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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.
The Customer Experience Jury Is In
February 21, 2014
There are lots of purchases we make because we're forced to make them -- something we need breaks, or an outside entity requires us to buy something. We're not buying because we want to, or even because the purchase will make our business run better -- we have to buy. A lot of providers of these absolute must-have products and services don't emphasize the experience aspect of what they do.
PCI 3.0, Part 1: Breathe, Relax, Get Compliant
February 18, 2014
Aimed at improving the security of payment card data and reducing fraud, PCI DSS 3.0 standard, which took effect on Jan. 1, introduces changes that extend across all 12 requirements. It no doubt will mean some shakeups for many organizations. However, transitioning to meet the new requirements will help e-businesses build a stronger, safer, lower-risk environment.
Looking for Customer Love in All the Right Places
February 07, 2014
If you're a vendor, the idea of providing visibility is a winning notion. It's what's driven social CRM-related software tools and analytics to their current prominence within the market, and it's why the "Internet of Things" is so alluring. The problem that these technologies purportedly solve is a lack of visibility -- that is, the inability to understand what's going on with customers.
An SMB's Guide to PCI 3.0 Penetration Testing
February 04, 2014
By now, if you're an IT professional and you're in an organization that has PCI-DSS in your scope -- that is, you store, process or transmit credit card data -- you probably already know that an update to the standard, Version 3.0, was released late last year. With this update come a few changes to the technical measures that organizations handling credit card information must implement.
Give Customers a Buying Experience They Can't Resist
January 31, 2014
When people talk about the customer experience, the thinking gets lofty quickly. The word "delight" is dropped a lot, people cite things like the American Girl Store or Nordstrom -- and soon over-the-top seems like what the norm should be. The experiences provided by the very best at creating experiences are great because they fit their product, their customers, and the objectives of both groups.
4 Processes for Turning Customer Ire Into Loyalty
January 24, 2014
If you're in business, you're going to face a customer relationship issue that's your fault. It happens. We're human -- and though we may strive for perfection, the best we can do is get close to that goal. When your business errs, the first people who are likely to hear it are your customer service reps. Customer service reps end up apologizing a lot in these situations.
Cloud Powers the Internet of Things
January 18, 2014
The Internet of Things is a key driver of accelerated growth of cloud-based alternatives to traditional on-premises systems and software, and as the new year begins to unfold, it is gaining momentum. The idea of the IoT evolved from the more narrowly focused concept of machine-to-machine communications, which has been floating around for a while and is now getting more attention.
Winning the CRM Race
January 17, 2014
"Customers do not want a relationship with your business, they want the benefits a relationship can offer to them." Mitch Lieberman, managing partner at DRI and an all-around bright thinker, first said this around 2009. He wasn't trying to smash anyone's illusions about the value of CRM. He was trying to reset business' thinking back to reality about the nature of buyer-seller relationships.
The Year of...
January 15, 2014
There are some good reasons to consider platform's primacy in our thinking. Platform makes sense from both vendor and customer perspectives. For vendors, platform rebuilds the walled gardens that were prevalent back when compilers and databases drove things. For customers, platforms and their ecosystem partners offer a reasonably robust environment for doing most of their business processing.
Accenture Tapped to Doctor HealthCare.gov
January 13, 2014
The raft of problems connected to the launch of HealthCare.gov appears to have sunk the fortunes of the private contractor paid for running the site. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, charged with overseeing the health insurance marketplace, has awarded Accenture Federal Services a one-year contract for $45 million to implement technical improvements to the site.
CRM's Collaboration Conundrum
January 07, 2014
CRM has gained significant attention and adoption among businesses eager to enhance their processes for building and maintaining customer relationships, thanks to industry visionaries such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft. However, there's a major element of effective sales strategy that CRM systems neglect to address: collaboration. True collaboration requires more than data.

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