Gene Alvarez

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Gene Alvarez
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Gene Alvarez is a VP in the Gartner CRM Research organization. Mr. Alvarez has more than 30 years of IT experience in business impact assessment, vendor management, project management, software development and delivery of complex...Read Full Bio

Will Your Organizations URL Outlive Your Organization?

by Gene Alvarez  |  June 5, 2009  |  Comments Off

An interesting phenomenon that I am seeing is that a company can go bankrupt and yet its online store can outlive the physical business. Take for example Linen – N – Things (www.lnt.com) and Circuit City (http://www.circuitcity.com/) both who filed for bankruptcy and closed their stores in 2009 have new owners of their website operations. (See http://www.circuitcity.com/sectors/opt-outv2.asp and http://www.lnt.com/content/6/help-faqs.html for the stories on the new owners.) I believe this trend confirms that your organizations website is the primary face of the organization and the customers can become loyal to your online operations. Moreover, it is possible for these online businesses either to remain as pure play online retailers or to resurrect their stores when the economy picks up.

I know this may seem like I am reaching here. However why else would the online sites survive the demise of the business? In addition, I cannot help to point out that the Linens – N- Things site still has a store locator on the homepage and when you click on the store locator, you will find a statement that Linens – N -Things is “presently” an online only store.

Now the next challenge for these businesses is to provide a superior online customer experience that makes customers want to come back for more. So as I see it, the bottom line here is make sure you website customer experience can interoperate with your stores for sales, service and marketing or else it may be the only thing left in the end.

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Category: Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags: , , , ,

When is $10 worth it? Moreover, how a representative can save the day.

by Gene Alvarez  |  May 29, 2009  |  Comments Off

Ok, I have been swamped with client inquiries, research and the upcoming Internet Retailer Conference (Come to my session if you are there it will be quite interesting. http://www.internetretailer.com/IRCE2009/session_detail.asp?sess_id=76 ). Anyway, I was up late last night planning my much-needed vacation and being a web person I used an online booking service that I have used in the past. Well, I booked a room that according to the information on the website would fit my family and me. Well when I received the conformation email, something in the email did not look right about the type of room reserved. For that reason, I called an agent, the agent confirmed that I had booked a smaller type of room that would not accommodate my family, and she pointed out some other items that were not offered at the resort. Well after speaking with her, I spent $10 more to book my stay but the agent canceled my web order and reserved me the proper accommodations at different resort in the same location for the same time. Consequently, for $10 more I avoided walking into the wrong room type and accommodations all because the agent had better information than the web site. Ever wonder if your site has the same problem?

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What is Amazon?

by Gene Alvarez  |  May 12, 2009  |  Comments Off

In a discussion on social software and online selling, Amazon is one of the most often used examples.

However, in the examples used in these discussions Amazon’s perceived image is different to each person. So as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Amazon’s business model is in the eyes of the user. For example, if I asked you to complete this question Amazon is…

What would be your answer?

Here are some of the ones I hear.

  • An online mall where it enables vendors to sell within the Amazon experience
  • A retailer where they sell goods they stock and ship
  • A brand  in itself representing the bench mark for online shopping (from product research to purchase)
  • A destination site (start all your shopping here)
  • A technology provider of cloud computing?
  • A technology provider that can run your online store for you

However, one of my most popular inquiry questions I receive is “How do we create a customer experience like Amazon?”

Well the answer to the second questions lies in the first. What do you think Amazon is?

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Results from my little Twitter vs. Blog experiment.

by Gene Alvarez  |  May 8, 2009  |  Comments Off

The other day in my blog, I asked my followers to vote. The vote was for me to tweet or blog. Additionally, I posted a link that asked my Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Plaxo friends to “Please read my blog”. What I found out from this little experiment was interesting. Putting aside people saying I was shamelessly plugging my blog or accusing me of being lazy because I like to tweet over blogging, I found that almost no one was willing to leave the community they were in to reply or comment.

Instead, All but two of the replies were within each persons “home” community, now this test may not have followed the rules of scientific testing but it still pointed out to me that people have an affinity to stay “home” online.

So can this mean that organizations seeking to create their own communities instead of taking part in existing ones are going to fail? Alternatively, do they need offer a clear value proposition, purpose and benefit to the user to draw them into the organization’s community? What is your view?

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To Tweet or To Blog? That is the Question.

by Gene Alvarez  |  May 5, 2009  |  3 Comments

OK, I admit it. I prefer to Tweet. There it is out. I have said it. I know I have not been the best and most diligent blogger and for my readers/followers I must apologize. I find Tweeting from my mobile device a much easy way to let my followers know what I am up too than blogging. Blogging requires me to sit down, write, edit and post while Tweeting is short and sweet. Therefore, I thought I would ask for your opinion on this matter. So if you want tweets respond with the word “tweet” and if you prefer blogging, respond with the work “blog” and your comments are welcome in either case. Let’s see where we go from here.

Here is the link to my twitter page http://twitter.com/galvar60 please join in following me.

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Category: Web and CRM     Tags: , , , ,

Consumerization in a down economy

by Gene Alvarez  |  April 3, 2009  |  4 Comments

What a week! As the economy goes up and then back down, I am finding that more clients are concerned about thier web sites customer experience. I am not just talking about business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations. I am seeing business-to-business (B2B) organization looking to the web as a way to improve sales, build brands, work well with partners and much more. Many are asking questions like How to improve my partner portal? How do I offer a more B2C sales environment like some of the top B2C sellers for my partners? We want to run promotions, campaigns, product recommendations, self-service sales process such as configurator price and quote. I believe we will see more pressure on B2B organizations to offer a rich internet customer experience instead of old green screens over the web. Do you agree?

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Don’t ask for input if you’re not ready to answer the unexpected.

by Gene Alvarez  |  March 26, 2009  |  Comments Off

In between all that I had to do today; I couldn’t help but watch the Whitehouse online “Open for questions” voting. Although some question such as health care were no surprise. One topic I didn’t expect as the top question was the legalization and taxation marijuana. Moreover, I was surprised that is ranked the highest in three sections (Budget, Financial stability and Green Jobs and Energy) of today’s agenda.

When I viewed the results I could not help but smile at this use of the web to gather and monitor what is on the public’s mind only to discover it may not be something you are ready to address or want to address.

This use of ‘crowd scoring” can only show that Governments and enterprises will need to learn a new set of skills on how to manage the gathering information about their products and services via the web.

With this “crowed scoring” come the problems of handling the good opinions with the bad and more importantly the unexpected controversy.

Will the Whitehouse speak on this topic since it placed as the top question in three sections of today’s poll? Only time will tell reveal this answer. But for enterprises that seek to do the same thing with their customers – remember if you ask for input be prepared to deal with the unknown.

How do you feel about this?  Should enterprises ask their customers “How are we doing?” so directly?  Is this the death of the focus group?  What are your views? Should I take my own advise?

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Check out your checkout process

by Gene Alvarez  |  March 21, 2009  |  Comments Off

Ever wonder why e-commerce sales for your organization aren’t as high as you think they should be? Well I can tell you one possible reason the shopping to check out process could be harder than just driving somewhere to buy the item. For example, I own two GPS devices for my cars and I wanted to update the maps since they needed it and the device recommended the update.

I go to the site register my products and next I have to go through a process that makes tax forms look like fun. I have to have the site scan for my device after the request to hook it up, however they already know what I have since I registered the products and they are in the “My Products” tab of my account.

After waiting for the device check, two maps set are recommended so I pick one and to make sure I have the right maps I read all the tabs and find out the first recommended product does not support by my devices. I hit the back button and repeat the process for the next product and find it supports my devices. Next, I put the product in the cart and proceed to checkout (30 minutes at this point).

During the check out process I notice that the 10% discount that I was told I would get for registering my product isn’t apply and that I need a code that I did see or was not told to save for my purchases. Now I have to restart the process to see if I can find the code for the discount (at this point I feel like Frodo in Lord of the Rings).  I can’t find the code so now I go through the whole process again to purchase what I need (swearing that when the devices I own die that I will buy the competitors products sight unseen) after paying 10% more than I had too and then being charged for shipping.

Imagine what sales could be like if this was the process – sign into your account, select your devices from the “My Products” tab that has a link that reads “update maps” suggest the right product from the beginning and automatically apply the unclaimed discount to the cart and take me to check with address information pre-loaded from my account (remember I registered) and take me to check out – time should be <5 minutes to do this. Also why do you need my phone number plan on calling me soon? Also, if you wonder did I try calling the number on the site, I did they were closed.)  So is your site shopping process like this one? Send me your URL if you feel up to the challenge.

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Selling Cookies online via facebook and Youtube

by Gene Alvarez  |  March 13, 2009  |  Comments Off

I was surfing through some of the midday news items online and came across the story of the Girl Scout that used a facebook with Youtube to sell cookies and that caught my eye. It seems as though the Girl Scouts themselves are not ready for online selling but that this little girl (with the help of her dad a web designer) was ready to sell as many cookies as she could so her troop could go to summer camp.

This little scout and her dad like any good renegade salesperson didn’t wait for her organization to give her the go ahead to use the web. Instead, she just did it.

Now the fun part is that the local council asked her to take down the online order form like any larger organization would try to shut down a renegade practice (e.g., Don’t expense your cell phone, or SFA tool that you got on your own). However, this in turn put the practice in the national spotlight which from a marketing prospective is a big bang for very little bucks. (It sure made me want the cookies.)

Now where else have we seen this before? Remember when your web site was a back room operation or maybe your company is experimenting with social software like facebook and YouTube. Do you think your organizations is like the Girl Scouts where innovation at a grassroots level is stopped or are you free to try something new?

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Back on the beat

by Gene Alvarez  |  February 24, 2009  |  Comments Off

Well after a bout with laptops that were either stepped on by a fellow traveler or died while in front of a client. I’ve finally back online with yet another loaner until my laptop reachs full health. Anyway, I’m at our mobile and wireless show and one of the keys words on attendee lips is mobile apps and linking them to an organizations web strategy. My session on this appears to be well received by the attendees so I’m wonder what my readers think about this in a down economy. Would you send money on a mobile application for selling in 2009?

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