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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boingo Wireless sees demand increasing!

Boingo Wireless has been a market leader in providing Wi-Fi access in the USA for many years. Boingo has over 210,000 subscribers taking advantage of hotspots in cafes, airports and restaurants. They also have over a million subscribers logging on for pay per hour service every day. Boingo expects to see an increase in hotspots by as much a 40 present the next few years due to the demand for wireless internet access by its consumers. Naturally the smartphone, netbook and tablet users are demanding more Wi-Fi hotspots due to the surge in device sales.

Boingo is also a key OEM supplier for Verizon and Skype.

Business travelers and tourists should not forget that there is free access at most Chain hotels in the lobby so there is an alternate point for "access" and on a hot summer day - air conditioned to boot!

For the upper New York state traveler, the I90 has Wi-Fi at its traveler rest/gas stops making the toll costs more bearable on your journey to Albany or New York.

Boingo should come to Canada and bring their services to the marketplace. I would call this a pretty easy managed Wi-Fi service for retailers to offer in-store wireless access for its customers. Retailers also have the ability of having others build a solution for them and packaging it as a managed bundle.

Carrefour Planet is the new Hypermarket store

Carrefour Planet is the new Hypermarket store

The French have a new store format called the Hypermarket. They have made the aisles wider, softened the lighting and set up 9 zones of shopping experience. The market zone offers fresh food in a marketplace atmosphere with a focus on the customer experience with sampling and cooking lessons.

The organic zone offers organic brands and their own private bio brand. The frozen food zone offers well you get it – frozen foods.

The beauty zone offers beauty brands and products and a virtual make up consultation and haircut area.

The fashion zone offers clothing with a free alteration service.

The baby zone has all the baby needs and diapers by the bag full. The busy mom will get extra service with a separate check-out area.

The home zone includes storage and home products.

The media zone offers mobile phones, electronics and entertainment media.

Finally the seasonal zone offers an ever changing promo area for products arranged around the 7 different seasons and buying themes.

Again IP technology is a key spend in the in-store technology with digital signage, kiosks and demo centers. No wonder the recent hires to run the large Canadian retailers are coming from Europe.

Carrefour Planet brings innovative design thinking in changing the way consumers interact with their retail customer experience.

The 3 Biggest Call Center Lies and The Customer Experience

It was an interesting day a few weeks ago as I heard a Forrester Analyst nail the whole customer experience right on the head and then had a chat with a few friends who brought up the hilarious nature of contact centers.

Is it really that bad? You are so right its pathetic!

Corporations talk about how the customer experience is so important and how that this high level of service is a key differentiator.

Here are the 3 biggest lies and I just took 20 minutes calling various organizations as a test

1) Your Call is important to us

2) We are experiencing an unusual number of calls and holding times will be longer than usual

3) We are recording this call for quality assurance purposes

These 3 on hold call center messages are the first signs of a company that is not attuned to customer service

Because what they really mean is the following:

1) If it was important we would answer by the third ring or at least 80 % of our calls would be answered within 30 seconds. A ring cycle is 6 seconds so you should get answered by the third ring.

2) That really is saying there are so many complaints we are constantly flooded with calls, our product is so bad people call in all the time to complain, or we only have two agents logged in so it will be a while

3) After being on hold for 32 minutes, punching in your account number, getting bounced a few times and having to provide the account number again …you may get upset and yell and threaten a lawsuit. They will have your threats recorded.

So you end up just emailing the complaint and the following appears:

“Thank You for your message, our award winning customer service ambassador will contact you in 72 hours.”

A week goes by and no response.

The winners in the marketplace will be those that are accessible, listen, take action and care about the customer experience. Those that don’t will only have themselves to blame.

People buy from people, they buy from those that they trust and they buy from those that take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one.

The winners in the marketplace embrace a customer-centric view of contact center economics. I urge every single senior level CXO, every manager to take the view of the customer, and call into their contact center and take notice of the customer experience. Take notes and choose an action plan to fix the inherent issues.

I personally have been recently WOWed by Apple (Total spend of $800), Borders (Total spend of $40), Amazon (Total spend of $50), Durham Radio (Total spend of $120), and Monitoring Times Magazine (Total spend of $16). I am still waiting for Metro to return an email after several negative shopping experiences (Total spend of almost $200) that I will never return to their stores and am so excited that Wal-Mart will open nearby soon and give them a run for their grocery money.

That’s what happens when the retailer does not listen to the customer.

Everyone Wants in on the Grocery Business.

The Canadian grocery business for the longest time has been served by Loblaw’s with 1800 stores across Canada. Smaller chains like Sobeys, Metro and regional chains have also fought for market share.

But the past 10 years the landscape has changed and retailers outside the grocery channel have expanded their offerings in order to increase their share of the consumer’s wallet.

Walgreen, Wal-Mart and Target have all remodeled stores to include a grocery section. Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart have done similar and even Dollarama has a selection of food products.

I have seen a big impact in the drug store giant Duane Reade in New York City. This has made a huge impact as they have stores everywhere in the city and now can offer the convenience of fresh, packaged and frozen foods. New Yorkers do not have the luxury of big box grocers on 5th avenue to buy their groceries in. DR does fill a void in the marketplace.

Longo’s has taken an aggressive approach to be positioned in the Toronto downtown core with a smaller format store in many areas in the middle of the condo projects. If they add a pharmacy section things could be a bit of game changer.

This has changed the shopping behaviour as consumers are now choosing to make their trips to retailers that offer a wider mix and selection choice. They are shopping at the non-traditional grocers more often and shopping at the traditional grocer less often. In Canada the experience is a bit different as there is less competition for the grocery spends. One consistent trend is the spend at the dollar store.

Loblaw’s has done a great job at offering non-traditional items in their stores to combat the Wal-Mart effect and at one time you could buy furniture and household items (typically they were of poor quality) and they seem to have reduced the floor space for these items. That floor space has been replaced with Joe Fresh clothing line. This has created a success of over $1B in sales at higher margins than a typical bag of milk. Now the Loblaw’s stores are drawing non-customers into their stores seeking the latest in fast low cost fashion. This is working very well for the Joe Fresh line. Shoppers Drug Mart has also taken advantage of this trend with their new format stores have a wall of freezers and an increased selection of food items.

One trend that is very noticeable is the increase in private label products which offer a similar quality product at a lower price point. The Loblaw’s iconic Presidents Choice label is one of Canada’s most trusted brands and has its own marketing flyer. Target does very well with its private labels and the vitamin and pharmacy section are a big volume section in their store.

Loblaw’s is a trend setter with the first store to offer a useful app in the kitchen for the iPad and Playbook called Recipe Box. They have over 900 recipes on file making the question “What’s for dinner” an easy one.

Today’s consumers have more choices in how and where to spend their money when trying to fill the refrigerator with food.

The relevancy to this on a technology perspective is the increase of IP technology. stores need more connectivity and bandwidth to accommodate the POS traffic, pharmacy traffic, digital signage and video security applications.

What the heck is IPV6?

During August 2012 the new internet will be ready to change the way addressing and content will be delivered. IPV6 is a new addressing protocol that will replace the current IPV4 scheme. A typical IP address is and is what the internet uses to move data between devices and servers.

IPV4 was developed in 1981 as a 32 bit addressing scheme which can provide 4.3 billion IP addresses. Today there are more than 2 billion internet devices that require an IP address in order to communicate on the internet. To plan for the upcoming explosive growth a new protocol called IPV6 was developed. This will provide for a 128 bit scheme that will have 340 to the 46th IP addresses. My calculator gave up. But it’s probably trillions of addresses, so we should be good for the next 20 years.

Many ISP and carriers are planning to be ready for the transition. IPV4 is not interoperable with IPV6 so to implement it requires a parallel internet network. Carriers will need two networks to run, but the good news is it will be transparent as many newer devices are IPV6 compatible already. If you are accessing an internet site that has addresses in the new format then the network will carry your data back and forth with no concern.

The national resource organization claims that the current IPV4 addresses will run out by end of 2012 and by then all broadband carriers will have developed their parallel networks to accommodate the new addressing scheme.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What do Business Travelers want the most?

What do Business Travelers want the most?


The most annoying thing a tired business traveler has to deal with is those Hotels who think that after spending $179 on a room you need to fork out another $15 bucks for Wi-Fi. Even better if you spend $600 a night in New York. Hoteliers should just charge either an extra $10 and bury it in the rate or do what the budget hotels do is throw it in for free and also offer a free breakfast.

Now if the Hotel really feels that they have the right to charge then at least offer a real high speed service with real bandwidth so we can use our video apps with no jitter and Skype with latency free service.

Business travelers make up a big segment of a hotel's business revenue so its important to listen to their needs. Every traveler wants a comfortable bed, good lighting, a large desk and reliable high speed internet access. Health conscious travelers are also asking for healthy dining options and workout rooms. Many hotels when they do a refresh take into account most of those needs.

However, recent stays have identified the need for more electrical outlets. I don't want to travel with a Monster power bar so i can charge my Playbook, my Laptop, cellphone, my iPad, maybe a camera battery, maybe other stuff. Its always the same single outlet embedded in the desk light and the closest outlet is beside the alarm clock. Unplug the alarm clock and you have to reset it in order to set the alarm. Now we know why maids haul a 50 foot extension cord around with their vacuum cleaner because they cant find outlets either. Maybe a high speed internet bundle with a power bar rental, free long distance and a bottle of water starts to make sense for $4.95.

The power outlet issue is a problem and if you you call down to the concierge you may get lucky and maintenance will come up with a power bar for you.

Now the negative aspect of all this you will forget your power adapters and leave them behind. Every hotel has tons in the lost and found. I use a bright red elastic tie that i got with my Think Tank cable management kit and it helps give me a visual but i call also wrap it to my Laptop the $120 power adapter doesn't get forgotten.

Business travelers can be loyal and repeater customers if Hotels think a little bit about the customer experience and put themselves in their customers shoes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quick Review of the HP TouchPad Tablet

I had the pleasure to spend some time with the HP TouchPad which is not yet released to the market. It seems to be slated for a July launch in Canada. I was extremely impressed and I really believe that HP is now Apples biggest threat in the Tablet arena. HP plans to distribute it through Wal-Mart and through their on-line portal. It appears that the HP cultists will be the first adopters right out of the gate. A colleague in my office is patiently waiting as he owns several HP computers and LCD screens and is a strong ranker in the HP CSAT scores.

So what makes HP any different, they have the Snapdragon dual- CPU at 1.2GHz, 16GB or 32GB ram, Wi-Fi, 9.7” screen, Adobe Flash support, Front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for live video calling,

This is the first time I have seen a battery rating and theirs is 6300mA so I assume this is the standard for the claimed 10 hour run tine.

Ok, so nothing new and all representative of the current electronic technology available today but HP seems to have really taken the webOS software to an interesting level in the way of application organization.

First I got to check out the excellent social connector type application that ties in all your emails and calendars into one simple interface. Bring your exchange, Gmail, hotmail and other pop3 mails all into one email application. This is simple. It also brings all your social tools like Twitter and FaceBook into on application which makes it simple to stay connected and informed within your social network. This will simplify life for those users that don’t want to worry about all of this.

The multi-tasking worked very seamlessly swiping across apps. Pop ups inform you of new emails arriving and I assume any IM would be similar. The Skype application is built-in the OS which is interesting because I am sure Microsoft is a player here as they have had a long standing relationship with HP (back to the iPaq days) and the Active Sync client is still there.

You can also print to any HP wireless equipped printer which again simplifys the user experience.

The marketing folks are thinking smart this time as Angry Birds, Time magazine, FaceBook and are some of the apps available right away. They are talking about a Cloud Storage application to store files and the such in some kind of data locker which I think is interesting for storage of large files.

Another embedded app is the JustType which allows you tot start doing things without opening any applications, write a note, calendar entry or send an email. Again simplifying and organizing the applications into a simple interface.

The Beats Technology is a partnership with Dr. Dre and the sound did sound somewhat better and directly compared to the Playbook it was noticeable.

So HP is doing everything RIM didn’t do and maybe by not releasing the product so fast, HP will not alienate and upset its customers with not ready for prime time products.

HP Marketing is focused on having a working, buggy free, app equipped tablet right out of the gate and that’s the way it needs to be done.