Coke adds choice to life

“Coke’s RFID-Based Dispensers Redefine Business Intelligence” by Mary Hayes Weier (Information Week, 8 June 2009) Don’t let the geeky title scare you. Put yourself in the shoes of a Coke guest and read between the lines. This a perfect example of the shift in expectations that’s being driven by the empowerment guest now enjoy as a result of “technology”. Offline or online is not important. What is important is the experience. As much we hate to tip our hats to high frutose corn syrup & water, Kudos to Coke for this effort.

Our guess is that eventually Coke will link all the machines so that instead of having to reenter your custom flavour everytime you’ll be able to enter your own code and the Freestyle machine / network will take care of the rest. There’s also the possiblity of integrating the machines with a web site (or social network widget) and letting people share their custom flavours. Similar to Abobe’s Kuler ( but slightly¬† different.

The real e-proof is in the real e-details

“Web Sales with a Human Touch” by Edward H Baker is in the latest issue of Strategy+Business ( talks about Sales Next, a product/service from 24/7 Customer ( that aims to make a science out of customer support & sales web chat.

Very interesting stuff, eh? However, as one would expect, there are some questions for Mr. Baker and 24/7. After poking around the 24/7 site the best strategy seemed to be to just take these insights right to the horse’s mouth.

Hi Edward,

Thanks for the article. Interesting. But being an internet kinda guy a couple things came to mind. Hopefully you have some time to comment. So if you don’t mind…

1 – While all the algorithms certainly sound impressive I was a bit disappointed that there was no mention of a control group. We’ve all heard the “argument” about monkeys being better stock pickers than most
stockbrokers and I couldn’t help but wonder what the improvement of this technology was over just randomly selecting customer to chat with.

2 – Is it really the technology or just the chat itself that increases sales? I’m no pop psychologists but it would seem to me that maybe just the presence of the human touch is enough to nudge enough people into buying? While I don’t have time to search around for more info I bet 10-15% of the population just has a hard time saying no to another human being (virtual or not).

3 – What is the rate of product being return for these sales vs. the non-assisted sales? I believe the article said the overall level of satisfaction was higher but how many of that 15% sticks? (See point #2 about buying just because they can’t say no.)

4 – My impression from the article was this was strictly for the B reaching out to the C, correct? What if the chat button is offered to all C’s so they can reach to the B when they want? How does that effect
conversion? Or what if the technology is used to only offer select¬† C’s the option to choose to reach, how does that effect conversion?

5 – Assuming that the intelligence gathered from these engagements is used to improved the site, in theory would we not see a decline in the effectiveness of the chat? In other words, there must be at least some
common bottlenecks and show stoppers that the chat is able to overcome but as those are removed (read: the site is enhanced) the chat should actually be less effective since it’s not really helping. Is this what Adobe found? If not, then doesn’t that challenge the validity of the claims of this product?

6 – What is the long term retention rate of the chatted with customer vs. the non-chats? And again, algorithm selected vs. random? If we’re going to play by the numbers then it only makes sense we be thorough about this evaluation, no?

7 – The example given was Adobe, so I assume the product was software, and probably “expensive”. Well, how effective is SalesNext with services? Or less expensive items – say below $100? Just because
SalesNext worked for Adobe does not mean it will be as effective for others. Yes, you’re right, it could also be more effective. But let’s do some thorough number crunching before we drawn any such conclusions.

I realize it’s a short article and not every detail can be mentioned but I would hope that if some of these pro-SalesNet facts existed then S+B would have been supplied with them. As it is, with all due respect,
I felt like I was reading a press release for a product that claimed to result in an improvement (over doing nothing at all) – and it does – but it’s actually not the best solution available to the client, just
the one that’s most profitable to be sold by the vendor. Maybe I’m better off with a monkey?


Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

Search? No, find

“The road to finding is paved with data: Web analytics and user experience” by Louis Rosenfeld (, Think Tank section) is a brilliant blend of Information Consumption and The Guest Experience. So good that the AU value add on this one is simple… Read it!