Thursday, May 22, 2014

School's Out

Just saw E head off for her last 1/2 day of her freshmen year in high school. She had a most triumphant year (yes, that's a Bill and Ted's reference). 

Of course that meant a morning end of school music play list to start the morning.

This years playlist:

1. School's Out the Krokus cover version
2. Mutha (Don't Wanna Go To School Today) by Extreme
3. School by Nirvana
4. I Want Out by Helloween

Celebrate the year with those you know, or simply reflect on those days in your own past.

- Brian

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Coupon

Today's free idea for or Netflix is this:  Give me a way to opt-in for coupons to buy hard copy of the things I watch.  Why aren't you doing this already.

This light bulb flicked on when a few days ago I read an article stating:
Sony has warned of heavy losses primarily due to its exit from the PC business and because "demand for physical media [is] contracting faster than anticipated."

Statements like this always lead to tales of doom regarding hard copy  Yes, hard copy sales will decline from their height, just as music hard copy declined , or leveled as I like to put it.

I, and many others like me, will always value physical copies.  I prefer CDs, LPs, DVDs, Blu-ray, and physical bound books.

To me, Netlfix or Amazon Prime viewing is similar to physical rentals but even more so.  With subscription streaming I often try things I wouldn't.  If they suck I'll stop watching in the middle and move on.  If I'm surprised by the goodness, I want to own it.

Negotiate with Sony and the other movie companies to for paid discount programs for those who watch.  I'd opt-in to get discounts on hard copies.  You could base it on my rating, etc.  You can generate special discount coding that helps you metric the conversion from my streaming viewing to hard copy purchases. I could go on, but won't.

 At it's core my watching significantly cuts through noise and promotes target marketing.  All players should want to be using it.

My idea could be extended to music streaming services as well.  I mention that even though I never have or will make use of music streaming.

So there you go.  Get back to the basic ideas of target marketing.  Sure, sure, you still make a mint selling my viewing data profile.  Give me more incentive to buy my own physical thing.

Maybe Sony will shift their perspective and realize that it's time to promote sales to those who are eager to buy hard copy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 + Schwan's = Grocery/Food Service

Just this morning my wife mentioned how the a fund raising promotion for the Manhattan High Rowing Club with Schwan's food ( was beginning.  This led to a discussion of Schwan's and our perceptions of their use demographics, etc.

Suddenly it became clear to me.  If, a juggernaut of wharehouse efficiency and order fullfilment, truly wants to bring it to the grocery game they'd buy Schwan's.

So there you go Jeff Bezos.  Go buy them.  Take the lessons they've learned, their skilled staff, and the infrastructure they possess.  Combine it with your experience and might and suddenly you'll be serious about grocery delivery from online sales.  You'd acquire an already in place distribution system and facilities. 

Once owned, you could eventually consider adding the concept of the tiffin lunch delivery from India and additionally add lunch and dinner fulfillment.  Start with large metro areas with eventual tests in mid-level markets as well.

Current technology allows many avenues for daily prompts to customers for scheduling grocery resupply or meal orders for the following day.  Heck, soon your system will automatically receive orders based on my preferred on-hand refrigerator and pantry levels compared to current in-house inventory.

A slight tweak would allow you to include household necessities such as paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.

I could go on and on mentioning such things as aging Boomer's or less people cooking traditional meals, but I'm sure you'll brainstorm those things.

So there you go. Schwan's: an company.

- Brian

Monday, April 14, 2014

One Account Login with Roles

People have a hard time keeping track of all the user name and password combinations they have across web sites. Why would you compound their struggle by forcing them to have multiple logins to your site for different functionality? You wouldn't. Give them a single log in and control access to various functions and permissions using roles. The goal? Elegant ease of use.

My real world experience with this happened about 7 years ago when I was supporting a couple of continuing education software programs and helping to architect the company's next fully browser based version. 

The existing two products had web class registration access for students, with limited instructor and staff web access.  My support duties meant I dealt with continuing education staff who often were also students of classes, as well as served as instructors.  This meant they potentially had three separate accounts in the system. This also meant they had to recall three separate user/password combinations, and that was just in a single system. I understood their frustrations.

The response as I listened and helped them was to suggest we develop the new system with a single user account that that was role based.  Each account would start off with the default role of student. Once the account was created, the system administrator could add and remove other roles such as staff, instructor, firm contact. Those additions and removals would allow role specific system permissions to be set, trigger password resets,  account confirmations, or prompt for new required fields to be filled, etc.

The goal being to make it so users only had to remember one login/password combination for the entire system, and at the same time help the system administrator keep better track of access, preferences, and permissions for staff, instructors, firm contacts, students.

Focus on making it elegant for the users.  It's an effort that's well worth it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy to be Simply a Customer

I'm a customer and I want to be valued and treated like one.  Our interaction occurred because I needed or wanted a product or service that you offer.  I paid you. If I have a issue with your service or product I expect easy access to a direct and responsive communication channel to resolve them with you.

By default I'm not part of your "<insert company or product> community".  Despite your effort to redefine the term, that's not communities work.  Again, if our seller/buyer interaction was satisfying for me I'm completely happy being simply a customer

I also don't want you emailing me asking if I can help answer other potential customers questions for you, review things, or otherwise do your sales job for you.  That would be similar to the local grocery store asking me to assist others with their self checkout because I've used the self checkout successfully and now have been declared to be part of the "grocery buying community".

Again, I'm very happy to be simply a customer.  Value me as one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Software is a Tool

Software, in all forms, is a tool.  It's that simple. It's frustrating to read and hear declarations insisting "software is an experience!".

You have an experience using it, but it is not an experience itself, it's a thing that a person utilizes to get something done.  Its function and interface design can make that use a positive or negative experience, a productive or wasteful experience. Either way, the software itself is only a tool, a poor or well crafted tool.

Software itself is no more of an experience than the wrench you use to turn a 1/4" bolt is "an experience". The wrench design attributes are only part of an experience, as well as many other factors.  Is the bolt head rounded?  Is the bolt thread-locked or rusted?  Is the bolt head in a place it's hard to get your arm, your hand?  Are you working outside in the heat, the cold, etc?  Those elements as well as the wrench make up the experience, but the wrench alone is not the experience, the wrench is simply a tool.

Software developers need to prioritize designing great software tools that most efficiently and elegantly serve the purpose of getting something accomplished.  When they do that they are more likely to create software tools that consistently become a part of a good use experience.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Those Who Do vs Those Who Do Talking

I read yet another so-called social media marketer's three sentence blurb accompanying their link to someone elses article stating "Showing that you are listening to customers will make your customers and potential customers very loyal."

Close, but not quite there.

Actually listening to your customers is the key.  It's not wearing it on your sleeve that you should be attempting to do. You should put your energy into actually listening to your customers, and responding where it’s appropriate. Period.

Doing so you'll not only have a product that better fits the needs of your current and future customers, you'll also have happier customers.  If you walk it instead of focusing on showing it, and do something special, true, and honest, people will talk about you. They may, or may not, do the talking using your favorite buzzword social media outlet, but I guarantee they'll communicate in person with their industry cohorts at conferences and meetings, in emails, and on the phone if you’re authentically helping them achieve their goals.