CRM software runs my life

Month: March 2009

New Roses

New Roses

Originally uploaded by Scott Savage

Today we added 4 new white iceberg roses across the front of the verandah. They were on sale from Flower Power, 25% off. They are ok to plant outside of winter because they were potted, but we can’t move the other ones until July when they are dormant. We also put some lavender plants across the front of that garden bed, so hopefully they spread over the bed and the chip bark keeps the weeds at bay. The pile of soil is getting much smaller now. On the upcoming long weekend I will be doing some paving and putting in a vegetable patch!

What is Social CRM?

Social CRM is a buzz word that is spiralling out of control at the moment. What does it mean? I googled around and didn’t really find a consistent message. Instead I am going to explain my interpretation, let me know if you think it makes sense.

Social networks have two strong points, they are full of customers that are linked by relationships. These are the first two letters of CRM! The multi-billion dollar question is how can you manage them without destroying them or being seen as an evil spy.

Social CRM Feedback Loop

Social CRM Feedback Loop

The first step towards Social CRM is using social networks as a feedback loop for your customer relations programs. Who better to learn from than your customers themselves? It’s the perfect way to refine your customer relations processes and add another source of feedback and innovation into your company.

The next stage is to develop relationships with your customers. From a business perspective I would assume that this is due to repeat business delivering higher margins, mostly because it doesn’t require expensive mass marketing or other customer acquisition. Businesses justify it to consumers by saying it gives the customer an opportunity to dictate and receive a personalised product.

I like idealistic goals, I think when you are talking about customers it is good to at least aim towards being noble. The question is, how many businesses intentions are simply to maintain the margins of their mass market product?

As with everything in life there will be a balancing point, somewhere in the feedback gathering process I think the social networks will reject further interference. That balancing point is what Facebook and others are thinking day and night about, and the point they have crossed at times with projects such as Facebook Beacon. If a social network hits that point perfectly there is definitely big money at stake, but until then companies need to monitor the social networks in their backyard and just listen. There are plenty of companies that struggle to do that internally, let alone through fast moving external networks.

What is the ACMA Blacklist?

The ACMA's Little Black Book

The ACMA's Little Black Book

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, ACMA, is the Government’s media regulating body. They work on a complaints basis, so if content is deemed to be R18+ or to contain excessive amounts of violence, drugs, terrorism etc. then they ban it. They cannot search for new material currently, but instead they review complaints submitted to them (by the public, law enforcement etc.) and then decide whether to ban it or not. This list of banned items is called the ACMA Blacklist.

So why are people so upset about this list? This filtering of content has worked well for movies, why not the internet as well? There are two main areas of thought here:

1) Why is the list black? – The content of the list is not publicly available. In the ACMA’s last report however, 781 overseas sites were added to the list:

  • 3 were pedophilia related
  • 410 were rated “RC – Child – Depiction”
  • 251 were X-rated
  • 117 “other” legal content

Previous years showed similar statistics. Wikileaks claims to have the list in full, although of course the ACMA or Senator Conroy would never admit that. This secrecy and the lack of transparency around the reporting process, judgement criteria and the Blacklist itself has people concerned. This was heightened by the leaked Blacklist containing links to popular sites such as YouTube, Geocities and Flickr, as well as plans by Senator Conroy to monitor the blogosphere for dissent.

2) How will it be enforced? – There is enforcement currently in place, Australian websites on the Blacklist can be forcefully taken down. Sites that even link to Blacklisted sites can be fined $11,000, although the irony is that you will never know your link is Blacklisted until it’s too late.

Senator Conroy has decided that the Government needs to be more proactive about this process however, they need to make the filtering mandatory at the ISP level (the company who provides your internet connection). He has setup a live trial with a number of lower tier ISP’s to test his theory, having been rejected by the three big players: Telstra, Optus and Iinet. This opposition is mostly at a technical level, basically arguing that the filter will substantially slow internet access and be largely ineffective (Peer to Peer, Email and other traffic will not be filtered).

Not Happy Jan? You can:

I just hope that they use the inevitably flawed trial as a way out of this sticky web they have weaved. Please try and focus on getting the National Broadband Network right before you cripple our current copper tangle.

Telstra's plan to deal with the NBN

Telstra workers working hard

Telstra workers working hard

Telstra went all quiet after they got kicked out of the National Broadband Network tender, apart from a few whimpers about not caring anyway.

Everyone thinks the value is under the ground, in the pits around the nation. More specifically the value is in the copper, or rather it is if you are proposing the cheapest possible national roll out via VDSL. Telstra has been under investing in this asset for at least 20 years, so maybe the value isn’t really there?

One way or the other this asset will end up back in the NBN’s hand, and Telstra has always known that and milked it for every cent it can. It will eventually lose it though; through a Telstra’s lawyers dead hands, structural separation of Telstra, a massive compensation package or some combination of the above.

This is all part of the plan and a distracting safety net as far as Telstra is concerned. This was revealed this week with Telstra’s decision to upgrade its cable network to 100Mb/s, hidden in the fact that now they will deliver PSTN calls over the cable. Optus have been doing this for a while to avoid Telstra copper, but ironically Telstra is now trying to avoid copper too. They want to make sure no spare cent ends up in the hands of the new NBN owner.

So what’s next for Telstra? Telstra will lose the copper lines, keeping their high margin fibre customers (migrating them off copper PSTN lines) and getting a nice gift from the government to give them breathing space. Next steps are to capture as many high margin Metro customers as possible, and clean up the rest with NextG (maybe delivering VoIP over NextG?).

In the end though, Telstra’s plan will only work if the customer’s embrace it. A patriotic duty to support a national network will be hard pressed to overcome the Telstra brand and aggressive marketing and retailing. The economies of scale are being pressed from every side possible. Improves their Search Usability

New Domain Search Form
New Domain Search Form have updated their search tool by providing a new filtering method. It involves an accordion style menu on the left hand side that lets you select filters across a number of different property parameters. Filters include the usual bedrooms, price etc. plus some new fields such as Special Features, only those with a price specified, only those with photos, properties with Open Homes this weekend and more. There are some other more subtle changes, including different coloured summary view ad titles, a “See surrounding” link, floor plans links from the summary listing, sorting by inspection time and an RSS feed of search results.

I like the improvement, and it seems the agent feedback is generally positive too. They reference the DotHomes website as an example of great usability. I agree that is is very simple to use, however I do get frustrated by a lack of consistent controls and no ability to fine tune your options straight from the home page. For me, consistency is number 1 priority, largely because I think usability is about reducing the learning curve (and that is made much easier by only having one control to learn). Additionally when you refine that control the benefits flow across the whole site, enhancing every section. All the property websites still feel that a suburb search is all you need on the front page, I am hoping to see that change in the near future.

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