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Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
FordPass Aims to Engage Customers on Their Terms
January 12, 2016
Ford on Monday announced FordPass, a platform focusing on enhancing the customer experience. FordPass includes a Marketplace offering mobility services; 24x7 access to FordGuides, which are personal assistants to help customers with mobility challenges; membership loyalty rewards; and FordHubs -- select stores that let customers experience Ford's latest innovations.
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.
Taxpayer Advocate Blasts IRS' Planned Customer Service Revamp
January 8, 2016
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has released its annual report to Congress. Among other things, it warns that a five-year plan to revamp IRS operations may result in a substantial reduction in telephone and face-to-face interactions with taxpayers. "TAS has been left with the distinct impression that the IRS's ultimate goal is to get out of the business of talking with taxpayers," the report states.
Loyalty and Engagement
January 6, 2016
I've been trying to analyze modern rewards programs and customer loyalty recently for a project. It's a complex issue and so it is tricky to tease apart -- nothing like trying to defuse a bomb, but intellectually challenging for sure. At the heart of the issue is a body of research that says rewards, as currently configured, don't work in the ways we want.
Amazon UK Lets Customers Pay in Installments
January 5, 2016
Amazon UK recently introduced a monthly payment plan -- Pay Monthly -- for customers who purchase products it directly sells and ships. The offer doesn't extend to third-party retailers' products on its site. Customers whose order, including shipping and taxes, totals Pounds 400 are eligible for the program. Hitachi Personal Finance will provide and administer the credit and payments.
Surprise Success: What to Do When Sales Go Through the Roof
December 22, 2015
Success is a good thing. Sometimes, however, surges in orders and sales cause headaches for e-commerce companies. The key is to expect the unexpected. Planning ahead can help ensure that sales spikes are handled as smoothly as possible. "It's never too early to start planning for growth," said Marg Hyland, founder of Pegeen. "You need to be prepared."
CRM to Get Emotional in 2016
December 17, 2015
Temkin Group on Tuesday predicted 2016 will be the year of emotion. That's one of 11 customer experience trends to watch for in the coming year, managing partner Bruce Temkin wrote in a blog post. "Emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore," he wrote.
5 Customer Relationship Objectives for the Growing Biz
December 7, 2015
The amount of effort spent on talking and thinking about the best ways to connect with customers truly is incredible. The amount of ink spilled -- real and virtual -- the number of conferences held, and the dollars spent on efforts and expertise are vast. The irony is that businesses often start out with a natural ability to behave in a customer-centric way.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Focuses on Intelligence
December 3, 2015
Microsoft this week released Dynamics CRM 2016 in CRM Online and on-premises versions. Built-in intelligence is a key feature of the package, which is available in 130 markets and 144 languages. It leverages the Cortana Analytics Suite's advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities. Intelligence "is important because it's an idea that's current," observed analyst Denis Pombriant.
Engagement at Moments of Truth
December 2, 2015
Lost somewhere in the pile that is a current research project is an article on customer loyalty that says that more than half of customers who recently exhibited loyal behavior toward a vendor said they'd switch to another vendor in an instant. The question prompting this answer is whether these customers would switch for a better deal. It was a trick question trying to determine loyalty.
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.
The 2 Layers of Customer Experience
November 18, 2015
Maybe you've already considered this, but it just popped into my head the other day as I was thinking once again about customer experience -- or CX, as some people shorten it. I've often said that customers experience moments of truth and that the experience should be focused on the things they care most about and that the business actually can do something about.
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.
OpenWorld's Substance Feast
November 4, 2015
For once, Oracle OpenWorld went long on substance. That's hard to do when you have so many products to discuss and Larry Ellison pontificating, but he was both under control and substantive -- though he couldn't resist taking a few shots at competitors. Oracle's team hardly ever sees SAP and IBM in deals these days, he announced, and he gave due praise to cloud pioneers NetSuite and Salesforce.
Fire, Aim, Ready: Is Your Marketing Approach on Target?
November 3, 2015
Business-to-business marketers know what customers want, in general terms, from initial contacts with the people they buy from. It's taken awhile, but through trial, error, some more error and eventually some actual thought, the mystery has been solved. Before I give it away, just ask yourself what you want in any communication from anyone when it comes to a business issue.
Oracle Banks on CX Cloud Verticals
November 2, 2015
Oracle last week announced a variety of industry-specific solutions and enhancements to several existing products at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The company unveiled industry-specific vertical solutions for the financial services, communications, consumer goods, high-tech, industrial manufacturing and automotive fields as part of its Customer Experience Cloud.
SAP's New Jam Communities Promise Stickier Customer Experience
October 23, 2015
SAP this week released SAP Jam Communities edition for Hybris, which delivers real-time product and service information to customers on company websites. The software can display personally relevant recommendations and reviews directly to customers in e-commerce stores. In essence, it lets companies embed access to relevant material and include a buy button in online customer community pages.
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.
Southwest Heaves Sigh of Relief as Customer Service Returns to Normal
October 13, 2015
Southwest Airlines on Monday announced it was operating on a normal schedule after technical problems delayed hundreds of flights on Sunday. A computer glitch related to the technical systems that powered its customer service operations -- specifically in its reservation system -- apparently was to blame. Southwest teams worked throughout the night to solve the problem, the airline said.
Processing Customer Loyalty
October 12, 2015
I've had to do a lot of thinking about customer loyalty lately, both for my book and more recently for client engagements. What's interesting is how chaotic this market is and how many people are writing about it with very little data. There isn't even strong agreement on the similarities and differences between rewards programs and loyalty. Are they the same? How?
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.
Leveraging Moments of Truth
October 7, 2015
eGain is touting a report from Forrester Consulting and my friend Ian Jacobs purporting to show that omnichannel customer service is stagnant or worse when it comes to delivering service that customers need and want. Ian does good work and I am in agreement with him on this, but I have trouble with some conclusions, specifically the implication that the problem can be solved with more software.
Stop Competing on Price, Start Competing on Customer Experience
October 6, 2015
Target may be implementing price matching, but there are other ways to compete. Customer experience is the new battleground in retail sales, and winning this battle requires winning over customers with truly personalized service. Despite all the advancements in technology, personalized customer service and efforts to build customer loyalty have all but disappeared.
Volkswagen's Fines - Billions; Lost Customer Loyalty - Incalculable
September 25, 2015
There's a rough road ahead for consumers strapped into Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars kitted out with software to fool emissions testing. Many of VW's loyal customers feel let down and even duped, said Agnes Huff, CEO of the Agnes Huff Communications Group. Many of them now question the brand's overall integrity. "Regaining customer trust will be an ongoing challenge."
Salesforce IoT Cloud Makes Thunderous Debut
September 15, 2015
Salesforce has launched IoT Cloud, an Internet of Things offering designed to connect billions of events with Salesforce, which the company says will help its clients' bottom line. IoT Cloud is powered by Salesforce Thunder, the company's new massively scalable, real-time event processing engine. "Salesforce is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of Customers," said CEO Marc Benioff.
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.
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.
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