What Pokémon Go has taught me over the last 7 days.

Since its release on July 6th Pokémon Go has been a massive success. It has taken over tinder as the most downloaded app. It has boosted Nintendo's valuation by as much as $7.5 billion. It dominates popular culture media and conversations on a daily basis. It has even resulted in a Pokémon themed dating service, PokéDates a service that promises to match you with your PokéParamour all you have to do is turn up the Charmander.

As someone who rushed home from school to finish my homework so I could watch Pikachu and Ash on one of their many adventures I can easily see why the game has become such a huge success.

Even if you’re not playing, there’s no way you could have missed the gamer changer that is Pokémon Go. This worldwide phenomenon, is quickly changing the way that we interact with our phones and the world. While augmented reality apps have been around for a while, nothing has changed the game like Pokémon Go. So as I’m sitting at my desk, burning virtual incense to attract Pokémon, a few things have occurred to me that relate to actual work.

Pokémon Go lesson #1: When you promise an experience, make sure you deliver.

As Ninatic is a former Google company (A company that held Gmail in beta for 5 years) it is no surprise that Pokémon Go has been released at a beta stage. A quick search will show you that almost everyone who has used the app has encountered at least one if not all of the following issues since the app was launched earlier this month.
  • servers not responding
  • inability to create accounts, 
  • an app that hangs just when you’ve caught that Abra that took 10 Pokéballs to catch. 
  • or the app not accepting your login and having to start from starch again.
To make matters worse when you do take the time to submit a support request, you will have a better chance of finding a Mewtwo than receive a response from there customer support team.

All this together is almost enough to make you want to drop kick your phone and quit playing altogether. 

A post on Reddit highlights how some customer imagine these issues have come about.

Now imagine that you are about to launch a brand new website/app/service. You’ve paid for media, and emailed your entire database, and then you suddenly spot an issue that could result in serious problems for you customers. Do you take a leaf out Ninantic's book and launch anyway or do you stop and fix the issues even if it does mean having push your release date back by a few months.

Follow Ninatic's approach and all of your hard work, and the excitement you’ve built with your prospects and existing customers, has just been washed away. Of course marketing snafus will happen – it’s inevitable. Nor is any software ever 100% bug free. However you can mitigate some of the risk with a couple of key steps;
  • Test
  • Test
  • Test 
  • and Test again.
Testing is something that should be done at every stage of any project you take on and not just something to tack on at the every end. Even you have managed to do this and the project launch has has been a success you should continue to test. Over time you will make slight changes, developers will come and go and you will hopefully gain a lot of new customers. All this can lead to stress on your application and without the proper testing along the way it can lead to a lot of frustrated customers.

At Cogneto Smasher.io our stress testing service that cant help you with this testing before you launch and long after your project has become a success to help you ensure it remains that way.  If you are launching a project soon and would it to be fully verified by a third party  I would be happy to discuss with you how Smasher can help you.

Pokémon Go lesson #2: People will hand over their information for the promise of a great experience.

When I first set up my Pokémon Go account last week when it launched here in Ireland I was pleasantly surprised by the brazenly broad amount of personal information that was required for logging in. Niantic, the makers of Pokémon, requested access to just about everything about me except for what I ate for dinner and whether I wore boxers vs. briefs (reports suggest they have since backed off). 

Yet this did not stop me and millions of other people from signing up immediately? Nope. Setting up “gates” by putting forms in front of your best, most compelling content, is truly OK. This not only helps B2B marketers to convert unknown visitors to known contacts, but it also provides an opportunity to score those contacts through how they have interacted with your high-value content.

However given Ninantic's lack of communication or willingness to return the favour and share information with its customers when issues occur it shows a lack of transparency with the company something which will be sure to come back to haunt them later.

Had the company reciprocated the sharing of information via status page informing customers of errors as and when they happened. Frustration between customers and company may not be so high.

Yet it seems even this basic task was left to fans of the game to create themselves. As fans of the game and providers of a status page service StatusHub we too created our status page (pokemongo.statushub.io). 

If you would like to offer your customer a level of transparency and trust that comes with sharing information about issues to your services. I would be happy to speak with you about how StatusHub can work for you and some of the company's that are already enjoying the benefits tour StatusHub service.

Pokémon Go lesson #3: People are social and actually like talking with other people about topics that excite them.

Over the last week I have got to experience the unstoppable virality of Pokémon Go. All you have to do is take a walk down to your local park/ shopping centre to see what I mean. Yes you may see zombies staring at their screens and think that people have been doing this long before Pokémon Go. So what has changed. For people who have been playing the game things couldn't be more different.

People who don’t know each other are working together as teams to battle gyms, and actually talking with each other to coordinate attacks.I have even stopped what I was doing to offer tips to the person sitting next me on my regular commute who was just starting to play the game.

So I began to question what could I do that could help Cogneto harness that power for our products. So I asked myself 
  1. What could we do that would get our customers and prospects so excited that they want to share?
  2. What would we need to do to foster those interactions? 
Local user groups and meet-ups would be a great way to bring our best customers together with prospects. Our advocates would become our best sales people, because nothing sells like hearing from peers that have the same challenges.  However as our customer community is primarily online, I have begun to take a look at how we can create a virtual experience that would simulate that face-to-face interaction?

Give your loyal customers a reason to be proud of their relationship with your company, product, or service, and they will become your most effective marketing channel.

Pokémon Go lesson #4:  Good content is like a mythical rare Pokémon – those elusive very rare buyers will actually seek you out.

Back in 2010 I starting my career learning SEO before I had even graduated from college. Since then I have learned the value of good content and the many different forms it can come in.

Yet it took an app that can drain my battery by 90% in 45 minutes to teach me that no matter what age you are everyone likes fun content, even if you are at work/college. We are all busy. Sometimes, we are so busy that we forget to stop and have fun, so distractions, especially when they help you do your job better, can be a very welcome thing.

Take a look at you inbox. Go ahead I'll wait. Now many of the emails you received were B2B emails. Did you click on any of these mails.

Emails of any kind that get attention are either a) super, super relevant and timely, or b) humorous and offer a chance for some levity. That bottom-funnel, highly targeted communications email that you send every week probably works pretty well, because it is relevant.

But how are your top-funnel, “attract” communications doing? If you’re not already using humorous or provocative content, maybe it’s time to test something new. And it’s important to remember – catching a Pidgee is great, but sometimes you have to go out and actually find the Pokémon (or buyers) you really want where they are.


Pokémon Go lesson #4: Games are fun. EVERYONE LOVES TO WIN.

Since I first took up the control pad of my Sega Mega Drive many many years ago I learned that games could make learning a new skill or piece of software both fun and rewarding. Adding achievements to the process also gave me a reason to keep playing the game.

Take a look at your content does it offer customers/prospects a chance to feel rewarded for having taken the time to engage with your company. If not can you create this experience for them.

Content that educates prospects about your service, while being fun and sharable, is a great way to juice up your “attract” content.

Is your product reliant on continual usage for your customers to get the most out of it. Perhaps you can find a way to reward your customer for ongoing engagement. They’ll have fun, possibly become more loyal, it will give them a reason to share and it will give you a reason to speak with your customers outside of them having issue with your product.

Wrap up

The lessons I have learned from Pokémon Go over the last week have been very valuable to me as a Customer Service Agent, even if you would prefer that Pokémon  would just Go away. At least we have all learned that nostalgia can be a very powerful tool.

Your Friday Inspiration

Please hold your call is important to us. A member of our support team will be with you shortly.
We hate to be told to wait, its human nature. As guy with a limp who becomes easily frustrated with people who walk slow. Today's technology has allowed to have instant gratification in almost every area of life, thanks to e-tolls, fast passes for theme parks and moving walkways. We can get have fast food delivered right to our door for when we are feeling extra lazy.

When we have a problem that need solving we really hate waiting. That is why those automated phone messages can be so annoying. Customer service teams have been able to use live chat, social media, knowledge bases and community forums to help reduce the time a customer has to wait for solution. 

But unless there is always someone available on the live chat and social media channels to answer questions we may have,  we can become more frustrated about having to wait till someone comes online to speak with us, or worse still having to submit a support request with no idea of when we will receive a solution. We face a similar issue with knowledge bases and community forums if they are not consistently kept up to date.

So how can we ensure our customers don't feel frustrated every time they try to contact our customer support teams. the obvious answer would be to either ensure we have someone available to answer questions or that our KB's and community forums are always up to date. But at times this is not always possible, so the next thing we should look at is ensuring our "First Response Time" is kept as low as possible.

First response time (also called first reply time) is the number of minutes (or hours) elapsed between the time a customer submits a case and the time a customer service rep responds to the customer. It’s best measured in business hours, so you’re not penalized for time off the clock. Common sense tells us that the less time a customer has to spent waiting to hear from us the more satisfied they will be with our service.

So how can we reduce this time to help improve our customer satisfaction. 

Collin Burke a Marketing Associate at InsightSquared highlights 3 ways that we can achieve this in his article 3 Ways To Reduce Your First Response Time for the company's blog. His article takes a look at why response times are so important an what we can do to improve them.

An article for PagerDuty shows how they were able to cut response time in half while increasing their support ticket volume. Keeping customers happy is a source of pride at PagerDuty. While having a reliable product that is loved by their customers makes their lives easier, people still run into the occasional issue. This article shows how they implemented some unique tools and processes to ensure their customers receive the support they deserve.

However, Gregory Ciotti who works in marketing for Help Scout recently published an article to LinkedIn. In it he shows us that the "Get em' in and Get em' out" may not always be be the best approach to improving customer satisfaction. While it is true people hate to wait, we can find it even more annoying if we are just being told what we want to hear in order to hang up and speak with the next person on the line. Gregory's article shows that taking time to solve a customer's problem could prove to be more beneficial to a company.

After all the last thing we want to do is deliver a a high speed customer service that ends up leaving a bad taste in customers' mouths either.

Your Friday Inspiration

Once a upon a time, in a far off land
As  children we all became familiar with this phrase when it came to our bedtime stories. We would lie there and fall asleep and dream of far off lands filled with giants , unicorns and magic. Through the art of storytelling we learned valuable life lessons. E.G Belling the Cat: Execution Is More Important than Ideas, something our founder Ian Bergin spoke about in a recent blog.

Telling stories has been a timeless skill and an essential driver of change throughout human history for both good and bad. Great stories surprise. They draw us in. They have fascinating characters. They make think, make us feel. Great stories stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that balance sheets or text on slides never will.

I truly believe that this is only reason that Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become so successful. The thousands of creators who use these platforms have been able to rally the support of millions by being able to get their stories in front of people. These platforms just don't allow creators to tell there stories but they actually demand it. Every project has to have a video where the creators explain what they are doing, why they are doing it and why they need your help.

Unfortunately in an era of status updates, tweets and snaps many of us have forgotten how to tell a good story. However, it is these same omnipresent sharing platforms that has transformed our lives. That have made the skill of storytelling to become uniquely essential again. As we spend  up to 3 hours a day consuming content across these platforms, storytelling is a skill not only every individual will need to master but every business too.
'78% of of CMO's think content is the future of marketing' Hanley Wood 2013
The same research also showed that two thirds of marketers believe that branded content is superior to traditional forms of marketing. That's massive.

Perhaps this largely due to how social media has allowed us to become comfortable with talking directly to the companies we buy from. Business's are genuinely excited about putting their content in your Facebook feeds next to pictures of our friends and family. But as more companies begin to spew their content into every orifice of the internet  truly successful marketers will be the ones who can craft compelling stories.

Image Source

The truth is in the end  no one gives a shit about your marketing goals or product roadmap. But everyone likes a good story and those that can tell one will have an increasing advantage. With stories what you say is often moot compared to how you say it. Taking this point lets look at how we can use stories to improve how we engage with our customers.

In a blog post for  Constant Contact Marisa Donelan tells us that there is one thing your business has that is unique, which will always set them apart from your competition.  Your competition can never take it from you and you will always be an expert on the subject. Your business story.  Throughout the rest of her post Marisa sets out a series of ideas for how you can create customer connections through storytelling.

Similarly Corey Pemberton states that storytelling is a weapon that every business has in their arsenal that can help them level the playing field and stand out from their competitors regardless of their size. In his post 5 ways to captivate customers with storytelling for duct tape marketing, Corey shows us that every time you start you tell your story you should start with the end in mind. Understanding where you’re going, hones your focus; it keeps you from rambling and losing valuable attention.

Helen Nesterenko founder and CEO of Writtent.com reminds in in her article that people have been telling stories since we could draw on cave walls. Bedtime stories, grand odysseys, tall tales, epic adventures, tragedies, romances, comedies - these are how we understand one another, how we bond with each other.
When told correctly stories build connections between you and your prospects - emotional connections that keep them coming back to you. Through the art of storytelling we can win our customers hearts. In order to do this we have to know what makes a good story. Then refine them and know when to use them in right place to build connections with our customers. In her article Helen shows how to do just that.

As technology increasingly intertwines us all, those who can tell a good story will rule the world. It will be our job as businesses to make sure the good guys are the ones telling the best stories.  Like every other skill we are going to need to practice it.