Thursday, April 12, 2007

is m-commerce finally ready?

M-commerce; is it something you're thinking about? If not... it might be time to look more seriously into it. An article on along with some other articles about how some big entities are getting into the mobile banking/payment game started me thinking about this subject again.

There are a lot of things starting to finally converge that make this something to pay attention to. Some of those include:
  • better displays on the newer mobile devices
  • faster data services provided by the mobile providers
  • the capability to via hosted services, build a mobile version of your online retail store with a small investment in time and effort.
  • the generation that has been text messaging like crazy for 3 years or more... is either about to graduate from college or is out... and is now starting to have money to spend.
  • the ability to behaviorally target the user with context relative information real-time (ads, prices, etc. based on your physical location)
I think that the Apple iPhone, the wifi Zune and the plethora of devices like it will be driving people even further to this mode of shopping sooner rather than later.

I have to admit though that my own use of my Treo 650 as a mobile device has been... well... underwhelming at times. I chalk this up to the capabilities of the services that I've tried to use rather than the capabilities of the device.

In general though, if you don't have a mobile store within the next 8-12 months... and you're looking for a leg up on your competition, it might be time to check out a service like mPoria to see if you can design an experience that is very relevant to your customer. The convenience of the mobile store, combined with the improvements in the user experience and the adaptation of the mobile device as an everyday necessity might just be pushing mobile commerce to a tipping point explosion.

Would love to hear your thoughts... feel free to meebome on the right or comment.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

In-Stock Re-Defined, and the "Experience Chain"

Saw a very interesting article today that spurred some thinking (again... for the three or four of you that read this thing that should come as no surprise ;-)

The article is from those really smart folks over at Knowledge@Wharton (you might have heard of Wharton???). It talks about that consumer's definition of what it "in stock" has really changed dramatically, thanks to the advent of strong multi-channel seamlessly integrated retailers. In a nutshell... "in stock" no longer means "on the store shelves" but rather "somewhere in your enterprise." It is the experience that I was driving the powers that be towards at FamousFootwear when I was there, and it is the experience that consumers are starting to expect and get delivered to them by leaders such as Circuit City, Best Buy to name but a few.

The article goes on to point out that the weakest link in the success of this experience might be the employee they talk to at the store. If your person on the front lines doesn't know how to use the tools at their disposal to meet the customer's demands... your can STILL fail the customer's expectations. It is a great article and I commend it to you. However, it also got me thinking about a new concept; "The Experience Chain"

As I've said before, this superior customer experience, no matter what service you provide or goods you sell... is EXPECTED to be in the DNA of your organization at this point. Without it, your customer has too many choices and too much power for your organization to continue to succeed. Today's customer has Demandments according to one of the people I admire a lot Kelly Mooney at Resource Interactive. The customer's Customer Satisfaction as measured by ForeSee and the American Customer Satisfaction Index has a DIRECT correlation to the performance of an organization.

Your organization will meet these expectations only if your "Experience Chain" is humming along with the same efficiency as your "supply chain" or your "operational chain." If it isn't, your going to miss your "mark" with your organization's goals. In short, you could really look at all of your business functions, as part of your "Experience Chain." I'm going to better define this... what it includes, etc. but for now, here's my first crack at a definition:
"The Experience Chain: The sum of all your organization's strategies and activities, that provide your customer(s) with a superior customer experience."
Remember, the phrase "The Experience Chain." I'll be writing more about it soon.

Got any thoughts? Love to hear them. MEEBOME or comment.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why I just paid $79 for an Oil Change...

It is always easy to talk about your superior customer experience when you buy a new pair of shoes... or that piece of high fashion... upper end electronics... even your morning coffee/latte. But... I bet not many folks talk about their superior OIL CHANGE experience... Time to break some new ground ;-)

I paid $79 for an oil change today. I normally pay $44 for an oil change. I could pay $19.95 a lot of places, but... I don't. I pay the extra money. Every time. Why? Because I trust the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place will do it right, and keep my car running great! I trust that they will do it efficiently, on time, and won't pressure me into anything I don't want. I also trust that they know what's best for my car.

How'd they earn this trust? They have a simple formula. Their shop is clean, always. They do what they say they will do. They are very easy to use, with excellent systems for POS, a great CRM/Loyalty club, etc. And, they have a great product.

So today, I went to get the oil changed on the element. I use 5W-30 Durablend (a blended synthetic oil). It costs a little more but I want my element to last a long time. When I pulled in, I'd been wanting a place to get the tires rotated on it... but had put it off because... well... I didn't want to go to another place to do it. Well... at the Valvoline Instant Oil Change they do that... and the helpful service tech pointed it out when I came in. Boom... I spent $25 more for a rotation. They got it done in no time.... top to bottom I was out in 30 minutes.

Like clockwork they went through their routine... "Bay 3 Filter Verified!!!" "Bay 3 ready for oil!!!" came from the techs as they went about their work. When all was done, a quick review, speedy payment process done right there in the service bay, and a friendly reminder to fill out a quick telephone or web survey on their performance... and I was on my way.

I'm sure that someone could say that this is their job... and I'm just noticing someone or a team doing their job. But... I've changed the oil in my car before... and I've been to quite a few of these places... what keeps me coming back and paying more for this service is... the consistent level of service and the ease of use. In short... they get it right.

So... next time you get your oil changed... you might want to check out the level of service you get. Can you count on it every time? I know I can...

Feel free to comment or MEEBOME in the right column. If you need me, look for me in about 3500 miles... at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change.