Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cellular/WiFi convergence gains momentum

The problem with Cellular/Wifi convergences is the mobile carriers: If a company implements dual mode phones, the carrier loses talk minutes when the phone is used on the wifi network. A loss of revenue is not appealing. However, some companies are coming with creative products, and early adopters are noticing.

read more | digg story

Monday, February 11, 2008

Amazon’s online forum could be a great tool (part 2)

Last time I posted about how valuable a web 2.0 tool can be for almost any business. In particular, I gave the example of Amazon's Forum, and praised how it brings customers and company closer by giving a more human service. In specific, I tell the story of how an unreleased product that I ordered early December has been pushed several times while an Amazon employee keeps us all eager buyers updated in the forum.

Well, the story got so much more interesting in the last couple of days. One morning, all posts of such Amazon employee where removed from the forum. At that point, we all started speculating on whether the employee was real (I got a comment on my post to prove it) or if he got in trouble for telling us that the product was going to be released in late February. Some aggravated customers went ahead and wrote letters to the manufacturer directly, while others wrote about the most effective way to file a complaint with Amazon Customer Service. A great one came from a user called "M. Halstead". He posted a summary of all the posts that were deleted from the Amazon employee (I guess he looked in his archive and put it all together for everybody to read). On my end, I decided to post on the blog again and let my readers and everybody know.

The bottom line is that, today, everybody is upset with Amazon and the manufacturer. Some people blame the manufacturer for taking too long; others defend it because they want to release a quality product. I take the side that puts the blame on Amazon.

An online forum is a great way to keep your customers close and have a friendly tone with them. Especially Amazon, a famous-for-supply-chain store can benefit greatly from it. Myself and others are still hanging in there and approving the pushed forward dates, mainly because there is quite an amount of activity in the forum and R.C., the Amazon employee in trouble, was updating us on the process and his/her talks with the manufacturer. We, as customers, deserve to be informed by Amazon, the intermediary between consumer and manufacturer, on the status of our orders. Instead, we've been getting automated emails of "click here to approve a delay in your shipment"… I wonder why the company decided to put a web 2.0 tool in place, and not use it appropriately

My next step: a letter to Amazon's customer service, and a template of it to share with the forum. It's worth telling Amazon how to use a forum most effectively.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Amazon’s Forum – A personalized service

As I was reviewing a delayed purchased from Amazon, I decided to do some research as to why my order got delayed for the third time in the last two months. At first, I thought that Amazon was pushing back out of stock products on their highly automated systems. Then I thought that the manufacturer delayed the release of the product (in case you care here's the product I'm buying). Therefore I decided to Google delays related to the product. To my surprise, the first link that pops up is the very same Amazon product page. I click there and notice, at the bottom of it, a forum post about delays in the release of this product. That's right, Amazon offers a forum service, and several angry buyers like me were expressing their frustrations on it.

What a great form of "service personalization"! Amazon, and other online stores and service providers, are using forums, chat-with-a-representative and other web 2.0 services to be more human. In particular, in this forum post, an Amazon representative is keeping everybody up to date with the timings of the release of the product. He is even going the extra mile and asking for feedback about offering free one-day shipping to everybody. For the last weeks, hundreds of eager buyers like me, have been chatting directly and expressing our concerns with a real Amazon sales person (or supply chain manager, who knows the exact title). The fact is that we all feel much better about it than just getting automated emails.

Definitely technology advances like collaboration services (e.g. forums, blogs, twitter, and Facebook) as well as Unified Communication applications (e.g. Chat with a representative, call-me back buttons, and Web-based support systems) are getting business the competitive advantage of becoming more personalized, human and quicker to react.