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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Who's Gonna Be The First To Sue?

Remember the FedEx spot with fast-talking John Moschitta?  He was clocked at over 500 words per minute.  The concept of fast talk was fun creative.  Made for a memorable commercial.  Especially since he really had to the reading. 
John Moschitta in FedEx Commercial
Courtesy YouTube

Sometimes, if you wanted fast talk you could just strobe up (remember that one?) a normal tape – if you could tolerate the pitch shift and the higher vibrato rate.  Anyone recall feeding an audio VFO to an audio amp then to the capstan motor of an Ampex 350 to allow easy speed change on that machine?
Fast forward (pardon the old guys’ term) to today with ProTools, Audition and other audio programs.  You want a fast talker? Just highlight the track, go into effects, and you’re off to the races.  Ten-times? One-tenth?  Done!  It may not sound great but it gets you there.
That ease of execution may be what put Mr. Moschitta out of a job. At the same time, the fast talking has become pervasive in every audio spot that requires a disclaimer.
Four paragraphs to get to the point.  When does that disclaimer become unintelligible? Seriously.  I have a slight age-related hearing issue but I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that many of these disclaimers simply can’t be understood.  
So if I’m airing these, is my argument that frequency counts and I’m planning on any given person hearing the spot 5 (7? 10?) times and that by then the language should be clear?  Or maybe it’s that, “Hey!  Here’s the script.  The words are there.  What’s your problem.”
Now any of you who know me are probably aware that I think it’s our individual, personal responsibility to check out any product or service before you or I purchase it, asking all the questions.  But, if there’s going to be a federal rule about it, doesn’t it need to get followed?  If not, let’s get rid of the rule.
And if we’re keeping the rule, do I get to sue the manufacturer when the product doesn’t perform and the disclaimer was rendered unintelligible by processing?  Take a number, please.
Next time, we can talk about mouse type on the screen and how, despite high definition, it can be unreadable.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The "Customer Engagement Center"

A long (I mean really long) time ago, United Airlines ran a spot that showed verite` images of a "manager" passing out plane tickets to his group.  CU's of ticket wallets being stuffed into their hands flashed onscreen as he shouted out names. 
I'll paraphrase the copy: We lost our biggest client today.  Too many phone calls, too many faxes (I told you it was a really long time ago).  [then something about] No personal contact.
I don't remember if it moved the needle in UAL revenue seats but it was pretty doggoned good.  Made you think.  Is personal contact all that important?  Short answer:  You bet it is.
This blog isn't a promo for anyone or anything but if you haven't read Never Eat Alone, Who's Got Your Back? (K. Ferrazzi) or Cluetrain Manifesto (R. Levine et. al), and you're responsible for relationships with other businesses, you should shame yourself.
Yes, those books are a little long in the tooth but, c'mon, human nature hasn't really changed.  In fact that UAL spot is still relevant.
Well, apparently large number of companies haven't read these or any others that might be applicable - even In Search of Wow (T. Peters).  What's the giveaway?  The creation of the "customer engagement center".
What a wonderful thing.  Create a part of your service which engages customers and prospects on line.  I immediately imagine tossing a rubber mouse on the floor for the cat to play with. 
"...create part of your service which engages customers online..."  You have to say it out loud to realize the ludicrousness (ludicrosity? ludicroourusality?) of such a statement. 
Where to start.  Well, first, your whole doggoned site is supposed to be engaging.  If it's not, get a new designer and webmaster.
Second:  Are you really asking a site to do your job for you?  People are engaging.  People are great at creating experiences that are memorable - that bring you to and back to a site.  But to just create an area - we used to call them arenas - that's supposed to engage people?  Pure Barnum & Bailey.
If you want to engage people on your site, try this:
1.  What's your product?  Really.  What is it.  Is there engagement in that product?  The founder of a company I spent a long time with used the words "inherent drama."  What's the inherent drama in your product?  Can you demonstrate that on line?  Anyone remember a spot for Era detergent where the hand model wrote "Era" on a stain with the product and, after washing, you could read where it had removed the stain?  Where's the drama
2.  What's related to the product?  Weather?  Can you tie your product to weather and then info about weather on the site?  Can you engage people to interact with that information?  Maybe it's food.  Dietary interaction?  It might get you somewhere
3.  What's another degree of separation away?  Can you relate your product to something that relates to something?  Maybe it's travel that relates to history that could relate to, say, cheese, or bicycles, or golf, or... 
But the problem continues to be that you're thinking about automating your engagement.  You might as well go back to the old DOS text games for after customers or prospects get through it once, you're done.  The solution is to engage people to interact with you - a human - rather than canned responses from a website.  THAT's engagement.  Yes, that costs money.  But not as much as you think.  If you're spending money on a 3rd party "chat," run the numbers on eliminating that (if you've checked it out, you know it's a disaster, anyway) and you'll find that adding a person is within the realm of possibility.
If you want to automate engagement you can design help and prompts for a human so that as they interact with people, responses are at hand.  I don't mean "give 'em the roach letter*" type responses but, well, it might be numbers or facts or references.
It's about real people communicating with real people.  And I'm NOT talking about "chat" lines operated by third party suppliers.  Talk about negative experiences.
"But one person won't do it!" is the cry.  You should be so lucky.  Do the arithmetic on how many engagements one person can handle.  More than you'd think.  And if one person handles 100 a day, it'll work out to about a buck a contact...quite often a lead-generating contact.  Where you gonna find that kind of efficiency?  I'm talking about delivering real engagement, memorable engagement.  Make that business-repeating engagement.
*Doesn't anyone remember the old story?  It's covered here: