How Smartphones Have Personalities

Today, I stopped by my local Verizon Wireless store to check out the Motorola Droid.  I will tell you that it looks better on paper and in pictures than it does in real life. 

I then looked at the Blackberry Storm2 for comparison.  While it looks really cool, it sings to a different tune that many people may not like.

Then I realized that the three major Smartphone players really have personalities all their own.  Here they are in no particular order:

Droid – A 1980's Apple user that just can't let go of classic boxy styling and clunky interfaces.

When you pick it up and look at it looks pretty cool.  The square edges are a little different, but cool.  The plastic is matte finish and looks cheap. Then you slide the keyboard (with actual keys) down and see phillips head screws holding everything together.  After clicking, sliding and keying you are left with the impression that this thing is stuck in the 1980's.  Boxy, clunky and keys are so 1980's.

Storm2 – Like an Bon Jovi impersonator that really likes to sing the Opera.  One genre trying to look like another.

Made by Blackberry.  Looks like an iPhone. The Blackberry OS is very sophisticated and admired by corporate professionals that I will say stereotypically enjoy the Opera. I might be dating myself here, but the iPhone likes to let loose a bit to the tune of something like Bon Jovi.  Add in the strange touch screen technology and it just doesn't come together as a seemless package.  It just feels like Bon Jovi is singing Opera.

iPhone – The king of the hill whose personality does it all well. It is not perfect, but well enough that no one comes close to shaking the throne.

The iPhone has been around for a few years and is growing in popularity.  It does everything well enough that no one else can come close to it in execution.

This was a rather unexpected pattern that I came across.  The concept of each phone having its own personality is nothing new.  Manufacturer's design their products around buyer personas all the time. 

However, I really can't help but wonder what Verizon and Motorola were thinking when they designed a 1980's clunky PDA and threw a clunky OS it it.  I am sure it will appeal to those that wouldn't mind being caught driving a Volvo 240… after all it is about features and functionality more than coolness and refinement.

Is there a Droid in your future?  What do you all think? 

Those Simple Gifts

A gift does not have to be big nor expensive and it must be given without any expectation of something given back in return.

Receiving a gift from someone, be it advice, an unexpected phone call, or even a small quarter can be powerful tool. It triggers those warm fuzzy feelings that makes us feel great. It makes us feel like we are valued and respected.

Gifts should be a regular part of any customer experience. Whether you give the gift of top notch customer service, free products, or incredible ease of use, gifts can separate you from the competition.

Why Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Will Succeed!

Starbucks is certainly a company that knows how to sell coffee.  Heck, it was Starbucks that helped save us from the percolated Folger’s of yester-year.  They even saved us from those coffee crystals that our grandparents swore by for years.

That is why many people are having a hard time with Starbucks’ new VIA Ready Brew instant coffee.  How dare the king of coffee take us back to the product that they saved us from.   However, this isn’t your grandparents’ coffee crystals.

Sure I was skeptical, but I ordered a pack of each flavor, Columbia and Italian Roast, from starbucksstore.com to get an early taste here in California.  As I tore open the stylish package and dumped it in the cup, I realized that there was something different about it.  It looked absolutely nothing like the instant coffee that is currently on the market… it looked like coffee.  Imagine that!

Adding the water and stirring it up produced a cup of coffee not that far from fresh brewed and without the wait.  Fresh brewed coffee, when done right, takes upwards of ten minutes to prepare (grind, heat water, pour, seep, taste, etc), but you can get something close in minutes with VIA.

So, why do I think VIA Ready Brew will succeed? Here are the major points:

1) It is a refreshing 21st century take on the old instant coffee of yester-year.

2) VIA looks nothing like what is on the market: from the awesome slender pocket friendly packaging to the real coffee look of the product.

3) VIA comes with the wonderful Starbucks buying experience that we love of their retail stores.  Baristas with smiles simply can’t compete with the grocery store clerk when you buy Folger’s.

4) The product has many uses: sprinkle it on ice cream, add it to a vinegrette or your favorite brownies to please any coffee lover

5) It is great to take with you.  The ultra-portable and stylish packaging fits in your pocket/purse and all you need is a cup and some hot water.  That stale workplace coffee will be getting even more stale with VIA Ready Brew in your cup!

While I was skeptical of VIA in the beginning, after spending one week with these little packets of awesome coffee goodness, I really think Starbucks have shaken up the instant coffee market by bringing us a pleasantly refreshed version of my grandparents hideous crystals.

What do you know… Starbucks has still saved us from instant coffee nightmares!

Don’t Forget the Details!

Today, I received my package from Starbucks containing two packs of their new VIA ready brew instant coffee.   It is not available locally here in Santa Barbara until the 29th of September, but you can order it online.  I am impatient so I order one pack of Italian Roast and one pack of Columbia and had it shipped. This was my first time ordering from StarbucksStore.com.

Opening the box, I was surprised to see a wonderful appreciation message with warm regards and a free pack of After Coffee Mints.  After digging through the package and extracting my goodies from the peanuts, I realized that something was missing from this Starbucks experience.  It was the detail of refined packaging with a human touch.

1) The appreciation letter is printed and feels more institutional.  Perhaps a signature at the bottom from someone at Starbucks would make it more personal and make me feel like I am reading something more important than an insert.

2) Opening the box and finding peanuts is old school and does nothing to inspire me to order again.  If Starbucks is going to use peanuts, be creative! Why not use peanuts in the shape of lattes or coffee beans?? Make the experience unique and you make it personal.

While I am extremely pleased with my order, transaction, and buying experience, I expected a more personal, unique experience from Starbucks.  Nothing stood out to me unpacking my order…  so un-Starbucks.

I firmly believe that if you have fun with the details and provide the customer with a unique experience, they will love you forever!

Don’t Forget the Details!

Today, I received my package from Starbucks containing two packs of their new VIA instant coffee.   It is not available locally here in Santa Barbara until the 29th of September, but you can order it online.  I am impatient so I order one pack of Italian Roast and one pack of Columbia and had it shipped. This was my first time ordering from StarbucksStore.com.

Opening the box, I was surprised to see a wonderful appreciation message with warm regards and a free pack of After Coffee Mints.  After digging through the package and extracting my goodies from the peanuts, I realized that something was missing from this Starbucks experience.  It was the detail of refined packaging with a human touch.

1) The appreciation letter is printed and feels more institutional.  Perhaps a signature at the bottom from someone at Starbucks would make it more personal and make me feel like I am reading something more important than an insert.

2) Opening the box and finding peanuts is old school and does nothing to inspire me to order again.  If Starbucks is going to use peanuts, be creative! Why not use peanuts in the shape of lattes or coffee beans?? Make the experience unique and you make it personal.

While I am extremely pleased with my order, transaction, and buying experience, I expected a more personal, unique experience from Starbucks.  Nothing stood out to me unpacking my order…  so un-Starbucks.

I firmly believe that if you have fun with the details and provide the customer with a unique experience, they will love you forever!

Communication Can…

Communication can be a powerful thing.

Communication can bring synergy to the workplace.

Communication can save customers and increase revenue.

Communication can get you a raise.

Communication can get you through traffic and avoid congested areas.

Communication can get politicians elected.

Communication can solve problems.

Communication can make us happy.

Communication can …

What can communication do for you, personally, professionally, or romantically?

Building Confidence in Your Customers

One of the most important qualities to companies is that their customer have confidence in their product.  So, how do you build confidence in your customers?  Simple, honest, heart-felt interaction.

Selling
When you interact with a customer, whether it is online, via email or phone, remember that you are NOT selling a product.  You are selling a relationship built of trust from human to human.  Discussing the customer’s needs and your product’s abilities in common terms is the best way to the customer’s heart. Throwing in some simple compliments too won’t hurt.  Even if the customer does not buy, you still want them to walk away with warm fuzzy feelings that you helped them

CRM
Remember, customers are human and do not like unexpected occurrences. Communicate with your customers frequently regarding product upgrades, changes, service windows, and even outages.  No one likes being left in the dark.  Look at it as an opportunity to have fun and communicate in creative ways. When something goes wrong, be creative with your apology. Heck, who can get angry at Twitter’s whale or Cox’s Digi. The more effort you take to talk to the customer and inform them, the more they know you care and that is confidence inspiring!

Retention
Let your customers go, but be sad about it. Holding a customer hostage is not going to help them or your business. Allowing your customers to leave when they want, opens up the front door and builds their confidence.  No one will buy a car that they are going to be stuck with.   When they cancel for reasons within your control, listen, listen, listen. While you lost them now, making it clear that you heard them loud and clear during cancellation gives them confidence in returning later.  Let them leave on a heart-felt, positive conversation.

By following some simple rules, you can build an overwhelming amount of confidence in your customers.  So much so, referrals may some drive more business than your outbound marketing campaigns.  If so, this is the best compliment a business can have… you know your customers are confident in your business, interactions, and product.