INSIDE EVERY ISSUE

PERSPECTIVE

Taking It to the Bank: Vidyo Expands Efforts in the Financial Vertical
Recently Vidyo has been focusing more on banking solutions, as research has shown the timing is good. In fact, 90 percent of banking industry respondents expect video collaboration to positively impact customer satisfaction, and 80 percent are planning on deploying a video collaboration tool in the near future. - 07/06/2017

CONTENT BOOST

Within Reason, Be Where Your Customers Are: Social Media
Here, I will give more attention to this important aspect of customer engagement, as social media has become ubiquitous in society and, more and more, in business. - 07/06/2017

ANGLE

AI, CX, Emotional Intelligence & Love
Customer service has traditionally been a dirty word (words?) both within businesses and outside of them. That's started to change somewhat in recent years as more organizations begin to understand that customer service can in fact be a differentiator and customer hook, rather than just a cost center. - 07/06/2017

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER

If You Build It...
Given the explosion of channels available to consumers, you'd think that we'd see a dramatic reduction in more traditional channels over the past few years. We have not. - 07/06/2017

EXPERIENCE

Artificial Intelligence Marks the Genesys of Knowledge Entrepreneurs
How can we leverage technology to create the best imaginable customer experience? After all, along with marvelous advancements in engagement technology, the current generation of customers has also brought with it an unprecedented lack of tolerance for poor customer service. - 07/06/2017

Experience

Social Media is More Than Making Bird Noises
Social media has become as much of a resource as any other media platform. The stats vary from report to report, but it's safe to say that a significant number of social media users leverage those platforms to make purchasing decisions. When you consider only the millennial generation, which has now become part of the wage-earning community with purchasing and decision-making power, the folks in this demographic often view social media as the sole purchasing influencer. - 03/06/2017

Voice of the Customer

What You Can Learn from a Software Developer
I've talked often about customer lifecycles and customer journeys in this column. They help us understand the experience of doing business with an organization from a customer's perspective. Use cases, on the other hand, shed light on the inner workings of customer service. - 03/06/2017

Content Boost

Want to Convert More Leads? Use Marketing Automation to Personalize Messaging
To grow your business, what you need is conversions, not simply traffic. Completed calls to action beat out number of visitors to your website any day when it comes to creating more leads and, ultimately, sales. - 03/06/2017

Perspective

What's Next in Contact Center and Marketing Automation
I wanted to highlight a recent solution that leverages automation and intelligence to make the contact center more responsive. I also would like to use this space to tell you about what TMC, the parent company of CUSTOMER magazine, is doing to help readers improve their strategies on the marketing front. - 03/06/2017

Angle

Report: Millennials are Media-Hungry, Multicultural, Opinionated & Loyal
A new report from Buzz Marketing Group offers detailed insight into the media consumption habits, news sources, opinions, and preferences of millennials today. It concludes that millennials are a diverse and opinionated bunch that consume media "at an astounding rate," and that brands whose advertising and social campaigns cater to multicultural audiences will have the most success with this group. - 03/06/2017

Voice of the Customer

Please Don't Take My Self-Service Away
About a month ago, after finishing my grocery shopping, I headed to the self-checkout lanes as I usually do. But they were cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape. I'm one of those people who generally prefers helping myself. Why waste time chatting with a cashier and watching someone bag your groceries when you can zip through by yourself (especially on those days when you're feeling like Oscar the Grouch). - 10/28/2016

Content Boost

Enrich the Customer Experience with Text Messaging
People respond faster to a text message than they do to voicemail or email. It's a trend that has emerged in our fantastically digital age and can be used to boost your bottom line. In fact, SMS text messages have an open rate of 98 percent, which no other marketing tool comes close to matching. Relegated to a lesser status nowadays is the telephone, and even email, which is reported to have a much lower open rate of 22 percent. Combine SMS with the 4.5 billion mobile users in the world, and you have a powerful way for businesses to connect with their customers. - 10/28/2016

Perspective

Tech Culture Will Separate Winners from Losers in the Digital Economy
The outlook for tech workers has perhaps never been brighter as top tech companies look to expand their footprints and bet on moonshot projects while traditional companies innovate through tech, in some cases disrupting themselves. - 10/28/2016

Angle

Genesys Purchases Interactive Intelligence, KKR Buys Calabrio
Last month in this space I talked about how it had been a busy few months for acquisitions in the customer experience arena. Since then we've seen even more M&A. - 10/28/2016

APIs Making Customer Engagement Easier than Ever
When Ytel recently launched it message360° API that would allow the integration of voice, text, email, and even direct main communication into any Web-based applications, it did so with the intent of not only increasing opportunities for its customer but, frankly, to also make its own developers' lives easier. - 10/21/2016

Experience

APIs: Making Customer Engagement Easier than Ever
When Ytel recently launched its message360° API that would allow the integration of voice, text, email, and even direct main communication into any web-based applications, it did so with the intent of not only increasing opportunities for its customers but, frankly, to also make its own developers' lives easier. - 08/25/2016

Voice of the Customer

Customer Lifecycles and Customer Journeys
Everyone talks about customer journeys as critical to understanding and designing the customer experience. I can't argue with this; I've been talking about looking at experiences from your customers' perspective for years. But often, we look at journeys in a vacuum: Do we understand the impetus for the contact, the customer's mindset, or any previous experience the customer brings to the journey? - 08/25/2016

Content Boost

Pump Up Post-Sale Interactions or Risk Losing Customers
Post-sale interactions are an important aspect of the customer experience with your brand. How would you rate your dealings with customers once they've received your products or services? Ask yourself whether you would appreciate similar handling following the delivery of your B2B acquisitions. Unless you are in the minority of companies, your post-sale performance is likely not making brand evangelists out of your customers. - 08/25/2016

Perspective

Stitch Labs Adds Flexibility to Omnichannel Commerce
As the number of sales channels explodes, companies look to automation to help manage inventory. From Amazon to an internal ecommerce site and brick and mortar, companies need a way to sync inventory, orders, and data. - 08/25/2016

Angle

CX M&A Ramps Up
It's been a busy few months for acquisitions in and by companies in the customer experience arena. - 08/25/2016

Briefs

Analytics Trend Prompts New Partnerships
Analytics is hot, and it's being use for everything from predicting when prospects are prime to make a purchase to when customers are likely to jump ship. Indeed, Gartner believes predictive and prescriptive analytics will attract 40 percent of enterprises' net network investment in analytics and business intelligence by the year 2000. Interest in analytics has led to at least a handful of acquisitions and partnerships in the customer care arena. - 07/28/2016

Perspective

SYSTRAN Introduces Cloud-Based API for Multilingual App Development
SYSTRAN has a new cloud-based API for multilingual app development. This follows up on news in January that the company signed a license agreement with Kingsoft, China's largest office software company. (If you're interested in learning more about APIs read the piece below, and join TMC at All About The API July 18 through 21 in Las Vegas.) - 07/28/2016

Experience

Do You Have the Right Technologies to Personalize Customer Transactions?
A number of different technologies and services will go into personalizing the customer experience, and customer support organizations will have to build a network of them to provide the kind of one-of-a-kind experience customers expect. It will also require skillful use of big data, said Boukadakis. - 07/28/2016

Content Boost

Forge a Strong Social Media Presence With Quality Content
Today, successful brands must have a clear sense of self and the marketing savvy to communicate this vital essence in a way that resonates with consumers. Part of this marketing prowess must encompass expertise in creating a strong social media presence for your brand, an essential component for making a mark in the digital era. - 07/28/2016

Angle

You Have No Idea What You Want!
Explaining what we like, and what we will in fact choose are two very different things, said the executive director of the research and design collaborative that does human-centered design. But she took her point a step further, using her audience as guinea pigs to demonstrate her point. - 07/28/2016

Cover Story

Customer Service & the Internet of Things: How APIs, Speech Recognition Are Taking Things to the Next Level
Chatbots can help customers with a range of things - including presenting them news based on specified criteria, getting weight loss advice, and much more. They automate processes, and can be smart and poll users about what they want, and then can come back to them with those things. - 06/17/2016

Content Boost

How to Put a Dismal 1Q16 Behind You and End 2Q16 on a High Note
Take a look back over the past few months and try to pinpoint where your content marketing strategy may have gone awry. Often, you can attribute bumps in the road to poor planning. To help you avoid making the same mistakes this quarter as in the last, we'll take a look at the basic prerequisites of a successful marketing program. - 06/17/2016

Perspective

GupShup Powers Omnichannel Messaging
GupShup is a smart messaging platform that offers advanced developer tools for messaging - handling more than 4 billion messages per month. It enables developers to build bots for SMS, Twitter, Slack, WeChat, Teamchat, and messaging apps with a unified API. It also enables developers to embed smart messaging into their app or website for a seamlessly integrated user experience. More than 30,000 businesses use the solution, according to the company. I recently interviewed CEO Beerud Sheth about all of this as a lead-up to the All About the API conference, which will be held this July in Las Vegas. - 06/17/2016

Experience

Why Rich Media Proofing is the Key to Marketing Efficiency
Joe Staples, Workfront's CMO, believes Rich Media Proofing - which, while not yet officially launched, is part of the latest release of ProofHQ - will bring about a new era in project efficiency, one that truly embraces collaborative technology at its finest. - 06/17/2016

Angle

The Human Touch
Yet another company, Cloud4Wi, is leveraging retail Wi-Fi to help brands connect with shoppers in new ways. Cloud4Wi recently introduced the solution, which is aimed at malls, restaurants, and retailers that want to leverage their guest Wi-Fi infrastructure to deliver branded online experiences, support trigger-based campaigns, and gather customer data. - 06/17/2016

Briefs

News Bits
Supervisor Assist is a new live coaching solution from CafeX Communications that enables contact center supervisors to listen to, observe, and interact with agents in real time during customer calls directly from any web browser. That allows for faster and easier onboarding of new agents and enables organizations to provide ongoing mentoring for those agents, even in situations in which these workers are remotely located. And it works not just with voice, but also on the desktop. - 05/23/2016

Accolades

CUSTOMER, TMC Announce Outsourcing Award Winners
For more than three decades, CUSTOMER magazine has provided a list of customer service and business process outsourcers based on interaction volumes. This year is no different, and we proudly present the 31st annual Contact Center Outsourcing Awards. - 05/23/2016

Experience

How Mad Marketers are Shaping Influence
Yes, today's marketers are faced with a daunting task, but they have access to some of the most innovative and evolutionary technologies and strategies to help them on their journeys to meet the customer on level ground and solidify a brand relationship. These resources are your keys to keeping up with these trends and ensure you're adequately equipped to do battle against your brand competition. - 05/23/2016

Voice of the Customer

Getting the Most from Your Customer Experience Program
The bottom line is the hotel took good care of me. It had a policy that let me get a very late checkout given the circumstances, and they empowered employees to go above and beyond in terms of customer care. Yet, it missed the boat in having data available that would have added money to its coffers, and neglected to close the loop with me. - 05/23/2016

Perspective

VoiceBase Insights Unveils the Dawn of Big Voice
Twenty-five percent of people won't make a call on their cell phones this week, just another data point that reinforces the perception that voice is diminishing in value. In my numerous conversations with Jay Blazensky, co-founder and chief revenue officer of VoiceBase, I couldn't help but think of how this perception is totally misguided. Why? His company is where voice meets cloud and machine learning. More specifically, newly launched VoiceBase Insights is smart machine technology, allowing predictive insights into business or any other field in which voice or video is used. - 05/23/2016

Content Boost

What Jeb Taught Us: Don't Expect Applause if Your Message Isn't Compelling
It was painful to watch Jeb Bush beseeching his audience at a New Hampshire campaign rally to "please clap" following what he'd hoped would be a rousing speech. - 05/23/2016

Angle

Twitter Broadens Customer Service Play; Facebook to Bring Ads to Messenger
Also new from Twitter is a feature called Customer Feedback. It allows people to privately share their opinions with businesses following interactions with those organizations. This will help businesses with their voice of the customer efforts. The feature is available in Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score formats. - 05/23/2016

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER

In Our Drive to be Efficient, Are We Sacrificing Innovation?
Customer service and contact centers are increasingly viewed in the same light as manufacturing, and the move is on to squeeze more and more efficiency from them. As customer service professionals are measured on the smallest details of their day and driven to handle more and more contacts, we stifle their ability to think creatively. - 03/30/2016

Content Boost

How & Why You Want to Drive Retail Customers to Your Online Site
Some businesses waver in their commitment to point customers to their e-commerce websites. While this hesitance makes online sales pioneers scratch their heads, many of these irresolute businesses simply have yet to realize the enormous promise for increased revenue that exists in the e-commerce space. - 03/30/2016

ACCOLADES

TMC, CUSTOMER Announce 2016 MVP Quality Award Winners
Customer service has gained something of a negative perception and, in fact, overall customer satisfaction is struggling mightily in the U.S., with the American Customer Service Index reporting the lowest overall CSAT ratings since 2009. The low mark is the result of a steep decline in ratings over the past two years, after a many years of consistent improvement. Certainly, there are other economic factors involved, but the figures should send a message to customer service teams and organizations that their efforts are a key element in overall business success. - 03/30/2016

ANGLE

MaritzCX Helps Businesses Understand, Improve Their Customer Experience
Customer experience gets a lot of lip service, and even a good amount of investment and time, from companies these days. But few organizations have determined exactly what they can do on the customer experience front that is most likely to translate into the greatest returns for their businesses. So MaritzCX has created and recently introduced CXEvolution, a way for businesses to do that. - 03/30/2016

Perspective

Human Capital & The Importance of Company Culture
Tech workers such as developers and engineers would seem to have even greater flexibility, considering they are so keenly sought after both by companies in the tech space and by businesses in general as so many organizations undergo digital transformations in an effort to be more agile in our interconnected world. - 03/30/2016

Experience

Why Omnichannel Isn't Really Omnichannel
Of course, much of this is taking place in the cloud, in order to give customer service organizations and teams the flexibility they need to accommodate the needs of this fickle new breed of customer. But that's not really the big story - after all, everyone seems to be leveraging the cloud in some capacity by now. - 03/30/2016

Experience

Why Automation Isn't Replacing Live Agents
I was reading a recent study, Human Touch and the Customer Experience, conducted by Interactions, along with the Center for Research on the Information Society. The focus is on experiences with different customer service channels. - 01/21/2016

Accolades

TMC Presents the CUSTOMER Product of the Year Award Winners
CUSTOMER magazine and Technology Marketing Corp. are happy to announce the winners of our CUSTOMER Product of the Year awards. - 01/21/2016

Perspective

How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Ad-mageddon
More than 200 million global Internet users block ads, and in the U.S. alone this past year, the market has grown by 40 percent. Even more of an industry concern, Apple's iOS9 now permits ad blocking on around one billion devices! - 01/21/2016

The Everlasting Appeal of Classic Content Marketing Tactics
We all know the classic holiday tune "Let It Snow". I have fond memories of family sing-alongs to this song as a little girl. My, how the times have changed since this song was written back in 1945! - 01/21/2016

Angle

How to Stretch IT Resources
Most IT staffs have a lot on their plates these days. Not only do they have to address the day-to-day chores of maintaining their companies' networks and everything related to them, they now also have to contend with the bring-your-own-device trend, the increasingly uncertain security environment, the push and pull being created among departments due to the rise of the cloud, and the fact that digital transformation has put them at the epicenter of their companies' new strategic efforts. - 01/21/2016

Experience

Making Sense of Our Robocalling Menace
More than a decade after Congress passed the Do Not Call Act, the U.S. finds itself in the midst of a robocalling rampage. Americans received an estimated 683 million robocalls in October alone, but consumers have never had any definitive data available to grasp the extent of robocalling volumes, locations, or caller types - until now. - 12/29/2015

Voice of the Customer

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Searching for Medicare and Customer Experience
As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you are in a competitive industry, you must understand what potential customers experience in their important first encounter. - 12/29/2015

Content Boost

The One Thing You Need to Do to Achieve Content Marketing Success in 2016
I don't know about you but I am not a cold weather person. I'd much rather wear jean shorts and a tee year-round. Yet I can't deny that this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year for a few reasons: the merry holiday celebrations, great shopping deals and, of course, the annual reveal of the Content Marketing Institute's "Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America" report. - 12/29/2015

Perspective

Zultys Upgrades its Communications Software
Unified communications vendor Zultys has been hard at work coming up with a new release, and since it's been a while since I've had a chance to share what the company is up to, I reached out to interview Neil Lichtman, chairman and CEO of the company. He was gracious enough to share his views on a range of areas from the future of unified communications to the challenges facing channel partners. - 12/29/2015

Angle

Getting to Know Your Website Visitors
Most customer journeys these days begin on companies' websites. So it's more important than ever that businesses make the most of the time visitors are there. - 12/29/2015

Voice of the Customer

Are You Hearing the Real Voice of the Customer?
People may hate surveys, but they love to be listened to. Closing the loop will increase response rates and customer satisfaction. By building a culture of gathering feedback and responding to input you can increase customer satisfaction and profitability. - 12/14/2015

Perspective

Salesforce Continues to Expand Its Influence via Microsoft Skype for Business Collaboration
Microsoft and Salesforce are getting cozy. The two have decided to extend their strategic partnership to connect their productivity apps and services, with the end goal of more personalized, customer-driven sales activities, achieved through streamlined collaboration. - 12/14/2015

Content Boost

Don't Let Content Marketing Become Buried in the Year-End Rush
Spending quality time with loved ones, perhaps a peaceful snowfall and a rewarding cup of hot cocoa after sledding or shoveling: These are the reasons November and December are deemed the most wonderful time of the year. For marketers, however, there's another reason to cherish these months: Your budgets are likely earmarked, and you can now indulge in mapping out a comprehensive content marketing strategy. - 12/14/2015

Angle

CX: The Good and The Not-So-Great
Customer engagement and experience, and omnichannel remain prominent themes in business today. There are, of course, a wealth of tools available that aim to help organizations deliver on the promise of all the above. That's a good thing, because most businesses sure seem to need it. - 12/14/2015

Experience

Why Social Media is the Key to Your Marketing Strategy
When Facebook first launched back in 2004, nobody could have imagined it would grow to more than 1.5 billion active users today, driving the emergence of an entire social media industry. But, despite its massive growth, social media as a business tool remains segmented at best, and largely misunderstood. - 12/02/2015

Content Boost

Don't Let A Lack of Time Cripple Your Content Marketing Plans
If a magic genie were to approach a content marketer with the opportunity to grant three wishes, it's a safe bet that one of those wishes would be for more time. After all, today's marketers wear many hats - donning salesperson, customer service rep, and data analyst caps - often making it difficult to allocate enough time to properly develop, execute, and evaluate their content marketing strategies. - 10/26/2015

Experience

Why Call Centers Suck
Let me be clear, not all call centers suck. But, the headline above is a sentiment that has plagued the industry for a long time, and current models aren't helping. - 10/26/2015

Perspective

Splice Software, VoicePIN Leverage Voice Technology to Add Value
Big data and analytics have had a huge impact on numerous spaces and certainly marketing is one of these areas. Perhaps the first mainstream story describing the concept revolved around a retailer knowing a customer was pregnant before her family knew. The possibilities are certainly endless. - 10/26/2015

Angle

The Perfect Storm for Customer Churn (Or How to Give Better CX and Keep Afloat in the Competitive Marketplace)
Paula Bernier outlines her recent experience with - and customer service takeaway from - a massive Arizona blackout. - 10/26/2015

Angle

The Move to Mobile & Customer Satisfaction
If you don't think that your ability to reach customers via mobile is important to your business, think again. As the recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index on e-business, and recent comments from social media giant Facebook, both illustrate, mobile has become a key - in many cases the key - method of communication for many customers. And it's become a key growth driver for many companies, including Facebook. - 08/31/2015

Content Boost

The Marketing Questions Keeping You Up at Night
As marketers, sleep can be hard to come by. We toss and turn as we think about our next email marketing campaign, brand relaunch, or logo redesign. We have nightmares about making a brand faux pas (e.g., Nationwide's "Make Safe Happen" Super Bowl commercial). And we wake up in a cold sweat over the thought of a competitor going viral overnight with a marketing slamdunk. - 08/31/2015

Perspective

DevOps, Politics, Social Media & Your Business
This column is a bit of a mashup, as I wanted to use this space to discuss at least a couple of interesting recent developments. The first is big data and social media in politics; the second is the rise of what's known as DevOps and what it means to your business. - 08/31/2015

Experience

Mobile is the Next Frontier in Customer Service
When Samsung first launched its Galaxy S6 line earlier this year, one of its strategic goals was to increase its presence in the enterprise - not necessarily just within the enterprise-owned device market, but very much within BYOD enterprises. - 08/31/2015

Experience

Does Best Buy Understand Customer Value?
What are your customers worth to your business? The answer should be everything - without them, your business ceases to exist. It's safe to say that any business leader should respond similarly when asked this question. But the real question is, do their business practices match their rhetoric? In a competitive environment, they must, which is why I am astounded when presented with situations that display the exact opposite. - 08/17/2015

Perspective

How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is like an arch nemesis for many marketers. Yet, while cart abandonment can be detrimental to revenue, there are several other merchandizing triggers marketers are ignoring that cripple sales. - 08/17/2015

Content Boost

Get the Boss to Say Yes to Content Marketing
In April, we held the second iteration of our Content Boost Content Marketing Crash Course, a one-day educational seminar providing marketers with the opportunity to learn about content marketing best practices. We led a series of breakout sessions covering everything from the definition of content marketing (hint: using custom content to drive awareness and profitability around your brand) to the key ingredients of a robust blogging and lead-generation strategy. - 08/17/2015

Angle

Why the Service Help Desk is Changing, and What It Looks Like
As Hollis "Terry" Bradwell III, executive vice president and CIO at AARP, noted in his keynote speech at last year's ITEXPO, IT staffs have traditionally served as supports teams, but now they are moving into a more central role at their companies, as businesses work to transform themselves in light of the digital revolution. - 08/17/2015

Voice of the Customer

Did Video Kill the Radio Star?
A recent car rental experience made me consider the value of video customer service. After getting in a very long line at the rental agency, I saw people using video kiosks to get their cars. Since self-service is a big part of what I do, I asked the woman who was greeting customers if I could try the kiosk. Her response? "Those are the same as the people at the desks." In other words, the video kiosks didn't offer people a faster experience, didn't reduce their time in line, and didn't appear to provide any cost benefit for the company. - 06/22/2015

Perspective

Why Businesses Need to Answer Texts
Here is some non-news: Millennials don't like to talk. In fact, you can almost make the argument that no one likes to talk - not on the phone anyway. - 06/22/2015

Content Boost

Debunking Content Marketing Misconceptions
Think about the amount of confusion and fallacies surrounding some of the most bleeding-edge technologies today - like cloud computing, WebRTC, and wearable technology. Businesses everywhere are clamoring to take advantage of such innovations, yet they are held back by their own gross misconceptions surrounding these technologies. - 06/22/2015

Angle

Tips on How to Accomplish the Hard Work Related to Marketing Automation
As business people and individuals who operate in a world in which technology is playing an increasing role, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the onslaught of new skillsets involved for our jobs and new tools we need to master, or at least consider using to stay competitive. - 06/22/2015

Winning Apps Don't Make Users Tap Out
In the wild world of mobile apps - and it is wild, with more than 1.5 million apps available to mobile users (as of May, Google Play topped the app markets with that figure) - the key is not only developing an app that addresses a need (demand), but also one that creates instant attachment (desire). There are many factors that go into each of the two 'D's, but fundamentally, if you design with them in mind, you're on the right path. - 06/17/2015

Perspective

Creating Market Disruption: Tale of Two Companies
The VoIP market literally revolutionized the way communications worked - allowing, among other things, a company to provide over-the-top services that were decoupled from the phone company. For the first time, you could go out and buy broadband from one company and phone service from another. - 05/04/2015

Content Boost

The Key to Increased ROI? An Integrated Marketing Strategy
If you think back to your early days as a marketer, your typical work week was probably vastly different than it is today. For instance, instead of debating your next blog topic, you were selecting your upcoming billboard campaign; instead of flooding the social media feeds with organic sales pitches, you were splashing print publications with blatant advertisements. And all too often you were forced to choose one marketing tactic over the other because the cost to advertise was simply prohibitive. - 05/04/2015

ANGLE

On the Button: Tapcentive Calls Its Mobile Engagement Solution Better Than Beacons, QR Codes
Tapcentive is offering an in-store mobile engagement platform that CEO Dave Wentker says is better than beacons and QR codes. That's because it invites customers to participate rather than pushing messages to them, and is extremely easy for shoppers to use and enjoy. - 05/04/2015

Experience

Retail Wi-Fi: ROI is Closer Than It Appears
About this time last year, my column in CUSTOMER spoke to the movement of customer experience into the realm of the networks and IT groups. Almost a year later, it appears at least some level of impact is starting to be defined, thanks to a report recently put out by EarthLink, IHL Group, and AirTight Networks. The report indicates an increase in sales and customer loyalty following deployment of Wi-Fi within retail establishments. - 04/29/2015

Experience

Avaya and Google: WebRTC is Ready
When Avaya announced its latest call center product, the message was clear: WebRTC is ready for prime time. It also underscored the long-standing theory that the customer service market would be the most likely candidate for early success. Interestingly, the theory was always based on the idea that every customer has multiple web-enabled endpoints that could leverage WebRTC to contact agents, but Avaya has actually made the agent the WebRTC user. - 04/14/2015

Art of the Customer Experience

Don't Fight Mobile Customers; Join them!
By now, you all know that many of your customers are using personal smartphones for both their business and personal communications. Pretty soon it will be all of them! So, it is really time to start acommodating them with multimodal mobile customer services, not just your legacy telephone answering call center technology. However, there will be an ongoing need to accommodate customers who will continue to initiate a contact via your existing PSTN telephony connections. - 04/14/2015

Voice of the Customer

Are You Building a Reputation or Merely Managing It?
My January column, "Are You a Good Social Citizen?" got me thinking about reputation - how companies get it, manage it, and maintain it. I'm not alone. The field of reputation management has grown enormously since social media came on the scene. - 04/14/2015

Perspective

TCS Demos WebRTC-based Telemedia Solution
Customer service is about more than just call centers. It's about every interaction and experience customers have with all the people and organizations with which they do business - even their doctors. - 04/14/2015

Content Boost

I'm Ready for Content Marketing . . . Where Do I Start?
It's amazing the difference a year can make. I vividly remember attending a number of 2014 trade shows and having conversations with attendees about content marketing. They would go something like this. - 04/14/2015

Angle

Customer Experience: More Than Just a Marketing Exercise
Customer experience has become a catchphrase in recent years, as businesses recognize the growing importance of more effectively catering to clients and prospects, who now have more power to do comparison shopping and complain in giant online forums due to the widespread use of the Internet and connected devices. - 04/14/2015

Art of the Customer Experience

The Eyes Have It: Customer Self-Service Get Visual
A basic requirement for any customer service is to minimize customers' time in getting their needs taken care of. We already know that customers prefer using self-service mechanisms rather than being dependent upon having to wait for a live person to give them information or to perform simple transactions. This is especially true for online applications, where 77 percent of customers surveyed consider "valuing their time" as the most important aspect of customer service. - 03/18/2015

Experience

App Development is the New Customer Engagement Front Line
It's been seven years since Apple began its mission of mobile dominance via the App Store and, today, while it shares market share with others - most notably, Google Play - what it undeniably accomplished is launching us on a path to app-centricity. Today, if there isn't an app for something you seek to accomplish, there likely soon will be, as businesses in every vertical have realized the way to a customer's wallet is through his smartphone. - 03/18/2015

Voice of the Column

Getting More from Your Voice of the Customer Program
Most large organizations have a voice of the customer program in some form today. The depth, breadth, and success of these programs vary greatly. They range from annual or transactional surveys for current customers, to post-call surveys in contact centers, to formal customer panels and account analysis by sales teams. Yet many organizations aren't getting real strategic value from all this data. Here are three tips for getting more out of your voice of the customer program. - 03/18/2015

Perspective

Making Credit Cards Smarter
One of the biggest credit card challenges for users is seeing charges get declined because of potential fraud. In families and many companies a central card may be shared by many people. So when the credit card company flags a potentially fraudulent transaction and alerts the cardholder, it is possible that the card gets immediately cancelled out of fear. This can happen even if transactions aren't really fraudulent and in turn can cause a cascade of problems related to automated payments and other pending transactions within the family or organization. - 03/18/2015

Content Boost

Content Marketing: Three Things You Need to Do This Month
When you consider that Content Marketing Institute research states that 86 percent and 77 percent of B2B and B2C marketers, respectively, use content marketing, but only 38 percent and 37 percent view themselves as effective, it seems we have a ways to go with this marketing approach. - 03/18/2015

Angle

More Proof That Customers Are On To You
This column is a bit stream-of-consciousness, but I wanted to use this space to discuss a few different interesting things on the customer experience front. Here goes. - 03/18/2015

Building Customers for Life: Why CEM Must be Part of Your Company's DNA
Business executives know that key accounts are vital to a thriving bottom line. In fact, the old 80/20 rule of business still prevails today where roughly 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clients. Customer satisfaction equals increased revenue, which is why it's important to determine a baseline evaluation of your current customer experience management (CEM) strategies to offer insight into where improvements can be made to make your business more successful. In other words, a CEM strategy must be part of your company's core culture - your corporate DNA. - 03/05/2015

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER

Are You a Good Social Citizen?
The book on social media etiquette is still being written, but there are some clear guidelines for business, especially for those of us in the business of customer service. Here are my top five for using social media responsibly. - 01/12/2015

PERSPECTIVE

Security Is Important to the Customer Experience Too
The big news in the mainstream press as I was writing this column in December was that celebrities are now eschewing smartphones for flip phones. What you ask? Yes, flip phones, those clamshell devices most people associate with the luddite relative you just saw at Thanksgiving. The reason? They are afraid of their topless photos getting stolen. Of course they could just not take them, but celebrities just don't seem to be able to help themselves. - 01/12/2015

EXPERIENCE

With Quisbee, CafeX Brings WebRTC-based Customer Engagement to All Businesses
At the recent WebRTCV Conference & Expo in San Jose, CafeX continued to drive home its message that WebRTC technology can be a game changer in the customer experience world. Its Fusion Live Assist platform already enables video collaboration between customers and agents, enhancing the service experience with the goal of reaching resolution more efficiently and increasing customer satisfaction. - 01/12/2015

ART OF THE CUSTOMER

Mobile Customer Service Means Unified Business Interactions
As more and more consumers adopt multimodal smartphones as their primary, personal means of contact with online business applications and live assistance, the definition of customer service really has to be changed. What used to be a dependency on phone calls to a call center has moved through the contact center that also handled email and fax, to what I now describe as a unified business interaction center. - 01/12/2015

ANGLE

Voice4Net Launches WebRTC-based RTC Client
Voice4Net late last year launched RTC Client, a WebRTC-based contact center solution that allows for ease of customization and implementation. - 01/12/2015

Experience

Wearables, Marketing & the Customer Experience
Despite the emergence of popular brands into the wearable tech market - Fitbit, Apple Watch, Google Glass, and others - I suspect when most average people hear the term, their minds inherently conjure images of blinking t-shirts. You have to admit, you thought they were cool when you first saw the colorful graphic equalizers dancing to music on the front of a Fruit of the Loom top. - 12/11/2014

Perspective

A Lesson in Resilience: The First Chapter in Microsoft's Comeback Story
With new CEO Satya Nadella at the helm, Microsoft is changing into something it needs to be: a company embracing a changing tech landscape. - 12/11/2014

Content Boost

Here's What's New in Content Marketing
Here at Content Boost, our job is simple: equipping you with the tactics and strategies needed to master the new content marketing landscape. - 12/11/2014

Angle

Image Resolution
It's the end of the year, which means it's time to bid adieu to bad habits and resolve to do better in the year ahead. - 12/11/2014

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER

How to Deal with Negative Social Media Reviews
I suppose it was only a matter of time before we heard allegations of defamation and lawsuits brought against reviewers from sites like Yelp, Angie's List, TripAdvisor, and others. - 11/11/2014

Content Boost

Custom Copy: Unlocking the Gates to Customer Engagement, Heightened ROI
It's no real surprise that I found my calling as a marketer. I've always been particularly prone to verbal expression. I was the child who was dubbed the chatty Cathy in school because I always had something to say; I was the daughter who diligently answered my parents' "What did you do in school today?" with a minute-by-minute recap. - 11/11/2014

Perspective

Microsoft CEO Raise Controversy: What's Not Being Discussed
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella when asked how women should ask for a raise said they shouldn't. Specifically he said, "It's not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don't ask for a raise have, because that's good karma. It'll come back because somebody's going to know that's the kind of person that I want to trust, that's the kind of person that I want to really want to give more responsibility to. And in the long term efficiency, things catch up." - 11/11/2014

Angle

The Uber Contact Center: LiveAnswer Brings On-Demand Model to Customer Service
Our December 2013 cover story on The New On-Demand Society talked about how renting anything and everything - be it a car, an evening gown, or a little cabin in the woods - may well be the wave of the future. It discussed how our connected world now enables the quick and easy display and purchase of available assets. - 11/11/2014

Experience

Cloud Contact Center Model Helping VoltDelta Grow
There is little that impacts long-term success as much as quality - even cost eventually gives way to better products and service levels, and can allow lesser known brands to build market share. That extends beyond end-product quality to service and customer care, as well, especially in today's age of unrivalled choice. In both respects, dedication to quality is the key reasons Steve Chirokas, vice president of marketing, believes VoltDelta is differentiating itself and growing its business, having developed a premium contact center product that allows its customers to provide high levels of customer care. - 11/02/2014

Perspective

Cloud, Mobile & Social and the Customer Experience
Interactive Intelligence recently held Intelligence Interactions 2014, which I attended, and I wanted to share here some of the key takeaways from this event, which this summer drew more than 2,000 people to the Indiana Convention Center. - 10/01/2014

Experience

Scripts & Target Marketing
To ensure that inside sales people and contact center agents engaging in outbound sales work hit all the relevant points in the sales process, many companies still use scripts. On paper, it makes sense: By telling an agent or salesperson what to say, a company can ensure that the most important information and selling points are shared up front. The problem is that there is a mountain of evidence that scripts simply don't work. Nobody likes talking to a robot, and the proactive customers of today are different from the passive customers of decades ago. - 10/01/2014

Voice of the Customer

Is Your Contact Center Ready for Home-based Agents?
We're seeing more and more contact centers moving to home-based agent programs. Some do it to expand their existing workforce, others to tap into new resources. Yet others choose to reward agent success by letting them to work at home. With growth fueled by cloud-based solutions, and a move to bring jobs back on-shore (among other things), over half of all contact centers have some percentage of their agents working from home, according to the National Association of Call Centers. - 10/01/2014

Angle

Chatting Them Up & Mapping Out Mobile Strategy
Director Spike Jonze got the idea for the movie "Her" after reading an article that talked about Cleverbot. The film is about a character, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who falls in love with a computer personified by a female voice. - 10/01/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

Agents Skills for Mobile Customer Services
The fact that most customers will use multimodal smartphones and tablets rather than a POTS phone for customer service is opening the door to greater use of online self-service applications, as well as more opportunities for automated business process notifications. Both capabilities will help reduce support costs and increase customer satisfaction. - 09/25/2014

Voice of the Customer

Is Your Contact Center Measuring the Right Things?
Is your contact center stuck in the last decade, measuring the same things you've always measured - service level, handle time, after call work? These types of operational metrics are important to running the center. But are you also measuring things that are strategic, customer centric, and that make a real difference in how the business operates? - 09/25/2014

Angle

True Cloud & the Retail Experience
This issue I'd like to address two key trends that we're seeing in communications at large and related to customer service in particular: the cloud and mobility. - 09/25/2014

Experience

Social CRM Isn't an Option
Since the emergence of social media as a pseudo-legitimate form of communication (I say pseudo because of the varied, sometimes questionable, uses of such platforms, and also because of the injection of advertising in them), the issue for businesses has been how to effectively integrate the social channel into their existing customer contact technologies. - 09/25/2014

Perspective

Top Business Scams to Watch For
As a young child I was fortunate enough to get to work with my father and he used to teach me about things to look out for in business. The first story I ever heard about unethical business practices was a company that sent small bills for snow plowing to companies and the accounts receivable departments assumed they were legitimate and just paid them. Only when they sent a bill to an area of the country where there was no snow did they get caught. - 09/25/2014

Experience

WebRTC Expo IV Final Thoughts
That's where this year's show significantly differentiated itself from previous editions. Between the conference sessions (particularly the special focus areas), keynotes, and exhibits, evidence was plentiful that businesses are starting to leverage WebRTC within their communications infrastructures - taking advantage of the browser-based medium to create differentiating value for their customers. As expected, many of these use cases are in the health care and contact center industries, and Avaya's Val Matula believes many businesses will seek to use WebRTC to create real-time customer satisfaction feedback tools. - 07/24/2014

Voice of the Customer

Stop the Brain Drain: Critical Knowledge is Walking out Your Door Everyday
Knowledge certainly doesn't walk, but people do, and with them goes the intelligence they develop and retain from years of building your brand. This tribal knowledge is one of your most important assets. Equally important are the documents and materials in people's bags and home computers when they exit. What should you do about this challenge? - 07/24/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

How Will You Support Consumer Mobile Customer Service?
It is getting very obvious that business customer services are moving from telephony-based call centers and very limited IVR capabilities, to more cost-efficient, online self-services with more flexible, multimodal click for live assistance. It's not that customers will immediately stop making phone calls for customer assistance, but such contacts will increasingly be made over the Internet, within online and mobile self-service apps. - 07/24/2014

Perspective

Hot Trends in Customer Care
The need for the integration of contact center solutions with customer relationship management capabilities has never been more important. Improving the customer experience is a top priority of enterprises around the world. In short, being able to have the requisite business intelligence, a holistic and accessible view of a customer's profile, to meet customer demands in a timely and appropriate manner has become paramount. - 07/24/2014

Angle

Aptean Works to Gain an Edge
Aptean delivers a broad set of products, which includes a collection of CRM solutions called Pivotal, Onyx, and Saratoga. Pivotal, explained Matt Keenan, Aptean's vice president of CRM product management, is targeted at marketing, sales and services units at mid-market and enterprise-class organizations. Meanwhile, he said, Onyx and Saratoga address the SMB and lower end of the mid market. - 07/24/2014

Angle

Party Time! Excellent!
Like our experience visiting an Apple store (at least originally) and using the Apple products, this organization created a truly unique and exciting experience that made us feel special but at the same time part of something bigger than ourselves. - 06/01/2014

Perspective

Plum Voice Powers HIPAA and PCI Compliant Analytics
A constant challenge companies face is how to maximize the efficiency of their operations while maintaining compliance with government regulations. For example, how do you handle privacy while simultaneously being able to take advantage of analytics, which could provide better CRM for customers? - 06/01/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

Is Unified Communications Really Unified Interactions?
What unified means is that the different modes can be dynamically used by people involved with any form of interaction with other people or with an automated application process (inbound or outbound). In a real-time videoconference session, some people can be on camera with video, while others can only see the video, but still participate in the voice conversation; all participants may also be able to see any form of information that is exchanged (document, messages, video clips, etc.). If you want to call that universal, fine, but I think the real focus should be on whether interactions will be just between people, or between both people and online applications. - 06/01/2014

Experience

Unified Experience is Key to Brand Loyalty
If you have multiple sites in play, the need for consistency of experience becomes even greater, though the integration of different sites is often a challenge. The good news for AA is it is part of an industry that, as a whole, largely fails to live up to customer expectations. - 06/01/2014

Voice of the Customer

Yes, You Can Satisfy All Stakeholders
Do you think that in order to satisfy one set of stakeholders you need to ignore the needs of others? What's critically important to customers, employees, and shareholders? - 05/15/2014

Angle

Work-at-Home Model Takes Off in Outsourced Agent Arena
Telecommuting, as many of you already know, has its challenges. I'm not a fan of those times when I'm on a call and the doorbell rings, sending my dog into a barking frenzy. And those summer months when my lovely family is at home during the day are great, but do add a new element of distraction to my work environment at times. - 05/15/2014

Experience

NFL Looking to Score Big with the In-Stadium Fan Experience
The customer experience - that''''''''s what business success hinges upon today. Without customers, there is no business. Thus, the stakes are high, considering the competition that''''''''s out there, looking to scrape way at your revenues, one customer at a time - regardless of your product. For many businesses, the mobile explosion has created a number of challenges but, with them, opportunities that can help increase satisfaction and loyalty via a positive experience (see my column in the April issue on the Wi-Fi opportunity). - 05/15/2014

Perspective

Talking UC with Aspect & ShoreTel
Aspect has made a bunch of investments and acquisitions, and it now has an extremely comprehensive omnichannel contact center capability in the cloud and on-premises. The company has multichannel self-service, agent assist in the contact center, workforce management, backoffice optimization solutions, and more. - 05/15/2014

Perspective

Openwave Uses Push To Boost Consumer Relationships with Carriers
For example, if there is a new video feed to a local sporting event that the carrier wants to promote, it can send a message letting the appropriate subscribers know. - 04/17/2014

Voice of the Customer

Five Ways to Amp Up Your Customer Conversations
Train reps to look at the customer's record right away to anticipate customer needs or thank them for their business. Did they just receive a late payment notice? Have they recently stayed at one of your hotels or placed an order? Land's End garnered loyal customers by training reps to ask about a recent purchase or gift and remember special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Let customers know that they are valued and important to your company, and you'll be guaranteed repeat business. - 04/17/2014

Experience

Networks + Customers = Opportunity
If customers build buying patterns over time, it will soon be possible to identify items that may have inadvertently been missed, alerting them before they check out and leave the store. Or, it will be possible to use aggregate buying patterns to identify additional items that customers might need, such as rollers or paint brushes after picking up a gallon of paint at the hardware store - including providing mapped directions to the brushes. - 04/17/2014

Angle

Internal Processes & Customer Service
Whether you're building a widget, selling a car, or publishing a magazine, getting a product from concept to reality is an intense and many-layered process involving an array of people and organizations. - 04/17/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

Migrating to Multichannel Customer Service Interaction Centers
Customer service is gaining in importance for unified communications, but it's not so much about person-to-person contacts, but mobile self-services that will need flexible options for live assistance. The next stage of customer services will be heavily focused on supporting the new flexibility that mobile consumers will have for business contacts with their personalized, multimodal smartphones and tablets. - 03/18/2014

Experience

Turning Employees into Loyal Team Members
It's not a coincidence that those are the same traits you find in your best customers. Treat them as such and you'll likely see a swing in the percentages, favoring the "committed" team members. I once had the pleasure of working with a talented organization that managed the annual employee satisfaction survey for American Express. It was an exhausting task, an expensive one, one that consumed most of each year, and was directly tied to their compensation packages. Why? Simply, ESAT has a direct relationship to CSAT. - 03/18/2014

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER

Hey You! Are you Listening?
Whether you partner with another department or if your contact center is responsible for monitoring and responding to social media, make sure you're capturing the voice of the customer as it relates to all of your services. Continually refine what you're listening for so that you can respond to issues rapidly and before they go viral. If you change a policy, understand what customers like and dislike about the new rules so that your agents are prepared to respond appropriately and consistently. - 03/18/2014

Perspective

Why You Should Be Bullish on Technology
UBS believes the U.S. is positioned well to benefit from many of these advances due to our headstart in the tech space. The good news is the technologies above will lower the price to produce many goods and will potentially put downward pressure on the inflation rate thanks to lower energy costs and the continuing technological revolution being applied to everything. The downside in my opinion will be the same challenge we have seen for decades: The lower-skilled worker will have more problems finding a job thanks to more automation. - 03/18/2014

ANGLE

Some Thoughts on What's Next for Customer Service and What's in a Brand
Is the next-generation customer service center one that amps up what we have in place with the added ability to communicate with customers via newer channels such as e-mail, IM, mobile, social media, and possibly video channels? Or is it going look entirely different, possibly leveraging technologies like WebRTC and/or employees throughout an organization as opposed to dedicated agents? - 03/18/2014

Angle

New Study: Customer Dissatisfaction, Rage Are at All-Time Highs
There's a lot of talk these days about the customer experience, but a new study by customer rage expert Scott Broetzmann indicates that customers are more dissatisfied than ever, and some of them are downright enraged. - 01/15/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

Omnichannel Solutions: The Rise of the Interaction Center
Business communications with customers are changing at many levels, ranging from network connections (IP, wireless), to customer BYOD for mobile devices (smartphones, tablets), to cloud-based online self-service applications, to increasing more selective flexible access control by individual customers to live assistance of their choice. So, it's not just a call center system that depends just on incoming and outbound phone calls, or even a contact center which only focuses on real-time contacts with agents or experts, but must increasingly include automated applications for both inbound outbound contacts with customers. - 01/15/2014

Experience

The Human Experience
We, as an industry, spend a significant amount of time discussing the customer experience, and debating the merits of various technologies that help businesses measure, evaluate, and enhance the customer experience. And for good reason - advances in communications technology, the growth of cloud computing, and increases in processing power and efficiency have all made it much easier to collect experience data and sift through it to understand customers. - 01/15/2014

Perspective

Customer Touchpoints: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Having been unfortunate enough to be part of an eight-hour weather-related delay as a passenger of flight 411 on Jan. 4, 2014, my fellow passengers and I found out just how amazingly bad the airline's logistics and service levels could be. After we lost an entire workday each, we waited yet another hour for luggage to come out. When it finally did it was for a different flight - a cancelled flight. - 01/15/2014

Art of the Customer Experience

Mobile Customers Need UC Choice for All Interactions
Customer services are moving away from legacy telephone call centers and IVR applications to support multimodal mobile consumers. This is particularly critical for BYOD mobile users who will be using a variety of smartphones and tablets, with different form factors and mobile operating systems, for all their mobile interactions with people and online applications. - 01/10/2014

Perspective

Interesting New Things Are Popping Up in the Cloud, Testing, and CRM
Cloud-based contact center solutions have been priced fairly uniformly in the past. You pay per seat and feature. If you want to add more people or features such as analytics, you pay more. Some vendors offer an all-inclusive solution, of course, meaning the only variable is the number of seats; but, regardless, the model has been fairly static for the past few decades - starting back in the 1990s when the term ASP was what we used to describe the space. - 01/10/2014

Experience

The Fallacy of the Decline of Customer Satisfaction
BusinessWeek's Eric Chemi recently posited that customer satisfaction has a negative impact on stock prices, meaning that publically traded companies may actually be better off being disliked by their customers. He makes some interesting assertions regarding the value of spending on CSAT efforts and the potential return and, while, his so-called study seems interesting on the surface, the truth is there is little merit to the claims. - 01/10/2014

Angle

My Logic is Undeniable
Technology (and artificial intelligence in particular), while exciting and creating a world of new opportunities, also creates risk - so we need to carefully consider its many implications. - 01/10/2014

Publishers Outlook

IBM: Digital Darwinism May Kill You
In a candid IBM interview, Carl Ford of Crossfire Media spoke with Blair Reeves, product marketing manager for EMM at IBM Software Group, who said companies should spend less time on advertising and worrying about various channels and instead focus more on putting customers at the center of their business. - 12/13/2013

Voice of the Customer

Reinventing the Customer Experience
A critical part of putting together any strategy is establishing measures of success. Focus on your goals at a high level and then drill down to the details. Make sure to orient them toward business results, not traditional contact center metrics (though you'll still need these). Your measures of success are derived from your strategic goals - so measures for a company that focuses on customer intimacy may include increased wallet share, lifetime value, or willingness to recommend. Make sure that measures are important to your customers, understood by your CEO, and that they drive real business results. - 12/13/2013

Experience

Love / Hate with IVR
IVRs - you either hate them or you hate them. At least that's been the case for most people most of the time. I moderated a webinar earlier this week about modern uses for IVR systems and got to thinking about why businesses have been so poor at creating good IVRs (and so adept at making customers avoid them like the plague). - 12/13/2013

Art of the Customer Service

Contextual Customer Assistance From Online Apps For Better Customer Service
Visual online self-service applications will displace legacy IVR systems as more and more consumers use multi-modal smartphones and tablets instead of legacy telephones. Such applications will pay off to business organizations, as well as to their customers, since they reduce contact center staffing requirements and also make it easier for customers to get information and perform transactions directly, while avoiding the need for live assistance. - 12/13/2013

Angle

The Real Deal
Earlier this year I met Matt McNerney, president at Ipsos Loyalty, Research & Consulting. He said NPS doesn't necessarily translate into increased wallet share. To illustrate this point he noted that Kmart reported its highest customer satisfaction rate the same year if filed bankruptcy. Meanwhile, WalMart had an initiative to improve the appearance and aisle width in its stores, which did make customers happier, but didn't ring up more sales. - 12/13/2013

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. - 11/12/2013

Experience

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. - 11/12/2013

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. - 11/12/2013

Perspective

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. - 11/12/2013

Angle

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. - 11/12/2013

Experience

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). - 10/02/2013

Angle

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." - 10/02/2013

PERSPECTIVE

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. - 10/02/2013

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. - 10/02/2013

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. - 10/02/2013

Experience

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. - 08/05/2013

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. - 08/05/2013

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. - 08/05/2013

Angle

Think Different
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. - 08/05/2013

Perspective

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. - 08/05/2013

Cover Story

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. - 07/01/2013

Experience

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. - 07/01/2013

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. - 06/24/2013

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. - 06/24/2013

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? - 06/24/2013

Angle

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. - 06/24/2013

Perspective

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. - 06/24/2013

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. - 05/15/2013

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. - 05/15/2013

ANGLE

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. - 05/15/2013

Perspective

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. - 05/15/2013

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. - 05/15/2013

EXPERIENCE

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. - 04/29/2013

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. - 04/29/2013

COVER STORY

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. - 04/29/2013

Perspective

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. - 04/29/2013

Angle

Getting Personal
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. - 04/29/2013

Experience

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. - 04/09/2013

Feature

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. - 04/09/2013

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. - 04/09/2013

Perspective

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. - 04/09/2013

Angle

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? - 04/09/2013

Perspective

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. - 02/12/2013

Experience

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. - 02/12/2013

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. - 02/12/2013

Angle

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. - 02/12/2013

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. - 02/12/2013

Experience

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. - 01/14/2013

Perspective

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. - 01/14/2013

Angle

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. - 01/14/2013

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. - 12/11/2012

Perspective

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. - 12/11/2012

Experience

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. - 12/11/2012

Angle

Training Wheels
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. - 12/11/2012

Experience

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. - 10/15/2012