Who Caught Your Eye in 2007? Tell the Crunchies Committee

Anyone that hasn’t had a chance to nominate for the Crunchies Awards should take a look and place votes for your favorite sites, people and emerging tech companies of 2007.

Nominations are only open through tomorrow, December 12, so log on and list your favorites now. The Crunchies Committee will then choose five finalists from the submissions and voting will start on December 13 and last for approximately one month.

If you are looking for some inspiration on who to vote for, check out some of PerkettPR’s clients nominated for selection this year:

Conduit ; “best international start-up” – community toolbars

Moola.com ; “best time sink site,” “best consumer start up” and “best international start up” – the world’s first Massively Multiplayer Rewards Game (MMRG)

Ezmo ; “best consumer start up” and “best international start-up” – social music sharing

Sosius ; “best business model” – free online collaborative workspaces

Here’s some additional background on the awards from the Crunchies blog:

“Together GigaOm, Read/WriteWeb, VentureBeat and TechCrunch are pleased to announce that nominations for the inaugural 2007 Crunchies Awards are now open.

We created twenty award categories to recognize the year’s most innovative technical, creative and business accomplishments of key companies, products and people. We hope you’ll agree that the award categories are good reasons for celebration and fit for a proper ceremony.

We invite you to submit your favorite companies and products for consideration. Read the official rules. Nominations will be open through midnight pst Wednesday, December 12. Finalist voting will open Thursday, December 13 and run for approximately one month before the awards ceremony on Friday, January 18 in San Francisco.”

In a Web 2.0 World, Customer Service Still Matters

With all the do-it-yourself technologies prevalent in today’s Web 2.0 environment, customer service is very often stripped down to an IM chat or email. Often it’s impossible to get a human on the phone when you most need it, and when you do happen to “catch” a customer service representative, cultural barriers, sour attitudes and long processes tend to prevail. Now, more than ever, customer service matters.

One of our clients, Constant Contact, has always recognized this – their entire culture is built around taking care of the customer. Personally, we’ve experienced some great customer service this month from other vendors – and as a small business, it’s great to be treated with the care, respect and importance that is often only reserved for large customers.

Two examples:

Promopeddler

We had to order a rather large supply of light up glasses for the TechCrunch Boston MeetUp. We called a vendor we had used before and when we were negotiating some timing/pricing issues, the approach was a threatening “we may be more expensive, but you’ll regret it if you don’t use us” attitude. That doesn’t play well with us, so we tried a new vendor, Promopeddler. Promopeddler won our business due to their sales rep, Laurie. Laurie’s approach was not only that she was grateful for our business but she went above and beyond with her customer service. She was truly the reason they won our business.

Laurie was proactive, persistent and consistent – all the way past the point of the glasses being delivered. She provided extensive contact information, contacted us daily to let us know the status of the rushed order, called us when she thought a color aspect could be better – and provided a recommendation – and even followed up to ask us how our event was and if the glasses worked out. Our customer experience was so outstanding due to this woman that as long as she’s there, we’ll be a customer. We noticed they made the Inc. 500 “because we give personal service with every order.” Yes – they really do.

Verizon Wireless

We had a unique situation to solve with some BlackBerry purchase from Verizon. It required getting on the phone with some customer service representatives, which is not always a very positive experience. However, one customer service representative, Anthony in New York, made all the difference today. He was very clear every step of the way through the process and he was so personable we ended up chatting about baseball and football – and even though he was a dreaded Yankees fan and we are diehard Red Sox fans (most of us, anyway), we felt like a customer that mattered. Anthony made a time consuming process not only bearable but even entertaining – and experiences like that stick with your customers, so they stick with you.

The point here is that yes, the Internet provides a mostly do-it-yourself marketplace and opportunities to communicate without ever saying a word. But positive, helpful and verbal human connections are still important ways to make your brand memorable – and your customers loyal.

UPDATE: Facebook Beacon – Maybe Not SO Transparent

12/7/2007: UPDATE – this week Facebook issued an apology and users can now opt out.

The advent of social media has had everyone throwing words around such as transparency, interaction and sharing. But the hoopla this week over Facebook’s Beacon suggests that the world is not as transparent and willing to share personal information as many business executives had hoped. Apparently the extent of how “social” consumers are willing to be is still a mystery to the business world.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Facebook announced Social Ads earlier this month, as well as the launch of Beacon, “a new way to socially distribute information on Facebook.” Beacon is “a core element of the Facebook Ads system for connecting businesses with users and targeting advertising to the audiences they want.”

With public outcry and petitions galore from Facebook users, the company has backed down a little and is now offering users the option to publish or not publish the information in the “stories” feed. It seems that all the social media fans are not willing to be quite so transparent as having their online shopping behavior become news to their “friends.” (Shocker!)

A universal opt-out has been unclear to-date, although Charlene Li of Forrester Research just published official word from Facebook that “Adding Beacon-generated stories will require an explicit opt-in by the member. Before, if the member did nothing, the story would appear.”

There’s always a catch to free services, friends – Facebook has just taken the online advertising model a bit too far. Duncan Riley of TechCrunch does a good job here of dissecting exactly what this means to users. We haven’t canceled our Facebook accounts – yet – have you?

Tech-Savvy High School Students and Universities Connect at CollegeWeekLive

Today’s high school students have grown up online. The Facebook/MySpace/YouTube generation now has another new online destination: their future college. We’re not talking about attending college – no one wants to miss the real thing – but rather, maximizing their time and budgets to meet with a myriad of colleges across the country before choosing the right one.

With the average student-to-counselor ratio in US high schools at 315:1, students could use some additional guidance around which colleges to visit, what questions to ask and even what current students have to say about their experience. But touring campuses takes a good deal of time and money – both the student’s and their parents. Enter CollegeWeekLive, a one-of-a-kind virtual event produced next month by our client PlatformQ that provides an opportunity to visit more colleges in two days than many students would have the opportunity to before graduation.

CollegeWeekLive is free for students and will be an interactive two day conference held online. Students can visit interactive booths, talk to guidance counselors and even follow along as current students provide a peek into campus life. Sessions include topics such as “Key Factors in College Admissions Today” and “How to Win a Sports Scholarship,” as well as lively student panels from students around the nation. To-date, participating universities include notables such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as the University of Virginia, University of Mississippi – Ole Miss, University of California – Irvine, University of Connecticut, UMass Boston, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Air Force Academy and many others. Stay tuned as the list grows daily.

Take a virtual tour to learn more – CollegeWeekLive will be held November 13th and 14th from 3:00 p.m. EST to 11:00 p.m. EST.

 

Booth

Another Boom = Another Bust? What do you think?

 

Sunday’s Boston Globe had an interesting article on the tech industry and its future among the recession fears. One interesting note was how some of the “survivors” have been the what-some-might-consider “less sexy” cousins of all the Internet darlings, “Indeed, the infrastructure and enterprise products scorned by Internet highfliers early in the decade – from data storage equipment to accounting software – have become platforms of growth and stability in today’s technology economy.”

 

Several of our clients echo that sentiment as they continue to move forward with innovative, useful technologies that are key drivers to the growing tech sector. While not quite the “media darlings” as many yet-unproven Web 2.0 companies, they are solid, growing companies with innovative products and services, real customers – and revenue.

 

Judging from today’s news alone – coming from such clients as Lightstorm Networks, Sycamore Networks, Gotuit and more – solid, continued growth continues to sustain the economy – with companies solving real problems for real, paying customers. We are proud to work with this generation of tech leaders – although we do kind of miss all those fun dot com names such as pets.com, furniture.com, vote.com and more. Maybe there was something about such simple, obvious names that contributed to the downfall… simple names = too simple of an idea backed by too much money, perhaps?

 

Check out today’s news and let us know what you think. Is there a tech bust looming?

 

  • Gotuit – video navigation and search leader signs Fox Reality Channel, the only all-reality, all-the-time network; check out The Fox Reality Channel Really Awards 2007 now to watch last year’s awards ceremony and vote for the Most Memorable Reality TV Star for 2007
  • Lightstorm Networks – new Carrier Ethernet Silicon player emerges
  • Q1 Labsnetwork security management company sponsors a SANS Network Security Lunch & Learn
  • Sycamore Networks - (NASDAQ: SCMR) – a new Intelligent Multiservice Switch from one of the market’s longstanding leaders in intelligent networking solutions for fixed line and mobile network operators worldwide