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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.
Cutting Through the Data Clouds to Build Strong Customer Relationships
June 17, 2014
Successful companies today run largely on data and analytics. The more precisely you can measure the various aspects of your business, the better you can fine-tune its performance. With e-commerce companies especially, everything can be measured, which has provided some amazing opportunities to improve performance -- but sometimes it can lead to issues.
Conspiracy of Culture: 5 Contributors to CRM Failure
June 12, 2014
Most companies of any size have a CRM application. Every company says it wants to build great relationships with its customers. Almost as many businesses say they want to be "customer-centric." However, as any customer can tell you, the companies that attain these goals are few and far between. What is it that's keeping businesses from doing what they know they need to do? It's not one thing.
Subscription Economy Gold: Retention
June 05, 2014
The idea of the subscription economy is not new -- at least not to anyone who's familiar with the idea of software as a service -- but it's an idea that can sneak up on businesses. Many in the SaaS space started as more traditional vendors that saw subscriptions as simply a different delivery mechanism and a way to reach customers who couldn't afford massive upfront cash layouts.
PCI 3.0, Part 4: Documenting Your Compliance
June 03, 2014
Summer is almost here, and that means many of you probably have made significant headway laying the groundwork for your 2015 PCI audit. However, one important aspect of 3.0 preparations that doesn't always get the attention it should is documentation. If you've tackled PCI compliance in the past, this is probably an area where you'll have a few questions.
Poor Mistake Management: 3 Model Lessons
May 29, 2014
I am a nerd with a goofy hobby -- I build plastic model airplanes. However, that hobby affords me a view of customer relationship issues in an interesting and intimate way. Most of the time, the vendors in this space get things right, realizing theirs is a niche industry and their customers really are in charge, especially since all spending in this sector is discretionary.
5 Ways Social CRM Builds Indirect Channel Relationships
May 23, 2014
The concept of social CRM has been around so long now that, if you listen to the pundits, we should stop saying it and just include it as part of CRM. That assumes most companies have fully digested what "social" means and have made plans to use it effectively -- which is assuming a lot. That said, there's another area where social media needs to be incorporated: partner relationship management.
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.
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.
Mobile Apps, Beacons and the Coming Retail Revival
May 07, 2014
Internet companies are showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to innovation, specifically in the area of physical retail. Smartphones and tablets are the new darlings of e-commerce companies, and they now are being used to provide immersive and entertaining shopping experiences. Many of the characteristics of online retail shopping are being replicated in the physical shopping aisle.
4 Ways to Embrace Crowdsourced Knowledge
May 02, 2014
Traditional knowledge management programs focus on distilling knowledge into systems of record, which end up being underutilized, chiefly because they cannot contain the long tail of knowledge. Conversely, nowhere are successful KM programs as impactful as where they intersect the customer experience -- from customer support to sales to marketing and product development.
PCI 3.0, Part 3: Validating Your Cardholder Data Environment
April 14, 2014
Most e-commerce businesses already are preparing for their 2015 PCI audit, and plenty of changes are afoot when it comes to meeting 3.0 compliance requirements. Remember, compliance itself does not equal security, but rather is a reporting function of your security program. It is both a mandatory part of meeting 3.0 standards and a critical step toward improving your security posture.
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.
The Minimalist Guide to Inbound Marketing
March 31, 2014
Inbound marketing is an essential part of an online brand promotion strategy. It lets you target your audience directly and draw them in. Inbound marketing is the process of getting customers to come to your store before you try to sell them anything. Inbound marketing for e-commerce is no different. Give customers a reason to come to your site, and they're likely to return when ready to buy.
Determining an Online Customer's Value
March 25, 2014
Chris remembered his mom fumbling for her keys as she stepped out of the house, quickly locking the door and dashing toward the car. They were off to shop. Chris felt this to be a very clichéd way of shopping and always dreamt of an easier way to shop with less hassle. Jane, experiencing a very similar drill, never hated it once. Over decades, the experience of shopping has taken many forms.
Digging Deeper Into CRM Data
March 21, 2014
CRM is sometimes described as the place where all your customer data resides. That's a nice image -- all that helpful data, chilling in its own hangout. That data works for you, though -- if you're just storing it, it isn't helpful. It's important to think about what you want to do with and learn from that data. We talk a lot about what we want to do -- less about what we should learn.
The Internet of Things: There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
March 18, 2014
When I was 10 years old, I took my first trip to Disney World. The futuristic rides in Tomorrow Land were my favorites. In particular, I loved "The Carousel of Progress," which, at the time, was an attraction designed by General Electric to showcase its new technologies at the 1964 New York World's Fair. The song, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," played as the curtains opened.
4 Sharp Tools for Honing Reseller Loyalty
March 17, 2014
As tricky as CRM seems, it's nothing compared to managing relationships with indirect channel partners. I often joke that it's CRM to the second power: You must not only manage the CRM tasks you always needed to do to create a relationship with end customers, but also enable partners to sell, service and support on your behalf. When it comes to selling, reseller partners are motivated.
PCI 3.0, Part 2: Defining Your Cardholder Data Environment
March 17, 2014
New compliance guidelines went into effect earlier this year. While e-commerce organizations have until their 2015 audit to transition, the new controls are demanding enough operational and technical changes that smart businesses already have started preparing. If you're wondering where to start, one of your first steps should be to thoroughly define and document your cardholder data environment.
Complicating the Cloud
March 14, 2014
Although I've been a proponent of the business benefits of migrating to the "cloud" since before the term was popularized by today's market leaders, I have to admit that the cloud industry is doing a great job of making it increasingly difficult for CIOs and other corporate decision makers to feel confident about making the move. Cloud converts aren't sure where to start.
6 Easily Remedied E-Commerce Shipping Bungles
March 11, 2014
Too many e-commerce companies treat shipping as a commodity. The ones that don't, win. Amazon and Zappos are prime examples of companies that care about fast fulfillment, and they have millions of loyal customers because of it. The good news is that you don't have to offer free next-day shipping to delight customers. Just nailing the basics can set you apart.
4 Ways to Waste Great Marketing Opportunities
February 28, 2014
CRM has always purported to be about relationships, but it's often used primarily for sales. That's kind of a good news, bad news situation. The bad news first: CRM got a bad rap when it didn't become a sales panacea (mostly for adoption issues). The good news: It exposed a void in the mix that marketing automation rushed to fill. The key to successful relationships is communication.
The Travel Battle Rages On: May the Most Relevant Brand Win
February 25, 2014
The travel industry will increase 41 percent by 2016, making it worth $143 billion. With that much revenue on the line, booking sites are taking significant steps to ensure that they get their piece of the traveler pie. Brands no longer can offer experiences that are irrelevant to the end-user. Travel has become a user-centric industry, and the brand that serves up the most relevant content wins.

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