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Bringing Retail Into the 21st Century
July 29, 2014
Let's get one thing straight: E-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Hold on, I hear you object, the digital world has utterly disrupted our shopping habits. We rarely enter a store without having researched the big-ticket items we want to buy. Much of our holiday shopping is done with a mouse click. When we do venture into a store, we rarely do so without clutching a smartphone.
Skype for Linux Redesign Is Ugly but Functional
July 23, 2014
If you do not mind having a free non-open source Microsoft product on your Linux computer, the latest Skype for Linux release catches up to the Windows and Mac versions, providing most of the features they've had for some time. Microsoft rolled out Skype version 4.3.0.37 in mid June. The catch-up release has an updated user interface, some additional features, and lots of bug fixes.
Are You There Corporation? It's Me, Customer
July 17, 2014
Why do so many companies keep slapping their customers in the face and expect them to stick around? Remember the good old days, when an update or an upgrade was good news? It solved problems. Today, updates often create new problems in their wake. Today, updates are two steps forward and one step back. Updates and upgrades used to be welcome news. They used to build a company's brand.
Here Come the Cloud-Based Big Data Management Services
July 16, 2014
The explosive growth of data is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry, and a growing number of cloud service providers are recognizing that they can provide more than just simple storage and economical compute power to their customers buried in data. They also can help them manage their processing needs on an ongoing basis.
Comcast Rep Tears Into Fleeing Customer 'Like a Pit Bull on a Pork Chop'
July 15, 2014
Comcast on Tuesday was scrambling to repair the damage after a phone representative's rude treatment of a couple trying to disconnect their service went viral, thanks to a recording posted on the Web. The couple -- former Engadget editor Ryan Block, now at AOL, and his wife, TV host and writer Veronica Belmont -- called Comcast over the weekend and asked to cancel their service over the phone.
There May Be More to Salesforce's RelateIQ Buy Than Meets the Eye
July 14, 2014
Salesforce.com will shell out $350 million in common stock for RelateIQ in a deal expected to close by October. It will provide another $40 million dollars in stock for its cash balance. RelateIQ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Salesforce, according to an SEC filing. "This gives Salesforce more of a footprint in process orientation," said Denis Pombriant, principal of Beagle Research.
Amazon Risks Customer Loyalty in Fight Over Kids' In-App Purchases
July 11, 2014
Amazon's reputation for stellar customer service could become tarnished if its current flap with the FTC gets out of hand. The FTC is suing Amazon for permitting children to make millions of dollars in unauthorized purchases through its Appstore. Similar accusations have been circulating for years. Other companies, including Apple, have been targeted, said Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson.
Why CEX Thinking Stimulates Indirect Sales
July 10, 2014
As much as we may wax on about engaging, enchanting and delighting our customers, most of them are not expecting such an experience. In most cases, their purchase is prelude to something else pleasurable, if the purchase is B2C -- or profitable, if it's B2B. If there's some service they're purchasing in addition to a product, then experience becomes very important.
Blackbaud Weaves New Data Services Into eTapestry
July 07, 2014
Blackbaud recently upgraded its cloud-based eTapestry fundraising application with tools addressing what seems to be a perennial problem in CRM -- dirty data. The ultimate goal of the upgrades for the application, which is designed for nonprofits, is to improve the quality of donor information. The upgrade does that via two new enhancements integrated from Blackbaud's Target Analytics division.
CRM's Transition
July 03, 2014
It always happens this way. A market erupts or transitions to something new or it goes the way of the dodo and you miss the key turning point. Looking back, you can spot the telltale signs of disruption. People like me, who try to forecast these great events, have the reliability of a dartboard. Nonetheless, I'm doing it again. I am declaring that CRM is in the early phases of a major transition.
T-Mobile's Legere Sputters Over FTC's Cramming Accusations
July 02, 2014
T-Mobile's efforts to market itself as the un-carrier that puts customers first may be impacted by the FTC's allegations that it has engaged in "cramming" -- charging consumers for services offered by third-party companies without their knowledge or consent. T-Mobile's fiery CEO, John Legere, dismissed the FTC complaint as "unfounded and without merit."
Zendesk Illuminates Customer Data
July 02, 2014
Zendesk has rolled out Zendesk Insights, a new analytics and data visualization tool that sits on top of its flagship customer service platform, for its Plus and Enterprise users. "One thing we have been hearing from our customers is that they want more access to the data and analytics that they produce by interacting with their own customers," said Sam Boonin, VP of product at Zendesk.
Salesforce.com, Philips Launch Health Cloud Revolution
July 01, 2014
Salesforce and Philips last week announced they had teamed up on a cloud computing initiative designed to transform existing healthcare platforms. The companies plan to create an open cloud-based healthcare platform that will allow everyone from software developers to health insurance companies to connect and exchange information via Salesforce's health cloud.
Google Glass Service Could Make All Customers Feel Special
June 30, 2014
Virgin Atlantic recently announced the expansion of a pilot project in which flight attendants use Google Glass to meet and greet customers. For the initial project, the airline equipped the concierge staff in its Upper Class Wing at London's Heathrow airport with Google Glass so they would have easy access to such information as connecting flights or loyalty points.
3 Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Doing it Right Online
June 30, 2014
Christmas came late, or not at all, for many retailers in 2013, with holiday foot traffic down by nearly 50 percent compared to just three years earlier. Many brick-and-mortar stores are on a knife's edge. The closing of Best Buy and Sears stores around the U.S. suggests that the retail giants of the past decades are vulnerable to shifting trends, including the move to digital commerce.
Verizon to Chromebook Pixel Owners: We're On It
June 27, 2014
After a hornet's nest was stirred up over the premature termination of some Chromebook Pixel users' free data plans, Verizon apparently has begun trying to make amends. "A very small number of Chromebook Pixel customers may have had a promo end prematurely," said Verizon spokesperson Debra Lewis. "We apologize for this and will work with these customers to address the situation shortly."
Toward a More Perfect CRM
June 26, 2014
"Perfection is the enemy of completion" is a bastardization of a translation of the first line of a poem by Voltaire. That makes the saying itself sort of an example of what Voltaire was talking about -- but it doesn't make it any less true. In the processes we use to run our businesses and deal with customers, there's a lot of "good enough" thinking.
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.
Verizon Flips Off Chromebook Pixel Customers
June 24, 2014
Though early purchasers of the LTE model of Google's Chromebook Pixel were promised two years of limited data, it appears Verizon has reneged on those assurances. The WiFi-only Pixel cost $1,299 while the LTE model set back consumers an extra $150. Those who bought the system through the Google Play Store when it went on sale last April were offered 100 MB of free Verizon data every month.
Five9 Adds Social, Mobile to Its Cloud Call Center Repertoire
June 23, 2014
Five9 has introduced Summer Release 2014, the latest version of its cloud contact center software. The company's first major release since its 8.1 launch last year, it follows Five9's acquisition of SoCoCare, a social engagement and mobile customer care provider. SoCoCare's feature set is part of the basis for the new release. As a result, Summer Release 2014 is now a multichannel desktop app.
Path Adds Another Avenue for Mobile Gabfest
June 23, 2014
Path has hived off its mobile-only messaging service as a standalone app named "Talk," it announced Friday. It also ended limits on the number of friends users can communicate with, and announced its purchase of place messaging pioneer TalkTo as it sets itself for growth. The Talk app has a new feature, Ambient Status, that shows users' current status at a glance.
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.
The Amazon Fire Phone's Mayday Effect
June 20, 2014
Amazon unveiled its Fire Phone this week, sparking wide interest, if not acclaim. The Fire Phone comes with some innovative features: a dynamic perspective display made possible by six cameras that track the user's head and eye movements; and Firefly, an intelligent assistant that can give Apple's Siri a serious run for its money. Then there is Mayday, a support service feature.
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.

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