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Want to Connect With Customers? First Step: Don't Be a Jerk

2014-12-November-Mean-Pallas-Cat.jpgAll businesses have certain characteristics that embody the spirit of the company, and allow a brand to better relate and communicate with its customers. However, there are a few traits in particular that help businesses to truly connect with its customers. This connection is all about being more human.

So You Want to Be an Online Community Manager?

2014-11-November-Flock.jpgBecause I write a lot about online communities and online community management, I've had people ask me, “I’d like to make a career change into community management. Where do I start?” The first thing I tell them is that I’m not a community manager. But I quickly follow by saying that I work with community managers and that they’re the target audience for much of the content I develop.

Why the Best Digital Workplace Teams Don't Get High on Tech

“Not another new system.” “I don’t have time.” “There are so many tools already.” If any of these is a common refrain in your organization, it may be a symptom that the digital workplace team is high on technology.

Part of the problem is that shiny new technology tends to make the headlines and attract eyeballs, but we don’t always get to hear the more human stories about what makes those technologies tick.

That Anonymous Visitor Is Your Next Great Customer

2014-10-November-Fake-Mustache.jpgPersonalization is critical to your business — we can all agree on that. But when it comes to rolling up our proverbial sleeves and getting down to getting personal, the conversation veers into choppy waters. Why? It’s a simple enough notion.

Compare digital personalization tactics to the local corner store from decades ago. Remember the butcher who held the special cut of meat for a favorite customer? Or the clerk who knew I wanted the next comic book in the series? That was personalization in the pre-Internet days but, even though the landscape has changed dramatically, the rules really haven’t. We, as marketers, just have infinitely more to work with — and even greater demands than a pound of sirloin.

Discussion Point: Creating Long Distance Collaboration and Teams

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You may not like everyone who works in your physical office. But at least you know people well enough to have reasons to dislike them. After all, you spend eight or more hours together every day.

Not so in the virtual world, where the lack of serendipitous encounters and chance conversations make it all the more difficult to forge connections — and increase the ease of developing biased perceptions.

Sometimes even the warmest and most considerate people sound cold and abrasive on the phone. A shy person can be misconstrued as cool and aloof. And, curiously, someone suffering from massive insecurities can seem narcissistic and egotistical because he insists on hiding behind a wall of faux achievements.

So in the age of remote workforces, when employees are increasingly connected by technology rather than shared desk space, how do we make lofty concepts like collaboration and cooperation a daily reality?

Can we force people on opposite coasts to actually like each other? Or, failing that, can we just get everyone to respect each other enough to embrace a common culture?

When Your Organization's Reputation is at Risk

An organization’s reputation is critical to their success (in almost every case). A smart CEO and her board pay attention to the organization’s reputation and take care to nurture, protect and grow it.

A new survey by Deloitte reinforces that obvious truth and states one other truth that should be obvious to us all: “reputation risk is driven by other business risks.”

Analyzing Social Media? You're Doing it Wrong

2014-10-November-Chatter.jpgThe days when brands had complete control over their positioning are long gone. Consumers can now impact the shaping of a brand, particularly through social media. Brands follow what consumers are saying, where they are saying it and how deeply certain themes permeate the overall conversation on social media — but taking action from this information isn’t as easy as it seems.

Brands often count numbers without understanding context. They focus too much on one channel while ignoring all others, or fail to gauge the collective opinions of the crowd. Instead they focus on a few overly positive or negative mentions, and stay too caught up in the moment to observe trends over time.

Each of these faux pas is easy to commit, and every one of them can have profound consequences. But it doesn't have to be that way.

What the French Taught Me About Customer Service

2014-10-November-Bread-Shopping.jpgBefore moving to Paris, I heard horror stories about how rude the French were and readied my family for the difficulties we would experience. But during my four years there, I came to see the French as the purveyors of the best and worst customer service I ever experienced.

France is a country where customer service is an economic imperative as they claim title to being the most visited country in the world with more than 85 million annual visitors and with tourism representing 10 percent of GDP. The French government has tried several campaigns to promote great customer service to increase tourism.

That's only half the battle. Being the right customer and adjusting expectations is what transformed my customer experience in France, and created new levels of loyalty for me with companies large and small alike.

Your Content is a Promise to Your Customers

The content an organization publishes online is increasingly contributing to how customers regard that organization’s brand. 

How to Raise Daughters Who Are Leaders

How do we prepare our children — particularly our daughters — to thrive in the economy of tomorrow?

We need to provide the best education within our means, which includes a lot more than the official schooling they receive. The best education I've received has come through good relationships, strong mentors and leaders who took the time to give me sound advice.

DAM Shopping? Use These Criteria to Find the Right Vendor

The number of DAM vendors on the market can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of DAM vendors, many of which provide very good solutions, which can make it hard to choose the right vendor for your organization. Start by developing the project goals and the key problems to be solved and then filter, filter, filter.

Technology Can Help Humans Sound Human

2014-07-November-Free-Hugs.jpgIs it too much to ask a customer service rep to sound human and, more importantly, to treat the person on the other end of the line as a fellow human?

It may sound like a simple request, but too often the forces in the customer service universe can easily undermine an organization’s efforts to deliver an exceptional, personalized experience.

IBM or Twitter: Who Needed the Deal More?

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IBM posted disappointing quarterly revenues last month. Twitter hasn't found a way to make good money.

They needed a boost, and they hope it's each other.

But who needed who more?

"That’s arguable. Both need to can some lightning," said Tony Baer, principal analyst at Ovum Research.

"For Twitter it's the need for another path to market where they don’t have to compete with the Facebook colossus head-on. For IBM, this is entirely consistent with directions such as Watson where it is striving to establish cognitive computing as the new de facto enterprise solutions building block."

3 Lessons from the Marketing Festival #mktfest

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Organizers of last weekend's Marketing Festival in the Czech Republic analyzed 500 conferences from around the world before choosing 18 promising speakers.

Having soaked up their collective wisdom, I found three lectures gave me the most to think about and I've summarized them here.

Attention Retailers: It's Time to Plug Those Data Leaks

The birth of e-commerce dates to August 11, 1994 — the date when what was likely the first secure transaction over the World Wide Web occurred in Nashua, N.H.

Someone purchased Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales CD from Noteworthy Music’s website.

While this transaction wasn't scalable, it leveraged the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) algorithm and demonstrated the Internet was open for business. It would take several years before a critical mass of sales was reached, but the doors of e-commerce were officially open.

Has Office 365 Brought Back Microsoft's Swagger?

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A few years ago I came to scary realization that I am now old enough to look back — and “reflect.”

I'm still not sure that with age comes wisdom, but I am sure that I can see repeating patterns. The new becomes old and all the old becomes new again. My kids’ music selection includes a smattering of re-makes that are Top 40 material today, just as the originals were when I was my kids’ age.

I’ve now witnessed clothing come in and out fashion multiple times (although I sincerely hope bell-bottoms do not return). And this may be just me, but it seems like every other movie that comes out is a re-make.

They say art imitates life. But I'll take that one step further and say technology imitates many of the patterns I have observed over time.

Getting Personal with Big Machines

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When we think of personalization of service through analytics, the first thought that likely comes to mind is retail applications or consumer goods.

But what about industrial equipment, especially heavy equipment? The way we service big machines is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to the same technology we use to enhance the consumer experience.

How Big Data Can Make You a Better Marketer

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Big data is everywhere these days. Among other things, it's created some big expectations for marketing — especially when it comes to mining information. And while it may have the potential to change the game when it comes to data driven marketing, the reality is that it has yet to fully deliver due to a myriad of marketing methodologies clogging the funnel.

What does this mean?

Let’s back up for a minute. Before we can tap the results of big data, we need to examine the perspectives that are used to fill the funnel — growth and sales — and think about some of the fundamental shifts that are taking place. Then we’ll more clearly understand how big data fits in.

An Experience Design Primer - Service Design, UX, CX, DevOps

2014-05-November-Volcanoes.jpgA small eruption emerged on Twitter in response to my article that covered the Adaptive Path acquisition. At the root of it was a conversation about the differences and overlaps between user experience (UX) and service design. Patrick Quattlebaum, managing director at Adaptive Path and esteemed former colleague sat down with me to see if we could suss out the overlaps and distinctions between each approach.

The Danger of Believing in a 360-Degree Customer View

2014-04-November-Out-To-Sea.jpgWhen you’re at sea, you take navigation very seriously. The 360-degree arc of the compass is the tool by which you take a bearing and understand where you are going, especially when you’re out of sight of land. It’s a constant number that relates to the compass — both the magnetic and gyroscopic compasses, if you’re on a ship.

It also refers to the way lookouts report the things they see — always in relation to the ship, with the bow of the ship representing 0 degrees/360 degrees. Having a 360-degree view of what’s out at sea with you is critical to avoiding hazards, collisions and other unfortunate events.

In the context of CRM, that metaphor is frequently employed. Every vendor likes to claim that its application provides a 360-degree view of the customer, implying that no bit of customer information affecting selling, loyalty, support or marketing is not captured.

That metaphor is imperfect at best. And I’m not saying that because I spent six years at sea as a bosun’s mate.