Idea – Adapting or Confusing?

abhishek-bachchan-and-idea You must have seen those ads – “What an Idea! Sirji!!” of Abhishek Bachhan and how having a generic phone number ensures that all problems due to differences in caste, sect, religion are removed. Novel way to target and position yourself to the masses indeed.

Come to the streets of Mumbai, there you see a different picture. Idea ads have celebrities declaring proudly, that they have an Idea Mumbai No., and that makes them a Mumbaikar. The niche is well defined and it does have an appeal to it. I consider myself a Mumbaikar, but would I go to the extent of getting an Idea Mumbai No. :-P. But it’s a good ad nonetheless.

So in one case, Idea is seen generalizing their service offering, whereas in the other, the same offering (viz., the phone number that you get) is a way of defining and segregating the masses. Interesting, wouldn’t you say? Kind of like Glocalisation.

I deleted iexplore.exe

Funny, I had not talked about Google Chrome uptil now. I still won’t rave about it, since I prefer Firefox over Chrome. Tried it, uninstalled it. End of story. But with the recent launch of this browser, people are now forced to relook at their choice of browser. I hope this helps informed users take a decision and switch to Opera or Firefox, which are way better browsers than the rest available in the market. The last one of which is the market leader, Internet Explorer. Phycuk!! Just talking about it makes me want to spit, and clean my tongue. I hate it. Not because it is a Microsoft product, but because it actually is a pretty crappy browser. The fact that you cannot take it out of your Windows Operating System just goes to show how smart the MS IE Product management team is, full marks to them!!

So, I took it upon myself to remove this insult to a browser once and for all from my WinXP machine. I went to Add/Remove programs, and removed it. The icon on my desktop went away … yaay!! Then when I went to Start -> Run and typed iexplore.exe, back again it rears its ugly head. Grrr!! You can’t remove it, that’s that. So finally I did what I should have done when I installed WinXp, delete the folder Internet Explorer in my Program Files. And life was good.

I forgot one teensy weensy thing, I work in a web retailing firm, which has a propensity of churning out portals. These portals need to be tested. Since my marketing guys feel that a major portion of their customer base would be on IE, they expect me to make the portal IE-Compatible (read compatible javascripts, reduced effects, workaround on ajax), nothing that we can’t do, of course not. Just I ask my readers, why?

Why bother to make things compatible with IE? Why not force those ignoramuses to switch to a better browser. You are not only doing yourself a favour but improving the world. Impacting your customers positively. Being the change not just trying to make it. Yes, “customer-centric” people would say that you need to sell what your customer wants, I say, tell that to an artist and see his reaction. So if you agree with me, go delete your iexplore.exe and make the world a better place.

Facebook or Orkut?

social

I was mulling over Alexa this weekend, when I decided to compare the web traffics of the three networking sites; facebook, myspace and orkut. The annual traffic graph revealed an interesting picture I must say. The myspace traffic is more or less constant with its brief set of fluctuations, Fox Interactive Media should be a happy puppy. Their market share has remained solid,whew!!

But look at orkut and facebook, facebook (in red) has been steadily growing from milestone to milestone, and recently was crowned as the top social network site on the blue nothing (that’s the internet). The sudden spurt you see in all the curves, I think its the announcement of Facebook, when they announced their predator safegaurds. Remember that time in May, when a youth in India was kidnapped by some strangers through orkut? Well, could that explain the sudden dip in orkut traffic?

Strangely, during that time, orkut went the facebook way by having a few orkut apps, could this culture shift have thrown more traffic towards facebook?

I know a lot of people have not put too much thought into social communities, et al, but community management and monetization of the same is the only revenue models for both orkut and facebook. I wonder whether the orkut product manager is breaking a sweat on this? Incidentally, the orkut development and engineering team has shifted entirely to Brazil, where it is the no. 1 social networking site.

Addendum

I don’t know how he came across this blog, but Gaurav Dua gave a very logical explanation for the sudden dip in the traffic. If you see the Orkut url, then for Indian users it is nowadays orkut.co.in, same for Brazil, hence the traffic figures have dropped to 33% (approx.). I feel like such a dunderhead 🙂

Customer Loyalty

I was coming back from Mumbai via Indian Airlines (now known as Air India). As you would have it, the flight was delayed by 90 minutes … the passengers were sitting in the flight without the airplane moving a single inch. Finally, when the flight reached Hyderabad, I took a cab to office, half the day was wasted … hrrrumph!!

On my way to the office, I receive a call from an Air India representative, saying that 4 air miles have been accrued to my account and I can check those at so and so url, all I need to do is keep my boarding passes with me. Just how idiotic is this … for travelling 1600 miles, I get 4 air miles … so after 400 trips with Air India, I will finally get one flight free of cost. That’s a discount of 0.25%

If only they can take that discount and use the savings to bolster their infrastructure and setup so that such flight delays do not occur. I would rather pay that discount instead of waiting those additional 90 minutes. Does the marketing department of Air India have a warped definition of customer loyalty?

Direct from Dell (to Hell)

No its not a complete, “I hate Dell” post.

I was the student representative for IIM Indore, in handling all the IT problems. I loved it, and liked fixing the varied problems that my classmates, juniors and seniors had. Back then, we had a tie up with Dell for laptops. Roughly at any point of time, at least 70 laptops were there from Dell. The warranty on them had lapsed in a years’ time, so … as Murphy would have it, the problems started cropping up only after then. Thus started the telephone calls over Warranty issues, and the constant bartering … over warranty given on paper … then comes the line, read the fine print. I was glad to hand over the ITCom Secretary post to my able junior .. whew!!

Now I do not own a Dell laptop anymore, but two of my colleagues do. Both have malfunctioning laptop batteries and chargers to boot, so the machine refuses to run without AC power and a functioning battery. Ok … easy solution … go to support dot dell dot com and raise a request. One month wait for customer care to respond. Fine, lets raise a sales enquiry of purchasing a new battery and a charger … one month wait for sales to respond. Is the site working anymore?

If you have a website and are making case studies of it in so many b-schools, then can you make sure it works properly; and if it is working properly, then why not respond to the customer, establishing their expectations. No response is a no-no. That has not only resulted in lost sales, but more importantly lost customers. An easier approach would be to sell extended warranty support to them and retain them as customers.