain english! I think these guys are MUCH needed and their web-site states:-

“**please note** Our schedule is currently full for many months and we are not adding new projects to the schedule at this time.

A clear indicator that they are doing something right!

The Twitter video is a great example of how storyboarding and paper-prototyping can be used to clearly communicate purpose and function…

Now I’m off to watch a video on Blogs in Plain English see if I can’t learn something…

The bad table

I thought that Seth’s recent musing on restaurant service levels has something for us all to think about with regards our service offerings. He describes being offered the “worst table” in the restaurant, when he asked for an alternative table the one he pointed out was declared “reserved”…

Do you have a “worst table” that some of your customers end up with? Do you have a “best table” and how do you decide who gets that?

The bad table:
marketing dilemma: who should get your best effort? Should it be the new customer who you just might be able to convert into a long-term customer? Or should it be the loyal customer who is already valuable? Sorry, but the answer is this: you can’t have a bad table.

Here in the UK we have a great advert for Nationwide which makes similar points about customer service but from the flip-side:-

The “New Customers Only” mantra of promotions that are only available if you are a valuable (in this instance, new) customer…

Every offering, every level of service, every product you have should offer value at a level that means something to your customers new or established.  It is of course the case that ‘some’ of your offerings will be objectively compared to others and found to be ‘better’.

I think the lesson here is that you shouldn’t hold back on your good stuff just in case a better customer comes along.

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Two Levels of Retail Value:- “Do you have” vs. “Do you want”

Brand Autopsy: Borders Reducing its Borders:

Borders recently tested a front-facing display strategy where more books were stocked with their covers, not spines, facing customers. Sales increased by 9.0%. The strategy was so successful, all Borders bookstores will be switching to the front-facing strategy in the next couple of weeks.

This will mean reducing their stock in stores by anywhere between 4700 and 9300. However research showed that customers actually perceived an increase in stock following this strategy.

Seth Godin has a very interesting take on this that relates to the Two Levels of Retail Value that I discuss with my coaching clients – “Do you have” vs. “Do you want” the change in strategy from Borders is an interesting Customer Experience strategy that will have a measurable impact on the bottom line (I’m not going to predict which way it goes in the long-run yet) and is based around increasing the level of value that the store experience operates at…

Essentially stocking everything with the spine facing out is saying we are packing in as much as we can and we expect to have whatever you need… putting the covers of the books out is saying to the customer “Have you seen me…? you might WANT me?”. As Want is a higher level of value than need, we should expect the return on this strategy change to be significant…

If I can find any results over the next few months I’ll keep you posted.

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When designing for the customer may not be the best thing…

Jason of 37Signals has written a passionate article on Why we disagree with Don Norman: following Don Norman’s critique of 37Signals approach to design.

I’m going to let Jason do most of the talking because he has written this so well… but to set some context… Don Norman was critiquing 37Signals for designing for themselves BEFORE designing for the customer, in fact he seems to imply he thought they weren’t designing for customers at all.

What is excellent about this posting is that Jason is spot in pointing out that the worlds best innovators and creators have all come from a position of thinking about themselves first and Jason articulates very well the speed that this allows 37Signals to design at. He also highlights that they ARE VERY customer focussed in how they then amend, iterate and improve on original thinking…

It always seems a bit strange to hear a customer experience expert say “The customer doesn’t know what they want…” but it is often true especially when you are developing propositions on the boundaries of what exists today in the mass market…

Go 37Signals!!!

Olympus creates ‘world’s smallest questionnaire’ on specimen slide – Engadget

I love this… talk about ‘getting’ your customers. Not only does this feedback form ask the customer how excited or titilated they get when they can ‘see the clear ridges on a piece of bacteria’ but Olympus have gone that extra mile and actually produced this feedback form ON one of the very specimen slides they are seeking to get feedback from…

Now of course in reality they weren’t garnering feedback so much as plugging their site (Which saw a 24% increase in traffic by the way) however whether you want to see this as genius marketing push or an example of how to talk to your customers, it’s a great story…

Possibly the world’s smallest questionnaire but also possibly one of the most in-tune!

 Www.Engadget.Com Media 2007 09 9-24-07-Olympusslidezoom

Olympus creates ‘world’s smallest questionnaire’ on specimen slide – Engadget:

Multi-Touch Interfaces a la Minority Report from your Wii

Johnny Lee has signalled the ease with which multi-touch interfaces can be built out of a few reflective pieces of tape, an old TV and a Wii remote!!!! It’s genius. I’ mean yes it’s cool because it’s a hack and geeks love hacks, but it’s also cool because multi-touch has the potential to deliver some seriously intuitive interfaces in the now very near future…

Johnny Chung Lee – Projects – Wii:

You should take some time to watch each one… the story build’s up but for me it was most exciting when we got to the 3D model… although only demonstrating the make-shift headset that tracks your movement to re-map the ‘3D’ space you can imagine what it would be liked combined with his multi-touch work.

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Platform for Growth I – Seth Godin on “The forces of mediocrity”

Seth Godin (The forces of mediocrity) has hit on a lesson that I think a lot of people still need to learn. “The forces FOR mediocrity” a mass movement that one must swim against in order to achieve most innovations and differentiations in a marketplace.
In my role as a coach to entrepreneurs and even as a customer experience coach I find a lot of people wanting to find the quick-hit, easy low-hanging fruit, quick-win strategy… basically… hardly any one wants to put in the hard-work. Everyone wants to be “different” or “successful” or “compelling and engaging” but they want to do it in some tried and tested AND easy way…

As Seth says “There’s a myth that all you need to do is outline your vision and prove it’s right – then quite suddenly, people will line up and support you.”

Seth points out that you will invariably encounter large amounts of resistance. Richard Branson in an interview for an upcoming technology conference is quoted as saying that the majority of the ideas for customer experience that he has had have come from his own burning desire to change things, Steve Jobs has always had a passion for making the world a better place through technology and information, he was FIRED from his own company for his vision… it ain’t necessarily easy being that innovative…

but as Seth also says “If it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued”…

However, in the face of all this adversity, what all of the world’s most succesful people do find easy are the decision they have to make when they weigh them up against the values, inspiration and vision that they have. The vision becomes an incredibly clear compass for which direction is the right path… even when the people surrounding you are going in the opposite direction. If you have the tenacity and perserverance to get through the initial cycles of business growth around your new idea then the market you want to play in will be attracted to you, just don’t expect it overnight…

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Put Buyers First? What a Concept – New York Times

Put Buyers First? What a Concept – New York Times:

Customer Experience is fast become a consistent agenda item in boards across the corporate world, it’s making it’s way into financial reports to the stock market, annual reports and this is further supported by newspapers such as the New York Times featuring pieces on customer experience.

This is a great article about just that written from the journalists experience with Amazon over christmas. Some highlights though from further into the article:-

Jeff Bezos, in response to a question about how he liked to spend his time answered by waxing lyrical about customers:-

“They care about having the lowest prices, having vast selection, so they have choice, and getting the products to customers fast,” he said. “And the reason I’m so obsessed with these drivers of the customer experience is that I believe that the success we have had over the past 12 years has been driven exclusively by that customer experience. We are not great advertisers. So we start with customers, figure out what they want, and figure out how to get it to them.”

Critically, whilst looking into the stock performance of Amazon with it’s various rises and falls, our NYT journalists was given all sorts of financial and operational reasons why Amazon may now be back on it’s game from a financial market valuation perspective. The NYT journalist however continues with his own thoughts:-

But I couldn’t help wondering if maybe there wasn’t something else at play here, something Wall Street never seems to take very seriously. Maybe, just maybe, taking care of customers is something worth doing when you are trying to create a lasting company. Maybe, in fact, it’s the best way to build a real business — even if it comes at the expense of short-term results.

I couldn’t agree more….

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MacBook Air:- My other laptop’s a….

Predictably we’re into the endless debate of whether the MacBook Air is a a great laptop or an expensive gadget.

I think that John Gruber made the case very eloquently on his blog describing the appeal of the macbook air as not one that we can judge based on previous laptop decision criteria.
And this is the great thing about the Air, it has redefined, even if subtly, what it means to be a laptop. Actually I’ll correct that… it has reminded us what Laptops were meant to be. In discussing the Air people are expressing their dreams of portable technology that supports them and doesn’t weigh them down while they run for their taxi/bus/train to the next meeting… it’s generating debate about the essence of ‘laptop’. That is what innovation does… it sets a new standard, some will reach up and grab for it and others will decide it’s not for them…

I do wonder what other products are out there just waiting to be either evolved or devolved back to what they were meant to be and so in their devolution revealing the inherent potential in them…

Anyway… So I read the articles… I understood the specs, design, I drooled… and then I tried my darndest to go out and convince myself I could have one… that it would be useful to be light, that it would be fulfilling for it to be cool and beautiful, that it would be powerful enough for all the movies, photography, CS3, wireframing, keynote designing….mmm…

I’ve filled up the hard-drive just thinking about it. And since that clearly does matter to me… the Air will have to remain as a luxury item if I could spare the cash. I’m still encouraged to see there are people for whom

The MacBook Air could easily be the only machine:

It’s certainly not a Macbook Pro replacement technically, it’s certainly not a vanity 3rd computer for many people but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not organised enough to keep it all under 80Gb let alone 65Gb…. I’m glad I’ve come into the debate late… I can agree with both sides and focus on getting a new MBP to replace this PB and it’s incessently noisy fan…

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20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack (Lessig Blog)

20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack (Lessig Blog):

Larry Lessig (founder of Creative Commons) has posted an excellent video (20 mins) on the difference between Obama and Clinton and it is a clear and intelligent call for a new era of politics in the USA. It is also an excellent summary of what it takes to be a true inspirational leader, in many ways he is also describing what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

The pace of change in the world has increased now to a point where our world leaders and governments need to be able to lead and inspire change for the better of the planet. Previously many of our leaders got on-board only once there was a clear majority, financial ability, business support and little risk of losing power… which doesn’t sound very much like standing for your principles. It of course remains to be seen what will happen once a candidate like Obama gets into the hot-seat… but I don’t really see Clinton standing for that kind of change…

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