Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Customer Service: MySpace's Tom, Pandora's Tim, and a robot

As part of my quest to sign up for every free service available on the Internet, I joined Pandora yesterday and checked it out.

On joining, I received this email:

An interestingly uber-personal, reply-right-to-this email approach to serving your customers. I personally thought it was really cool to receive Tim's email...but I am not sure that a similar approach would make sense for Linkspank. Pandora, after all, is not really about befriending people.

When linkspank was getting set up I thought a lot about Tom on MySpace. The idea of having a real person at the company automatically be your friend is a pretty brilliant one, I think. But the idea seemed (and still seems) a little passe to me now. People are less psyched than they used to be about friending someone online who they don't know.

Out of all this came the Spankdroid - an admittedly bizarre creation. Basically, we decided to have a mascot, rather than an actual person, be our spokesperson. This idea is little used on social networks!

The idea is that if you make friends with the Spankdroid, you then get messages from him about contests and so forth. Spankdroid is also like a little helper whom you can email with questions.

We did a lot of consumer research and determined that a robot wearing an Uncle Sam hat resonated perfectly with our users. Ok, maybe not :-). Rather, we do know that Linkspank is different, and it prides itself on doing things that big sites are afraid to do.... so we have a robot spokesperson.

Just some musings on this subject... :-)