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GetHuman Hacks Through Customer Service Maze for a Fee
May 9, 2016
GetHuman last week launched a service designed to help consumers with the tangle of customer service. For between $5 and $25, one of the eight-person company's five dedicated problem solvers, aided by bots, will call a customer service line on a client's behalf to sort things out. GetHuman also offers a company phone directory service.
Oracle Plunks Down $532M for Customer Engagement Firm Opower
May 3, 2016
Oracle on Monday announced that it has agreed to acquire Opower for $532 million in cash. More than 100 global utilities, including PG&E, Exelon and National Grid, use Opower's customer engagement and energy efficiency cloud services, Oracle said. Opower's big data platform stores and analyzes more than 600 billion meter reads from 60 million end customers of utilities.
The Customer Experience Tipping Point
May 2, 2016
Sometimes, it takes something drastic to change a business' behavior. Standard procedures can remain in place long after they've become detrimental, but sometimes it takes a tipping point to drive home the fact that failing to change is the surest way to fail. For example, the Ford Pinto's easily ruptured fuel tank could have been remedied with changes that ranged in price from $11 to $1.
The Successful B2B Relationship: It's About Time
April 25, 2016
Respect is a vital ingredient in any mutually beneficial relationship, and that's never truer than in the case of business-to-business buyers and sellers. The most elementary way a seller shows a commitment to a healthy customer relationship is through an ongoing display of respect. That means a relationship in which the seller shows an understanding of the buyer's needs.
Fusion Launches Enterprise Cloud Contact Center Solution
April 21, 2016
Fusion this week launched Contact360, an enterprise cloud contact center solution developed in collaboration with Technology for Business, the partner it acquired earlier this month. "Fusion will be offering a clear migration path to the cloud for TFB's Fortune 500 enterprise and government customers, and will sell into our own base of 13,000 business customers," said EVP Jan Sarro.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
Study: Enterprises Shift Analytics Focus to Back Office
March 30, 2016
Companies have shifted their analytics efforts from consumer-focused processes to operations, according to the results of a survey released last week by Capgemini. Seventy percent of 600 executives said they focused more on operational analysis, and more than 80 percent said analytics in operations plays a pivotal role in driving profits or creating competitive advantage, according to the survey.
IDC Offers Insurance Companies New CRM Vision
March 16, 2016
IDC Health Insights on Monday outlined best practices for customer engagement strategies to help health insurance companies adopt a semiretail approach to interacting with members or patients. Health insurers need an integrated customer engagement strategy enabling automated interactions, shared communications, and appropriate transaction and information transparency, IDC said.
LiveOps Launches Contact Center as a Service Platform
March 10, 2016
LiveOps Cloud on Tuesday unveiled its enterprise-level CxEngage Contact Center as a Service, or CCaaS, platform. The omnichannel open framework, which was built from the ground up, integrates with standard APIs. It essentially links applications such as CRM, workforce management and business intelligence to help agents make better customer service decisions, according to the company.
Through the CRM Lens
March 9, 2016
This is delicate and I will be scrupulously neutral in these paragraphs so as to offend no one, but I thought it would be fun to attempt an interpretation of the current political climate from the perspective and sensibilities of CRM. It will be different from any other analysis you might have come across because I do not wish to discuss candidates. I am all about the customer.
Generation Customer: Defined by Attitude, Not Age
March 7, 2016
I hate the idea of chopping our population into generations: the Greatest Generation, the baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, millennials and so on. The assumption is that everyone born during an arbitrarily selected time period shares certain traits. It also results in people projecting ideas -- often romantic ones -- onto huge groups of people.
Apple Geniuses Flock to Twitter
March 4, 2016
Apple on Thursday launched a Twitter channel to field support questions from users of its products, as well as to offer them tricks and tips. By Friday, the @AppleSupport account had 134,000 followers and had sent more than 3,000 tweets. Some of the tweets came from customers whose tech issues had been resolved. "I'm 99% sure my #iphone6s was just fixed from the cloud," Kate Cleveland wrote.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Twitter Puts Some Eggs in Customer Service Basket
February 22, 2016
Twitter last week announced two tools designed to help businesses improve their customer service capabilities. One product would allow users to move from sending companies tweets to using Direct Messages, according to product manager Ian Cairns. Companies will be able to embed on their sites a Direct Messages link that would allow customers to send information directly.
Pegasystems Takes Customer Service Far Afield
February 12, 2016
Pegasystems has launched Pega Field Service, an application designed expressly to streamline and automate critical components of field service operations. The software's key components are a customer service dashboard and a mobile application that enables organizations to centralize distributed field service work. Pega Field Service keeps track of all aspects of the field service process.
Marketers Make Customer Experience More Personal
February 11, 2016
Marketers this year will ramp up their efforts at personalization, getting a 360-degree view of customers and improving the customer experience, and they will leverage multiple strategies, tools and solutions to do so, a study released Tuesday by the CMO Council found. Deploying digital analytics and life cycle management tools will take the lead, followed by personalization platforms.
Sprint to Lay Off Thousands of Customer Service Reps
January 28, 2016
Sprint plans to lay off about 2,500 employees, including five vice presidents, according to news reports this week. About 2,000 of the cuts are in customer service. The company reportedly will close or reduce operations at six customer care centers: at its Overland Park headquarters in Kansas and in Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
The Gears of E-Commerce
January 26, 2016
As the U.S. retail industry puts another long holiday shopping season behind it, a few changes appear to be taking place. For one thing, it appears there's a new recipe for success. Growing a business requires more than setting up a fancy website, placing inventory into a warehouse, and engaging a service to make speedy deliveries. That's in part because customer expectations have changed.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015, Part 2: The Top 10
January 25, 2016
Almost a decade ago, the first edition of this list was tough to compile. There simply weren't that many CRM blogs that were consistent (we set the annual minimum number of posts at eight), vendor-agnostic and -- most important of all -- high quality. That number has increased over the years, but one interesting phenomenon has been that the people at the top have held onto their spots.
Demandware Teams With eBay on Omnichannel E-Commerce Solution
January 19, 2016
Demandware and eBay Enterprise on Monday announced an alliance to develop a fully enabled omnichannel commerce solution that will provide integrated access to Demandware's Commerce Cloud platform and eBay Enterprise's suite of back-end and fulfillment technologies and services. The solution will let clients significantly reduce the complexity of managing their front- and back-end systems.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015: Part 1
January 15, 2016
What makes a great CRM blog? Generally, the same things that make a great CRM implementation: good planning, thoughtful responses to a changing market, consistent posting (the "adoption" part of blogging), the right technology, and people with the right personality. It's the classic "people, processes and technology" trilogy, really. The blogs that made our annual list of the best blogs and bloggers are one in a million.
Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
FordPass Aims to Engage Customers on Their Terms
January 12, 2016
Ford on Monday announced FordPass, a platform focusing on enhancing the customer experience. FordPass includes a Marketplace offering mobility services; 24x7 access to FordGuides, which are personal assistants to help customers with mobility challenges; membership loyalty rewards; and FordHubs -- select stores that let customers experience Ford's latest innovations.
The Cloud Complexity Challenge
January 12, 2016
Growing acceptance of cloud computing quickly is becoming a double-edged sword for the leading players in the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS marketplaces. As a broader set of customers adopts cloud-first strategies, even the biggest cloud players are being challenged to scale their operations to keep pace with escalating customer demands without becoming too complex.
Taxpayer Advocate Blasts IRS' Planned Customer Service Revamp
January 8, 2016
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has released its annual report to Congress. Among other things, it warns that a five-year plan to revamp IRS operations may result in a substantial reduction in telephone and face-to-face interactions with taxpayers. "TAS has been left with the distinct impression that the IRS's ultimate goal is to get out of the business of talking with taxpayers," the report states.
Loyalty and Engagement
January 6, 2016
I've been trying to analyze modern rewards programs and customer loyalty recently for a project. It's a complex issue and so it is tricky to tease apart -- nothing like trying to defuse a bomb, but intellectually challenging for sure. At the heart of the issue is a body of research that says rewards, as currently configured, don't work in the ways we want.
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