Friday, July 15, 2011

My Impressions About Google+

I heard a lot of buzz around Google's new try in social network. After Google Pulse and Google Wave, Google has never really been to catch up its delay on main social websites like Facebook or Twitter. It is quite surprising though as it seems that whatever Google is touching is turning to gold:

  • It remains the best search engine in the market by far (sorry Bing!)
  • Its Android operating system is great and equips some of the best smartphones right now.
  • Its Internet browser is really good, the Google Chrome, which I use everyday.
  • Gmail is to me still the best email service I know, and thanks to its new way to range emails (even though it needs some improvements), it is improving.
So, why wouldn't Google succeed in the competition of social network? I recently received an invitation to try Google +, the new version of Google's social network. And I must say I am quite impressed.

  • The "circle concept" works amazingly. I believe this is a great idea to range people in circles instead of having them in one single feed like Facebook for example, which creates a lot of noise around.
  • I can connect easilly to the different social network I am already part of to my profile (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Plaxo), which is cool because it is always great to get all the feed together. One is missing though... Foursquare, one of my favorite!
  • One of the huge advantage of Circles is that it connects you right away with people which owns a gmail account, meaning a vast majority of my contacts. That gives a great lift to the service, which already has a strong base of "prospects".
  • Also, a great point, even though now it is a bummer: They have created some mobile applications or the main smartphones service: Iphone, Android and Blackberry.
  • The tutorial is pretty good, it explains you well the different features of Google+. Also, I like the videos which are very clear about how it works.
  • The places lived feature is pretty cool: You just type in the name of the towns you lived, and it automatically locate them thanks to Google Maps.
Now here are some of the things I would have liked to see:
  • On peoples page, I would have liked to have been able to leave them an email. I can comment some of their activity, but yet I did not find how to send them an email (private).
  • Foursquare is missing in the social network I can add to my social network feed... It is deceiving as I really like this service.
  • It could have been cool If I would not have had to fill in my profile: Whenever you register to a new social media, you need to fill in your profile, whereas you have already done it several times. I would have liked a kind of blend between LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
In overall, my first impression of Google+ is great. I believe that it brings up some real innovations, and I can't wait to see more people that I know using it to see what will be the real use of it, and how it may fit versus Facebook in the market.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Go On With Blogging

I had a very interesting discussion with the other day with an influencial blogger in Paris, which has basically abandonned its blogging duty due to his lack of time. As a matter of fact, it has been over a year now that I have seen many very interesting bloggers turning down their number of posts, or basically giving up their pages.

I have recently changed my job position and I am now a category manager in a retail company. Due to my new position, I have not a lot of connexion now with customer relationship management nor marketing or web 2.0. Nevertheless, I still keep the interest, and I remain a fan of those topics (and as a lot of my peers aknowledge, an expert). I could have easilly give up my activities, especially as I have been very busy for several months, not blogging at all as I was preparing my wedding.

But I have decided that I was going to keep blogging. Why?

  • Because even though I am not Robert Scoble or Seth Godin, I still have an audience, people I know, some that I don't know at all, who find reliable information on it. I feel like I still have an "obligation" to feed them with new content.

  • I still love the topic I am discussing of, and this blog is the perfect way to clear up my mind, and at the same time, to build my ideas and thoughts. I like this fact.

  • Because even though a lot of the audience is now on Facebook, and that blogs are not the center of an online presence, it remains to me a great trend, and a great medium of expression.

Now it is hard to get back on track, as I had a fast pace before, posting 5 times a week. And I don't know if I'll be able to get back to that level, but I am sure that for the next 2 or 3 years, I will for sure go on with my blog.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Twitter Acquires Blacktype To Propose Social Data To Advertizers

Twitter remains in its early stage, trying to monetize its social network. As the business is new, and is struggling to become a “mass social media” a la Facebook, it needs some help to promote the advantages of advertising on Twitter.

Blacktype has developed a tool allowing brands and companies to monitor the number of people discussing about their brands online.

This is a good thing that Twitter is buying this company. That shows that Twitter is willing to propose to advertisers data about campaigns efficiency. What would be interesting though is to see how the service evolves to fit the most to a sales force oriented mindset.

What do you think about it?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Stores Shrinking To Seek More Profitability

I have been working in the retail industry for about 3 years now, and I have learned a lot about it. It seems pretty simple, as execution is a key factor of success, in a world where every details have its importance.

One of the main lesson I learned while I was a manager at Auchan, was that one store sizes was a way to shrink distribution cost, by driving higher purchase amounts and hence. Nevertheless, this concept, the "hypermarket concept" I would say, is struggling right now, as main actors in French market are seeing its sales flattening those past couple of years.

I read this very interesting article in French "Marketing Magazine". The author, Nicolas Chomette (Interbrand), is discussing about the numerous flagship stores brand are setting up, in order to get brand awareness, and displaying the company's vision of its position in the market and innovation.

Nevertheless, the author believe that large flagship stores are not following the main trend. First of all, downtown commercial real estate prices are skyrocketing, and the larger the space, the harder it becomes to generate square meter profitability. Secondly, flagships haven't been thought as actual stores, but showrooms, and therefore, most of them are not that convenient to drive sales, which what should remain the ultimate goal of one company, even though its trying to get brand awareness thanks to glamorous store addresses and top of the line display/innovation.

Instead of appearing as arrogant with large choices, innovation, small stores appear to be closer to customers expectation, creating some more intimate space to get in contact with the brands.

As a final conclusion, I like the idea of the author: "the future retail business may look like the old fashion one, with the exception of looking closely to salespeople expertise and ability to respond to customer needs". I like this idea, as I believe that within the next few years, after having looked for all the ways to cut wedges by implementing automation of CRM tasks, the employees will have a stronger role in the overall customer relationship strategy.

What do you think about it?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Customer Loyalty By Tom Peters

A quick blog post about a video I watched on Youtube on my main topic, customer relationship management. Tom Peters is a well known business guru, and it talks about his vision of customer loyalty.

I like his comment for many reasons:
  • It emphasizes that customer relationship management goes beyond a simple (or I should rather say a complex) CRM software. Data is great, but a customer is an actual person, and several other aspect will impact its decision making process...
  • It also emphasizes how important the human aspect of it is important. It focus on the sales person, which remains to me, in the center of the relationship one brand or one company has with its customer.
  • Customer relationship management is a mindset, which needs to be shared in the company.
What do you think about it?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What is MyYoutube?

I was logging out on Youtube tonight while I saw a new large top banner showing up named "Myyoutube".

It seems this is a new service proposed by Youtube to its users, allowing them to gain points while subscribing to some specific Youtube channels, which, in the end, appear to lead to gifts offered by the service.

I wanted to share with you my thoughts about this new feature, as I am discovering it. First of all, I must say that I don't quite understand the service:
  • Is it a loyalty reward program, pushing users to come back and watch as many videos as possible, in order to boost the number of views, and as a consequence, the number of advertizing opportunities?
  • Is it a new feature which will be temporarily available?
It proposes me to subscribe to some people's channels, but it seems it is mainly artists. To be honnest with you, I haven't subscribe to any artist channel yet, and I am not likely to do so (even though I watch a lot of music videos on Youtube...).

There is a button "click on the channel", which links to a new page. It explains in some videos that you have artists, which have a contest, and you have to subscibe to their channels and to click on the videos they want you to click on to earn points.

Now there is really something that bugs me: How much the points are worth? It is said that I "may" (may and not will...) get gifts, but I have no idea how many points I need, and more important, no idea what kind of gift I can get... This is not clear and precise, and I have no interest clicking on videos I would not watch anyways, to get points which will lead nowhere...

Okay, I found out where to get a description of the gift... It is really not clear how it works seriously... Now I can click on the gift section, and each artist have its own gift, which is most of the time some CDs...

I am quite skeptical about the project:
  • The concept is not well explained, and therefore, I have no clue what the company (Youtube) expects of me.
  • The Myyoutube name is too strong for such a campaign... It has nothing to do with me, as it promotes videos I have no intention to watch, not linked to my own consumption ("My Youtube" is for sure my account, with the videos I posted, my favorites, the message people may have sent me...)
  • It really seems like the artist are not really into the contest, and it feels like it has been set up thanks to us, and not for them...
  • The reward system is very vague and not clear, and the actual rewards are not really interesting.
What do you think about it?

How To Improve Online Customer Satisfaction: A Forrester Study.

I have read last week a quite interesting study by Forrester, which goal was to show out how a bad online experience could affect customer loyalty. Indeed, Internet has become the most important medium between one customer and one brand. If the customer does not find the information he wants while surfing on the Facebook page, Twitter account or website of a company, then he will without a doubt disappoint him.

Forrester brings up 5 key factors of success in order to secure customers’ satisfaction while seeking for information online:

Organize the company into specific silos:
The idea is to create small structures which will be faster to respond to any kind of questions. It will ease the process of finding information for the person in charge of responding to customers. One of the good idea I found in this part is to create a kind of “social network” inside of the company, which would allow people to identify clearly the people who will respond the best to their request.

Offer better web tools to customers
The goal is to ease the access to information online. The idea is for example to have a powerful search engine which could organize properly the information upon the request.

Allow customers to customize their online experience
I like this idea. Somehow like Netvibes is working: you should be able to have the information you want, where you want, in the form you want. This is somehow also the concept of ubiquity. You may be careful though not to make the website too complicated by becoming too complex or complete.

Provide to employees the appropriate tools to interact with customers.
Customers aim to have a quick answer, and sometimes, they don’t quite understand why it takes so long for companies to get back in touch with them. It comes to the fact that companies are complex organization, which implies several people to take part into the solution. Therefore it is important to faster the communication between departments and people. Likewise, it is also important for employees to have all the media available to get back with the customers: email, phone, chat, social networks… Depending on the request and the source of the question, it is important to use the appropriate medium for response.

Provide clear and extensive information to employees
Employees in call center or customer relationship management departments have loads of different information to give to customers: Billing information, information about the service, the products, the fares, the after sales service… It is difficult for them to know it all. A company should focus on educating its personnel and also to give them support to give appropriate response to its customers.

Moreover, I wanted to add a very important point, which has not been much discussed in the white paper I read: It is important to give back some freedom and decision making power to employees in customer relationship management center. Indeed, our society, and company’s offer has brought a lot of complexity into customers’ decision making process. And so did follow the response expected by them. Therefore, classic question and answers prepared are not enough, and employees must adapt the response and the offer depending on the customer’s expectation. It is also important to keep this aspect of the job, as it is most of the time stressful, and then allowing employees to bring some of their added values can only bring to them some satisfaction about their job.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Stratégie Cross Canal Videofutur (3): Ma vision des choses

Pourtant, d’autres choix stratégiques auraient permis de mettre plus en avant cette offre tout en renforçant l’attractivité des points de vente. La vrai stratégie aurait été de réinventer le positionnement de Videofutur en élargissant le spectre de la marque.

Il ne faut plus penser uniquement en terme de « location de DVD », mais être plus ambitieux en devenant le leader du divertissement vidéo. Voici quelques propositions.

Se lancer dans la location de jeux vidéos
Videofutur aurait pu développer une offre de location de jeux vidéo, tels que cela existe aux Etats-Unis. Le marché des jeux vidéos explosent et est en train petit à petit de dépasser le marché du film. A cet égard, il aurait été opportun de saisir l’occasion pour développer un nouveau concept.

Renforcer ses points forts
Videofutur aurait aussi pu renforcer son image de spécialiste, en élargissant son catalogue de films, grâce à un système de « réserve déportée ». En effet, la taille des magasins est limitée, et le traffic ainsi qu’une part importante du chiffre d’affaires est réalisée par les nouveautés. C’est d’ailleurs la raison pour laquelle dans les magasins Videofutur une place prépondérante est prise par le mur des « nouveauté ». Mais afin de fidéliser les clients il serait intéressant d’avoir un catalogue élargit qui pourrait être disponible dans une réserve déportée, où chaque magasin pourrait puiser afin de proposer les films demandés par les consommateurs (bien souvent, les films qui ont plus de dix ans ne sont pas disponibles…)

Optimiser les périodes creuses
Optimiser la rentabilité du point de vente lors des période creuse. Mc Donald’s a lancé les « Mc Morning », puis les « Mc Café » afin de drainer du traffic lors de période creuse, Barnes & Noble a ouvert des Starbucks dans ses magasins afin de devenir un lieu de passage et surtout réussir a augmenté le temps de visite du consommateur, alors pourquoi ne pas penser à un systèle pareil pour Videofutur. Les magasins Videofutur, en centre-ville pour la plupart, devrait trouver une idée, en corrélation avec leur positionnement, afin d’attirer le client hors des périodes de boom. Cela peut passer par exemple par :
o Vente de journaux
o Vente de boissons chaudes à prix discount
o Promotion en milieu de journée

Renforcer le lien entre le site Internet et le magasin
Et je pense que c’est bien là où des efforts auraient pu être fait : Proposer de compléter les services du magasin par l’Internet et vice-versa. Voici quelques idées pêle mêle :

  • Renforcer la présence des magasins sur la toile : Une page par magasin dédiée, pourquoi pas une application Iphone pour pouvoir localiser le magasin le plus proche…

  • Permettre de rendre les films soit via courrier, soit en magasin.

  • Permettre de réserver sur Internet ces films.

Développer de nouveaux services innovant liés au positionnement.
Voici d’autres idées en lien avec le positionnement de l’enseigne, qui pourrait créer de la valeur auprès du consommateur :

  • Location de mini-lecteur DVD pour le train

  • Location de support tels que des vidéos projecteurs…

Je tenais à faire cette note (qui sera certainement découpé en plusieurs articles, car au final, cela fait très long…), car j’aime beaucoup le service et je vois un réel avenir à cette société, qui bien qu’en difficulté, pourrait avoir un bel avenir devant elle.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Stratégie Cross Canal Videofutur (2): Un nouveau service qui pose problème

Mais le réel problème de cette nouveauté est que Videofutur a oublié un point déterminant : Le point de vente. Et c’est un problème capital, car le développement de la société a été basée sur le système de la franchise, qui permet de développer un réseau rapidement pour dominer un marché, mais qui représente l’inconvénient que la société possède de grands engagements envers ces franchisés.

Si l’on regarde les comptes de Videofutur (disponible sur Internet), on s’aperçoit que la société est en effet en difficulté. Perte de chiffre d’affaires, concurrences de la video on demand, les magasins souffrent, et la technologie « DVD », voire même « Bluray » au final n’a quand même pas beaucoup d’avenir face au « cloud » et à la virtualisation.

Ne surtout pas passer au dessus des magasins
Néanmoins, bien que l’offre a de forte chance de se développer et d’offrir une belle rentabilité sur l’Internet, il est pour moi totalement inconcevable de se passer des points de ventes. Pour 2 raisons principales :

  • La société étant un franchiseur, elle doit rendre des comptes auprès de ceux-ci et de s’assurer que les choix stratégiques de celle-ci permettent le développement de chacun des points de ventes franchisés.

  • Je crois toujours dans le « point de vente » classique. On le voit bien, dans les différents secteurs, le point de vente est en train de se réinventer, afin de répondre à de nouveaux besoins, qui ne sont plus uniquement l’accès à un produit.

Videofutur a construit une offre sur Internet dans son coin, sans se préoccuper des points de ventes :

  • Aucun relais de l’offre en magasin (bien sûr les franchisés n’auraient certainement pas acceptés de faire de la publicité pour une offre qui allait les concurrences directement !).

  • Encore plus grave, sur le site Internet de la société, aucune mention des points de ventes : Tout est tourné vers l’offre VOD… On a laissé tombé le client et les franchisés…