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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

Thursday, July 7, 2005

London Bomb Blasts

Its a sad day again.  Family and friends in London are safe.  Reactions have started pouring in. Simon sent me this link :

"Amid all the chaos of today's atrocities there was one particularly potent irony. In the garden square where terrorists chose to ignite a bomb on a bus full of ordinary people is a statue of Gandhi. It overlooks the wreckage of the attack and it was hard not to wonder what a man whose name is synonymous with change through peaceful protest would have thought of the events of 7 July 2005 and all that led up to them."

How ironic!

And Matt Mower is angry :

And so it begins.

Jeez what a load of hogwash:

Once buried, it will be time to avenge them.

Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields. I think not. About me, I see older Scots with a steely flint in their eyes. The reckoning will come. There is a soul of honor beneath the ribs of death. [Josh Trevino via ScriptingNews]

Irritating prose style aside... have you learned nothing? To talk of vengeance and reckonings while that very scene is playing out?

If it weren't so absurb it would make me very angry indeed. [Curiouser and curiouser!]

This sort of reaction is just stupid. The best thing to do is to go back to work and life the next day. That's retaliation that makes you proud. We did that the day after the Bombay Bomb Blasts in 2003 and much earlier in the riots following the bomb blasts in 1993.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia has outdone itself again with some really great collaborative action ! 

9:39:25 PM    comment []  trackback []

Skype Survey

Cross-posted at SkypeJournal :

Skype Skimping on Asking the Right Questions?

20050705SkypeQuestionaireIntro.pngSkype has an online survey up. It's all about habits and practices - but there seems to have been little thinking on and stretch in terms of options, scales, wants and wishlists. It's not well designed, poorly structured, with many gaps in areas covered, and no real behavioural information being collected. A wasted opportunity! 

Just because online surveys are simple doesn't mean they shouldn't be well thought out. It's also more dangerous to have information that is incomplete or poorly collected than to have no information at all. Unfortunately many organisations fall into this trap. There is down and dirty research -- this is not it.

Breaking down the survey to understand the gaps further, there are problems in several areas :

1. Areas of Coverage :

* No demographic profiling - age, gender, income, etc - to contextualise responses

* Inadequate coverage of Skype's offerings - what about conference calling, chat and multi-chat, Skype on PDA's, Skype API, forums - areas of satisfaction and problems with them? For instance, how many have made a conference call with SkypeOut - one problem could be tackling DTMF tones

* No behavioural information of depth and value like buddy lists, minutes and hours spent on each feature, how many failed calls, what percentage is acceptable, what percentage local vs international calls, whether Skype is set to a call-centric or chat-centric mode, etc

* No developer products included : video chat, presence servers, outlook import, other plugins. These form a vital part of the total offering from a customer's point of view, and make the Skype experience richer - it would have been interesting to study awareness, usage and motivations for them.

* No feature comparisons with other products competing in the same space from a user's perspective - IM, other VOIP offerings, even landlines and cell phones - resulting in answers in a vacuum without benchmarks and best-in-class standards that always make responses so much more reliable and meaningful, particularly when satisfaction is involved. For instance, would you say your Skype billing experience is better than or worse than your current cellular provider? Landline carrier? Amazon? Other? NA? What's your best billing experience online?

* Very little space offered for opportunities to improve

* Even less on what Skype really means to users today and how is it changing the way they communicate, impact on their communication behaviour and habits.

* Branding and positioning issues - how is Skype positioned in the customer's mind? What associations, what image, what relationship, strength of stickiness and loyalty? I know Skype is beginning to think of brand - and that's a great step. I also hope that they remember the brand is not just what the company communicates, but as it rests in user's minds and hearts and leaves it imprints. I'd have loved to see some brand-related questions here.

2. Questionnaire design and structure:

* Options and choices (dropdown boxes) provided seem inadequate in most areas. The connection speed options are not customer friendly. Reasons for using don't include - for business, for travel, for connecting with family abroad etc. Another instance:

Why did you start using Skype Voicemail? (check all that apply)

Thought it was cool

Wanted to save money

Wanted to call people abroad


These options make little sense in the context of voicemail - none of the potential reasons for using Voicemail are listed in the options. It seems like these questions have been dumped blindly from the earlier SkypeOut section.

* Areas for improvement in all sections are left as an open-ended space; some amount of stimulus for thought might have been provided for generating more meaningful suggestions. For instance, for Voicemail, there are so many possiblities - from saving copies to sending group messages or not having to listen to your message for the 5th time when sending.

* Scale used for satisfaction - the 3-point scale : very satisfied-satisfied-not satisfied again doesn't really offer up much - first, there aren't enough gradations to really determine satisfaction to make it a good customer service scale and second, satisfaction must always be measured against perceived benchmarks, without which it can be meaningless


10:36:46 AM    comment []  trackback []