See You at the Small Business Expo

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We are excited to announce that this Friday we will be exhibiting at the Chicago Treasurer's Small Business Expo. This event will be energized by smart professionals, interesting workshops, and the results of the Business Plan competition.

Come meet us at booth G2 and compete for a chance to win a 1-year free Corporate license of Mineful, an $8,000 value.
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Upgraded Email for Faster Service

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Many companies brag about their customer service and we are no different. When it comes to answering questions and responding to our customer needs, our policy is to respond WITHIN THE HOUR. We used to host our email domain on a site, but would use gmail to download our @mineful emails. This process would sometimes take an hour or more before emails would download, too slow for our service policy. We joined the two million businesses using Google App, i.e. Gmail and then some for businesses. Now we get our @mineful emails in seconds which allows us to respond quicker than ever.

It is very easy to reach us. We have an 800 number (1-800-848-9317), support@mineful.com and @mineful Twitter account for tech support, and contact forms on our website. Additionally, we want you to have easy access to our CEO who is more than happy to answer any questions you might have. You can email Jaime Brugueras, CEO Mineful, at ceo@mineful.com.
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Customer Satisfaction Dashboards – Your Performance in a Snapshot!

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A customer satisfaction survey is an evaluation that any company serious about serving its customers undertakes. Car manufacturers, telecom service providers and white goods manufacturers conduct a customer satisfaction survey to understand where they stand vis-à-vis competition. In addition to that, a customer satisfaction survey also explains the specific parameters that need improvement.

A typical customer satisfaction survey has a few questions that can help you understand where you stand with regards to the performance of your product or the service that your company personnel are giving your customers. And if these few questions are analyzed in the proper manner, they can reveal all that you want to know.

Survey Questions for Customer Satisfaction Survey
Let us review the few questions that you would want a customer satisfaction survey to answer.
  1. What is the overall satisfaction of my customers? How does it compare with the top 2 competing brands?

  2. Are there specific sub groups that are more satisfied with my brand than others?

  3. Has the satisfaction improved over the years?

  4. What are the specific features or attributes that contribute to the overall satisfaction?

  5. How does my brand or company perform on these important attributes or parameters?

  6. What are my immediate action areas to improve satisfaction?
Now let us therefore consider what a customer satisfaction dashboard should look like and the various tabs that it should have to allow you to obtain a complete understanding of the main findings of your customer satisfaction survey.

Constructing Your Customer Satisfaction Dashboard
  • Current overall satisfaction vis-à-vis competition - Here you shall be able to see the overall satisfaction in comparison to competition. This tab also contains displays of subgroups. So if you need to know whether the younger people are more satisfied with your brand than the older ones, you should be able to check this out in the dashboard itself. The same data can be sliced with regards to location, gender and other demographic variables.

  • Customer satisfaction trended - A trend chart showing the manner in which the satisfaction of the customers has decreased or increased over the various waves of the survey is essential too. Here again, you may want to separate the trends by various subgroups that you want.

  • Importance - At a more diagnostic level, there is a need to understand the specific attributes that contribute to overall satisfaction. Here, there are 2 levels at which the data can be viewed. The first is claimed importance that is captured from the respondent. Derived importance is calculated by carrying out a Driver Analysis wherein the satisfaction scores on specific attributes are tallied. Plotted as a 2x2 grid, the specific attributes fall into the following:



  • High Claimed Importance and High Derived Importance – These are the ‘Motivator’ parameters that will increase the satisfaction levels if performance on these is improved.

  • High Claimed Importance and Low Derived Importance – These tend to be the 'Hygienics'. Increasing performance may not result in higher satisfaction but lowering performance may result in a drop in satisfaction levels.

  • Low Claimed Importance and High Derived Importance – These are parameters that are 'Opportunities' and have not yet become as known as Motivators among competition. Caching in on this knowledge and working on these parameters can ensure higher satisfaction in the future.

  • Low Claimed Importance and Low Derived Importance – These are often called the 'Saver' parameters since you can optimize the resources that you spend on these parameters.
Analyzing your performance based on these specific groups of parameters – Motivators, Hygienics, Opportunities and Savers can give you a great idea about the action area that you need to focus on.

Survey software such as Mineful's can help you understand the data in a matter of a few minutes with the help of these powerful survey dashboards that you can automatically create.
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Launch it or Trash it – How Important is Product Validation?

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According to AcuPOLL Research Inc, the proportion of product launches that fail is anywhere between 80 percent and 95 percent. And the amount of money that is completely wasted in research and development, creating the product, scaling it in manufacturing units and then marketing the product is something that one can only imagine.

The right kind of market research can ensure that you reduce the risks of failure. While market research was deployed towards the end of the product development stage, there is adequate proof of the fact that if you research the product launch at the ideation stage or even before that, you are likely to reduce the risk considerably.

This means that if you have researched the market and competition carefully, you will know the specific niches that are too competitive. In addition to that an exploratory market research conducted to understand the needs of the consumers can help you start the research and development in the right direction. This means that you can increase the return on investment on the dollars spent on R&D too.

When you use market research at each stage in the product development process you ensure that you are not just creating a product but a customer experience that has its seeds in customer need in the first place. Some of the questions that need to be answered include the specific need that the product solves, whether the product is a ‘must have’ or just another option, who the target audience is, the positioning that is likely to resonate with them and the price at which the target customer will buy.

The product development process starts with an evaluation of the market - the competitiveness, potential, growth opportunities, scope of expansion and the like. Post an analysis of the market, companies should get into an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses in the areas that they are getting into and what the new launch adds to the company and the business.

The Stage Gate Process is considered to be the 5 step product development process that includes:
  • Idea generation
  • Idea screening and evaluation
  • Business analysis
  • Development
  • Testing and commercialization
Market research can be performed at each stage to increase the chances of moving in the right direction. So while you can use expert interviews and synectics (interviews and focus groups with creative people) for idea generation, you can do a quick quantitative concept testing to screen out the ideas that do not generate appeal among the target audience.

The business analysis may require you to take on a slightly more complicated research that can help you estimate the volumes and growth based on specific inputs.

While there are various market estimation models that exist, the estimation is as good as the inputs that you provide with regards to marketing, logistics and distribution.

The development stage may require a few rounds of market research as the research and development fine tune the prototype of the product that is being created. This may involve an in-use or at-home product testing or product testing at a venue depending on the specific product in question.

Before commercialization and final product launch, there are aspects other than the product that need to be researched. These include promotional material, positioning statement, advertisement and packaging, if applicable.
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Mineful jumping on the Blackhawks bandwagon

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Average Attendance Jumps 40% in Two Years
As a Chicago analytics startup, we keep track of all our sports teams and their stats. We love stats of all kinds: sports, business, politics, and finance.

Sports fans that truly care about a game know stat leaders, game stats, and all kinds of stat anomalies.

Since we started Mineful, there hasn't been a stat indicating that any team in town might have a chance to reach past the semifinals. Except for last year, the Chicago Blackhawks were ranked 1st and in many sport betting sites favorites to win, but they didn't.

Yesterday, it finally happened. The Chicago Blackhawks are chi-town's champs. Yes, we'll admit we are not really avid hockey fans, but it sure feels good to root for the home team. Are we a disgrace for not cheering for them in 2005 when the seats were populated by flies? Maybe, but we are not alone. Average attendance has jumped more than 40% in two years. Three years ago, the Blackhawks were ranked next to last in attendance. In 2009 and 2010, they were ranked number 1.


This weekend, everyone is a Blackhawks fan. Who has been a fan since 2005? Who cares, lets celebrate.
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To Sample or Not to Sample?

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In customer and market research this is a no-brainer. You really have no choice given the size of your target population – thousands, millions.

In employee research the same applies. However, when you are conducting an employee survey for one organization the game changes. As a general rule, I do not recommend sampling. Now, if you have a large organization (10,000+ employees) and you are only looking for an overall general answer then sampling is the way to go. But this is typically not the situation. Most organizations that conduct an employee survey want to know details. They want (need) to be able to break down the results into meaningful chunks in a statistically reliable manner.

Why would you sample in the first place? Sampling saves time and money. These are both good reasons and if you can meet your objectives only using a sample then it is an excellent approach.

Why not sample? There are two types of reasons not to sample – statistical and political. Ironically, the better job you do statistically the bigger political problem you may create. When organizations decide to sample, they usually look at the total number of employees that they have (say, 10,000) and figure that they only need 566 respondents. Now, this is true if you are only going to look at the overall results. But what they end up doing is cutting the data by several different demographics and they fail to include this in their sampling equation. Some of their data cuts are based on only a handful of respondents.

For example, if you have 10 departments of 1,000 each a comparable sample would be 375 for each department or 3,750 overall. If you want to split each of those 10 departments in male/female splits (assuming equal numbers) you would now need 273 for each gender within each department or 5,460 overall.

Another issue concerns response rate. If you need 5460 respondents (your "net" sample) and you only get a 75% response rate then you need to invite 7,280 employees (your "gross" sample). Well, now you are inviting nearly three-quarters of your organization anyway.

So, what's the political problem? "How come you didn't choose me? Most of my buddies got surveyed. Isn't my opinion important?" Now you have to explain why you chose so many but not them. If you had stayed with the original sample size of 566 employees, most wouldn't even know what was going on until you reported the results.

Since most of my clients want to be able to cut their data, sometimes all the way down to the work group level, I recommend surveying everyone. Sure, you never get a 100% response rate but you are inviting all to participate. That, in and of itself, is worth some positive political capital.

About the author: Ray Seghers is an organizational improvement consultant specializing in employee engagement and customer loyalty surveys as well as employee commitment research.
Blog URL: http://rayseghers.wordpress.com
Business URL: http://www.segherssurveyconsulting.com
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Apple iPad - Has it delivered what it promised?

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Apple iPad hit the one million mark within the first 28 days of its launch. The product also boasts of 12 million applications downloaded along with a million and a half digital books. Apple founder and CEO states that the ‘demand continues to exceed supply’ and that there is a wait time of 5 to 7 days before deliveries can be made.

While competitors like Windows HP Slate and other tablet manufacturers trying to crack the market for some time now, it is believed that the sale of a million iPads in such a short period of time has confirmed that the tablet is here to stay.

After launch the first thing that some of the initial buyers noticed was the weight. At around 680 grams, this tablet can best be used while sitting since the weight of the tablet is likely to weight you down after a while.

Some of the users who use the iPad for film viewing have noticed that the iPad is not the widescreen 16:9 format and the 4:3 screen leaves black strips at the top and bottom while viewing HDTV shows and flicks, something that the movie fans are not so happy about.

On the other hand, Apple has left no stone unturned to ensure that the picture quality is unparalleled. The screen measures about 25cm diagonally and has a pixel resolution of 1024 x 768 and 132 pixels per inch. Jacqui Cheng from Ars Technica states that ‘the iPad is not a big iPod’ and it offers a much better multi-touch experience. The touch screen is sensitive and reacts quickly as does the virtual keyboard that is easy to use.

No user is complaining that the battery cannot be changed at home and requires the assistance of a technician because the battery life of the iPad is otherwise a staggering 10 hours. The acid tests performed by Acid3, returned a perfect 100 for the iPad in terms of Internet speed. In this context the device delivers what it has promised – quick, easy, complete and anywhere Internet machine.

The one thing that users can see as missing is the compatibility with Flash. This is an omission that Apple stands by since Flash is known to have security issues. You may also find that the iBookstore is still not as populated as the Kindle store is and that the missing facebook application may be a sore point for many.

Today the Apple iPad may be seen as a complete mobile entertainment device. However Apple sees the tablet as much more and therefore the iTunes App Store also offers the iWorks office suite that contains applications for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. The gadget does not allow multitasking very easily and therefore, experts like Engadget Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky feel that the device is far from replacing the laptop or even the netbook ‘as yet’.

Susan Kevorkian, analyst at technology research firm IDC, feels that there are ‘glitches to be worked out’ even with regards to the streaming video in the 3G versions. Not to mention that there is no camera or iChat capability or HDMI port.

While the Apple iPad seems to be here to stay, some early adopters are finding that many websites are not yet iPad ready and therefore may see gaping holes in the pages that get displayed. So it is not time yet to throw away your laptop or netbook and start planning your travel, booking your tickets and more on the iPad as yet. On the other hand it may serve you well if you want to download games when you are bored, entertain you when you want to catch up on the latest flick or listen to some groovy music while working.
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