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Lessons in customer service from Kijiji and Co.

By Leo Valiquetteonlineclassifiedads

Fish tanks, fishing boats and Fisher Price toys for the baby’s crib. Even jobs as sushi chefs. There’s no shortage to what you can find on Kijiji, Used Ottawa, Craigslist and the like.

Who needs old newsprint classifieds when you can self-publish, self-promote and engage directly with the marketplace for free? (Sorry, newspapers).

But, boy, does buying and selling through these sites teach you a lot about human nature.

We regularly comment, even rant, about customer service on this blog, out of the unwavering belief that superior customer service is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage available to most companies.

And of course, who among us doesn’t like to complain about the quality, or lack thereof, of the service we receive from a vendor of products and services? But the online classifieds prove that we often fail the customer service test ourselves when the shoe is on the other foot.

So here are my tips on how not to treat your customers, drawn from a variety of teeth-grinding experiences trying to secure a deal through the online classifieds:

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Runaway trains

By David French

runaway trains

Recent events in the news regarding runaway trains have provided an opportunity to highlight one of the realities of the invention and patenting process: It is not always the original invention that is most important for commercialization. Surprisingly often, it is the follow-up improvements that make the difference. Levering recent events, here are some historical precedents that demonstrate this point.

Recent news articles have disclosed that the incidence of runaway train cars is larger than the statistics reported by the Transportation Safety Board. To be fair, the TSB has posted on the Internet all reports on railway events involving runaway cars. It’s just that their statistical summaries have not been acknowledging runaway events when the cars did not crash or cause any damage. Apparently, more than 300 such lesser events in this category have in occurred in Canada in the last ten years.

This is reminiscent of a situation that existed in the mid-19th century until some very important inventions were made. Runaway trains were a big problem until George Westinghouse came up with his innovations in railway-braking systems. This is an excellent example of progressive inventing.

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Great articles roundup: Startups, social media, innovation and public relations

By Daylin Mantyka link

It’s Friday — which means that it’s time for the weekly roundup. This week we have informative content from Fast Company, socialnomics and Spin Sucks.

First, is a post on how startups can compete in a crowded industry when they are not physically located in either Silicon Valley or New York City, followed by a piece on big Twitter mistakes by big brands. Third, we’ve selected an interesting post on how technology is shaping innovation in the workplace for both better and worse. Last, we look at how the PR industry can come across as a less spammy.

4 lessons your startup can learn from a rust belt incubator

Launching a startup is risky business. Even more so when you don’t live in a bustling startup metropolis like Silicon Valley or New York City. In this article, Rebecca Greenfield visits a new Buffalo incubator, Z80, and shares some of the characteristics that these startups have in common that will help them succeed within this competitive landscape.

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Crowdfunding is not marketing

By Francis Morancrowdfunding1

The first time I heard a company suggest that they were going to do a crowdfunding campaign not to raise money but to raise awareness, I thought it was one of the stupidest things I had heard in a long time. Since then I’ve heard it often enough to confirm that stupidity is one of the most contagious phenomena out there. And just because a lot of people think it’s a good idea doesn’t make it so.

Viewing crowdfunding as a substitute for marketing, or even as an effective marketing channel, ranks right up there with “We’ll do a viral video” in its betrayal of a complete lack of understanding of how marketing works.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 12.51.57 PMNow, don’t get me wrong. Some crowdfunding campaigns have generated enormous attention for their sponsors. A Kickstarter campaign that broke all records was the Gangnam-calibre equivalent of a viral video for Waterloo entrepreneur Eric Migicovsky and his Pebble watch. (Although, as I recently tweeted, crowdfunding advocates — and people who think crowdfunding = marketing — really need to stop citing Pebble as an example. Nobody was more surprised than Migicovsky when his campaign, with its original target of just $100,000, ended up reeling in more than $10-million.) His fame has grown to the point that he is literally the poster child for wearable computers.

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What can your business learn from the Toy Testing Council?

By Leo Valiquettecttc_logo-001

If you are not familiar with it, the Canadian Toy Testing Council is a 55-year-old non-profit that enlists the volunteer aid of families to subject toys to the most rigorous testing possible – at the hands of kids.

The council’s philosophy is to evaluate each toy from a child’s perspective and gain their input. Each toy is evaluated based on its design, function, safety, durability, battery consumption and play value.

My wife and her sisters were toy testers for many years. We were given toys based on the kids’ genders and ages, they would play with the toy for several weeks and the parents would submit written evaluations.

Each year, these efforts by the various testing families are distilled into a report, just in time for the holiday shopping season, with the council’s recommendations for the best toys.

This process falls into the category of exploratory qualitative research, something for which a client of ours, Macadamian, is a tireless proponent.

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