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July Key Findings 2013

Voice of the Customer – Does it Matter in B2B?

exceptional_customer_serviceWith new job titles like “Head of Customer Experience” and “Chief Customer Officer” emerging, businesses are recognizing the importance of the customer experience and making someone accountable for it, at least in the B2C space. The question is do companies who do business with other companies place as much value on the customer experience as their B2C counterparts?

Most B2B firms still hold the belief that the customer service experience is consumer focused, that purchasing decisions are made for a complex set of reasons other than the customer experience, and that personalized service is already provided through account management teams. In a space where “word-of-mouth” is so important it is hard to imagine that customer service is not more of a priority, but in a series of studies conducted by Forrester, “the B2B experience was perceived as worse than that in the bottom-of-the barrel consumer industries such as TV service providers and health insurance plans.” The reality is that firms who have poor experiences with other firms buy less.

Even though there are distinct differences between B2B and B2C, they both demand high-quality customer service. The B2B process is about building relationships and developing personal connections during a multi-step sales cycle, whereas B2C is driven more by price, packaging and an emotional connection to the product or service and a shorter sales cycle – often a single-step buying process.

B2B and B2C can share best practices when it comes to customer service. For starters, define who exactly you mean by customer. B2B companies may have many stakeholders inside one client. Next, put yourself into the customer’s shoes through common experience design practices such as behavioral personas, customer journey maps and voice of the customer (VoC) programs. And finally, aim to change the culture. Key practices aimed at changing the beliefs and behavioral norms of internal employees can similarly be applied to partners, resellers, agents, and other third parties that affect the B2B customer experience.

This table provided by Elya McCleave, a service and support professional, highlights what B2C has learned about B2B service innovation and vice versa:

customer service chart


Bottom line: when you don’t provide effective customer service, eventually that impacts your bottom line – in terms of lost opportunities, clients and ultimately dollars.

Getting Immersed in Metadata

immersion (1)Until fairly recently metadata was a technological term simply used to describe other data. The information about a certain item’s content, such as the time and length of a phone call, but not the conversation itself. Or with email, the senders and recipients of a message, but not what the message says. Broadly defined, metadata is data about other data.

Web pages often include metadata in the form of metatags. Descriptions and keywords, metatags are commonly used to describe the Web page’s content. Most search engines use this data when adding pages to their search index.

In the wake of the recent NSA secret surveillance revelations, many Americans are wondering what data is out there about themselves. With almost two decades of web usage, the web is no longer just our present technology but it is also a record of our past. And there is no better tracking measure of our personal and professional history than email.

For students at MIT, metadata isn’t merely a technical issue, or a political one, but an emotional one – “a cloud of knowledge about your behavior that, once you confront it, can literally change your life.” In a MIT Media Lab project called Immersion, graduate students have launched a new online project to help people interactively visualize their own metadata by integrating with their personal Gmail. The program requests user’s Gmail address and password and then scans every email in their account and scrapes the metadata to create their personal network. For each individual contact, you can see the first email to them, the last email, how many have been sent and received, and which were marked as private. It can also make a list of other people this contact has introduced you to. Once you have securely entered your Gmail details and had a look at your contact map, Immersion gives you the option of deleting your information and logging out, or letting Immersion keep your compressed email metadata and user profile. If you choose to allow Immersion to keep your information it will not be shared with anyone outside the research group and will be deleted after 30-days. If you’d like to check out the “Immersion“ project, visit Tweet or Facebook us your thoughts. ( (

Renewable Fuels – Feast or Famine

090819_Corn_0083W1rkRenewable fuels, those produced from renewable resources such as vegetable oils, ethanol and methanol, have gained popularity due to their sustainability, low contributions to the carbon cycle, and in some cases lower amounts of greenhouse gases. But while they sound great in theory, there is some concern that they might cause more problems than they solve. Researchers used to agree that farm-grown fuels would cut emissions, but they gave fuel crops credit for soaking up carbon while growing, not realizing that the fuel crops might displace vegetation that soaked even more carbon. The new crops of corn in the U.S. and palm oil in Europe have to have a place to grow, resulting in deforestation and other land-use changes.

One study found that it would take more than 400 years of biodiesel use to pay back the carbon emitted by directly clearing peat for palm oil in Indonesia. Indirect damage can be equally devastating because on a hungry planet, food crops that get diverted to fuel usually end up getting replaced somewhere. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a hungry person for a year, yet the U.S. has quintupled its ethanol production in a decade and plans to quintuple its biofuel production again in the next decade. This will mean more money for well-subsidized grain farmers, but also more malnutrition, more deforestation and more emissions. Deforestation accounts for 20% of global emissions and even if the U.S. switched its entire grain crop to ethanol, it would only replace one fifth of U.S. gasoline consumption. (

Making the Move to EHR not Always Painless

EHREHR (electronic health records) adoption and implementation among physician practices is on the rise. According to a UBM Medica Insights 2013 Technology Survey of more than 1,200 physician respondents 76% reported partial, full or hospital-system EHRs, and 52% have seen improved workflow as a direct result of EHR implementation. Simply put, EHRs are the digital version of a patient’s paper chart, bringing together in one place everything about a patients’ health. EHRs contain information about a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and lab and test results; offer access to evidence-based tools that providers can use in making decisions about a patient’s care; automate and streamline providers’ workflows; increase organization and accuracy of information; and support key market changes in payer requirements and consumer expectations.

In spite of all of these benefits, there are still issues with the implementation of EHRs. The most pressing information technology problems are EHR adoption and implementation (17%), cost to implement and use new technologies (16%), meeting “meaningful use” requirements (12%), IT/tech support (12%), keeping up with new technologies (10%), resistance to technology adoption by physicians or staff (6%), and other issues such as billing, training and record keeping (27%)

EHR chart

The need for privacy and security is major concern when it comes to healthcare and as America moves toward broader adoption of EHRs, Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs can help providers with the transition if they adopt make “meaningful use” of electronic health records. “Meaningful use” is the set of standards defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs that govern the use of EHRs and allows eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments by meeting specific criteria. The goal of meaningful use is to promote the spread of EHRs to improve healthcare in the U.S. and the benefits are complete and accurate information, better access to information, and patient empowerment. In order to be eligible for the money, the electronic record systems they adopt must conform to strict technical standards and be certified as meeting them.

On July 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its first set of these standards, which are designed to ensure that the systems are secure and reliable. Another key goal is to make certain that data collected by one system is compatible with data collected by another. This will allow healthcare providers the ability to exchange patient information, which will help them operate more efficiently and improve patient care. For some healthcare providers, incompatibility among systems is not an issue. They have taken the position that their medical records are their own proprietary information, and they see little need to share them with others. But in passing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and, more recently, the Recovery Act sections on health information technology, Congress has decreed that patients have a right to obtain the information in their own records.

In the digital age, that means that a patient’s records from one healthcare provider must be able to move seamlessly to another, and be readily readable and usable there. Once the standards-compliant EHRs are in widespread use, it will become easier to send records securely over the Internet from one doctor’s office, hospital, or health system to another.

There are many other reasons to standardize record systems. More broadly, standardized records that contain information about patient experiences will yield a wealth of information about what works and doesn’t work in medicine. That collective knowledge may be used to drastically improve healthcare or to improve the health of diverse groups of people. Standardization will also make it easier to improve electronic health record systems in years to come.



Business to Business

  • Almost two thirds of Americans (64%) would prefer to work virtually rather than in an office. (Ricoh; 973-882-2023)
  • 73% of individuals trust recommendations of friends and family versus only 23% who trust radio and TV ads and 19% who trust direct mail. (
  • By 2015, nearly 70% of all information storage capacity will exist in virtual and cloud environments. (
  • In most states, somewhere between 50% and 60% of small businesses do not have websites (
  • By the time a B2B purchaser actually engages with a company or with a sales rep from that company, they’re 57% of the way through their decision process.(
  • Smartphones and other devices are changing the way today’s executives do business. A close look at how executives use these devices revealed that most carry four or more devices, 56% of them say their smartphone is their primary business tool, and 51% of executives under 40 have made a business-related purchase after viewing a video. (

Brand Strategy

  • Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) would prefer to work virtually rather than in an office. (Ricoh; 973-882-2023)
  • Two-thirds of U.S. shoppers (67%) get ideas for their household shopping trips from circulars and flyers. (BrandSpark International; 647-727-4578)
  • New research suggests that Facebook fatigue may be setting in with some users. Twenty-seven (27%) percent of Facebook users surveyed in the U.S. plan to spend less time on the site in 2013, compared with only 3% who plan to spend more time, according to a study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. (Pew Internet & American Life Project)
  • Three-quarters of companies collect customers’ first (75%) and last (73%) names when asking for their email addresses, but only 30% personalize the opt-in emails they send. (
  • User reviews are a key influence on consumer electronic purchases. Six in 10 shoppers (60%) consult user reviews, and 52% consult professional reviews when shopping for consumer electronics, even though 88% say they are somewhat or very knowledgeable about these products. (Weber Shandwick)


  • Wind farms currently produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 600,000 families in the U.S. and require an average wind speed of 14 miles per hour to convert wind energy into electricity. One wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 300 homes. (
  • Nearly two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening. Relatively few (16%) believe it is not. However, since fall 2012, the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is real has dropped 7 points to 63%, likely influenced by the relatively cold winter of 2012-13 compared to the prior year. (
  • Analyses of home-energy use reveal that we use more energy to heat our homes (an average of 41.7 million BTUs per household annually, at an average annual cost of $631 per household) than to cool them (7.8 million BTUs, at $276). (
  • Globally, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 33% of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions. In the wealthier cities of the industrialized world, most of that energy is used by residential and commercial buildings for lighting and temperature control. (,
  • When asked about alternative energy policy, 79% of U.S. adults want requirements for better fuel efficiency, and 74% want more funding for alternative energy. (


  • Eight in ten caregivers (79%) have access to the internet. Of those, 88% look online for health information, outpacing other internet users on every health topic included in a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, from looking up certain treatments to hospital ratings to end-of-life decisions. (Pew Internet & American Life Project)
  • Thirty percent of U.S. adults help a loved one with personal needs or household chores, managing finances, arranging for outside services, or visiting regularly to see how they are doing. Most are caring for an adult, such as a parent or spouse, but a small group cares for a child living with a disability or long-term health issue. The population breaks down as follows: 24% of U.S. adults care for an adult. 3% of U.S. adults care for a child with significant health issues, 3% of U.S. adults care for both an adult and a child and 70% of U.S. adults do not currently provide care to a loved one.
    (Pew Internet & American Life Project)
  • Flu vaccines are typically produced by growing influenza virus in chicken eggs, which means people with egg allergies may develop a serious reaction, A newly FDA-approved vaccine, Flubok, avoids this risk by replicating the virus in cells derived from the fall army worm moth. The method has not been used for other vaccines but not the flu until now. What’s more, it allows for much quicker vaccine production, which will make more doses available sooner if there is ever a flu pandemic. (Cidrap)
  • Scientists are hoping to develop new drugs from the skin of the Russian brown frog after discovering that it secretes antimicrobial gas. Since many frogs live in dark, wet places teeming with germs, their skin must serve as armor against these microscopic threats, scientists theorized. When Moscow State University researchers extracted the gas from living frogs, they found 76 new chemicals with antibacterial and antifungal properties – some as powerful as prescription antibiotics. Researchers plan to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to synthetically produce these substances. (Albert T. Lebedev, PhD, Dept. of Organic Chemistry, Moscow State University)

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