Friday, December 31, 2010

Sign me up...

I’ve spent the last nine months experiencing every aspect of health care in America - searching for the right providers and diagnosis through both traditional and oriental medicine; spending quality time as a hospital inpatient; and attempting to find suitable insurance, at any cost, to replace Cobra that has run its course.  Yes, the system is not only unequivocally broke, but quite heated, bringing out the worst behavior from nearly everyone. 

To not acknowledge that the most advanced country in the world is so woefully behind in the execution of health care is simply burying our heads in the sand.  I applaud the Obama administration for stepping into the health care debacle, calling it what it is, and fighting a good fight to do something.  I’m not typically a “cause” person, but I am ready to do what I can to help tackle this complex and growing problem we all need to own.  Sign me up.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Heard from a long-time friend and colleague today about starting anew – new place to live, new job, new lease on life.  What makes this news so special is that this isn’t someone who has always had everything just fall into place, just go her way.  In fact, I’ve seen her knocked down on a few occasions only to come back stronger every time.   She could write the book on resiliency and I hope someday, she does. 

But something else happened with each bout of adversity:  her faith became stronger and her relationship with the one above blossomed.  When you have faith, you have hope.  And when you have hope, you persevere.  And with perseverance you not only land on your feet, but sometimes, on the mountaintop.  You go girlfriend!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Talbots rocks...

I’ve always received great service from Talbots, but today, they rocked.  Forgot to enter my promotion code last night and when I inquired about it through online chat today, they simply made the adjustment to my bill.  Quick and painless. 

Speaking of online chat, I really don’t care for sites that pop up a window and ask if I need help while I’m browsing.  A little too voyeuristic for my taste.  But Talbots uses online chat in a user friendly, productive way.  It’s right there on the contact page which makes sense as that’s when I’m most apt to use it – when I want to contact the vendor, not the other way around.  But why should I be surprised?  Just click here to see the Talbots motto to service.    

The online chat process was easily understood including a “countdown queue” to let me know how many minutes I would be waiting (about 3).  Simple and effective.  Talbots also lays out every other way to contact them (email, phone and fax) but by putting online chat first, I’m sure they are converting many customers to this streamlined approach.  Good for them.  Good for us.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why I Bought the Kindle...

I spent a few hours trying to decide whether to buy a Kindle or an iPad.  I chose the Kindle.  For starters, it was only a third of the cost and better tested after a couple years on the market.  Second, it boldly told me how many books I could download (3,500, or more than I believe I’ll need for the rest of my life on earth) without having to do the gigabytes to books math.  I searched exhaustively, but could find little information on the Apple website about how much could be stored on a 16GB iPad – after all the bells and whistles consume their share.  And last, all I really want to do is download and read books.  

As technology becomes more consumer friendly, and less tech savvy users emerge, manufacturers should consider re-thinking how they spell out “tech specs”.  Here’s some insight…I really prefer my specs in simple layman’s terms.  I don’t know how much a gigabyte stores.  And RAM speeds mean nothing to me.  But I can relate to 3,500 books and numbers of seconds or even half seconds to load.  Try testing those tech specs on consumers before publishing.  You just might convert a few more browsers into buyers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Opportunistic insight (wasted)...

Some businesses just don’t seem care what their customers think.  I often wonder if they are doing so swimmingly well that they don’t feel the need, or, are they that clueless about how to obtain even the simplest form of customer insights.  Take for example, a specialist I was seeing recently.  After a few visits, I determined we just weren’t a great match on a number of fronts.  Today, I called the doctor’s office to cancel my future appointments and the friendly receptionist asked if I would like to reschedule to which I responded, “No”.  At this point, the opportunity to gain some valuable insight is wide open.  No market research study needed.  No cold calling to find out opinions.  Just ask the next logical question, right?  Wrong.  Her reply…   “Ok.  Thanks.” 

Thanks for what?  For dumping him as my doctor?  For being kind enough to cancel the appointment versus risk being charged as a no show?  What a missed opportunity.  If you haven’t trained your front line team on the art of opportunistic insight, now is the time.  Ask them what they would do in this situation and get them on the right path.  The bottom line…  when you are being spoon fed the chance to learn more about what your customers think, open wide.  Every insight matters.  Every insight has some noodle of value.  And every insight can make your organization stronger.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dancing with the data...

As Bristol marches on, propelled by the ground swell of public support, you have to wonder….who’s voting on Dancing with the Stars?  Some are convinced it’s the Tea Party.  Bristol believes it might be everyday Joes who just want to see the Hollywood outsider succeed.  I say, let the data speak.

Some simple data analytics might yield yet another revenue stream for ABC and AT&T.  From where are the record number of calls originating?  Are the same callers phoning in week after week?  And what are the average calls per number for Bristol versus others?  Taking it one step further, can external data sources such Claritas or Acxiom be married against the database to profile callers more specifically?  And the big question…how much is the Tea Party willing to pay to get their hands on this unexpected show of support – if that proves to be true?  Oh, the power of data when transformed into insight.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Insight gone bad...

Microsoft launched the new Windows 7 phone this week with lackluster results.  Monday morning quarterbacking is always easier than making the right call in the moment, but you have to wonder how much is due to the mega million dollar ad campaign that completely misses the mark.  Having consumer insight at your fingertips and knowing how to use it are clearly two different things.

Earlier this week, David Webster of Microsoft was quoted as saying in TechFlash   “Great advertising, great marketing in general has to come from a truth.  If it doesn’t come from a true observation, either about you, your brand or the world around you, it simply won’t resonate…In our case, we really focused on marrying up a product development insight that we had – which is that too many smartphones have the same design, the same inefficient way of accomplishing tasks, and there’s opportunity for a fresh reset on the user experience – and a marketing insight, which is, we’re in a moment now when people are just sucked into these things in moments where that’s probably not appropriate.  If a phone design is contributing to that bad behavior, then we should call that out and attach our phone as the solution to this global problem.”   That was a big “if”.  “If” the phone design is contributing to that bad behavior. 

Wouldn’t you think Mr. Webster’s consumer insight research would have identified that the phone design is not the problem?  Apparently, it did as Mr. Webster goes on to say “…there’s a ton of research that has been done on the subject, the impact that the phone is having on the brain, and social relationships, child development.  There’s a ton of interesting material out there.  But I came across a tweet, from a guy that I follow who’s very funny, that I just absolutely fell in love with and I printed it out and have it on my wall, which says:  “My new definition of cool:  When I’m out with you, I never see your phone, ever.”  That to me was just great, for somebody to say, we’ve crossed some kind of invisible line.”

So how did Mr. Webster and team make the leap from “I don’t want to see your phone, ever” to phone design being “the solution to this global problem”?  Only Microsoft has the answer to that question but having insight- the science side of market research - is just the first step.  Knowing how to interpret?  Now that’s art.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hash House a Go Go...

We stumbled across Hash House a Go Go, Las Vegas during a family trip in 2008, just looking for a place to have breakfast before driving to our vacation home in Utah.   Two and half years later, we’re still talking about the place.  Bought the hats and t-shirts too.  What HHAGG knows is that anyone can make breakfast - for that matter, lunch and dinner.  But how many restaurants turn breakfast into an experience and sell merchandise to boot? 

As the mother of three teenage boys, I’ve become accustomed to watching food being inhaled versus eaten.  But they met their match at HHAGG.  It was sheer entertainment and to this day, we still talk about the experience.  Some may say it’s wasteful or even unhealthy.  I say it’s a brilliant  twist on an otherwise ho hum meal.  And you just can’t buy that kind of word of mouth.   Innovative, insightful, and certainly filling. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dancing with the Tea Party…

No need to watch hours of election returns and commentary to get a handle on future political races.  Just tune into Dancing with the Stars.   What started as a dance competition at some point turned into a popularity contest and now, a political statement?  But…it’s still fun to watch.   Speaking of elections, isn’t it time to feed the voters a little more information than just party affiliation?  How about a sentence or two that depicts the candidate’s real qualifications?  When it comes to choosing our leaders, ignorance is not bliss.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Coupon craze...

The economic strain of the last few years has fueled a rise in couponmania.   A few articles have cited dramatic increases in use and as Andrea Woroch of says, “it’s definitely cool to be frugal”.    I personally admire those who have the discipline to collect coupons and manage their expenditures frugally.  But standing in line behind a coupon warrior is a different story.  That’s where my patience (what little there is) starts to wane.  Perhaps it’s time for more merchants to consider separate “coupon lanes” for those intending to use more than just a couple at a time - the non-express version of the express line.   And let the rest of us enter at our own risk.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inspiring at any age...

My parents have always been a source of inspiration.   I credit them with giving me a sense of discipline and responsibility, of teaching me to live my life with integrity, to reach my full potential – to strive to do my very best.  The typical things you hope parents do.  And at an age when most people are slowing down or coming to a dead stop, my parents still manage to inspire.  You see, they walk two miles a day – up a hill to the post box and back down again (Yes!  There are a few hills in Florida).  And shamefully, that’s far more exercise than I can claim.  But the real kicker is that at the ripe age of 83, my parents have taken up golf.  Yes, golf.  It helps that they live in The Villages with over 400 holes as one of the many amenities, but hitting balls a few days a week is in addition to their 2 mile daily walk.  Inspiring?  You bet.  Jealous?  Color me green.