FreshDesk, one of the best known startup success stories to emerge from India, has published a State of Customer Support report based on the data gleaned from the 250,000 users of its customer support software.
The key takeaways are not very surprising. Customers hate being put on hold, and are the happiest when their queries are resolved within a reasonable amount of time following which satisfaction ratings plummet. In most cases, customers expect their queries to be resolved within a day. However, resolution time isn’t the sole parameter that determines customer satisfaction. Transparent and effective communication is also of paramount importance.
While email continues to be the biggest source of support queries, its prominence decreased by 7% in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. Phone support, which is the second most dominant medium, also lost ground. Unsurprisingly, it’s support through social media that registered the strongest growth. Support requests through forums more than tripled, while complaints registered through Facebook increased by about 150%. Twitter, which has been very publicly adopted by various organizations for reaching out to customers, is surprisingly lagging behind Facebook and Forums, but gained by more than 50% to overtake support through chats. Unlike phone and mail, social media allows customers to very publicly air their grievances, which often prods the companies into reacting faster. However, a worrying trend is that on Facebook, firms are often quick to respond but fail to seriously follow through. Conversely it also appears that in the hurry to offer faster resolution on social platforms, accuracy and accountability suffers. Email support is the leader in terms of accuracy with least amount of reopened or reassigned tickets.
After years of speculation, it has finally happened. Amazon India is now open for business. More than a year after launching Junglee, a price comparison engine, the ecommerce giant has launched its own full-fledged marketplace.
“Our vision, at Amazon, is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online. With Amazon.in, we endeavor to build that same destination in India by giving customers more of what they want – vast selection, low prices, fast and reliable delivery, and a trusted and convenient experience,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of International Expansion at Amazon.com. “We’re excited to get started in India and we will relentlessly focus on raising the bar for customer experience in India.”
India is Amazon’s tenth marketplace, after countries like USA, UK, Canada, China, and Japan. The Seattle based online retailer is starting off with its strong suite – books. Amazon India claims that it currently has more than 7 million books in its catalog. The Indian store also has nearly ten thousand movies and a little over one thousand TV shows for sale. Other categories including Mobiles and Camera are expected to be launched soon.
The Amazon India launch was months in the making. However, the biggest stumbling block was the Indian government. Restrictions on foreign investment on multi-brand retailers prevented Amazon from setting shop in India. However, it appears that Amazon has found a way around the regulations. Unlike in the US and many other countries, Amazon won’t be maintaining its own inventory. Instead it will be operating purely in a marketplace based model. Times of India is reporting that Amazon has signed up 100 vendors across the country, and has setup a 1.5 lakh sqft fulfillment center near Mumbai to service online orders. Amazon is also inviting other retailers to sign up and list their products in the Amazon marketplace. It is providing two options for vendors – Selling on Amazon and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). The former allows the seller to list their products on Amazon.in, while retaining control over inventory, shipping, and customer service. The latter allows the seller to leverage Amazon’s expertise by offloading logistics, shipping and customer service also to Amazon.
AOL isn’t exactly a hotbed for innovation, but its Alto mail did introduce a few neat concepts. The chief among them is the idea of stacks and automatic categorization. Unfortunately, Alto also had too many inconveniences to ever become a mainstream product. However, the good news is that Google is taking a leaf out of Alto’s book. Yes, Gmail is taking inspiration from an AOL email product.
Google has annoucned a new tabbed inbox for Gmail that builds on the automatic categorization concept featured in Alto to reduce your inbox clutter. Gmail already has Priority Inbox, which surfaces mails that matter to you. Now, it will be grouping mails further, depending upon its source of origination. For example, one can tuck away all notifications from Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn under the Social category. Similarly mails from Groupon and its likes can be put under the Promotions category. You can setup custom categories and customize how you want your mails to be categorized.
Google will also be updating its Android and iOS apps (for iPhone and iPad) to add support for a categorized inbox. You will see your uncategorized mail by default when you open the Gmail app. You’ll be able to navigate to your categories from the left menu, as shown in the above screenshot. The updated Gmail app will be released within a few weeks, while the desktop version will be rolled out gradually.
Opera has been full of surprises this year. First, it ditched its homemade rendering engine Presto in favor of Chromium flavor of WebKit. Then, it emerged that the switch was also accompanied by a significant downsizing. Soon after, when Google announced its new Blink rendering engine, Opera was quick to announce that it will be using Blink and not WebKit. Now, TheNextWeb is reporting that Opera Software is suing an ex-employee for leaking trade secrets to its competitor.
The employee in question is Trond Werner Hansen, who worked with Opera from 1999 to 2006. He is credited as a driving force behind many of Opera’s early innovations, including the search box and the speed dial. He returned to Opera as a consultant from 2009 to 2010. Last year, he worked with Mozilla on designing and developing an iPad prototype called Junior. Hansen can be seen discussing Junior in this video. Opera alleges that the video demonstrates several innovations that it was or is still working on. It is demanding 20 million Norwegian Krone, or roughly $3.4 million, in damages. Hansen who was in the USA, preparing to launch his first music album, has flown back to Norway, and is determined to defend himself vigorously. “When I left the Opera, I did not feel my ideas bore fruit, and I also notified management about. I am a very creative person and I feel that my ideas had value. I would like that my ideas were to reach users”, Hansen told Digi.No. The case is scheduled to be heard at the Oslo District Court on 22 August.
Ebay has released its 2012 census, which offers a unique perspective at the state of e-commerce in India. Since, eBay sells pretty much everything under the sun, it’s in an unique position to offer us a glimpse at what Indians are buying and selling. You might be aware that a lot of youths are buying t-shirts and gadgets online, but did you know that every two minutes one note or coin is sold on eBay?
Maharashtra grabbed the top spot in terms of buying and selling stuff online, largely due to Mumbai, which is most active city on eBay India. Other cities in the top ten were Dehi, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Pune. While mobile phones, watches, fragrances, and apparel dominated the list of products sold and bought, most cities had one or two surprise entries.
- Delhi sold a lot of Indian notes, while Mumbai sold loads of Indian stamps. Mumbai also bought plenty of British India coins, and imported British Colonial Stamps. Chinese stamps are #1 on the list of goods imported by Chennai residents. Similarly, Hyderabad is fascinated with Malaysian coins.
- Jaipur, the capital of the desert state Rajasthan, sold loads of room heaters.
- Delhi bought the most chocolates, while Bengaluru exported the most Yoga videos. Kolkatans on the other hand are in love with Tibetian collectibles.
- Top brands in India were Samsung, Apple, Sony, and Nokia respectively.
Head over to shopping.ebay.in/census to glance at the state of e-commerce in India.
Some things in life are just too precious to forget and move on. Your marriage video, the picture of your child walking for the first time, or his first day in school. These are memories that you can’t afford to lose. Unfortunately, keeping your memories safe can require much more work than apparent at first glance. All storage devices have a shelf life. For a hard drive it’s about five years, while for a DVD it’s about 8 years. Cloud storage options might seem more tempting, but they are only good for as long as the service lasts. Millenniata, an Utah based digital storage company, believes that it has the perfect solution.
Millenniata has developed a storage technology that promises to permanently etch data onto the write layer of the disc for use anytime and for generations to come without any data loss. Millenniata’s M-Disc is essentially a specially manufactured DVD with four separate layers constructed of organic, synthetic materials. Data is physically engraved into a patented rock-like layer that is resistant to light, temperature, humidity, and more.
LG has tied up with Millenniata to launch M-Ready Drives that can write data onto M-Discs. Since M-Discs are essentially DVDs, once written, they can be read in most standard DVD and Blu-Ray drives. LG is launching its Super Multi DVD Writer in India for Rs. 2,000. I’m still waiting for clarification on how LG intends to sell M-Disc drives in India. They are currently available on Millenniata’s website at $30 for 10 discs before adding shipping costs and taxes. This equates to about Rs. 162 for each disc.
We have already written a fair amount about Microsoft Office 2013, including an in-depth review. However, until now, the latest iteration of one of Microsoft’s biggest money-spinners was available only to a select group of users. That changes today with the public release of Office 2013.
Office 2013 is a significant step forward for Microsoft in more ways than one. The biggest change is not in the product itself, but in how it is sold. In an attempt to counter the threat possessed by Google Apps and other similar cloud based productivity suites, Microsoft is offering a subscription model for Office. Office 365 Home Premium, as the cloud service is being called, will cost home users $10 per month. Users will have the flexibility to turn it off any time they feel like. Alternatively, users can also signup for an annual account, and get access for $100. Office 365 includes all the popular Office tools including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. Additionally, it also comes with 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month. On top of this, the subscription model offers allows access to Office apps on 5 PCs or Macs. If cloud is not your thing, you can purchase individual Office apps for $110, or purchase the Office Home & Student for $140, Office Home and Business for $220, and Office Professional for $400. Each of these installations are restricted to a single PC.
In terms of features, the biggest talking points include support for touch, roaming profiles with documents, dictionaries, and settings being automatically stored in the cloud, and full PDF editing. Check out this list for a brief quick overview of what’s new in Office 2013.
Legal piracy might become a reality soon, if the Antigua Government goes through with its plans. Antigua has been trying for more than a decade to get United States to repeal its prohibition of cross-border gambling services. Gambling revenues, which forms a significant chunk of Antigua’s GDP, fell from $2,392 million in 2001 to $948 million in 2007 as a result of the US ban. Now, Antigua is looking to fight back by striking at the US entertainment industry.
Antigua Government wants to run a pirate site, which will offer movies, music, and software for free. TorrentFreak is reporting that in a meeting held in Geneva, the World Trade Organization authorized Antigua’s request to suspend U.S. copyrights. This confirmed the preliminary authorization Antigua received in 2007, after the WTO found the Internet Gambling Ban to be illegal. The original ruling had basically granted Antigua a free ride in matters of copyright violations, as well as patent and trademark infringements.
“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lowell explained to TorrentFreak.
Ideally, the Caribbean island hopes to resolve the dispute before having to open the warez site. However, so far, USA hasn’t shown any inclination to comply with the 2007 WTO ruling. Antigua’s piracy website will be more about registering its protest than causing real harm. Downloaders seeking pirated material already have plenty of sources, including the notorious ThePirateBay. However, that hasn’t stopped music records from going platinum and movies from raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s unlikely that Antigua’s website will.
The Consumer Electronic Show might not have the clout it used to possess a decade back, but the nearly fifty year old trade show is still capable of throwing up products and prototypes that offer a glimpse of the future. One such product on display in this year’s CES is the Tactus touchscreen.
Unlike most other touchscreen manufacturers of the day, Tactus isn’t attempting to compete on resolution, pixel density, vibrancy, etc. The distinguishing feature of the Tactus touchscreen is its ability to morph into a keyboard. Tactus’ Tactile Layer technology replaces the conventional cover glass of modern displays with a thin, flat, smooth and transparent cover layer varying in thickness from about 0.75mm to 1mm. This cover has multiple-layers. The top layer consists of an optically clear polymer, while the bottom layer consists of a number of channels filled with fluid. The fluid’s refractive index is same as the refractive index of its surrounding components, which makes it fully and evenly transparent when light from the display passes through. There are a number of micro-holes between the top layer and the bottom layer. Increasing the pressure of the fluid layer causes the fluid to push up through the holes and against the top polymer layer, making it expand in pre-defined locations. The state and shape of the buttons can be controlled by the software.
Right now Tactus’ chief value proposition is being able to offer true tactile feedback on touchscreen keyboards. However, the technology can be possibly used for more demanding requirements including gaming. I don’t mind my touchscreen keyboard, since I love Swyping on my phone. However, I would love to have a tactile game controller built right into my touchscreen handset.
Google Music hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as Google was hoping it would. However, there is no denying that it is a pretty neat service. It’s biggest selling point is perhaps the free digital locker that could store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud. Unfortunately, before you could use the digital locker, you had to manually upload your media library. Even with a conservative estimate of 5 MB per song, we are looking at 100 gigs of data transfer for 20,000 songs. Obviously, this could take a while.
The good news is that starting today, users won’t have to upload their library before being able to access it through the cloud. Thanks to the newly introduced song matching feature, Google will simply cross-reference song signatures before unlocking access to that song in the cloud. Google’s desktop app called Music Manager will take care of syncing songs from your PC to the cloud. This feature was available for European users for over a month, but was enabled for US users only a few hours back.
Google’s competition also boasts of a similar feature; however, Google is the only one to offer it for free. Apple charges $24.99 for iTunes Match services and stores up to 25,000 songs. Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium also charges the same amount, but it can store up to 250,000 songs. Amazon also offers a free version, which is limited to 250 songs.
The Scan and Match service has long been dubbed as a sin tax. Since none of the service providers attempt to validate the source of the music file, it’s assumed that a lot of the tracks in the users library are illegally sourced. Apple and Amazon pay out most of its subscription fee to publishers as a compensation. AllThingsD is reporting that Google also has a deal in place with record labels. However, instead of paying them on a per-user basis, it’s offering a hefty upfront payment.