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What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology: Making virtual reality a reality at work; chatbots aren’t just for Facebook; designing an enterprise app that employees will actually use.
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Research by MIT IDE Research Fellow Michael Schrage offers new insights into platform markets and network effects. Schrage postulates that the impact and influence of network effects is essential to understanding sustainable value creation in digital markets worldwide — especially, the value of customers and clients.
Products connected to the Internet of Things are providing unprecedented levels of information that can be used to improve both products and customer experience. For instance, a company does not have to wait until a customer calls with a complaint to know that a product connected to the Internet of Things is not working correctly. Instead, the product could already communicate the information, giving the company the ability to provide proactive service. Result: more loyal customers.
As the first Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sree Sreenivasan leads the charge in managing the museum’s digital content — which means storytelling for a global audience. “My job is to tell a million-plus stories about a million-plus pieces of art to a billion-plus people,” he says. In a Q&A, Sreenivasan discusses the global vision for the Met App (for the museum’s 32 million annual onsite visitors), the museum’s use of social media, and its media lab about the future of museums.
How much choice do people really want? Asking people to make their own choices requires time and focus — there’s all those options to consider. Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein writes that default rules, which establish starting points for everything from rental car agreements to health insurance plans, can save people time and keep them from being overwhelmed by too much choice.
For KLM, social business arose as a spontaneous response to the Icelandic volcanic eruption that spewed ash into Europe’s airspace for days, halting all air travel and stranding thousands of passengers. Since the abrupt birth of the airlines’ social business strategy, e-commerce senior vice president Martijn van der Zee has made the company a model for using social in customer service.
Research suggests that productivity improvements can have counterproductive results in a service business. Productivity gains are not always easy to make without sacrificing perceptions of quality, and unlike on the assembly line, increased productivity may not always lead to increased profitability. Instead, in a service business, productivity must be treated as a strategic decision variable.
Companies have tried for decades to improve customer complaint resolution — without notable success. Customer expectations are rising; customers now expect positive results and not just the chance to complain. Many customers want nonmonetary remedies, such as an apology or a chance to vent. In addition, companies must recognize that they must treat every customer interaction as if it were playing out on a Facebook page or a YouTube video, because it might be.
No company can last for long without satisfied customers. But misguided attempts to improve satisfaction can damage a company’s financial health. Research finds that the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer spending behavior is very weak, and that the return on investments in increasing customer satisfaction is often trivial or even negative. What matters is how customers rank your brand in satisfaction relative to your competitors.
It’s easy to say customer satisfaction is very important – but harder to put that into practice. The Spring 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on understanding your customers, from gauging global clients’ satisfaction through the use of big data to figuring out better strategies for improving customer complaint resolution.
How can geographically distributed companies monitor large clients’ attitudes about their services? Traditional customer satisfaction surveys can lack sufficient timeliness and detail. But taking a big data approach to analyzing collaborations lets companies gain valuable and timely insights into client satisfaction. Examining the structural properties of email communication patterns and correlating them with external performance metrics can offer managers helpful insights.
We can’t always trust our intuition about how employees will perform. Intuition can be misleading, or just plain wrong. So a growing number of savvy service businesses have investigated the use of a sophisticated linear programming technique called DEA, or data envelopment analysis. Authors H. David Sherman and Joe Zhu, who call DEA “balanced benchmarking,” write that the technique helps companies locate best practices not visible through other management methodologies.
There are six significant drivers of customer satisfaction for companies to pay attention to: adaptability, commitment to customers, connection with other customers, product assortment, easy transactions and appealing environment. A Trader Joe’s grocery store, for instance, carries about 4,000 items, compared to 50,000 in a typical store. Less is better: Items are chosen to match the demographic and psychographic profiles of Trader Joe’s customers, and provide the assortment customers want.
Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook have helped Kaiser Permanente — the nation’s largest nonprofit health care provider — grow its positive media mentions close to 500% in the last five years, says Vince Golla, who oversees the organization’s external digital reputation.
Customer relationship marketing was supposed to be a “new paradigm” that yieldied more loyal customers and more profit for companies. It hasn’t. Researchers from Cranfield School of Management write that the problem is fundamental: “Most senior management teams have an unbalanced approach to managing marketing investments, and this is particularly evident in the case of CRM.” Their suggestion: successful CRM investment begins with new capabilities to improve customer relationships and then backfills the capital investment as needed.
MIT Sloan’s Andrew McAfee reflects on “the amazingly bad design and execution of customer-facing processes among financial services firms.” He wonders if they’ll only get better “when competitors appear who take process design and execution seriously, and digitize them to the maximum extent possible.”
Many think that the way to capture value through relationship marketing is to focus on the “good” customers and get rid of the “bad” ones. But there is more to best practice relationship management than maximizing revenues on individual customers and minimizing costs to serve. This article provides guidelines for companies that want to improve the value of customer relationships. For most companies, the transition to a relationship-based approach will require a significant shift in practice.
Are you dropping the ball when it comes to conveying your ideas – about data, about creativity, about direction, about design – in ways that your audience really understands?
Companies need to understand and manage the rising threat of online public complaining. When customers believe that a company has treated them badly, they may take their grievance public — very public. What can companies do, whether in reacting to such negative publicity or in preventing its occurrence? The authors have developed an “organizing matrix” to help understand and respond to online complaints, noting that “as long as the company uses such fair processes, and as long as it makes customers aware of them, customers will tolerate the occasional service failure.”
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