Archive for the ‘magazine articles’ Category

Which? delivers “satisfaction”, on the phone too!

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I recently visited Which? to look up a product, and took up their offer of £1 membership. This allowed me to get into the members area where most of the articles and reviews reside. Within the week I got the latest issue of the magazine and a cover letter. After reviewing my product and looking through the website I realized that Which? is UK-centric and whilst the product reviews are still apropos much else simply doesn’t apply. I wanted to cancel my subscription before the standard monthly charges begin!

The Which? cover letter had 5 color blocks on the right with all the contact details I need, plus my details and Membership Number. All very handy & practical. So I called the Which? Helpline and met their automated phone system. I fully expected the usual hellish experience. The first thing that struck me was the calm, level male voice giving me 5 options. They were clear and unhurried. Reassuring. I chose option 2 to cancel my subscription. A brief moment of music and “Richard” came on the line: “Hello, how can I help? Do you want to cancel your subscription?” He confirmed my name and address, gave me a cancel ref code and thanked me for telling him why I didn’t want the subscription. All done.

I came off the phone thinking this is the smoothest automated phone system I’ve encountered in a long while. Everything worked. There was no rush. No barrage of options. No wrong clicks – no dead ends, wrong department, try again. It just worked. I’m sure the folks at Which? know they have a great system. I would encourage any businesses that use automated phone help and directory systems to dial up the Which? Helpline on +44 1922 822 800 and listen to how they do it. Which? has proved their goal is quality. They focus on creating satisfaction for their customers. Even the ones who are signing off. That’s class!

Which? website - which.co.uk

Which? integrates website, print and phone with customer satisfaction as priority.

The end of SPAM?

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

It’s the money, stupid. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Get the credit card clearance co’s and the banks to stop payments and the SPAM money trail will dry up. A great idea?

A new study by 2 University of California research groups carefully mapped out the registration, hosting and monetization of several spam and scam efforts. What they found wasn’t anything new. We all know that there are countries you can register and host in that turn a blind eye. But what was new was realizing that the whole chain rests on the spammers getting paid for whatever they’re pushing. And that was like a lightbulb? Would it be possible to pressure the banks NOT to clear these questionable transactions?

It is an appealing idea. No doubt fraught with legislative and regulatory issues, cross-border diplomacy and a whole lot more. However, it is “common practice” for the clearing banks to vet and approve individuals and businesses. So why not extend this to vet the spammers food chain?

To read the report “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain” – a free PDF download –  click here.

Here’s the Abstract from the research report:

Spam-based advertising is a business. While it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion dollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable enterprise. We lack, however, a solid understanding of this enterprise’s full structure, and thus most anti-spam interventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam value chain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown). In this paper we present a holistic analysis that quantifies the full set of resources employed to monetize spam email— including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment—using extensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data, broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, and over 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites. We relate these resources to the organizations who administer them and then use this data to characterize the relative prospects for defensive interventions at each link in the spam value chain. In particular, we provide the first strong evidence of payment bottlenecks in the spam value chain; 95% of spam-advertised pharmaceutical, replica and software products are monetized using merchant services from just a handful of banks.

Social Media for Business

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

"How to Profit from Social Media" Chambers InBusiness magazine Spring 2011

 

I teamed up with Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications for this brief but comprehensive overview article – just published in Chambers Ireland’s InBusiness magazine. Click here to read the full 4-page article online. You’ll find Eoin’s blog here and Chambers website here. Enjoy!

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOW THE MAINSTREAM. No longer the territory of nerds and techies. Globally it has come of age. However, the idea that social media marketing can be achieved by tinkering for a few hours online is entirely false. While it is easy for individuals to engage, making social media work for business requires knowledge, skill and insight. Social media is the public space and for companies wanting to leverage this new market, real expertise is needed. It requires clear aims and clever thinking to get good results.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and Pix.ie are all social media portals. Facebook is by far the largest with over 500 million daily users worldwide, including 1.5 to 1.9 million in Ireland. Social media is where we find the majority of people hanging out these days, where users share news, photos and gossip with friends and colleagues. It has spread all over the globe and is ever present.

In the social media world it is the public who rule the airwaves. It hasn’t taken long for businesses to realise that’s a lot of people and a vast potential market. In the past couple of years we have seen huge growth in social media campaigns, from some of the largest global brands to some of the very clever smaller companies too.

The term ‘going viral’ belongs to social media and is the Holy Grail when ‘talking up’ your brand, product or project. It can spread instantly around the globe. But how do you ensure that your message stays on track and doesn’t backfire? This has already led to a new service offering called reputation management and is changing how the public and media relationship works.

To read how you can make Social Work for your business – click here to read the full 4-page article online. InBusiness is published quarterly by Chambers Ireland – click here for website. To view the InBusiness magazine archives – click here.

Making a New Business Online

Monday, April 11th, 2011

image and link to Chambers Ireland's InBusiness magazine Winter 2010

click above to read full graphic version online

How a young Cork entrepreneur is doing it

Kieran Walsh was born into business. His family founded Walsh Engineering in Cork, one of Ireland’s leading industrial suppliers. But he wasn’t born with a silver or golden spoon. He was put through his paces by elders who “knew a thing or two about business” and he has had to prove himself at every step.

This year Kieran appeared on The Apprentice (TV3) and underwent a grueling and rewarding baptism. As followers of the show will know, Kieran didn’t make it all the way. But the moment he was freed from “television prison”, as he calls it, he came home to his apartment in Cork city, looked around and said to himself “I need a cleaner!” His next project was born…

And it’s called PigSty.ie – everything you need to find someone to clean up your house, flat or office.

Read the full article on Chambers Ireland’s website – select Winter 2010/11 issue.

Why Customer Satisfaction is No.1

Friday, November 5th, 2010
Andrew Lovatt editor "Why Customer Satisfaction is No.1"

Click above to read full color version online.

The Autumn/Fall issue of Chambers Ireland’s In Business magazine is out. For this issue I wrote a 4-page article focusing on why Customer Satisfaction is No.1. Here’s the intro. (Click on magazine cover pic on right to read the full color magazine online.)

“To really win (customer) loyalty, forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems,” says an article in the prestigious Harvard Business Review (July-Aug 2010). Andrew Lovatt agrees that problem solving is the Number 1 “satisfier” but argues we shouldn’t overlook the need for good business design and helping customers every step of the way. Customer satisfaction should be the aim. Your reputation hangs on it. If you get it right, you can take it to the bank. What is your website doing for your bottom-line?

Fast and efficient problem-solving should be the Number One goal but it is all about Customer Satisfaction. To achieve this, you will need to sit in the customers‘ seat and test your website as if you were seeking a solution. See if you can use it to solve a set of “customer problems” – whether this is finding the right PDF document to download, filling out a request form or contacting Customer Support. See how long it takes you. Look carefully at the screens and see how “easily and quickly” you can solve the problem. Don’t be surprised if you find the solutions hard to find. Your aim should be to get the solution right in front of your customer as fast as possible.

How to promote business online

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I’m editing a new section for Chambers Ireland’s InBusiness Magazine. In the May issue we interview 3 leaders from the SEO, Online PR and Social Media networking world, and asked them to tell it like it is in plain English.

I interviewed Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications (online PR and social media networking), Maurice McGee of FreshConsulting (SEO), and Peter Cullen of Interleado (SEO and web metrics) and asked them to explain their expertise in a way that the average non-technical or non-expert person could understand. The result is a very useful guide.

InBusiness May 2010 magazine cover image

See GET CONNECTED pages 52-56

Creating a website and optimising it so that your company, products and services can be quickly and easily found is becoming a standard business procedure. You don’t have to be a big brand to benefit from these same methodologies.

The arrival of Social Media has added to the places where you can promote business and brand online. When done properly, your presence in the Social Media world – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc – can lead to increased visibility with your clients and higher rankings in the search engines. Social Media is also where you get to interact with your clients. It is a perfect venue for clever and smart promotion campaigns.

Your business can benefit from understanding each, and best of all – all three together. Online marketing is no longer a maybe, it is a given. In the coming decade businesses who fail to take it up will find their markets overrun by those who have picked up the challenge and the opportunity.

READ the online edition here or on Chambers Ireland’s website here.

Feedback and ideas are welcome in email here.