The Race Is On For Selling MROCs To Agencies

On Tuesday, Passenger announced that it is officially selling into agencies in the digital marketing and market research space. Here are some quick reactions on what this means:

First, this puts it in competition with other vendors (such MarketTools, Vovici, Globalpark) that will also sell into agencies and have a proprietary platform that they can decouple from their services.

Why would Passenger announce this as an explicit strategy? I can tell you from the calls I have with agencies that they see MROCs as a value-add to clients they are working with on social media or research. Also, community services (planning, ongoing management, facilitation, reporting) are the most expensive part of the equation, and it’s likely that many of the agencies that Passenger sells to either already have some services capabilities or will be willing to take more of them on at some point. This move meets a market need and diversifies Passenger's business channels with a potentially higher-margin offering.

Second, this announcement got me thinking about where the market for MROCs is headed, and I’ve got three main ideas:

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Do Your Customers Want To Telephone You For Service?

I was speaking with clients today about their views on telephone customer service. One believed that his customers liked calling the call center to solve problems with a “human touch”. His colleague countered that telephone customer service is simply too expensive to be giving away that “human touch”.

I think they are both correct. And they are both incorrect. Why? Because I believe one of the most common customer servicve misperceptions is that customers prefer to telephone you.

It’s true that the most commonly used customer service channel is the telephone. According to Forrester’s North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009, 69% of online consumers used the telephone to speak with a customer service agent (followed by 55% who emailed customer service and 55% who used a company’s Help or FAQ section.)

It’s also true that telephone customer service has the highest satisfaction compared to other online customer service channels, at 69%. Only 60% of people who used email for customer service were satisfied and 56% of those who used Help or FAQ’s.

These are compelling numbers. But do they mean that people want to call? Or do these numbers mean that alternative online customer service channels are absent or lackluster?

Here is another compelling number: 72% of US online consumers prefer to use a company's Web site to get answers to their questions rather than contact companies via telephone or email; roughly half this group strongly prefers self-reliance.

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iPad: Consumers are already embracing the cloud. They just don't know it

George Colony is absolutely right when he argues there is a new form of software emerging (see Beyond iPad Yadda Yadda). This is precisely the line I started to set out in this report, Consumer Cloud Services Are The Foundation For Multidevice Strategies . Those that argue that consumers are not using the cloud have failed to grasp that everything from Facebook, through Hotmail and Google Maps are based on cloud concepts extensively, and those are mainstream mass market services that demonstrate the co-operative software model that George outlines.

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Zappos, Nestle, Social Media and How All Workers Are Knowledge Workers

I just read a brilliant and inspirational blog post on the Harvard Business Review site entitled, "Are All Employees Knowledge Workers?"  The authors, John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, explore the "artificial distinction" that businesses create in their workforce between the haves (so-called "high potentials," creative talent, and knowledge workers) and the have nots (everyone else).  The writers suggest we need "to redefine all jobs, especially those performed at the front line (or, in an image, that reveals our prevalent management mindset, the 'bottom' of the institutional pyramid), in ways that facilitate problem solving, experimentation, and tinkering."

Early in the Web 1.0 era, companies asked what the Web could do for them.  It was the wrong question, because soon the Web was doing something to them--changing consumer expectations, forcing investments in technology, altering the way companies recruit, disrupting sales channels, changing company culture and breaking old models of the employee-employer dynamic.  (Remember when communicating with a boss at a certain level used to mean asking his secretary for time on his calendar rather than a real-time dialog via email or IM?  I do.)

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How Customer Input Shaped Office 2010 -- Lessons For Consumer Product Strategists

My first report addressing Product Creation is now Web-live.  It's a case study about how Microsoft's Office team used customer inputs to shape the development of Office 2010.  Here's why Microsoft's approach is interesting to fellow product strategy professionals:

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New Research Coverage For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals

So this is the new Forrester blog platform, eh?  Pretty nice.  Hope all of you appreciate the change, and that it makes it easier for you to find and read those posts that interest you the most.

Speaking of change, I've got a big one to announce: My coverage area at Forrester has shifted away from consumer broadband and communication toward more horizontal research for Consumer Product Strategists.  There are three key areas where I'll be focusing my attention:

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Amazon’s Post-iPad Fight Strategy

Round 1 goes to Apple. The iPad, as expected, has caused a big stir and gave people like Walt Mossberg reason to gush with enthusiasm about the death of laptops.

Throughout, as various members of the press have mused about the death of Amazon's Kindle, I feel compelled to point out that, contrary to popular belief, Amazon is in a better position now than it was before the iPad. That's right, if Amazon comes out swinging, Round 2 will go to Amazon. Here’s why: 

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Words That Say "Do Not Follow" on Twitter

do not follow

Image by alist via Flickr

People have many different approaches to determine who they will follow and not follow on Twitter.  A whole lot of folks won't follow anyone they don't know.  Others sign up for spammy, follower-generating tools that permit them to amass tens of thousands of followers and followees (who couldn't give a darn what  each other have to say).  I know a guy who won't follow more than 140 followers at any one time.

My preference has been to follow just about anyone who follows me--this approach struck me as fair, open and social.  There are drawbacks to "reciprocal following," such as that it makes my Twitter stream a relatively useless flow of wide-ranging tweets.  On the plus side, it exposes me to more folks, and when I see one I find interesting and pertinent, I can choose to follow him or her more closely by adding the individual to lists in my preferred Twitter client, Hootsuite.  Also, this practice permits people to Direct Message (DM) me, which I welcome until and unless a given Twitterer abuses the privilege by littering my DM "in box" with spam.

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"Hello World!" and the impact on loyalty

Hi Marketing Leaders,

"Hello World!" is the well-known statement Tiger Woods used to introduce himself to professional golf in 1996. Since that introduction, Woods has become the biggest individual brand since Michael Jordan earning over $1 billion in total endorsement and tournament earnings. Now, the Woods' brand is tarnished due to his infidelity - yet the Woods' brand is resilient and customers are still loyal. According to Forbes' "Fab 40" list, the "Tiger Woods" brand still holds top spot among athletes with a brand value of $82 million.

What does this have to do with marketing leadership, Forrester and me..."the new guy"?

I officially joined the marketing leadership team yesterday. April Fool's Day is not the preferred starting date for any job, but I made it through without any surprises from HR or my new boss, David Cooperstein. In my new role, I am focusing on loyalty and customer value among other topics. I will explore how marketing leaders are evolving strategies around loyalty and customer value as social media and emerging brand platforms create opportunities & challenges.

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"Hello World!" and the impact on loyalty

Hi Marketing Leaders,

"Hello World!" is the well-known statement Tiger Woods used to introduce himself to professional golf in 1996. Since that introduction, Woods has become the biggest individual brand since Michael Jordan earning over $1 billion in total endorsement and tournament earnings. Now, the Woods' brand is tarnished due to his infidelity - yet the Woods' brand is resilient and customers are still loyal. According to Forbes' "Fab 40" list, the "Tiger Woods" brand still holds top spot among athletes with a brand value of $82 million.

What does this have to do with marketing leadership, Forrester and me..."the new guy"?

I officially joined the marketing leadership team yesterday. April Fool's Day is not the preferred starting date for any job, but I made it through without any surprises from HR or my new boss, David Cooperstein. In my new role, I am focusing on loyalty and customer value among other topics. I will explore how marketing leaders are evolving strategies around loyalty and customer value as social media and emerging brand platforms create opportunities & challenges.

Read more