THE PLAIN TEXT GAZETTE – Issue 3, May 2002
* When communication doesn’t #3: Case study carnage
* More jargon
In the second Plain Text Gazette we railed against ‘Powerpoint Hell’ and offered some principles for effective presentations
The response suggested that this subject is close to your hearts. We urge you to bring our training courses to the attention of particularly bad offenders so that we can help make conferences a better place to be!
This time we’re going for a more low-key but potentially very useful piece of business writing: the ‘case study’. Easy to mess up, but not too difficult to get right either. We show you how to do both.
And in our ongoing jargon series, this time we thought we’d create a small memorial to all that crazy jargon from the internet boomtime. Unfashionable, useless and without any particular value, it’s like the failed dotcoms themselves. But still fun to remember nonetheless.
Keep it plain,
Case studies are ideal for answering the ‘Yeah, but how does it really work?’ questions that customers inevitably ask when faced with an abstract, high-tech proposition, for example ‘end-to-end workflow integration’ (huh?). Rather than showing them a complex flow diagram (or, God forbid, another Powerpoint presentation), you hand the customer a short story that tells them how your product has worked in a particular, real-life situation.
This sounds easy, but it’s often tricky. Mainly because case studies require you to do two things that tend to cancel each other out: 1) find a genuinely interesting story and 2) write it up in a way that keeps both vendor and customer organisations, the relevant senior managers and their legal departments, happy.
Much of the skill in getting a case study right is therefore in making sure that everyone in the chain of approval knows what’s going on right from the start. There’s nothing worse than writing (or commissioning) a beautifully-crafted and riveting study only to have it turned into a meaningless mix of legalese, MBA-speak and PR guff by lawyers, senior managers and marketeers.
So here are two (condensed) examples of what happens when it all goes horribly wrong and what happens in an ideal world.
Example 1 — case study mugged by The Suits
‘As a customer-centric organisation, naturally we want to deliver satisfaction at every customer touchpoint’ explained MegaCorp COO Lee Everage. ‘IntiMate technology has fully enabled us to drive value into our customers’ businesses.’
Megacorp wanted to find ways to improve their best-of-breed customer services capability to something that their COO Everage described as ‘better-of-breed’. So they chose the latest release of IntiMate from Kloser Technologies to deliver on this vision.
‘Our vision is to help our customers to release value throughout their workflow’ said Kloser CTO Val Chane. ‘So MegaCorp is a great partner for us’.
A team of consultants from Kloser’s ‘Solutioneering’ division conducted an extensive ‘customer touchpoint audit’ of MegaCorp’s value chain. They then built a customised turnkey solution based on IntiMate’s ‘TouchMe’ architecture. Value was delivered immediately. Said Everage ‘Since we installed IntiMate, we have experienced significantly higher levels of customer proximity. We are truly getting Kloser’.
Example 2 — case study escapes intact
IntiMate helps Megacorp to increase customer loyalty
‘We know that information from every customer contact — phone calls, visits, emails — can be used to help us improve our service’ said MegaCorp CEO Frank Storey. ‘But collating and analysing it is very difficult. IntiMate helped us to do this and we are already seeing results’.
MegaCorp installed Kloser Technologies’ IntiMate package to capture, analyse and interpret information from many sources: customer databases, salesforce automation packages and email records. With its award-winning TouchMe architecture, IntiMate was able to help MegaCorp prioritise its activities so that its support operation’s activities were focused on customers most in need of attention.
‘IntiMate has helped us enormously’, said Storey. ‘First, it means that our staff time is better allocated. Second, our biggest customers tell us they are getting a better service. Third and most importantly, we’re seeing an increase in customer loyalty from our smallest to our biggest accounts. This has been a good investment for us.’
More business-speak — the jargon graveyard
And finally: our jargon column looks back fondly at a random selection of ‘technology boom’ terms that have gone the way of eurozone currencies and attempts a brief explanation of why they went.
‘pureplay’ (internet-only businesses): there aren’t any left
‘new media’: it isn’t
’24/7/365′: not even computers can manage these hours
‘portal, vortal, hortal’: too preposterous to survive
‘disintermediation’: the middlemen prevailed
‘viral marketing’: finally unmasked as a pretentious reinvention of ‘word-of-mouth’
‘bricks and clicks’/’clicks and mortar’ etc: just plain silly
‘e’ or ‘@’ prefixes: *so* mid ’90s
‘convergence’: didn’t happen
‘sticky’: customers didn’t want to get messy
‘B2B/B2C/B2B4C/C2C/C2B’: just became too darn incomprehensible
‘monetise’: didn’t happen
‘incubator’: weren’t warm enough
‘turn-key’: OK, so it’s not strictly dotcom jargon. But it sounds so much like ‘turkey’ that it really should be in the graveyard.
‘bleeding’/’leading’/’cutting edge’: can anyone explain the nuances here?
As always, further suggestions and comments are welcome.
Paul & Paul
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