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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, March 4, 2005

Skype Journal Launched

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Curious?  Go here. 

This is great news for Skype addicts like me, who don't really play in the forums.  What better than to get a huge range of news, views and info about Skype in your newsreader.  Am sure the folk with their teeth into VOIP and Skype will appreciate it too.

From the launch post at Unbound Spiral:

"So I'm switching on the 'Skype Journal', independent news, views and support for the Skype community. A developer community is already growing up rapidly around Skype. Along with hardware manufacturers this industry needs a vehicle to grow the total market. Concurrently Skypers need information and all want to learn new ways to go Skype.

So where's the business model?
As most of you know the money is not generally in blogs. I'll tell you more about the company later. For now there are many ways the Skype Journal can be helped. Get it up and running and a number of new opportunities open up. The first task is to build traffic to a new site. Help me over the next week. I have to capture an even broader Skype audience.

We are seeking:
- Sponsors: We need this most of all. A sponsor can today completely change the direction of how and where we go. 
- Tips / Insights: Your comments and input will always be the most valuable leads we get. Send us letters, let us know where you think we should be looking.
- Additional Writer / Contributor with Telecoms Technical Industry View
- Translators: We want to create a global blog. Skype is being translated already in forums, and for each new version. We have a "deal" in mind.
- Editorial Advisor: Mentor required, no blogging just thought required.

We plan to provide and have planned:
- Research Capability
- Product Design & Innovation
- Skype Focused Events"

Way to go Stuart and Bill !  Great actionable sense after being so generous with your understanding of Skype and its potential, and for stretching our Skype boundaries. 

All the best. 

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Nirantar - Hindi Blogzine

A picture named nirantar.gifNirantar is the world's first Hindi language blogzine.  Congratulations Debashish and the whole team.  Am proud to be a part of the first issue - Debashish has done a fine job of translating into Hindi, the article I did on the Indian Blogging Scene. And there's also the Hindi blog radio, Blognaad, that has audioblogs.  Pretty cool stuff.  Try it if you want to sample some spoken Hindi !

I'll be posting the article I did in English for the cover story soon.  

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Its a Bloggie Month

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Did I forget to mention that in between all my client projects, I've been meeting lots and lots of bloggers.  Its been a wonderfully rich 'meetings with bloggers' couple of months.  Started off with an entertaining evening with a bunch of Bombay Bloggers where among much coffee and guppa, I gained some insight into Libertarianism - cartels that speak of ''individual choice'' - don't ask me to spell that out more :):). 






A picture named ethan.JPGRajesh, Hemant (my husband who btw is a blog-spouse and not a blogger himself) and I had a lovely evening with Ethan and his wife Rachel who were in Bombay for a night. The place was nice, food was good and the company awesome. They went on to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra and Rachel has an amazing account of their travels with loads of photos.





The very next day I met up with Pip Coburn of UBS, who I had earlier come across as the co-host of Jerry's Weekly Yi-Tan Calls.  He was in Bombay for NASSCOM.  We had a fun evening walking barefoot on Juhu beach, then some sea-food at my favourite restaurant followed up by coffee at Mocha.  We shared our experiences and wonder at how social technologies can and do bring greater collaboration among groups.  And talked about lots of other things - Pip has triplets - wow !

A picture named rohit and andy.JPGOn Wednesday, Rohit spent the day with Andy Carvin of the Digital Divide Network, showing him around Bombay.  Andy's here to attend the Baramati conference. I met them for a couple of hours between meetings with clients who are visiting from the US on the year-long ethnographies I have been doing.  Over paninis and raspberry drinks and a cherry-flavoured hookah, we talked about the difference between Bombay and Delhi, about podcasting and mobcasting, and Andy did some quick on-the-spot podcasts as we spoke.     



Jerry Michalski is in Bombay from Saturday through Tuesday - Jerry, am going to try my damnest to be back in Bombay from Delhi before you leave for Bangalore !

Later this month, some of the Worldchanging contributors and my friend and fellow researcher Simon Roberts of Ideas Bazaar are going to be in Delhi for Doors of Perception.  I really hope I can make it there too. 


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Global Knowledge Review February Issue

The February issue of the Global Knowledge Review is out.  Every issue has one article published online - this month its one i wrote called Get that smile from the heart.  I'd touched upon the issue of Client Delight in a post last year, and fleshed it out with some more thinking for the article. Here's an excerpt where i draw the difference between customer satisfaction and delight.

While such programs deliver on expectations, customers today 'expect' far more from them. Service organizations try and out-do each other vying to send the most innovative New Year card - this year with a bottle of champagne attached, for instance. Copycat marketing programs with high budgets do the same. Does that delight you? Unfortunately, these gestures though bigger, aren't always better. If you are a high value customer, more often than not, you are the 20% for a whole host of service providers. These gestures have become hygiene factors, offered to all in that group, they aren't impromptu, they've lost their element of surprise, and aren't unexpected anymore. Cynical customers see through these and don't want to pay to sustain them. And sometimes, they'd rather not see the plastic smile.

We see the mushrooming of several small boutique service organizations. The genesis is in individuals breaking away from larger groups and starting their own boutiques. They can do this because they carry clients with them. Is it simply because of their skills? What is it? The promise is always the same - more expertise, lower overheads, talk to me without the layers. De-layering requires empowerment. In large service businesses, this is always more difficult as the labor is often low cost low wage, and there is high turnover. Still it is that 'X' factor that makes for delight, and binds the client to the provider.

Drawing a difference between customer satisfaction and delight, these actions and gestures might bring the company high scores on customer satisfaction. Take the case of any large five star hotel chain ñ you are satisfied when you get the fruit basket in your room, you love the chocolate left on your bed, you smile back at the staff when they greet you with smiles. However, service with a smile is now so over-baked at least in this part of the world. Its what's expected from any hotel today. And everyone does it.

Does it bring about delight? Gain loyalty? Shouldn't we be working towards a new interpretation of delight that builds loyalty, which works from within, which tugs at the heart and not the mind. Each customer has a mental model about what to expect from a service provider based on his or her experiences and delight can come from a really simple deviation from the expectations around the experience. For instance, when you are accustomed to being greeted by a frowning stewardess on your flight, a simple greeting without a frown can actually redefine your experience and hence your expectations in the future.

Delight to me is joy, it is heartfelt, it is love, it is a high. Its that little extra that makes you smile with the knowledge that you have made the right choice, a little reminder every so often that makes for stickiness. Something that conveys to you that you are special to us - and not just another client that will get the annual New Year card or be on our mailing list. Something that in a very personalized way, differentiates you from other clients or in the least, leaves you with that perception.

More subtly, delight makes you my brand ambassador, by telling stories and infecting others with your experiences. And mind you, without any monetary incentive. These stories are the commitment, they are the reward from the exchange, they bring a smile from the heart.

Delight is about flow, it's a customer virus that stems from stories and experiences. The contrast is the bad experience; we all know they are told many more times. Are you setting up your customer satisfaction and delight programme as an insurance policy or is the thrust on creating growth?

Delight is also about networking these experiences, about employees getting to hear them back, a feedback loop. This is the stimulus, it is the training ground. It is what makes the entrepreneur so effective. How can you make them easy to emulate and how transfer good stories - what are the strategies, what is the sharing approach?

There are lots of interesting articles in the February issue, on knowledge mapping (Denham at his eloquent self), the ubiquity of storytelling, on the social life of KM tools, on why traditional KM systems fail to succeed in Indian organisations, on knowledge risk.   Check them out!


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