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A reader published a comment on the previous post on Customer empathy – which I thought was something worth sharing with everyone – so here goes!


 

“I have been involved in manufacturing and sale of engineering goods for more than three decades in India now. I have certainly learnt that it helps to empathise with your customers to gain their loyalty.

This empathy comes easily so long as it relates to product design, because this actually helps you to improve the utility of your products!

However, it becomes impossible to empathise with customers in commercial matters of price and credit, for the simple reason that such misplaced empathy is the surest way to run your business into the ground at least in India! I mention this because customers in India are by and large not reliable in matters of timely payments.

In short: Technical Empathy? 100% Yes! / Commercial Empathy? 100% No!”


 

Firstly thanks Uday Sir for the comment. I loved the comment, and am taking the liberty to publish the same on my site as well. I agree with the sentiment and appreciate that it comes through with great experience! The thought however should be around how can all this be circumvented. Can a seemingly commoditized product also be delivered to customers with a fabulous value which is irreplicable. I think that is the challenge, and something that Internet companies are excelling at too!

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A comment on – Customer empathy in India and my response

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Web

Housing.co.in – RightMove for India!


housing
Having witnessed the success of RightMove in the UK, I always wondered why there wasn’t an Indian Counterpart for it. Seeing Housing.Co.In yesterday answered that question 🙂

Housing.Co.In enters the tricky domain of Indian Real Estate! A market with innumerable dealers – who in many ways survive on the fact that market is not transparent and illiquid. Want an apartment to rent in a new city? Get ready to deal with thousands of agents, no certainty who is the landlord, no knowledge whether you are overpaying or not – absolutely no information. Want to rent out your apartment? Again get ready to deal with many many agents, always demand a big housing deposit, ask neighbours how much are they charging! In the digital age where the entire city maps are online thanks to Google – how can this still be the case?

  • Housing.Co.In provides a great layout which simplifies these things.Choose your location, Rent, Buy or Sell, Enter desired location and instant results on a map! Prices, Pictures, Reviews, Commute, Neighbourhood – basically everything you want to see before actually going to see the property.
  • Transparency: Specially in the Indian Real Estate Sector where the market is always higher when you want to buy and always lower when you want to sell! Its a boon for everyone! Initially property agents might not like it but I believe in the long run it is beneficial for them as well – as with transparency we will get more transactions!
  • Ease of moving: Going to a new city? Switching jobs? The main question becomes housing! Sir par chat to honi chahiyen na mere bhai …. hopefully this solves such issues
  • Information: Many such property websites have now started publishing market reports and market status – giving more information to users, government, industry and so on. The information advantage is also huge.

Do try it out. The number of cities are 9 for now but they cover most metros. Pretty good effort and will be interesting to watch its growth from now on …

 

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Business, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Web

Loyalty Card and Analytics together via Apps! – Way to go GBK

 

Everyone knows that Apps! are serious business. Instagram acquired for $1 billion, over billions of apps on iPhone and Android, to a large degree windows phone and blackberry failing due to lacks of apps! There is Facebook App, LinkedIn App, BBC News App, NDTV App, Hotel Booking Apps, Amazon Apps – many many apps! Most of the apps however are of 1 category – taking interaction from the user from the computer to their mobile device – which makes sense as it keeps the user engaged all the time.

gbkTill now, I have not seen many real consumer based companies moving to Apps to keep the user engaged and also gather useful analytics for themselves. This attempt by a Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the UK seems like a clever entry point.

Loyalty Cards have been around for a long long time. They give the user an incentive to come back, generate more revenue for the service provider and many times the user introduces other users to the brand as well. All this has been fairly well understood. Till now – loyalty cards existed like cards and not Apps!

By introducing the GBK App as a loyalty card – GBK gets so much more information and in turn helps grow the business.

  • User Analytics – App helps you measure number of repeat visits (per week, per month, per year)
  • Customer Retention – If the user starts using the app but does not come back then surely you can give them some special coupon to get the repeat business!
  • Location – When you are in the restaurant business, one of the most important things for you is Location! Through this app though you get to know exactly how many people and which people frequent which areas for GBK.
  • Paperless and Convenience – We all want to be green! And no one wants to look for bits of paper when you can have it in your smartphone.
  • Customer Categorisation – As the user needs to use to app before ordering to get the discount – you know their usual order size and margins – better of all you know the customer details. You can focus on the most profitable customers!

I believe this is just the start of the move of loyalty cards – maybe one day the term itself will change to Loyalty App!

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Business, Strategy, Technology, Web

Revenues or Customers – Facebook needs to pick one!

Read an interesting article by Mahesh Murthy on Facebook and its new ways to generate revenue. You can find it in detail here, but according to me the summary is that ‘Customers used Facebook because it was a cool and free place to come together. In the process Facebook became a big company and from advertising on the sides has few billion dollars in revenue. Now to increase the revenues Facebook is trying to charge customers from their posts without understanding how dangerous it can be. People switched from Myspace to Orkut to Facebook and god knows where they might go next’.

Both Facebook and Instagram have done some big bloopers in the past few weeks. Instagram change of policy caused a major controversy and probably loss of users! Facebook charging money to promote posts is again a big blooper! I understand making money is difficult but here our a few ideas from my side for possible revenue streams!

  • Facebook Messenger vs WhatsApp: Techcrunch wrote that Facebook might be in the talks to acquire WhatsApp. Ofcourse Facebook can acquire another company but the fact remains that Facebook Messenger could have easily been more successful than WhatsApp! Facebook already had the contacts as friends list, had a mobile application and everything WhatsApp had except business development. Only Focus and Business Development were needed.
  • Dating / Matrimonial Site Integration: Whether its Match or eHarmony in the UK/US or Shaadi.com or BharatMatrimony.com in India or something else in other countries! Helping Single people meet each other has going on since centuries and now there is a way to do this and also make money! Facebook already has the ‘status’ and can easily extend this, ofcourse giving user the option to whether use this service or not and whether charge for this service or not.
  • Workplace or Competing with LinkedIn: It might not work because people like to keep personal life and professional lives separate. However I was told that one of the few things which employers first do when they get a job application is to search for applicant’s Facebook page and go through it …. so it just might work! I know applications like BranchOut have been around but a direct attempt by Facebook might be more successful.
  • Deals or Competing with GroupOn: Facebook actually closed its deals site in just 4 months! I was very much disappointed with this because I felt Facebook with all the users likes, history, location would be much better at this. Anyways a business definitely for Facebook’s Future, otherwise what is the worth of all that user information?

There are many possible revenue streams for Facebook but the common factor which leads to all of them is just one – Customers and more than 1 billion of them! Don’t alienate them …

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Business, Entertainment, Technology, Web

Analyzing internet search – more than what you could guess

Analysis of the web searches of people all over the world has provided some interesting answers and the adult search content is not even among the top 3 in volume.

Some major trends in the internet search:

  1. Maximum searches are for social media sites, be that facebook or linkedin, but why do people still search for these sites??
  2. Second rank holders are the video sites, that will be youtube by far.
  3. Next comes the email providers like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc.
  4. Fourth rank is taken up by adult search content.

Now, while trying to understand the logic of searches the world over, there are more interesting things that pop up.

  1. People like to do searches just for being sure that spelling is right. There are multiple reasons for that, some users do not want to take a risk of going to other site by mistake and some others find it easier than typing the whole text.
  2.  Most searches do not have any meaning. The search for meaningless words is very high, much higher that they command a huge traffic volume. Take for example asdf, qwertyuiop, etc. These have become huge because people search for them out of boredom and these are the easiest ones to search from keyboard.
  3. Then there are people who do not have time or are just lazy enough that they even want to search than finding the link on page. Classic example is people searching for facebook login on google than on facebook website.
  4. Search for public personalities is on a huge rise with the popularity of people from business, sports and entertainment field generating a lot of interest due to the availability of information online.
  5. People do search for adult content and these are the only top searches which are less focused on a site and more on generic verbs/nouns.

All definitions of what internet was made for have changed over times and so have the search engine purposes.

It would be interesting to hear what our readers think has been changing in the world of internet search. Please do put down your thoughts below.

 

Source: Google Zeitgeist, Mike’s marketing tools, AOL’s top searches

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Marketing, Web

Seven tips to sell your product using Internet

Presence on Internet today is not an option, its a necessity. But, just like merely opening a shop does not ensure its success, opening a website/ any other web presence does not ensure customers. There needs to be a plan, a thought out, executable plan with a timeline which needs to be put in place to ensure that you can use the internet in a profitable manner and acquire customers directly on the web.

1. Start small – Today, a lot of people will tell you to open a website and a facebook page and a google ad and a twitter account and a mobile website etc etc. Understand that your customer never asked you for that. I would always recommend to start small. I would recommend open a Facebook Page and start posting your products on the page. Alternatively, you list your products on free websites or on platforms to sell products like ebay or on educational marketplaces like trait etc.

2. What next after a Facebook Page? – After starting a facebook page – ensure that you post at least once a day on this facebook page. And every day, share this page with say 7 of your friends.

3. How to build activity – First rule of building activity is to encourage it. The answer to ‘How to encourage activity’ lies in (a) quick responses (b) Leading your audiences to talk (c) Posting about topics of general interest

4. Launching your first Internet presence – It may make sense to launch your internet presence, be it a website or facebook page, among your select customers etc. It can be a good avenue for interaction, thoughts exchange, networking as well as engagement.

5. Monitoring activity on the site – 3-4 months into your first web presence, you can start spotting trends about the website. That people check out certain pages more than others, that you are getting responses about a certain product or service more. Keep tracking all these things and accordingly post links to these pages more prominently on the Homepage. Remember that Homepage is the most frequently browsed page on the site and giving more visibility to an inside page on homepage is important even for Search engines like google.

6. Customer Testimonials – Its very important to build confidence among the community by posting testimonials by customers about your product. Keep posting testimonials regularly.

7. Set ambitious , yet achievable targets – Set targets such as getting 10 requests from the website in the 4th month of operation. Setting realistic goals is very important and it motivates the team in that manner.

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Dropbox-startup
Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Technology, Web

Early Days of Dropbox – Drew Houston talk at Stanford

Drew Houston, the co-founder of cross platform file sharing service Dropbox talked about the Early days of dropbox here. Do check the talk out. Very interesting how Drew totally changed the paradigms of file sharing, the kinds of doubts that persisted in their team’s minds and how they overcame it.

Three key lessons :

1. If your product is good, the virality of the web can take care of advertising!

2. Build something that people can use

3. Persist (this is particularly important for me!! )

For those who cannot spare so much time to see a 58 min video – check out this Slideshare presentation by Drew about Dropbox.

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India 3G subscribers at 40 mn
Business, Technology, Web

Learnings for India from KPCB Internet trends presentation

Quick highlights for our readers –

100 mn mark breached – So, a lot of talk over the weekend about the Internet trends. India had a full 20 slides devoted to it, thats how seriously the global media takes India. First thing to note that India Internet users have crossed 100 mn successfully and now are at 120+ mn.

India Mobile users of Internet surpass the Desktop/Laptop – Next, Mary Meeker sees India’s unique phenomenon where Mobile users have passed Desktop users as a Good / Bad news. What I feel is that in terms of Mobile, India – and not any other country will act as a bellwether for the rest of the world. Reason is simple – In India, lot of mobile users don’t know enough English to use the laptop/desktop yet, in fact they get too intimidated to use the laptop/ desktop. Besides the mobile is extremely convenient to use too.

LOW ARPU – Average revenue per user problem on mobile – Another very interesting thing to note is that while ARPU on mobile has increased in Japan, it hasn’t done so in the US. The current models, both of Google and Facebook are being challenged as mobile proliferation hots up. Note that even Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition – Instagram – hadn’t even come close to solve the monetization problem yet. Clearly, putting ads within apps and waiting for ad dollars is not the way to go as far as mobile monetization is concerned.

Re-imagining life in India – As far as India goes, adoption of mobile and smartphones particularly will keep happening. Especially with dual sim smartphones coming to the market, expect an amazing tug of war for email users, social networking users, e-commerce junta and so on in India!

For those who missed the presentation, check it out below!

View more presentations from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive presentations I have seen in recent times about the internet.



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Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Web

Amazon Junglee!!

About 150 million people in India or around 75 million households are ready for ecommerce in India today. However, less than 10 million are engaged in active ecommerce today. The potential of consumer e-commerce in India by 2024-2025 is likely to touch around 594.8 million individuals or 297.4 million households. You can only guess the market size of the ecommerce industry in the coming decade!!

Amazon India has gone live with the launch of portal, Junglee.com, which Amazon acquired in early 1998 from Indian entrepreneurs Rakesh Mathur and Ashish Gupta. Junglee is an online product comparison and advertising site with several first-of-a-kind features such “real-time customer reviews” from Amazon.com, inline seller store locator for sellers in India and one-stop access to selection from Indian and international sellers. Junglee aggregates detailed product information including customer reviews, price, and shipping speed across multiple sources, including Amazon.com, so customers can research products and evaluate buying options to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers can also write their own reviews, read millions of real-time customer reviews from Amazon.com, “Like” products or sellers, and share products through Facebook, Twitter and email.

Junglee is positioned as a market place which makes buyers and sellers meet, instead of an ecommerce website. It could possibly become a means to drive people to Amazon India in future when they launch the full fledged service in India. The incentive scheme for sellers to post their products on Junglee is very interesting. They can:
1. Drive traffic to your store/website: By advertising products on Junglee.com, one can convert Junglee’s traffic into their own customers
2. List Product Ads for free: No listing fees, no cost per click or subscription fees. On the other side, Ebay.in charges sellers to post ads!
3. Reaching qualified shoppers: Junglee puts products in front of customers who have expressed intent to purchase those exact products
4. Highly targeted placements: Recommended buys when classified in categories means a highly focused sales channel for the sellers

Customers can discover over 1.2 crore products and 14,000 brands, and purchase items directly from hundreds of retailers. Customers can buy products online by following the link to the seller’s website or find a seller’s physical store if they would rather purchase the product in person or call the seller and place an order by phone.
Junglee has an ambitious vision of organizing selection and buying choices. They are relentlessly focused on adding selection and making it convenient for customers to find, discover, and shop anything using the service.

Given that Amazon is launching its ecommerce service in India soon, Flipkart and other ecommerece websites need to ramp up at the earliest and quickly build presence in Tier-II and Tier-III cities of India. Flipkart or Amazon? Do you have a brand loyalty or you will go after the one offering lowest price?

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Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Web

Dhunio – Categorization is Everything!

One of the best things about India is Music! Bollywood and its music defines us. One of the most common hobbies for Indian youth is …. watching movies and listening to bollywood music. Movies and its music drives India and is a part of the nation.

Still, such an important service and in no single place has it been categorized completely? Itunes does not yet sells Indian music or categorizes it. Lets not blame them for we Indians don’t have a habit of paying for music and thus we make it impossible to put capital behind it or generate revenue from it.

This is where Dhunio comes in. Dhunio has ambitiously made an attempt in this space and has categorized innumrable Indian music videos! The best part of their strategy is that the videos are sourced from Youtube which makes it cost efficient. Dhunio drives the part where it is best, Categorization.

Now one of the best part of Dhunio. If you are reading this article then please try this … Go to Dhunio, search for Rockstar, it will give you a list of songs from the movie, you can listen to them or click on any of the links … you can click on Imtiaz Ali, Ranbir Kapoor or Mohit Chauhan and each will give you a list of songs in which they are director / actor / singer respectively. Now this is Categorization!

Ofcourse there are many more additions and many other features. That is for you to check out.

 

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