The problem at Cardif is one of popularity. Cardif already has 13 million customers, so an avalanche of new customers hauled in from social networks could cause a catastrophic drop in service levels. A nice problem to have, some might argue.
- My personal experience buying a television at Casas Bahia – the Brazilian eletronics retail chain – in São Paulo.
- My participation in a recent Leading Edge Forum research report.
I browsed the Internet looking for a new TV recently. I found one that I liked after comparing a few retailers, finally settling on Casas Bahia because the price was competitive and their large network of stores made it easy to go and look at the physical TV before a final decision.
I also wanted to go to a store, rather than buy online, so I could negotiate a discount for paying the full amount in one payment – rather than setting up a credit arrangement to pay over a long period of time – a very normal way to pay for high value electrical items in Brazil.
I went to my local store, found the TV, but I was shocked to see that it was a full 50% more expensive than the price I had noted from the Internet.
When I asked the salesperson about the reason for the price difference, he just shook his head and said that his biggest competitor was the website of his own company. The stores appeared to be free to charge whatever they could get away with, in the hope that consumers don’t go and look at the Casas Bahia website first – let alone shop around and compare to the competition.
The Casas Bahia salesperson offered to match the Internet price, but when I said that I wanted a further discount for paying in one installment, he said it is impossible because he has already offered me such a substantial “discount” – just to compete with his own website.
I didn’t buy from them. I just left with a healthy disregard for Casas Bahia and vowed to never set foot in their stores ever again. Perhaps the Casas Bahia management have been able to rob consumers without anyone noticing in the past, but online price comparison and the social reporting of these price scams is now common. They can price competitively or die in a social environment.
Away from Main Street Brazil, and on a more academic note, I was recently asked to contribute my own experiences of social business and working practices into a new report from the Leading Edge Forum, titled: “Developing resourceful humans. opportunities and challenges in social media.”
The report analyzes various areas of corporate life and how social media now influences the working environment:
- How widespread is the phenomenon and how quickly is it spreading?
- How are leading firms responding to the pressures being generated?
- What can we do to generate safe experimentation?
- Why are some of us so enthusiastic and others so reluctant to engage at work?
- Is there a way to change our beliefs and values around the new ways of working?
- What is the best way forward?
I would recommend downloading the LEF report for a couple of reasons. It is focused on addressing the CIO and IT decision-makers, so it is not concerned with philosophical debates around freedom and information rights – just the real world of work. And it is only thirty pages long, so you can skip through it over a nice lunch.
I personally think that there are immense opportunities in the social environment for insurers like Cardif, or retailers such as Casas Bahia. Imagine if I had just purchased a motor policy from Cardif or Porto Seguro and saved 15% compared to my previous policy. Wouldn’t I be inclined to share that kind of information with my social network, because it’s good news?
Imagine if their website pushed news of my savings to all my friends on Facebook and Twitter, with a link offering them a special discount on a policy because they are coming via my recommendation. It’s a powerful image… a customer recommending a product to friends, with open information on the savings achieved, and a unique discount offered for friends.
All it needs is transparency, so I guess companies that charge different rates on the web compared to their physical stores are not going to be open to initiatives such as this…
Photo by Rantes licensed under Creative Commons