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Subscription Economy Gold: Retention
June 05, 2014
The idea of the subscription economy is not new -- at least not to anyone who's familiar with the idea of software as a service -- but it's an idea that can sneak up on businesses. Many in the SaaS space started as more traditional vendors that saw subscriptions as simply a different delivery mechanism and a way to reach customers who couldn't afford massive upfront cash layouts.
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.
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.
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.
New Salesforce Tool Lets Customers Send an SOS
April 29, 2014
Salesforce.com last week launched Salesforce1 Service Cloud SOS, a tool that allows companies to offer service via a mobile app. It consists of a button embedded in an app's interface, and as the name "SOS" suggests, it is meant for customers to press when they need help or assistance. Then, depending on the service apparatus of the company in question, a live agent will respond.
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?
inContact Rolls Out Feature-Rich Cloud Call Center Update
April 23, 2014
inContact has released its first cloud contact center software update for the year. Version 14.1 contains a new two-way SMS channel, more refined automated call-routing, deeper integration with Salesforce.com and Oracle, and new APIs that give enterprise users the ability to customize their own applications and do a deep dive into their data. The company currently is rolling out the new version.
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.
Telecom Customer Service: The Wrong Things Stay the Same
March 27, 2014
I started writing about service as a magazine editor back in the last century -- well, 1996, if you want to be specific -- but it might as well have been in the days of hula hoops and big fins on Fords. Service practices for telephone companies -- and for all utilities -- were still rudimentary, and they weren't getting any better. The telecom act of 1996 opened up competition.
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.
4 Sharp Tools for Honing Reseller Loyalty
March 17, 2014
As tricky as CRM seems, it's nothing compared to managing relationships with indirect channel partners. I often joke that it's CRM to the second power: You must not only manage the CRM tasks you always needed to do to create a relationship with end customers, but also enable partners to sell, service and support on your behalf. When it comes to selling, reseller partners are motivated.
Marketers, Start Your Engines
March 13, 2014
The connected car may be zooming into the mainstream: Apple has officially entered the market. The debut of CarPlay comes nearly a year after Apple first previewed iOS in the car, tweaking the platform to move Siri, Maps and other services to the dashboard. Apple showed off CarPlay and announced new partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo early last week at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Amazon Hits Up Prime Members for Another 20 Bucks
March 13, 2014
Amazon is hiking the price of the Amazon Prime subscription service for the first time since it launched nine years ago. Members will have to pay $99 for their subscription instead of $79. Amazon Student members will pay $49 for the service. Those who subscribe to Amazon Prime get unlimited two-day shipping on eligible items, as well as streaming video and book-borrowing privileges.
6 Easily Remedied E-Commerce Shipping Bungles
March 11, 2014
Too many e-commerce companies treat shipping as a commodity. The ones that don't, win. Amazon and Zappos are prime examples of companies that care about fast fulfillment, and they have millions of loyal customers because of it. The good news is that you don't have to offer free next-day shipping to delight customers. Just nailing the basics can set you apart.
Adding Channels Won't Fix Broken Customer Service
March 07, 2014
Technology allows businesses to take care of customers in new and different ways. Think of the multiple options we have for customer service with many businesses today: phone, chat, text, email and sometimes social media channels. They all have their own nuances, and they all place specific demands on your staff. The problem is that a new channel won't fix what's causing other channels to fail.
Clarus Offers Etailers a Prime-ish Loyalty Platform
February 24, 2014
If you were to administer truth serum and ask a retailer how it really felt about Amazon Prime, chances are the response would be that it's pure genius -- or pure evil genius, perhaps. Why? Because Amazon Prime encourages shoppers to come back and back again to browse and buy, and it's all based on an incentive that online consumers hold very dear: free shipping.
The Customer Experience Jury Is In
February 21, 2014
There are lots of purchases we make because we're forced to make them -- something we need breaks, or an outside entity requires us to buy something. We're not buying because we want to, or even because the purchase will make our business run better -- we have to buy. A lot of providers of these absolute must-have products and services don't emphasize the experience aspect of what they do.
Comcast-TWC Customers: Be Afraid, Very Afraid
February 19, 2014
While federal regulators mull the possible antitrust ramifications of the proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the companies' customers also are considering the fallout from this deal. Both companies have a reputation for poor customer service, and the fear is that a combination of the conglomerates may result in the achievement of a new low.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Gets a Fuel Injection
February 18, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a set of Microsoft Dynamics CRM features that will be generally available in the second quarter of this year. There are three main areas of change in this latest iteration: new marketing functionality; enhanced customer service options; and the introduction of a unified service desk for call centers. There are also additional social listening features.
Customers' Comings and Goings Not Always Linked to Satisfaction
February 14, 2014
Which comes first -- a sector in which consumers have a lot of choices and can easily switch providers, or companies that are rigorous in their customer service policies and attitudes? A recent survey on customer service attitudes raises that question but doesn't exactly answer it. However, it does suggest there is a strong link between customer choice and customer service policies.
Google Glass Could Bring CRM Into Focus
February 06, 2014
Google last week debuted several trendy eyeglass frames for Glass, shedding its dorky look while accommodating prescription lenses. The more natural look means consumers likely will be more accepting of Glass once it becomes generally available -- assuming the price is right. The new Glass frames and support for corrective lenses are also a boon for CRM.
Betting Big Bucks on the Real Omnichannel Deal
February 04, 2014
CRM vendors for years have been acknowledging the need for omnichannel support while bending over backwards to explain how their particular applications or product suites excelled at providing that missing link. A funny thing began to happen at the end of the 20th century. Instead of talking about it, CRM vendors started doing something about it. One by one, they made some strategic acquisitions.

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