INSIDE EVERY ISSUE
Art of the Customer Experience
Contextual Customer Interactions Improve Personalization and Performance
Customer call centers have always strived to know who their callers were and why they were calling. That kind of information not only makes for more efficient call handling, but also makes customers more comfortable because their needs are quickly understood. In the old days, the technology relied on simple capabilities like caller ID to identify customers from the phone numbers they were calling from, as well as by simple IVR applications that asked callers to enter basic identifying information from a voice menu.
What's in an 'S' ?
Money makes the world go 'round, or so the saying goes, unless you grew up in the '60s, in which case, it's love, not money. Neither is true. Communication is what makes it all work. Fortunately, we have a tremendous amount of new technology that makes it easy for us to communicate quickly and effectively - welcome to the digital age.
Voice of the Customer
A Faster Horse?
How often have you heard the old chestnut that if Henry Ford asked a focus group what they would like, they'd tell him a faster horse? Last month, this column discussed customer research - types of research, benefits and where they can be valuable when designing customer contact channels, strategies and applications. Some of the feedback on the article was that customer research often stifles innovation.
What's New in Call Center Testing and CRM
One of the challenges call center managers have is testing their systems when deploying new solutions or modifying existing ones. As the most crucial link to many customer interactions, the contact center can play a pivotal role in keeping customers happy, continuing to recommend a company and keeping them coming back for more.
Dynamic ITEXPO Panel Offers Salient Tips on Social Media Strategy
Companies on social media should always be business-appropriate but should not be afraid to take the conversation away from all business and open the conversation to discussions about life, family and personal interests, suggested Smith, adding that nobody wants to talk business all of the time. He calls this approach business casual.
NSA's PRISM not Distorting the Future of Cloud Computing
Think about it: when did you last pick up a physical map or phone book? If you don't have young kids, how long has it been since you played a board game? (But I bet you've played Candy Crush or Angry Birds.) Do you get still have a physical newspaper or TV Guide delivered to your home? (Yes, there are many who do, but that number is significantly smaller than it was pre-iPhone).
Consumer Protection, Do Not Call & Automatic Dialers
As of August 2012, TCPA filing increased 54 percent from the prior year, according to insideARM.com. And a Bloomberg Law piece by James G. Snell and Carlos P. Mino titled "Telephone Consumer Protection Cases Are on the Rise," says: "Originally, the TCPA was viewed as a statute that could be enforced through small claims actions. However, it has been used by plaintiffs to assert class actions, and the courts and the FCC have in some instances interpreted broadly the prohibitions under the TCPA. Courts and regulators are also grappling with the application of the TCPA to technologies developed after the Act was passed."
MightyHive Achieves Contact Center and Web Ad Integration
The contact center is a billion dollar channel but has yet to exploit its true potential. Contact center data can now drive demand through another channel, online. To drive brand and business equity today, marketers must leverage consumer insights to create seamless experiences across channels where each interaction, regardless of channel, is relevant and consistent to lead consumers along the path to purchase.
Art of Customer Service
Is Your Contact Center Ready For All Mobile Customer Interactions?
As all forms of person-to-person and process-to-person contacts converge under BYOD for multi-modal, mobile devices to accommodate the dynamic needs of mobile customers, it is getting more difficult to quantify business communications infrastructure requirements for any organization. That is why there is such a big interest in migrating to cloud-based, hosted and managed services, rather than investing in a traditional, premises-based telephony system that works with the wired PSTN. This is, however, an evolutionary transition for most organizations that have existing legacy PBX and desktop technologies that still work for customer interactions and contact center operations.
Voice of the Customer
Demystifying Customer Research
When asked, most companies admit that they don't spend enough time on user research when developing new customer applications or revamping existing apps. Often they are confused about types and purpose of research, and when to use tools like use cases, personas, focus groups and more.
Aspect Buys Voxeo, Rounds Out Its Cloud and Multichannel Capabilities
Customer service used to be relatively simple - when customers had a question or problem, they called a call center. But technology has evolved, so have the customers, quickly taking hold of mobile, social, and multichannel communications capabilities in their daily lives, extending those expectations to their customer service demands. No longer is a simple call center enough to deliver a valuable customer experience. The game has changed, and the ability to integrate mobility, multichannel capabilities, and self-service into the customer service environment has become an imperative.
Art of the Customer Experience
All Mobile Self-service Apps Need Customer Assistance
What has to happen with mobile self-service applications is that they must update traditional online application designs for mobile device use, as well as facilitate direct access to live assistance to mobile users with their choice of contact mode from within the mobile application. That would eliminate the need to have a customer leave the app to always dial a toll-free number and go to a waiting queue.
Voice of the Customer
Overcoming Survey Fatigue: Five Ways to Get Customers to Respond
Customers love to be listened to, but they hate surveys. This is a common problem that both B2B and B2C businesses face. To grow our businesses we need to satisfy customers. To gauge satisfaction and improve processes and policies, we need to understand what customers want. And we need to know how well we are meeting their expectations.
The words in the headline above once served as the ad slogan for Apple, which of course changed the tech world as we know it. This slogan came to mind as I started writing this piece, which will discuss two disruptive customer-related concepts, both of which have been introduced by gents named Matt.
How Apple Lost Control of Its Branding
Sure, there are some exceptions, like adding an S after some of the iPhone iterations. That doesn't seem to make much sense. But perhaps the worse offense is the branding of the 3rd generation iPad. Instead of calling it the iPad 3, it was called The New iPad.
Analyzing Data to Enable Real-time Response: How It Can Elevate, Differentiate the Customer Experience
Customer research traditionally has been about influencing strategy, a longer-term type of effort; meanwhile, CRM is typically more operational and tends to focus on serving specific customers, says Andrew McInnes, director of product marketing at Allegiance. Recognizing that customer research was not delivering the results it could, companies began working to provide businesses with tools that allow them to do some CRM-like activities and to quickly leverage data to do customer inventions when needed.
eCommerce: Completing the Customer Experience
Without question, the evolution of social media and the emergence of mobile devices as a de facto standard for communications have played a major role in how customers interact with their vendors, and it has created a massive disruption in the way businesses must market, sell, deliver, and service their customers. All of these topics will be heavily debated and discussed at ITEXPO Las Vegas.
Ask the Expert
Customer Experience, Trends, and Staff Planning
If you were to ask a vice president of customer care the metric they think is most important, my bet is they would respond with customer satisfaction score. After that, all other contact center metrics we use to measure service are essentially proxies for these most-important-of-all contact center scores.
Art of the Customer Experience
Look To Cloud Services for Mobile Customer Needs
As I have frequently suggested, migrating to UC capabilities doesn't mean dumping your old telephone systems and call center setups, when they still are functional. However, implementing new, complementary capabilities for your growing mobile customers is a hole that you can start to fill with new technologies. The challenge, of course, is that the technology is still evolving and your IT staff has little or no experience with the new stuff.
Voice of the Customer
Five Ways to Rev up Your Customer Experience
How companies deal with a problem can make or break a relationship. Evaluate how successful you are at managing failure by tracking customer behavior after customers have an issue with your company. Do they run for the hills, or do they buy again? Does their purchasing fall off, indicating that maybe they're buying from your competition? Do you receive angry e-mails, or are they Tweeting about the failure?
Avoid Getting Bit by the Summer Bug; Meet Generation C
Organizations may also want to consider calling on home-based agents to fill staffing gaps. Venkat notes that such workers, who sometimes require more flexibility in scheduling, can easily be worked into the mix by WFM software. These systems can also enable remote agents to access the schedule to see when the contact center is overstaffed or understaffed going forward so they can think about when best to plan vacations or when to communicate their availability for a particular work opportunity.
NextPrinciples Looks to Simplify Social Customer Interactions
Love it or hate it, social media has to be embraced by companies that are interested in communicating with their customers where they spend an increasing amount of their time. Yet scaling social media interactions is truly challenging. A company called NextPrinciples is looking to simplify the complexity of integrating social into your company with its Insight-To-Action Platform.
ART OF THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Unified Customer Services for the New Generation of Digital And Mobile Consumers
It's taken a while, but we are finally seeing unified communications finally taking over customer interactions in a big way. This applies not only to just large organizations, but also to any size organization in every type of market segment.
Voice of the Customer
Measuring Multi-channel Success for the C-suite
Last month we talked about conquering channel chaos. This month, we'll discuss one of the next challenges - how to measure success. One of the biggest struggles multi-channel managers report is demonstrating results to executives. Many are comfortable with all the operational measures of the contact center, but not the measures that are important to the C-suite. These measures are strategic and customer centric - and they make a difference in how the business operates.
FTC Addresses Mobile, Social with Truth-in-Advertising Guidelines
While these are guidelines, and don't have the force of law, they do give provide some important insight on what the FTC rightly sees as some key challenges related to mobile and social devices and services as they relate to advertising. And it lays out both general guidelines and offers some very specific examples of what it sees as permissible and what might become problematic.
Interactive Intelligence Revisits Its Small Call Center Roots
In a recent meeting, Joe Staples, CMO and senior vice president of marketing at Interactive Intelligence, told me the company has successfully acted upon its growth strategy from 2006, which was designed to increase its sales to large companies such as BMW, Crutchfield, Honda, Rolex, Sony, and many others. Its average deal size in 2005 was $87,000 and in 2012 it was $306,000 with its number of deals over $1 million increasing from just one to 49 on a comparative basis over these seven years.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Using a Multichannel Strategy to Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience
It's a dilemma in call centers everywhere. How do you provide a superior customer experience, and still keep costs under control? Customer satisfaction metrics such as Net Promoter Score can help, although a more telling metric is the call deflection rate and moving customers to low-cost channels. Here are 10 objectives that, working together, can help your call center create a cost-effective multichannel engagement and improve the customer relationship lifecycle.
Social Disclosure: Is the FTC Serious?
I remember when, back in 2009, I had to let all the people who write or blog for TMC know about the FTC then-new rules regarding disclosure of paid reviews and the nature of product results compared to the norm. (I was in Arizona for AstriCon at the time.) I also remember the response from some of the blogosphere about how insane that was.
Ask the Experts
Deriving Value from Skills-Based Routing: A Guide to Implementing Skills-Based Routing Effectively
Justifying a technology investment in a contact center comes down to understanding the solution's applicability and how it can benefit agents, customers, and the business as a whole. Skills-based routing can lend to better business performance by improving agent performance and the customer experience, particularly when routing plans are implemented wisely and maximized by best practices.
Taking the Customer Experience Mobile
People are increasingly on the move. And they want to be able to conduct business and manage their personal lives from wherever they are and whenever they have a free moment to do so. As a result, businesses are catering to the new mobile lifestyle. At the same time, businesses are enabling their own employees to leverage the flexibility and real-time responsiveness that mobile can help deliver.
Giving Customers Control & New Ways to Leverage Big Data
In yet another sign that customers are increasingly taking the reins of their communications experiences, several companies in the recent months have unveiled new self-help solutions.
So, as you probably already are aware, organizations are learning how to contend with the big (data) so they can better reach the small (individual). However, as you probably also are aware, it's very early days for this kind of personalized marketing, although a select few companies (namely Amazon) have been doing it for a few years and I've been hearing about data mining for nearly two decades.
Using IP and UC in Virtual Environments to Improve Productivity
The economy continues to be a major concern. Housing is coming back and the stock market has seen a resurgence but, overall, the recovery still appears to be on hold or very weak at best. A bright spot, however, is that companies are being driven to focus on improving productivity by using the latest tools and automation. Philips Electronics NV even moved some manufacturing back to Europe from China by building an automated facility that requires few employees because the processes are almost entirely done by robots. It's is a great example of how increased productivity can be used to compete on a global level, regardless of labor costs.
TMC Remembers InfoCision's Gary Taylor
Taylor and his wife started Akron-based InfoCision in 1982 and built it into what is today a top-tier telephone marketing company. Today, InfoCision employs more than 4,200 people in 42 call centers throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada. InfoCision raises more money for non-profit organizations over the phone than any other company in the world, and is a leading call center provider for Fortune 100 companies.
Ask the Experts
Improving Your Customer Strategy with Workforce Optimization
Workforce optimization isn't entirely new to the contact center industry. Yet many centers are still trying to figure out what technologies they need for a WFO solution, and exactly how a WFO approach fits in to their customer service strategies. These same contact centers also want to know what the true benefits of WFO are. The questions about WFO and its value are reasonable ones to ask, and in their Q&A-based whitepaper on the topic, two industry authorities answer them.
Backup DNS, The New Yellow Pages Scam
If you have ever registered a domain name you have no doubt been solicited by a number of companies you never heard of trying to renew your domain name. Lately I have noticed this trend has died down - no doubt because customers have wised up and realize if they registered with Network Solutions, GoDaddy or 1&1 then they should pay that company only.
WebRTC: Bridging the Gap Between Contact Centers & Websites
The vast majority of people who contact a business start out by visiting the company's website. Wouldn't it be great if we could enable a more seamless experience between website and contact center -- and even collect information from the individual's website visit so we can identify the person and track his or her behavior on the website, presenting that information on to the contact center agent?
SAP: Supercharging Mobile Customer Relationships
While the general consumer swoons over the latest device whether it is a tablet, smartphone or even phablet, the serious work often gets done when smart devices hook into the backend systems that corporations use to control everything from manufacturing to CRM and human resources. The reality is there are great gadgets and apps we hear about all the time, but when it comes to the things that make companies more competitive and profitable, we often don't get to see the ink and electrons devoted to them.
Ear to the Ground
It's been about half a year since we launched CUSTOMER magazine, which continues TMC on its 30-year journey of covering the customer service space.
Ask the Expert
Beginner's Guide to Data Security and Information Security Compliance & Audits
In virtually any regulated industry, compliance is at once a legal requirement, a risk management strategy, and an ethical imperative. Healthcare, insurance, finance, and especially accounts receivable management, compliance is a full-time concern. Or at least it should be. If you are a third-party collector for a creditor, for example, chances are good that, at some point, you'll be audited for recovery performance as well as compliance practices. Moreover, in this era of consumer lawsuits, no company that deals with consumers on a regular basis can be effective if it isn't fully cognizant of compliance issues.
Make Technology Work for - Not Against - You
The cover story of this issue's magazine talks about online holiday shopping, how successful it was in 2012, and what can be done to make it even better in the future.
On the Cover
Taking Account of the Holiday Shopping Season
Online shopping for the 2012 holiday season set new records. As of Nov. 28, online holiday sales had reached $16.4 billion, a 16 percent increase from spending during the same period in 2011.
Can WebRTC Change the Customer Experience?
The holiday period is unlike any other - the food, the social gatherings, the traditions, the TV specials and seasonal radio stations, the lights, and of course, the presents. But before any gifts can be wrapped, given and opened, they much be purchased, which means a visit to a store, either physical or virtual.
Acme Packet is Getting Ready for WebRTC's Second Wave
At the inaugural WebRTC Conference & Expo last month in San Francisco, much of the crowd was focused on demos of WebRTC working in a production environment. One example at a luncheon keynote Mozilla showed how WebRTC communications could take place between two browsers on the same laptop.
How One Luxury Retailer is Catering to Customer Interests
Barneys, one of the biggest names in luxury retail, recently unveiled an entirely redesigned website. The effort aims to build brand and enable social communications in a way that, while not targeted at individual shoppers, speaks to the specific interests of the store's clientele.
Fundraising: The Value of the Donor
The recent devastation left behind in the Northeast by Hurricane Sandy has resulted in countless aid campaigns to help victims of this unfortunate event. All those that have helped in the relief efforts should be praised for their donations of goods, money, and time. But, year-round, similar aid efforts are put into action for any number of causes, from medical research to educational services to children's charities and much more. Why? Because such campaigns are successful in aiding their respective causes.
Banks, the Latest Threat to Groupon and LivingSocial
If there is one constant these days it is that your competitors tomorrow are going to come from the most unlikely of places. Apple came from nowhere to unseat RIM and Nokia in mobile phones, Amazon is becoming a major force in tablets, Google's Chrome and Android products have made it a major force in software and operating systems.
Your Customers Aren't Stupid
One of the things you notice about businesses very quickly is their perception of their customers. It shows in the way they interact with customers, and it shows in the way they approach technology. It may seem intuitive, but it bears noting that businesses that spend on technology have a more professional and respectful approach to customers.
As a new manager many years ago, I asked a former supervisor how I could motivate employees that didn't seem to be on fire for telecom journalism. Her answer, if recall correctly, was: You can't.
Does Your Provider Care About Customer Care?
We talk a lot about user expectations and what vendors must do to meet those expectations. In one short explanation, that's the crux of CUSTOMER magazine.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
Let's play a game. It's called free association. I'll throw out a word, and then you say the first thing that word brings to mind.
Riding Social Media's Transformational Wave
Social Dynamx says it offers the industry's first purpose-built social customer care platform with scale in mind. The solution is aimed at large enterprises and customer contact centers that want to identify, prioritize and manage millions of one-to-one social conversations in real time. I recently spoke to Jan Ryan, cofounder and president of Social Dynamx about the Austin, Texas-based company, and the evolution and direction of social customer care.
CUSTOMER Takes Center Stage
In last month's edition of her Logout (in the final issue of Customer Interaction Solutions), Paula Bernier concluded that, above all, "customer experience needs to be front and center," when it comes to building a successful business. It's not a new notion, but it is one that has never held more truth.
Target. Engage. Deliver.
The rise of social media and the smartphone boom have put more control into the hands of consumers. That has shaken things up significantly at retailers and, indeed, at businesses of all stripes.
Five Crucial Points in Serving Customers Today
Recently I went to Best Buy to make a purchase of a few items - some of which I didn't need right away. The thought of paying full retail for products I didn't need right away didn't sit well with me, but I realized I was in a store and perhaps there would be some flexibility.
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