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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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The decline of Internet advertising

By Eric Goldman internet advertising

In its quarterly earnings call in October 2013, Google beat analysts’ predictions yet again. But the downward trend in its return on the cost per click (CPC) of its Adwords program continued. The trend began several years ago and appears to be steepening its descent.

Google’s total advertising revenues continue to increase (new clients giving it more inventory), but profit from what used to be its core business – online advertising – continues downward.

The decline in online advertising’s revenue potential is not limited to Google. As Technology Review’s Michael Wolff said: ”The nature of people’s behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising’s impact.”

If I ran Facebook, I’d be pondering this one big time – Google at least has diversified away from one source of revenue. Online ads are becoming less effective, producing lower returns, forcing their media price down further to attract and keep advertisers enough to use them. Bad news for the media that run the ads but it does explain why I keep getting $100 Google Adwords gift vouchers in the mail.

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Recent Comments

  • Bob Bailly : Your new mode of working means no face to face interaction yet you call yourself empathetic. How can removing yourself from daily human social interactions and possibly understand what makes other people tick. Research from UCLA suggests messages conveyed face to face are understood primarily by reading body language (57%) and tone of voice (35%), and that words convey only 7%. By interacting only through computer based non-video technology is like weightlifting only using your right forearm.

  • Anna : As a freelancer who spends much of her time on the computer writing, I find that I have a brain which connects empathically to people despite how much time I spend on technology. In fact, I am not happy being immersed daily in what I called 'imposed' social interaction (social interaction brought on by having to interact with co-workers). Such social interaction used to make be egregious, used to make me dislike co-workers, and have a generally negative view on work life. Furthermore, people like me who are generally empathic can 'hide' in our homes and be safe from others while we work; safe from their criticisms and aversions, safe from bullying and harassment. Furthermore, our talents as writers, photographers, or whatever, flourish absolutely under one important condition - freedom. I support moving work to an online domain because I see also how harmful the 9 - 5 is for people; how it drains them, how its endless cacophony of alarm clocks and ringing bells--lunch hours and lunch rooms, forced staff retreats and uncomfortable interactions with bosses--is killing them. I support allowing technology make us more efficient, happier. I support voluntary--not forced--interaction. I support eliminating the workplace altogether and creating NEW modes of working, either from home or through community-based platforms such as outdoor spaces.

  • 5 Ways to Engage With Your Brand Voice - icuc.social : [...] “A strong company voice on social media should emphasize the company’s values, objectives and key differentiators that set it apart from its competitors. These can be expressed in the tone of the communication and the content that is shared with community members and the target audience.The best social media voices are communal, grammatical, dialectical, authentic, original, contextual, relevant, timely, persistent, responsive, helpful, generous and more informal. A company’s social media voice should only be changed if absolutely necessary and should maintain all of these qualities. Any change should be preceded by lots of information explaining the change to community members to ensure they know it is deliberate and that the company isn’t suffering from some form of instability, which jeopardizes relationships.” [@TechAlly, Francis Moran & Associates – via Francis Moran & Associates] [...]

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