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Selling Imagination in the IoT Era
May 19, 2016
If you love studying technology trends and imagining what they will do for your business, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you have a vision of how things will be, while many of those you need to partner with to achieve that vision still are trying to master the reality of today. Congratulations -- you have a combination of curiosity, prescience and nerdiness that will serve you well.
Microsoft, SAP Deepen Partnership to Blend Cloud Offerings
May 18, 2016
Microsoft and SAP have announced plans to integrate their respective cloud-based systems, allowing the SAP HANA database to work with Microsoft Azure, which will enable Office 365 to communicate directly with SAP enterprise apps. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and SAP CEO Bill McDermott sat down before a packed audience at Sapphire Now and outlined how the enhanced partnership will benefit customers.
Marketing and Loyalty
May 17, 2016
The CRM industry is shining a bright light on digital marketing, and it is a sign of how early we are in the digital marketing boom that few vendors are championing the idea of using marketing in any way other than for driving sales. Based on recent events by Oracle and Salesforce, it appears that the focus on driving more sales makes perfect sense for organizations just getting their feet wet.
The Why of Customers
May 13, 2016
SAS Institute introduced SAS Customer Intelligence 360 at its recent Global Forum meeting. Intelligence 360 has some good ideas baked in, though some of the messaging I heard wasn't up to the level of the product or at least its intention. I suspect that will come, and it's an easy fix. The product set is divided into two major components, Discover and Engage.
Warehouse Clubs Ignore Customer Relationships at Their Peril
May 13, 2016
Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's. I've criticized them several times over the years, but it's worth noting that some of these clubs have been improving. Others not so much. I have some ideas about what these companies are doing right and wrong, and how they can fix things to improve customer relationships, sales and profits.
GetHuman Hacks Through Customer Service Maze for a Fee
May 9, 2016
GetHuman last week launched a service designed to help consumers with the tangle of customer service. For between $5 and $25, one of the eight-person company's five dedicated problem solvers, aided by bots, will call a customer service line on a client's behalf to sort things out. GetHuman also offers a company phone directory service.
Oracle Plunks Down $532M for Customer Engagement Firm Opower
May 3, 2016
Oracle on Monday announced that it has agreed to acquire Opower for $532 million in cash. More than 100 global utilities, including PG&E, Exelon and National Grid, use Opower's customer engagement and energy efficiency cloud services, Oracle said. Opower's big data platform stores and analyzes more than 600 billion meter reads from 60 million end customers of utilities.
The Customer Experience Tipping Point
May 2, 2016
Sometimes, it takes something drastic to change a business' behavior. Standard procedures can remain in place long after they've become detrimental, but sometimes it takes a tipping point to drive home the fact that failing to change is the surest way to fail. For example, the Ford Pinto's easily ruptured fuel tank could have been remedied with changes that ranged in price from $11 to $1.
The Successful B2B Relationship: It's About Time
April 25, 2016
Respect is a vital ingredient in any mutually beneficial relationship, and that's never truer than in the case of business-to-business buyers and sellers. The most elementary way a seller shows a commitment to a healthy customer relationship is through an ongoing display of respect. That means a relationship in which the seller shows an understanding of the buyer's needs.
Hospitalized Stossel Bemoans Sorry State of Healthcare Customer Service
April 22, 2016
Fox News journalist John Stossel, who recently underwent an operation for lung cancer, on Wednesday wrote that although New York-Presbyterian Hospital's medical care is excellent, "the hospital's customer service stinks." Doctors "keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say 'I'm running late,'" Stossel said. He doubted all the tests he was given were needed.
Fusion Launches Enterprise Cloud Contact Center Solution
April 21, 2016
Fusion this week launched Contact360, an enterprise cloud contact center solution developed in collaboration with Technology for Business, the partner it acquired earlier this month. "Fusion will be offering a clear migration path to the cloud for TFB's Fortune 500 enterprise and government customers, and will sell into our own base of 13,000 business customers," said EVP Jan Sarro.
Crafting an Online Strategy, Part 3: How to Get Paid for Your Wares
April 21, 2016
If you're just starting to sell your crafts or other handmade items online, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is how to accept customer payments. There are a variety of choices for payment processing, and many crafters use several. The methods you choose will depend on the needs of your business and your customers. One of the most common payment methods for small businesses is PayPal.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
Study: Enterprises Shift Analytics Focus to Back Office
March 30, 2016
Companies have shifted their analytics efforts from consumer-focused processes to operations, according to the results of a survey released last week by Capgemini. Seventy percent of 600 executives said they focused more on operational analysis, and more than 80 percent said analytics in operations plays a pivotal role in driving profits or creating competitive advantage, according to the survey.
Amazon Power User Excommunicated
March 23, 2016
Amazon has carved another notch in its belt, adding one more customer to what it has called a "tiny fraction of cases" of people who make too many returns. The company banned Greg Nelson, a computer programmer, from shopping at the site because he returned 37 of 343 items purchased, according to a report last week. The returned products were damaged, faulty or not as described, Nelson asserted.
Comcast Seeks Customers' Good Graces Through Amazon Sales
March 22, 2016
Comcast on Monday announced that it would begin selling its Xfinity TV, phone and Internet services through Amazon. The services debuted on the new Amazon Cable Store Web page, which promises to help customers choose a cable TV plan. All of the plans offered include high-definition and DVR services, along with more than 30 Xfinity products and services.
A Future Without Work?
March 17, 2016
Periodically, a blatantly silly idea gains currency, spreading throughout society, and it has one of two effects: Either it scares the heck out of people, or they become enraptured with its seeming plausibility. Last week, The New York Times published a piece set as a dialog between two economics writers, titled, "A Future Without Jobs?" I thought it fell into the silly category.
IDC Offers Insurance Companies New CRM Vision
March 16, 2016
IDC Health Insights on Monday outlined best practices for customer engagement strategies to help health insurance companies adopt a semiretail approach to interacting with members or patients. Health insurers need an integrated customer engagement strategy enabling automated interactions, shared communications, and appropriate transaction and information transparency, IDC said.
LiveOps Launches Contact Center as a Service Platform
March 10, 2016
LiveOps Cloud on Tuesday unveiled its enterprise-level CxEngage Contact Center as a Service, or CCaaS, platform. The omnichannel open framework, which was built from the ground up, integrates with standard APIs. It essentially links applications such as CRM, workforce management and business intelligence to help agents make better customer service decisions, according to the company.
Through the CRM Lens
March 9, 2016
This is delicate and I will be scrupulously neutral in these paragraphs so as to offend no one, but I thought it would be fun to attempt an interpretation of the current political climate from the perspective and sensibilities of CRM. It will be different from any other analysis you might have come across because I do not wish to discuss candidates. I am all about the customer.
Generation Customer: Defined by Attitude, Not Age
March 7, 2016
I hate the idea of chopping our population into generations: the Greatest Generation, the baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, millennials and so on. The assumption is that everyone born during an arbitrarily selected time period shares certain traits. It also results in people projecting ideas -- often romantic ones -- onto huge groups of people.
Apple Geniuses Flock to Twitter
March 4, 2016
Apple on Thursday launched a Twitter channel to field support questions from users of its products, as well as to offer them tricks and tips. By Friday, the @AppleSupport account had 134,000 followers and had sent more than 3,000 tweets. Some of the tweets came from customers whose tech issues had been resolved. "I'm 99% sure my #iphone6s was just fixed from the cloud," Kate Cleveland wrote.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Mining the Customer Base
February 24, 2016
One of the biases inherent in CRM is its orientation toward new business. This might sound strange to most people, but really, I think of it as the startup echo chamber. It's a bias in part because CRM was invented by new companies for new companies. However, the "C" part, customer, involves more than simply acquiring new ones, especially for established companies.
Twitter Puts Some Eggs in Customer Service Basket
February 22, 2016
Twitter last week announced two tools designed to help businesses improve their customer service capabilities. One product would allow users to move from sending companies tweets to using Direct Messages, according to product manager Ian Cairns. Companies will be able to embed on their sites a Direct Messages link that would allow customers to send information directly.
CRM and GDP
February 17, 2016
I was gobsmacked when I read this in Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War: "Electric light, the first reliable internal combustion engine, and wireless transmission ... were all invented within the same three-month period at the end of 1879." It's a book full of surprises emanating from an analysis of major inflection points.
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