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Show Season Observations
June 25, 2014
Not that the shows ever end, but as I regain my spot on the ground, I have a few observations from the many shows that I have been to or read about over the last eight weeks. First, if you think that cloud platforms are simply a nice alternative to software licenses, you should think again. It's human nature to apply new technologies to old problems, and that's what such an approach really does.
How Amazon's Fire Phone Will Beat the iPhone in 3 Years
June 23, 2014
Amazon launched its rather impressive Fire Phone last week, and it has a number of things that make it interesting -- but just as the iPhone improved massively by the third version, I expect this phone will as well, as a result of users providing feedback on what they want. Ironically, if the iPhone fails against the Fire Phone, it will be because Jeff Bezos is executing Steve Jobs' old strategy.
Break the Language Barrier by Learning Your Customers' Native Tongues
June 19, 2014
If you live in the English-speaking world, you've been exposed to the stereotype of the snotty Parisian who refuses to speak English. The idea is that Parisians know how -- but they won't -- and they turn up their noses at anyone who won't speak French. In my experience, that stereotype is largely wrong -- if you make an effort to communicate in any way, most Parisians are perfectly friendly.
Cutting Through the Data Clouds to Build Strong Customer Relationships
June 17, 2014
Successful companies today run largely on data and analytics. The more precisely you can measure the various aspects of your business, the better you can fine-tune its performance. With e-commerce companies especially, everything can be measured, which has provided some amazing opportunities to improve performance -- but sometimes it can lead to issues.
Target Customers Broadcast Epic Checkout Fail
June 16, 2014
Target's customers jumped en masse onto social media Sunday night after technical malfunctions at its stores around the country resulted in long checkout lines and, in some cases, inability to make purchases with store-branded credit cards. The episode struck a nerve with customers, not only because of the inconvenience, but because it was a reminder of another Target point-of-sale glitch.
Conspiracy of Culture: 5 Contributors to CRM Failure
June 12, 2014
Most companies of any size have a CRM application. Every company says it wants to build great relationships with its customers. Almost as many businesses say they want to be "customer-centric." However, as any customer can tell you, the companies that attain these goals are few and far between. What is it that's keeping businesses from doing what they know they need to do? It's not one thing.
SAP Seeds the Cloud With Industry-Specific CRM Applications
June 02, 2014
SAP has updated its cloud-based CRM portfolio with the rollout of three industry-specific applications. These applications, designed for the insurance, utilities and retail sectors, are the first cloud-based verticals for CRM, aside from a broader-based application with functionality tailored for consumer goods. In addition, SAP has introduced a cloud-based marketing performance dashboard.
Poor Mistake Management: 3 Model Lessons
May 29, 2014
I am a nerd with a goofy hobby -- I build plastic model airplanes. However, that hobby affords me a view of customer relationship issues in an interesting and intimate way. Most of the time, the vendors in this space get things right, realizing theirs is a niche industry and their customers really are in charge, especially since all spending in this sector is discretionary.
SuiteWorld's Vision
May 22, 2014
Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, talked a lot about CRM in his recent keynote at SuiteWorld. You might not think that's unusual, given that the company has a whole suite of cloud-based ERP-CRM-E-Commerce, but it represents a departure -- and I don't know if even Nelson is fully aware of it. NetSuite built its reputation and a half-billion dollar business around front- to back-office integration.
Zero Patience, Zero Wait: The New Customer Reality
May 19, 2014
Gone in half the blink of an eye. Online customers, that is. Visitors are less likely to return to a site that is even 250 milliseconds slower than a competing site, according to Harry Shum, a Microsoft executive who led research and development efforts for the Bing search engine. That's an increment of time equal to about half the amount of time it takes a human to blink. Milliseconds matter.
Going Off-Script to Delight Customers
May 16, 2014
I had an exciting moment while grocery shopping last week. After 10 years of going to the same market and seeing the same checkers, one of them actually pronounced my name right. I know my last name's a bit hard to pronounce, and clerks have spent the better part of the 21st century asking me how to say it. I also know that, at the market where I shop, clerks are instructed to thank customers.
Report: CRM Is Going Strong
May 09, 2014
CRM software had a good year in 2013 with the category totaling $20.4 billion, a 13.7 percent increase from $18 billion the previous year, according to a report released this week by Gartner. Furthermore, the next few years are likely to be just as positive, if not more, the firm predicted. "CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years," said Gartner Research VP Joanne Correia.
Is a Poor Portal Ruining Your Partners' Experience?
May 08, 2014
Selling direct is a breeze -- kind of. You control everything -- you choose the salesperson, you provide the training, you establish the payment structure, and you decide on the marketing message used to reach customers, among other things. When you sell through the channel, howevr, things get complicated. You need to depend on your partners to hire, train and motivate sales people.
OnSip Invites Customers to Push Its Buttons
May 05, 2014
Amazon's Mayday button has intrigued CRM industry users as well as consumers. Introduced about a year ago, Mayday is a button customers can press on their mobile devices to get service or tech help. Salesforce.com last month debuted its version of Mayday. Now other tech providers are introducing variations on the theme. One such company is OnSIP, which has just debuted InstaCall.
4 Ways to Embrace Crowdsourced Knowledge
May 02, 2014
Traditional knowledge management programs focus on distilling knowledge into systems of record, which end up being underutilized, chiefly because they cannot contain the long tail of knowledge. Conversely, nowhere are successful KM programs as impactful as where they intersect the customer experience -- from customer support to sales to marketing and product development.
Marketing Automation's Next Gig
April 24, 2014
If you aren't sold on marketing automation yet, there's another reason to consider it before you end up down two touchdowns with three minutes to play. We usually think of marketing in its traditional role of new customer outreach, which is good but no longer enough. Keep in mind that in today's zero-sum markets, your competition has not stopped marketing to your customers, so why should you?
Small Biz CRM Secrets Any Business Can Use
April 10, 2014
The rise of Internet commerce sounded a death knell for small businesses. Large e-tailers could wield massive buying power, had less overhead than brick-and-mortar stores, and could appeal to customers in new ways. They could collect customer data in the course of doing business, and turn around and use that data to better market to their customers. How could a small retailer compete?
T-Mobile Kisses Up to BlackBerry Customers
April 04, 2014
After racking up a number of successes, T-Mobile clearly made a misstep earlier this year, when it promoted Apple's iPhone 5 to its BlackBerry customers. BlackBerry this week announced it would not renew T-Mobile's license to sell its products, which expires at the end of April. Now T-Mobile is now scrambling to keep its BlackBerry customers with an offer of a $100 credit.
Transaction or Process?
April 02, 2014
After many years, I think I can boil down CRM to this: Vendors prepare for transactions but customers expect process. Of course, this demands elaboration and neither of these ideas is stationary. The desire for better processes evolves as customers and markets do, and transactions become more sophisticated as vendors play catch-up with their markets.
The Minimalist Guide to Inbound Marketing
March 31, 2014
Inbound marketing is an essential part of an online brand promotion strategy. It lets you target your audience directly and draw them in. Inbound marketing is the process of getting customers to come to your store before you try to sell them anything. Inbound marketing for e-commerce is no different. Give customers a reason to come to your site, and they're likely to return when ready to buy.
New Avaya Platform Defrags Customer Experience
March 20, 2014
Avaya has rolled out an upgraded CEM platform with two new major components: the proactive outreach manager and intelligent customer routing. The common theme in this product's enhancement is the unification of inbound and outbound customer engagement with self service across any media, explained Avaya's Cory Glover, senior manager in the customer experience solutions marketing team.
Microsoft Beats the Customer-Centricity Drum at Convergence
March 04, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday kicked off its Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 conference with a keynote address by Executive Vice President Kirill Tatarinov, whose running theme was the need for the companies to be customer-centric to stay competitive. "Technology has changed the social fabric, transforming how we engage, connect and interact with one another," Tatarinov said.
4 Ways to Waste Great Marketing Opportunities
February 28, 2014
CRM has always purported to be about relationships, but it's often used primarily for sales. That's kind of a good news, bad news situation. The bad news first: CRM got a bad rap when it didn't become a sales panacea (mostly for adoption issues). The good news: It exposed a void in the mix that marketing automation rushed to fill. The key to successful relationships is communication.
The Travel Battle Rages On: May the Most Relevant Brand Win
February 25, 2014
The travel industry will increase 41 percent by 2016, making it worth $143 billion. With that much revenue on the line, booking sites are taking significant steps to ensure that they get their piece of the traveler pie. Brands no longer can offer experiences that are irrelevant to the end-user. Travel has become a user-centric industry, and the brand that serves up the most relevant content wins.

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