Tom Levers

Are you listening?

Research Study Advises Companies to Respond Via Social Media

It’s no secret that social media has revolutionized how consumers communicate with businesses. Instead of complaint letters exchanged over weeks, a quick 140-character tweet can garner a direct response within minutes. A recent poll conducted by Maritz Research found that frequent Twitter users who have used the social media tool to complain about their customer experience with a company overwhelmingly want those companies to be listening to their comments. And, these tweeple want their public complaints addressed.

According to the study, while only 1/3 of these respondents actually received some type of follow-up after they tweeted their complaint, 83 percent of survey participants who received a follow up to their tweet said they liked or loved hearing from the company they complained about. And just under 75 percent of those people who received a response were very or somewhat satisfied with the response they received. A little more than 15 percent said they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied with the company’s response.

For the two-thirds of respondents who didn’t receive an answer to their complaint, a similar number, 86 percent, also would have liked or loved to hear from the company. However, a striking 63 percent said they would hate or not like it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Consumers expect companies to understand their individual wants and needs. If that’s responding to a complaint via Twitter, YouTube or the old-fashioned phone call, businesses need to have the right tools ready to listen, understand and respond.

Methodology: Maritz Research conducted its Twitter study which it surveyed an online panel of 1,298 US consumers, who had pre-identified themselves as Twitter users who frequently tweet, had complained via Twitter about a company with whom they do business, and who were at least 18 years of age. The survey had a maximum sampling error of 2.7 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

For more information on Social Media Monitoring please contact me.

Systems Integrators (SI’s) – pricing and product value

Posted in Pricing by Tom Levers on June 19, 2010

Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are feeling the heat as customers increasingly look for bargains in the enterprise data center.

In good economic times or bad, achieving a price advantage is critical to performance and profitability. So when a customer makes a significant investment in a software product often they ask software companies to “recommend”  a service provider.  This usually creates flexibility in pricing services. Using that room to differentiate services in terms of capability and deliverables can allow the SI to build more or less in their capabilities and the product.

The Systems Integrator’s price and profits are tied to the “perceived value” of the solution

For the Consultant to make sound pricing decisions; however, it is crucial to accurately measure perceived value, not individual billing rates. Ideally, the source for this data should be to look at the competition and if they have built a repeatable engagement. When a new consulting practice is built for repeatability, interviewing methods and analytical tools (in particular ConjointMeasurement) provide information on perceived values and willingness-to-pay. If  interviews are impossible (for cost reasons) it remains important to make quantitative assessments of the competitive situation and customers “willingness-to-pay”.

When comparing the characteristics of product companies they have high fixed costs, which is the opposite of the Systems Integrator.  Given the highly uncertain needs for consulting services means that the variable model (price per consultant day) is the most frequently used. Important to the customer is safety of the deliverable so  it is often reasonable for software consultants to make a project-specific evaluation of fixed costs based on an analysis of the clients’ needs. This allows customers to more accurately evaluate their consulting needs.

Value is subjective, and risk aversion is key to the Systems Integrator Pricing… based on this are you:

The $300,000 Stamp

1. Creating a repeatable consistent approach to pricing with regards to deliverables?

2. Considering the particular characteristics between the software product and service needs?

3. Enabling the customer’s willingness-to-pay. Building marketing tools for the consultants to ensure that the pricing model and price levels focus on the customer’s perceived value?

4. Creating marketing support tools such as “customer case briefings”, to ensure that pricing models are actively applied by the business development (sales) organization.

If you would like to read a great book on pricing, check out “The Price Advantage” .