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5 Promises CRM Can't Keep
November 10, 2014
Don't get me wrong -- I think very highly of CRM. I've been making a living writing about it for almost a decade, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Still, covering CRM is a little bit like writing an honest biography of a complex person. Yes, there were moments when your subject achieved great things and was covered in glory, but there were also times when he didn't behave so well.
Webrooming Takes the Sting Out of Showrooming
November 07, 2014
Showrooming, the bane of retailers, is the consumer practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to test out merchandise and then buying the same model online at a cheaper price. Now there's "webrooming" -- a new buzzword for a trend that's been gaining momentum. Webrooming is the consumer practice of using the Internet to research a purchase and then going to a physical store to buy it.
Amazon Adds Unlimited Photo Storage to Prime Goodie Bag
November 05, 2014
Amazon on Tuesday announced the addition of free unlimited cloud photo storage for members of its Prime premium shopping service. The new storage feature, Prime Photos, works with Amazon Cloud Drive, the company's free storage offering comparable to iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. Prime Photos initially will be available for U.S. members only.
Starwood's Keyless Entry Streamlines Hotel Check-In
November 04, 2014
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- which owns and manages a number of high-end hotel brands including the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element -- has announced the rollout of SPG Keyless, a tech offering that allows guests to use their smartphone as a room key. Hilton introduced similar technology earlier this year.
Pegasystems Glides Through Social, Mobile Channels
November 03, 2014
Pegasystems has unveiled a major upgrade to its customer service application, offering new functionality both for consumers and customer service reps. Pegasystems seeded the mobile version of Pega Customer Service with new functionality as well, said Steve Kraus, senior director of product marketing for CRM Solutions at Pega. The end goal was to assist users offering omnichannel customer service.
A Customer Experience Secret Weapon
October 31, 2014
There aren't many areas in business where processes used to save money and maximize deal sizes also result in a better customer experience. The exact opposite is usually the case -- the drive to save money by making an internal process more productive or to increase the amount being sold to the customer usually impacts the customer experience for the worse. A notable exception is CPQ software.
Apple Pay May Leave CurrentC in the Dust
October 30, 2014
Apple's debut of Apple Pay has been more than a little bumpy, and the company may be in for some additional negative press about its competitive position before the dust settles. However, there is one major factor in Apple's favor that could help it win the mobile payments tug-of-war in the end: time. It's chief competition, CurrentC, won't launch for another few months.
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Prelude to the Beacon Wars
October 30, 2014
The current dustup between Apple Pay and CurrentC is a stark, bleak mess. That's not because Apple promises an easier, more secure way of making a smartphone-based retail transaction. Nor is it because CurrentC wants to harvest data on you and provide behavior-bending coupons, incentives and special deals, while cutting out the middleman credit card processing industry. It gets worse.
Lowe's Gives Robotic Customer Service a Good Name
October 28, 2014
Lowe's soon will add two robots to the customer-service staff at one of its San Jose, California, stores. Called "OSHbot," the robots will assist customers at the Lowe's-owned Orchard Supply Hardware store by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about promotions and inventory. The OSHbot was developed through a partnership with Fellow Robots.
The Customer Science Revolution
October 23, 2014
Bluewolf, the consultancy that was founded to assist customers implementing and deploying Salesforce.com, has released its annual State of Salesforce report. There is very little that's controversial. Salesforce is a juggernaut at this point, growing at an exceptional and exponential pace. My only quibble with the account is that it does not look very far beneath the surface of the statistics.
Some Apple Pay Users Get Double-Billing and Double-Talk
October 22, 2014
Shortly after Apple Pay's Monday launch, some eager early users were unsettled to see duplicate charges on their accounts. Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus users store credit card information on their devices and then pay for products using tap-to-pay terminals in stores, or via apps when shopping online. However, in some cases, it appears to be dinging consumers' accounts twice.
Mea Culpa: Social Media Apology Do's and Don'ts
October 21, 2014
When DiGiorno tweeted, "You had pizza. #WhyIStayed," Twitter lit up with criticism of the brand. The hashtag "WhyIStayed" is associated with domestic violence. In response to the firestorm its tweet unleashed, DiGiorno peppered its Twitter feed with apology after apology, all of them essentially like this: "A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting."
Jottings on Dreamforce 2014
October 16, 2014
Dreamforce has always been about many things happening at once -- a three-ring circus, in a good way. There are announcements about applications, platforms, philanthropy, entertainment and, importantly, parties. This year there was all of that and then some -- I was a guest with a ringside seat. Perhaps the worst-kept secret of the event was the company's announcement of Wave, its analytics cloud.
One Way Around the Mobile Net Neutrality Conundrum
October 09, 2014
Verizon Wireless may be bitterly regretting the challenge Verizon made to the FCC's Net neutrality rules. There's little doubt competing wireless providers are. Verizon in 2010 sued the FCC over its mandate that ISPs treat all Internet data the same. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this year agreed with Verizon and struck down the rules. Now the FCC is putting it all back on the table.
AT&T Will Fork Over $80M for Mobile Cramming
October 09, 2014
AT&T Mobility will pay $80 million for refunds to consumers who were unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges in a practice known as "mobile cramming," the Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday. AT&T billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in subscription charges -- typically in increments of $9.99 per month -- levied by other companies.
Salesforce.com Debuts Faster, Smarter Social and Mobile Tools
October 07, 2014
Salesforce.com on Tuesday unveiled two new products: Sales Cloud1 and Service Cloud1. The company has a long history of product offerings in these areas, but these new iterations have been designed to address the radical changes in the sales and service space -- namely, the emergence of social and mobile. They also are primed for action when the Internet of Things goes mainstream.
5 Ways Data Denial Hurts Marketing and Sales
October 06, 2014
Other parts of business have reoriented around data, but sales and marketing have been allowed to function as though they're black arts, with their practitioners going about their trades mysteriously, doing things for reasons only they know. Sometimes the result is a great quarter. Other times, not so much. Sales and marketing generate metrics, but many managers rely on instinct and experience.
A Lot to Like in the Midwest
October 01, 2014
There was a lot to like at Salesforce ExactTarget's Connections 2014 user conference in Indianapolis last week. Now all that's needed is a shorter name. The words "marketing cloud" need to be fitted in there too, but I forget how. Perhaps it's ExactTarget's Midwest roots, but I can see a genuine concern for the customer emanating from the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and it plays well.
Give the Gift of Social Customer Service
September 30, 2014
Snow flurries and the smell of pine needles. Eggnog and hot apple cider. Gingerbread men and latkes. Stockings and dreidels. Ornaments and menorahs. Trips to see family, and... visits to the customer service department? The holiday season is upon us, and it isn't complete without a customer service interaction or two. Remember when there was an actual customer service counter in department stores?
AmazonFresh, USPS Could Be Marriage Made in Heaven
September 25, 2014
Commission for approval of a two-year test that would expand its collaboration with AmazonFresh, a service that offers same-day delivery of perishable groceries and other items. The postal service said the expanded test could bring in revenue of more than $10 million a year. The USPS has been collaborating with Amazon for years. It has delivered books, movies and consumer electronics.
The Growing Allure of E-Commerce Systems Integration
September 24, 2014
The power of e-commerce lies in the simplicity and ease of use delivered to customers. Giving customers the ability to quickly find a product, buy it and have it delivered -- without visiting a store or even speak with a salesperson -- lets companies sell on a massive scale with little overhead. However, behind the simple purchasing process that the customer sees is a very complex set of systems.
Giving Your B2B Customers an Experience That Fits
September 23, 2014
Just as businesses used to fool themselves into believing they controlled the customer conversation, many businesses today think they define the customer experience. They think that by assembling the right combination of processes, environment and people, they can develop an experience that will delight the customer. The B2B customer, however, typically has a well-defined experience in mind.
Jive Software Tightens Its Connections
September 22, 2014
Jive Software recently unveiled upgrades to its Summer Cloud release of its two flagship products -- the Jive and JiveX communication and collaboration suites. There has been a slew of improvements to both suites, ranging from better UIs, mobile optimization and third-party integration to new community management tools. In particular, there has been a great deal of energy around JiveX.
FTC Gives E-tailers Bad Shipping News
September 18, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission has updated a longstanding rule governing mail- and phone-based retailers to explicitly include e-commerce vendors as well, meaning that online retailers now must abide by a 30-day shipping requirement or refund customers' payments if they can't. Merchants in violation could be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief or monetary civil penalties.

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