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Crm News & Analysis

Sitecore, Microsoft Partner to Bridge Physical-Digital Divide #nrf15

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Omnichannel is the new black. That’s the buzz we’re hearing from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show in the BIG Apple this week.

But the chatter is not just about omnichannel. It’s also about the wins that integrating brick and mortar and digital can create, like guiding a customer to the store that has — in stock — the exact product (even the right size) he has been checking out online. In other words, it’s getting the right products and the right offers to the right people before they abandon their virtual and/or physical shopping carts, change their minds or look for something else to buy someplace else.

To do this you need to know what a customer is doing on each channel. And not just that: You also need to know what’s happening with your goods and services. This kind of data is best gleaned from customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Without the latter, you may not be able to deliver what the customer wants to buy and is willing to pay for. And when that happens, you not only miss a sale, but risk losing a customer as well.

It’s to avoid these kinds of problems and to create experiences that engage customers that Sitecore introduced Sitecore Commerce 8 powered by Microsoft Dynamics yesterday. The new solution bridges the gap between in-store and digital experiences.

Microsoft Ups Its Customer Experience Play

Microsoft is flexing its customer experience muscles. Last night it announced the spring release of Parature will come with more than 30 new “high priority” customer capabilities. They're designed to help businesses streamline and improve their customer experience strategies.

The release follows the acquisition of Parature by Microsoft last February for a reported $100 million. The purchase price is a relative pittance in comparison to many current tech deals — especially since the value it will bring to Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) portfolio is incalculable.

7 Troubling Myths About CX - and Why It Could Fail

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Colin Shaw knows customer experience (CX) — and he doesn't like where it's headed.

Twelve years ago, Shaw co-founded Tampa, Fla.-based Beyond Philosophy, a consultancy and training organization devoted to customer experience (CX). The company specializes in helping organizations to create deliberate, emotionally engaging customer experiences that drive value, reduce costs and build competitive advantage.

In addition to serving as CEO of Beyond Philosophy, he's the author of four books on customer experience and has a new one, "Unlocking the Hidden Customer Experience: Short Stories of Remarkable Practices that Ensure Success," scheduled for release next month. He's also one of LinkedIn's top 150 business influencers worldwide. So he knows of what he speaks when he expresses concerns about the future of CX.

"I'm becoming increasingly concerned that the goal of improving the ‘Customer Experience’ is heading the same way as customer relationship management (CRM) ... into failure," he said.

The Holistic View of the Customer Experience

There's a consensus that if you want to be successful on line, you’re going to have to deliver an exceptional customer experience, something that leaves others trailing. Of course, there are many opinions on how to do that.

E-Spirit, for example, has a very particular notion of what customer experience involves. Many other vendors start by talking about technologies or silos. But for Oliver Jaeger, e-Spirit's vice president for global marketing and communications, it means the entire customer cycle from first contact to last sign-off.

While many companies just don’t get it that the whole process needs to be managed, e-Spirit is actively pursuing ways to provide that ultimate experience.

Promoter.io Gets $1M to Grow Customer Loyalty

San Antonio, Texas-based startup Promoter.io has raised $1 million and launched a new software platform that it claims helps you better understand and leverage your most loyal customers.

The company will use an established loyalty metric and methodology known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to rank the loyalty of a customer database. Promoter.io's software will use NPS to help companies understand how loyal their customers are and cultivate the strongest "promoters" to help build the company's products and brands.

When Marketing Automation Meets Salesforce #Gilbane

The Boston-based WGBH Education Foundation relies on donations. It's a public media entity.

So it also relies on technology to manage donations. Salesforce CRM. Marketing automation tools.

Cate Twohill, senior director and managing partner of CRM services at the WGBH Education Foundation, has her hands on the pulse of the organization's digital network and management of its donors. It's a job that comes with challenges. It recently uncovered and corrected more than 80,000 duplicate donor profiles and must manage donor relationships in a way that powers engagement.

Dear Marketers, Thanks for Ruining My Holiday Shopping Experience

2014-04-December-vintage-christmas.jpgMy earliest memories of my late father include heading out to scoop up bargains on the day after Christmas. What, I wondered at the age of four, could be better than buying plastic reindeer and strings of fat multicolored bulbs for 50 percent off — 364 days before you'd ever want to use them?

Nothing, I concluded. It was fun, even exciting, a way to effectively extend the magic of the holiday just a little longer.

And now, through a flurry of ill-conceived marketing, the fun is over. Some Master Marketer who clearly lacked access to a calendar decided that After Christmas Sales would be even better before Christmas. And that triggered a rash of related, equally annoying decisions to accelerate sales of all kinds.

Black Friday on Thursday, anyone? How about Cyber Monday on Saturday? Why don't we just have sales all month long?

But that's not all. After the sales are accelerated, many of them are extended — so all those Cyber Monday specials are still out there on Thursday.

What's New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Last month, Microsoft promised the quick release of Dynamics CRM 2015 for cloud and on-premises. Sure enough, it made good on its promise Dec. 1 with the release of both Dynamics GP 2015 and an update to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Dynamics AX 2012 R3.

For digital marketers. the focus of this announcement will be the CRM release — which brings the Cortana voice-command technology to the CRM software for the first time.

Analytics is Everywhere

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We saw the usual spate of announcements coming from the major software companies this fall. Lots of new extensions to the Salesforce.com and Oracle marketing clouds, Adobe extensions and updates to Creative Cloud, and most recently, IBM’s Launch of IBM Verse. And that’s just the big players.

All of the fall software announcements had one thing in common: analytics. Whether it’s sales analysis, data for making marketing decisions or prioritizing emails, analytics -- predictive analytics especially -- is everywhere. It’s behind the latest supply chain management tools and integrated into CRM systems. Analytics is in email too.

Salesforce Social Studio Targets Organizational Silos

Salesforce unveiled its Social Studio marketing platform inside its ExactTarget Marketing Cloud in May, which brought together $3.4 billion worth of acquisitions in a platform for social content marketing, engagement, publishing and analytics.

The platform gets a boost this month as the San Francisco CRM giant released enhancements to its Social Studio that include the ability to deliver messages to customers across the Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud from one platform.

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.

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.

A Signpost on the Road to Marketing Automation

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As technologies mature, two nice things typically happen: the price falls and capabilities rise. Soon almost everyone can take advantage of it.

Consider cell phones. They were expensive, bulky status symbols when first marketed, but 4.55 billion people will use better, cheaper phones this year, according to eMarketer. Computers? Over the past 20 years, the price of a medium-quality PC has fallen from about $2,000 to a few hundred dollars. And today's computers are much better.

So it shouldn't come as a terrible shock that a Software-as-a-Service startup is now offering a marketing automation system with basic cross-channel customer relationship tools for $200 a month, or $180 if you pay in advance. The company's target? Mom and pop businesses.

Customer Success is a Failure

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Customer success is a stupid concept … a catchphrase that shifts the focus from people to profit.

Unlike customer experience — a phrase that suggests giving something of meaning and value to the people who matter most — customer success implies taking.

It shifts the focus from customers to companies. Or, as the Customer Success Association so bluntly states on its website, turns "customer relationships into strategic portfolio assets" with an emphasis on "sustainable corporate profitability and growth." It asks:

  • How can we gather and use personal data and market intelligence to get the most from our customers?
  • How can we lure potential new customers and entice the ones we already have to spend even more?

Customer success isn't about helping customers or resolving their complaints. It's not even about creating win-win scenarios for customers and companies. Rather, it embraces and celebrates the exploitation of customers for a company's own benefit.

At least that's how it seems. And in this so-called age of customer centricity, it's tiresome.

Chaos in the Video Content Management Market

Enterprise video content management (VCM) doesn't really fit into enterprise content management (ECM). So it's not all that surprising that it has now developed its own space, however chaotic that may be.

According to Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Video Content Management, the video content management market is immature. But it is developing rapidly, driven by parallel technologies like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise collaboration technologies and e-commerce. And companies like Qumu, Panopto and Kaltura are leading the charge.

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