2609, 2017

The Rules of the Game; or, How Our Customers Are Worlds Unto Themselves

1. Customer Service — whatever channel it is provided in — lives within the world of language.

2. That world can be viewed as a game.

3. The game has rules, some clearly articulated and scripted (“answer X when customer says Y,” “provide this offer when this action occurs,” “the desired ROI is this…,” and so on). This is the explicit knowledge of the game — it can (ideally) be accessed by anyone.

4. Some of the rules of the game are not explicit — they are tacit. They guide our behavior but we can’t articulate them. As the thought-provoking chemist Michael Polyani noted in both Personal Knowledge and The Tacit Dimension, “we [often] know more than we can tell.” Riding a bike provides a good example of tacit knowledge; when riding, for example, one never makes explicit the laws of mechanics (balance this, exert pressure here, etc.) — one simply rides.

5. Indeed, the majority of rules in the game are tacit. We have to observe the world at work to understand what the rules actually are. As the great language philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein noted, “I do not explicitly learn the propositions that stand fast for me. I can discover them subsequently like the axis around which a body rotates. This axis is not fixed in the sense that anything holds it fast, but the movement around it determines its immobility.”

6. Tacit rules can be observed at work in different contexts. For example, we may notice, after repeated trials, that a number of customers use an unexpected word (or cluster of words) at a specific node within the customer journey. We craft a response, a rule changes, the customer journey map reorganizes itself — and the world accommodates that change. In this instance we can codify the tacit knowledge and make it explicit.

7. Our goal is to convert tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

8. And indeed, many companies are doing an excellent job at codifying tacit knowledge — that is, making what was previously hidden explicit.  Cogito, for example, is an interesting company in this regard, in that its emotional intelligence software surfaces up the “hidden signals” that inform language (tone, inflection, etc.) and then provides directions (“speak more slowly,” etc.) on how to respond to the customer and even provides a CX score — just like in a game. After a period of time, in-the-moment suggestions (“be more empathic”) can become normative rules (“If customer says X, then Y”).

9. “Repositories of data” provide the framework for “world views.”

10. Worlds are alive — they grow with each interaction and interconnection.

11. Each client comprises its own world.

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2009, 2017

The Ghost in the Machine; or, The (Un)Intended Consequences of Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods

Imagine the Whole Foods of the near future — it’s no longer a store in the classical sense but, rather, a space of “personalized anticipation.” It’s an intelligent place, complete with sensors for tracking customer purchases, robots for stocking shelves, and cameras that record your facial gestures, in case you need help. It’s a place that knows you better than you know yourself, what you eat, and if you are a member of Prime, of which half the households in the United States are, then what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, and much, much more. In this new world, to paraphrase Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have consumed.” And Amazon knows (or will know soon) what you have consumed.

In the next few years Amazon may well achieve its own Copernican revolution in the way we “position” ourselves in the shopping universe. Davey Alba writes in Wired that Amazon aims “to minimize friction in the shopping experience—and, it should be said, reduce labor costs. In Amazon’s world, you don’t even get out of the car. And if you do enter a supermarket, you can get what you want without so much as reaching for your wallet or phone.”

To be sure, there is a sense of shock and awe when one considers Amazon’s strategy — a two-fold strategy, really, as Ben Thompson points, consisting of AWS for businesses and Prime for consumers. There is intellectual audacity in what Amazon does, innovation, and a focus on the long game, the results and ramifications of which are now appearing like some new land glimpsed dimly on the horizon.

And a sense of unease, too, for there is a suspicion that we are on the verge of an epistemological break with the objects in the world — rather than acting upon them with some modicum of intentionality and rationality, they will act upon us, limit and shape our choices — indeed, anticipate us. To be sure, Amazon is playing no small role in reformulating our being-in-the-world.

Of course this purchase will have consequences, some unintended, within the whole grocery market eco-system. Many will be positive, in that they will create more jobs in a variety of areas. For example, in the Whole Foods of the future it’s fair to say that we will see very few staff — Amazon’s use of automation in their warehouses and their experiments with the technologies that power Amazon Go presage such a shift.

This means that customer journey maps will need to be adjusted as the customer experience changes. Micro moments within the journey will assume different positions and will require different responses. Branding — and storytelling — will take on even more importance. Label information will need to become more effective and precise. And lastly, the product provider will have to assume more responsibility for “customer education.”

The information delivery mechanism will change, also. More and more we will see information on products delivered via a kiosk or roaming robots. Companies will need to take a page from the Amazon playbook and develop rich, seamless omni-channel learning experiences to succeed. This will be particularly relevant for companies that make products for the Whole Body Department (vitamins, supplements, etc.).

Of the shopping experience of the future, Amazon likes to say “No lines. No checkout. (No, seriously.)” Forward-thinking companies might want to insert an additional sentence — “No staff.” — and plan accordingly.

** Look for Amazon to buy a health insurance company in the near future, further extending the reach of Prime into all aspects of our lives.

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111, 2016

Writers & The First Moment of Truth

In our previous posts on Writers and Micro Moments and the Writers & the Zero Moment of Truth we looked at the importance of understanding a reader’s “journey” and the “micro moments” within that journey.

The journey motif is a strong one in the Customer Relation Management and Cloud Marketing communities. Salesforce, for example, has a “journey builder,” a customer interaction mapping tool. And Google has a treasure trove of excellent articles on those moments when a person wants to know, go, do, or buy.

Writers who are looking to market and sell their books do well to understand what is needed in each moment of their potential reader’s journey of discovery and determine what kind of content the reader might need to help them move down the path, or “funnel,” to a transaction. In short, to quote Mike Grehan of Acronym Media, writers need to map their reader’s “intent with the right content response.”

Which brings us to the First Moment of Truth (FMOT). FMOT is a concept first advanced by Proctor & Gamble. It is the 3-7 seconds after a shopper first encounters a product on a store shelf. It is in these precious few seconds, P&G contends, that marketers have the best chance of converting a browser into a buyer.

So, what is the First Moment of Truth for a writer who is marketing their book? Undoubtedly it happens when a potential reader looks at the book cover. It is at this point that the individual makes an emotional, gut-level decision about the work — to find out more about it, or to move on. Usability guru Donald Norman refers to this as the visceral level of experience. At the visceral level, writes Norman, “people will be strongly biased toward appearance.” 

There have been numerous posts (and studies) on the importance of having a good book cover. This is particularly the case with self-published writers. Darren Beyer’s post on this topic demonstrates ably that a book is, indeed, judged by its cover. And this is why many book covers look similar (I know of four that look almost exactly like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See).

There are two takeaways for the book marketer:

  • First, it’s important to think of your customer as taking a journey to your book. Mapping that journey and identifying the micro moments within it will help you understand the content you will need to generate.
  • Second, we cannot overemphasize the importance of making an emotional connection with a reader through a well-designed cover. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Mark Schroeder

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2706, 2016

“Dogs Are People, Too”: What I Learned At Big Boulder 2016

This week I had the fantastic experience of attending the 2016 BigBoulder conference, thanks to the largesse of our partners over at GNIP. This was my first time attending the conference and the Big Boulder Initiative deserves a round of applause for the great job they did. Boulder’s best hotel, the St. Julien, was a gracious host, the food and drinks catered to a variety of tastes, the talks covered a wide range of pertinent issues in the social data world, and of course informing it all was the vibe of Boulder — even though I have lived here for twenty years, I still can’t get over how spectacular a venue it is. And if that wasn’t enough, the Dalai Llama was also staying at the St. Julien. Talk about a vibrational charge!

The BBI has already blogged about the talks in some detail so I won’t rehash a job well done; rather, I would like to share a list of thoughts, observations, and “things overheard” (without “last person” attribution). I have kept the list short, but truth be told, the conference generated a whole host of thoughts and ideas. So, without further ado: 

  • Dogs are people, too.
  • Brad (a real guy) does a better job than Radian Six at measuring sentiment. No one should tell Salesforce that.
  • A lot of folks are watching Mr. Robot. Is life imitating art?
  • If not art, then life often imitates (or is shaped by) Twitter — at least during political crises.
  • Pictures can tell a story — if we can see them.
  • Empathy — in design and presentation— will be a key element.
  • There are multiple truths.
  • We have miles to go before we sleep.
  • Bots are the future. But they still need Brad.
  • Algorithms are biased.
  • Now what?

Here are a couple of suggestions for the BBI for next year (assuming unlimited time and budget):

  1. It would be great to have a meeting planner capability where attendees are able to schedule meetings with other attendees prior to the conference. That may have been available and I was not aware of it.
  2. How about some workshops for brainstorming specific problems?
  3. What about a start-up competition? Start-ups would get ten minutes on the stage to make their presentation. Attendees could vote on the winner.

Look forward to seeing you all at Big Boulder 2017!

— Mark Schroeder

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2704, 2016

Introducing Social Media Reciprocity

You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of being on Twitter—and it can’t be overstated as a necessary part of your business or marketing plan.

If you’re new to Twitter, or social media in general, fear not! We are here to help. In our previous blog, How to Become Established on Twitter in Order to Use Find My Audience, we focused on the 1-2-3 steps of using Twitter. Now let’s talk about WHY to use it. To start, you’ve created something worth sharing and that work deserves to reach the largest possible audience. Find My Audience can help find quality audience members; now it’s up to you to connect with them.

Social media has the power to virtually connect millions of people. Your potential connections are endless – there simply are not enough hours in the day to reach all of them. And it’s important to remember that just posting a tweet doesn’t yield immediate results.  So while you go forward, we urge you to keep one vital principle in mind: Social Media Reciprocity (SMR).

The idea of SMR is based on  on mutual dependence or action—it’s sort of like having a conversation in the real world. For example, if you were to engage in a face-to-face conversation, would you spend the whole time talking about yourself? Maybe. For your acquaintance’s sake, hopefully not. Twitter conversations are a whole lot like a regular conversation: it’s about a mutual exchange. You can reach wider audiences and form stronger connections by sharing other people’s content, and interacting with them. In turn, they feel compelled, or interested enough, to share yours. In the Twittersphere, this can take the form of comments, retweets, favoriting, or dedicating a tweet to that person/account.

Creating a community based on reciprocity can be wildly beneficial. It shows that you are not a self-promoting narcissist, which will make people will far more likely to seek you out. It will also help you drive online traffic growth through proactive sharing, and ultimately help increase your brand’s legitimacy. We can call it social media etiquette, a social law, the ultimate rule; but in reality, this is simply just the best practice for growing your online following. Showing people you are engaging will encourage them to look deeper into your author profile and maybe even buy your book!


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1204, 2016

Welcome to Find My Audience  

You’ve taken the survey, supplied information about your book, and received the authorization code, which means that you’re officially a user in the Find My Audience Beta program. Welcome! Now what? Logging in to your account for the first time, you’ll see many profiles of potential “readers” on Twitter. If you click on one of these profiles, you can see why the Find My Audience algorithm pulled these users from Twitter; perhaps they have tweeted about your book, about a similar book or author, or maybe just expressed an interest in the genre in which you write.. In other words, they’ve started a conversation about books, and now you have the tool to continue the conversation.

At this point you’re ready to get started on working towards your ultimate goal for using our platform: creating relationships with people online through conversation, building your online presence as an author, and hopefully selling your book through these relationships.

If you’re a newbie to social media, you may be thinking: what the heck do I do now that I’ve logged in? What do I say to these people? Do I pitch my book to them right off the bat? What if I sound too sales-like? I want them to find genuine interest in me. How do I talk to people online?

The truth is that social media interactions are based on reciprocity.  Generally, what you put into it is what you will get out of it.  That being said, each person brings their own personality, talents, and style to their social media interactions. It is important to interact in a way you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable with pitching your work on the first tweet, go for it! If you like to get to know people and engage with them based on interests they’ve expressed, follow that avenue and then direct them to your author page by tweeting to them.  Of the myriad of interactive routes, the most important thing is to build your personal legitimacy through consistency and follow-up.

You already know that as an author, you have to promote yourself; as is the case with most indie authors, you and you alone are on the frontline of selling your book. We’re sure that you’ve read or been told many times that building a social media presence is crucial to becoming a successful author in today’s market. Interested readers will seek you out on social media to see what you’re about. Unless you have a huge marketing budget, a team of digital marketers working for you, or some bout of amazing luck, the chances are that building your online social presence will take some time—it won’t happen overnight! But we are here to make it easier for you and to save you some time.

What makes our platform valuable to you is that we’ve completely cut out the effort you would have to put into finding your own audience online. Our program is designed to make building an audience extremely easy. We have curated a dynamic group of people out of millions of online users who have something in common with your books, the books of another similar author, or your genre. We’ve taken these people and put them into one place for you, and given you the ability to filter through them, picking ones that are more relevant to you based on your own analysis of the conversations that are happening. Finding the right people to connect with is 90% of the battle when building an online presence, so we did it for you. All you have to do is connect.

You should consider each of these potential connections or readers as a regular person you might meet at a book club or even in an English class. You’re in the same place because you have similar interests; in this case it could be that you wrote a book that is similar to their favorite book. So start a conversation with them as if you would start a conversation in real life. After all, regardless of their digital appearance, there is a real person behind their handle, who is capable of conversing and forging relationships. How you approach and start conversations with your audience is up to you, and it will vary with each person.

What not to expect?  We can’t build your online relationships for you. Only you can promote your work in a true reflection of your artistic and personal style. We’re providing you with intelligent data and organization for you to capitalize on.  We’re happy to help you get the most out of our program and offer advice where we can. Consider our audience platform, blog, social media, and account management program as a great resource for you while you’re getting started with our Beta Program.

We’re looking forward to having you as a participant, and hearing about what you think, and how we can help you be a success in our program. Feel free to email us with questions, comments, and suggestions at support@findmyaudience.com

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3003, 2016

How To Use the Analytics Feature in FMA

If you are a current user in our Beta program, you may have noticed a little icon on the toolbar on your left screen  that indicates Analytics.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.50.01 AM

You may be wondering what the information in this area means, and how you can apply it to building your readership with our tool.

The analytics aspect of our tool provides users with a descriptive view of the social activity across your audience segments. Your audience segments are broken down into three different measurements: “This book” which is your direct audience and lists activity related to your book; the “Comparative audience,” a proximate audience and activity related to books that are determined to be “similar” to yours; and a “Mass Audience” activity related to the genre or other keywords of a larger, less specific audience. These are distinguished by colors, which you can see in the small key located in the upper right-hand corner.

The Analytics section is a great way to visualize the data that we use to identify audience members for your book profile. You can change your book profile to include various hashtags or keywords, and then see the measurements of those changes within Analytics. This is valuable to users as it allows them to see real data on what variations of keywords, search terms, hashtags, and similar books are producing the most conversation on the social web.

By utilizing these features, you can garner a more diverse and varied audience with whom to interact. Indeed, the Analytics section allows you to compare the potential of each audience member, as well as what inputs achieve new options. The more you are able to assess your audience members, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the more social connecting you will do!

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