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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.
Maximizing a Product Rollout
May 14, 2014
Bringing a new product -- or even a new version -- to market is not what it used to be. Back in the day your market was probably empty, a green field where you could find opportunity under a rock. Everybody needed what you had, and selling was relatively easy. Things don't stay that way for long, though, and today you have to work hard to insert a new product into a crowded market.
FirstRain Mobile Showers Sales Reps With Data
May 13, 2014
FirstRain has released its third iteration of the mobile version of its personal business analytics app, enhancing it with social sharing functionality and building in a new contextual layer that gives users more information about the data they receive. FirstRain also debuted a version for Windows Phone with this rollout. These changes are preceding what FirstRain is doing on the desktop.
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.
Sub-Ledger for the Hybrid Enterprise
May 07, 2014
There is a business problem that comes up in the life of every company, and these days it seems that a lot of companies face it at once. It's the question of how to transition from one business model to another without clobbering your current revenue flow. Even if a company's executives really want to change its model, there is always a faction that says, "not yet."
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.
Whodunnit? 4 Suspects in CRM Murder Mystery
May 01, 2014
CRM is often mistakenly viewed as a technology, but it is really a discipline -- and it's not a solo discipline, like a martial art or meditation. It's a team discipline in which every customer-facing employee can make a contribution. Whether those contributions are positive or negative depends on the teammates. In most cases where CRM is decreed to have "failed," the cause isn't the technology.
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.
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.
Are We There Yet? The Long Road to the CRM Revolution
April 17, 2014
They say you must walk before you can run. It follows that you should crawl before you walk. In CRM, however, there are a lot of businesses that talk at great length about wanting to run even though they haven't mastered crawling yet. They battle with the same old problems: adoption issues; technology decisions made before business needs are identified; lack of executive buy-in.
Marketo's Show
April 16, 2014
Marketo put on an interesting show last week at Moscone West in San Francisco. Still basking in last year's IPO, the company attracted a large and diverse audience of marketers who wanted to learn about modern marketing automation, and it was a good opportunity to take stock of where marketing has been and where it is going. The impression I got was that modern marketing is in its early phase.
SugarCRM Refines Customer Analytics for Sales
April 14, 2014
When SugarCRM debuts version 7.2 in the coming weeks, users already will have had a taste of one of its main themes: tighter integration around productivity tools aimed at better understanding a customer base. That is because SugarCRM has previewed two such integrations over the past month -- one with Marketo and one with Dun & Bradstreet -- both designed to improve the user experience.
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?
Setting Goals and Rewards
April 09, 2014
You should check out The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. It's a thoughtful analysis of the technology progression handed to us by Moore's Law and its effect on every aspect of our lives. Their thesis is simple yet powerful. Over the last 10 years or so, the pace of innovation has accelerated. Processes that were only imaginable before are becoming easy.
Clari Sharpens Its Focus on Data-Driven Processes
April 07, 2014
Clari is bursting onto the CRM stage with a mobile sales productivity platform that is coming out of stealth mode, thanks to a $6 million infusion of funds from Sequoia Capital. The product, says CEO Andy Byrne, marries "a beautiful design," with data analytics and mobile tech to create a system that helps reps close deals faster, while cutting down on productivity-killing data entry tasks.
3 Ways to Source Ideas From Your Customers
April 03, 2014
The era of inbound marketing is upon us, but a great many businesses are fearful of it. Having worked as a magazine editor and a content marketer, I find the conversations very familiar: People who haven't written or who hate to write often fall back on the excuse, "I don't know what to write." A variation on that theme is people saying they don't know what their content should be about.
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.
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.
Getting Mobile App Devs to Jump on Your Bandwagon
March 24, 2014
Earlier this year, during the Mobile World Congress, Jon Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation, made a compelling argument for the use of bitcoin in mobile payment applications. Mobile payments have not made the traction many expected they would -- but bitcoin could neatly circumvents all of the obstacles that have held them back, Matonis explained.
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.

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