Customer Service and the Future of Publishing

February 7, 2011

Communication is as challenging as it ever was.

The exchange was prompted by a post on Dan Gillmor’s excellent journalism blog on Salon.com. When I saw Dan on the Mac version I did the requisite Google search for an answer and got the usual spam-filled and out-of-date search results.

Like David Pogue at the New York Times I’ve been using Dragon Naturally Speaking since before Nuance bought it (he wrote Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition using Dragon on Windows). Unlike David Pogue, I could never get it to work satisfactorily. Until Version 11. It’s amazingly good. I’m 99% happy with it (the accuracy could always be better, but it is still miraculous). At the same time, I’m continuously besieged by my very-well-meaning Macintosh buddies to return to the Apple fold. I think they’re right, but after struggling with Dragon for a decade, I don’t want to step backwards. (Would the Windows version work just as well on a MacBook Air?).

Update, February 8, 2011:

Update, February 11, 2011:

After receiving today the comment from Gene Gable (below) it struck me as odd that I’ve not received a response from Nuance. The new rules of engagement for companies in this era of social media are to respond quickly to blogs, tweets, Facebook postings and comments about your products. Last September I posted a very minor complaint about the company on Amazon, and Peter Mahoney, SVP & GM, Dragon responded the same day. When I later commented on the product, ditto. It appears he still works there, so why doesn’t Nuance’s electronic press clipping service pick up on this post? (As you see above, it’s cross-linked to Dan Gillmore’s far-more-popular blog, so it shouldn’t be tough to find.)

My guess is it’s mainly because Google is now worthless for most product searches: it has been too thoroughly gamed by the SEO hordes. A Google search of blogs on “‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’ AND Nuance” produces just garbage and noise.

(When I Googled “too thoroughly gamed by the SEO hordes” to find an appropriate link, I found that search had been gamed as well, and most of the links were to “gaming”.)

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Google Converses With Spam

July 27, 2010

My favorite moment with Google Gmail is when I go to my Spam folder for a quick glance before deleting, to make sure the coast is clear. Often I’ll find a message or two that does not belong there. I wonder how many I miss. But it’s worth the effort if only to revisit one of my favorite dialog boxes. When I click “delete all spam messages now” I’m asked:

googlespamconversation2-sm1

So spam is in fact a “conversation”? I know who’s speaking. Who’s replying?

Yes, I’m sure I want to continue.

And then I see:

hooray

Ah, the conversation is with Google. At least I’m not alone.

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Google and Branding

April 27, 2010

A very interesting article on corporate branding by Al Ries from AdAge, spotted by Bob Sacks today, points to a factoid that took me by surprise. I think most of us see Google as still an unstoppable tech monster that will continue to devour all competitors. Apparently not:

Here are year-over-previous-year revenue growth rates for Google’s past seven years.

    * 2003: 233.5%
    * 2004:117.6%
    * 2005: 92.5%
    * 2006: 72.8%
    * 2007: 56.5%
    * 2008: 31.3%
    * 2009: 8.5%

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that Google’s rapid growth is coming to a screeching halt. Then what?

Hmm…I guess the game isn’t over.

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Jessica Biel Overtakes Brad Pitt as the Most Dangerous Celebrity to Search in Cyberspace

August 30, 2009

A little bit of a levity as befits a Sunday blog entry, albeit about a serious issue, computer security. On August 25th McAfee released its third annual report on the most dangerous celebrities to search for online. (McAfee, Inc. “is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company.”)

The big problem is that if you follow the search results for top celebrities there’s a high risk that you’ll be “landing at a Web site that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest celebrity news and downloads can cause serious damage to one’s personal computer,” according to McAfee.

As noted, Jessica Biel is the riskiest. According to the report “Major buzz about her figure and high-profile relationship with Justin Timberlake makes Jessica Biel an easy target for spammers and hackers. When “Jessica Biel screensavers” was searched, almost half of the sites were identified as containing malicious downloads with spyware, adware and potential viruses.” Jennifer Aniston, “Hollywood’s favorite leading lady, should be searched with caution. More than 40% of the Google search results for ‘Jennifer Aniston screensavers’ contained nasty viruses, including one called the ‘FunLove virus.'”

The good news: “Surprisingly, the U.S. President and First Lady are not among the most risky public figures to search; Barack and Michelle Obama ranked in the bottom-third of this year’s results, at #34 and #39, respectively.”

Let’s be careful out there!

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How Do You Evaluate a Website?

August 14, 2009

I have two clients currently (three if I count myself) who are asking the question: “How do I evaluate the essential quality of my website?”

There are no shortage of metrics. Many look to the pretty good free service of Google Analytics. There are a ton of supplementary alternatives. I’m currently a subscriber to Visistat, recommended by my webmeister.

Of course the term “quality” is extremely loaded. What does that term mean to you? To me it just means “effectiveness.” Is my website performing in the way that I wish it would, drawing the maximum number of visitors, and bringing folks back after they’ve visited the first time? There are no shortage of additional metrics that comprise a successful site, but let’s start there.

As I investigated the subject I encountered the term “Web Experience Management.”

It’s not widely-used, but that doesn’t matter to me: I like it.

We can talk about “information architecture,” or go simple and discuss “stickiness,” but I feel strongly that the current discussion and definition surrounding the REAL value of any site lacks a holistic approach.

Web Experience Management (of course shortend to “WEM”), does take a broad view of the users’ entire engagement with the site. And that’s what matters. How many unique visitors per day is fascinating and gratifying, return visitors matter greatly, pages visited are key, but we need to find a publishing metric for the entire experience at a website, jsut as we need book reviews for fascinating first novels.

I’ll be writing much more about this is the months ahead, but just wanted to offer a heads up.

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