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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.
Why Is Sales-Marketing Alignment Getting Worse?
February 1, 2016
We're almost a quarter century removed from the coining of the phrase "sales and marketing alignment." Businesses have been wrestling with the idea of coordinating two teams of people with different skill sets, ideas and goals since the emergence of marketing as a profession. Meanwhile, business leaders often cite the need to use data to unite sales and marketing around a single mission.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come... Again
January 27, 2016
Whether you call it "industry CRM," "vertical CRM" or something else, the concept is gaining altitude. Not that it's new or ever been gone, but today's vertical CRM is different -- a constellation of quantitatively and qualitatively different and better CRM solutions than we've ever seen. Vendors like Veeva, Vlocity and Salesforce are getting into the act.
Cloud Research
January 20, 2016
Last year, uber-analyst Esteban Kolsky and I did a research project to better understand cloud computing's uptake and related issues, and last week Financial Force, our sponsor, made the results public. The findings are interesting to me because they reveal a more or less typical adoption cycle for cloud, by which I mean that some of the downstream effects are only gradually becoming apparent.
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.
Forecasting 2016
December 23, 2015
My favorite Boston FM radio DJ was Charles Laquidara, who would end his show with the words, "If the creek don't rise, if the good Lord's willing, if there ain't no meltdown, we'll do it all over again tomorrow right here on The Biiiiig Mattress!" It impressed me that even one day out, he'd caveat his prediction of being there tomorrow. Unlike my hero, I will attempt to forecast the year ahead.
Year-End Intelligence
December 16, 2015
There's always an aphorism about Santa, stockings and year-end funding news, but I am tired of them so I'll let you imagine one. However, the funding news is so good from so many sources that I thought it worthwhile to mention a few items -- there are patterns emerging. First, Salesforce bought MinHash. That's not a funding event proper, but it does provide some modicum of cash to the founders.
2015: The Year of Intelligence
December 9, 2015
This year we traded in terminologies going from big data and analytics to digital disruption as the market-moving meme. I am not sure either one hits the spot, but they give me something to write about. Other things happened in 2015 too, but I'm just going to focus here. It seems to me we focus on the symptoms and not the root causes too often in this business.
Ramping Up Tech Could Give Retailers a CX Edge
December 1, 2015
Despite all the talk about the customer journey, the increasing use of CRM, the omnichannel approach, and the seamless customer experience, stores still don't have technology down pat for the holiday rush, according to the "2015 Connected Shoppers Report" Salesforce released last month. In-store shoppers want associates to know their purchase history, but only 10 percent believe this will happen.
Great Customer Experiences Start With Sales
November 23, 2015
The term "customer experience" flows from the lips of business people so smoothly these days. It's very clearly the business jargon du jour; its importance has been trending upward for the last decade, and according to Gartner, by 2018 more than half of all businesses will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience.
Sales and Marketing Sentiment: Feeling Is Perception Is Reality
November 16, 2015
About a year ago, I conducted a survey that led to my company's first-ever Sales & Marketing Sentiment Study. The idea was to get inside the heads of people in sales and marketing and reveal their feelings about the way they worked, the technology they used, and about each other. We split the results into sales and marketing responses and compared them.
Digital Transformation and Moments of Truth
November 11, 2015
I hadn't been aware of one of the more important CRM stories of the year until I was doing research for a new book. It's a great story and it deserves retelling, especially if you think that focusing on customers' moments of truth is important. Back in April, Starbucks announced revenues for the just-completed quarter that exceeded year-over-year attainment by a whopping 17.8 percent.
TWC's New Virtual Assistant Curries Customer Favor
October 21, 2015
Beset by customer complaints and struggling to get approval from the United States Federal Communications Commission for a US$79 billion merger with Charter Communications and Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable on Tuesday announced a virtual assistant. The new Ask TWC Virtual Assistant lets customers use a mobile device or computer to type a question in their own words.
Lighting Up Process
October 14, 2015
I've been saying that we're heading toward an era when process dominates and traditional transactions become just one part of those processes. Now, you might say that's the way it's always been, and I won't disagree. Historically, however, processes more or less were managed by employees who used information systems to inform their decision-making, and the result was recorded as a transaction.
Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler
October 9, 2015
The rise of social media has given customers a new platform for interacting with travel and hospitality companies, from airlines to car rental agencies. Today's travel customers primarily use these digital technologies to coordinate logistics and log complaints; gone are the days of calling a reservation specialist to book flights or running through seating options at the check-in counter.
Vertical Ventures
September 29, 2015
I'm always looking for emerging trends at Dreamforce, the kinds of things that are hiding in plain sight. They might never amount to much, but given that it's Dreamforce, many likely will bloom. A case in point is the emergence of vertical market CRM. Its time is now because application development tools have become so good, and because customers need fast, budget-friendly deployments.
Customer Support in the Digital Age: Collaborative, Personal
September 8, 2015
Apple made a bold move on the customer support front this summer: The company started publishing customer support videos for its Beats by Dre headphones via the product line's Twitter account. The strategy is notable primarily because Apple published how-to videos natively on Twitter, taking a proactive approach to deflect service calls and ensure user satisfaction.
SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
Dreamforce: Still the One
September 2, 2015
We watched as Salesforce emerged from the crowd in the dot-com era to become a massive company with a $7 billion run rate. We also changed perspectives several times on what to expect from Dreamforce. We used to be interested mostly in cool new technologies and business models, but as Salesforce has grown, it has acquired a following of financial analysts as well as industry analysts like me.
3 Ways Great Customer Experiences Boost Sales
August 27, 2015
Hardened sales veterans may hear the expression "customer experience" and shrug or scoff. What has it got to do with them, they may ask? A lot -- because it can add dollars directly to their commissions checks, even if they're not the ones creating the experiences. There are three specific ways that meeting or exceeding customer expectations improves sales.
Spredfast Gets Something to Shout About
August 25, 2015
Spredfast last week announced its acquisition of Shoutlet, a social data aggregator. Shoutlet has been a "huge innovator" in the social CRM space, said Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron. "With this acquisition, Spredfast gains that technology as well as the team that built it. It's a game changer. ... Customers will have more ways to understand their audiences and impact the customer journey."
Dearth of a Salesman: Does Technology Erode Sales Talent?
August 18, 2015
For many years, provocateurs have been able to stir people up by proclaiming the death of the salesperson. Ten years ago, in fact, Marc Miller authored the book Selling is Dead. It must be a lingering death, because I still know lots of salespeople. I sure hope they have their affairs in order, what with their impending demise foreshadowed for so long.
Customer Service Sucks? Blame Outdated Gear
August 12, 2015
It's a business truism that customer service can make or break customer relationships, so it stands to reason that contact centers should be considered a critical part of the enterprise and equipped accordingly. However, half of 225 global contact centers surveyed in April were using agent desktop technology that was more than five years old, Forrester noted in a report released this week.
Gamifying Sales Comp
August 5, 2015
Microsoft earlier this week announced that it has bought FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform. The intent of the product is to boost sales productivity. The gaming part is designed after some aspects of fantasy sports leagues in which participants build a team from known professional athletes and try to beat other teams. The team aspect makes everyone more competitive.
Monitoring the Sales Metrics That Matter Most
July 30, 2015
I recently conducted a simple, one-question survey, using sales pros as my target audience. The question was idiotically simple: What is the most important metric for people in sales? In this era of big data, deep analysis and predictive analytics, you might have thought that some new, performance-based metric would have surfaced as the new secret weapon.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Meaningful Work and CRM
July 16, 2015
Having meaningful work is one of the biggest challenges for many people at the bottom of the employment ladder. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell documented the multigenerational effect. The children of people who had meaningful work turned out to be more successful and advanced further in their careers than children of people stuck in less-rewarding occupations.
Steer Clear of Sales Forecasting Traps
June 16, 2015
Sales executives, managers and reps spend countless hours in forecast meetings, yet often find their actual closed revenue falls far from the mark they predicted. With the advanced CRM technology and sales forecasting tools available today, it's a wonder this trend continues. There are four common pitfalls that take place during the forecasting process that every sales leader should avoid.
Customer Satisfaction With Pay-TV, ISPs Hits New Low
June 2, 2015
"Customer first" is the motto businesses live by -- or should -- but that doesn't seem to resonate with companies providing pay-TV or Internet-access services, based on ACSI data gathered in Q1 of 2015. Customer satisfaction with information services fell to 68.8 percent, the lowest level in seven years. Subscription-TV services and ISPs are at the bottom of the 43 industries covered by the index.
Message for Marketers: Always Be Engaging
June 1, 2015
In sales, we know customer retention is critical for success in the subscription economy. For many tech companies in the SaaS space, it takes three years to break even. In insurance, which has toiled in the subscription economy for more than a century, the average break-even time is an incredible seven years. Because of that, sales compensation is starting to change.
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