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Customer Engagement News & Analysis

SAP, Facebook Up the Ante on Personalized Marketing #SAPtd

OK, we were a little off. When IBM and Twitter partnered last month in what they called a landmark connection for enterprise data analysis, we figured more would come.

"What's next?" we asked. "Oracle and Facebook? SAP and LinkedIn? Microsoft and Pinterest?"

So maybe we had the companies mixed up. But we knew something was coming. And it's SAP and Facebook.

The enterprise software giant connected with the social media king today in a partnership that allows SAP to combine insight with customer engagement by using Facebook’s scalable Custom Audiences targeting capability. This enables marketers, officials at the companies claim, to use SAP solutions to reach customers on Facebook.

Kana Adds a Social Network to Its Call Center Toolbox

2014-07-November-Tangled Wire.jpgIt can't be easy to work in a call center, listening to gripe after gripe from customers. When they can't solve the case, agents tend to put customers on hold while they get help from managers or experts.

Kana, the customer service software company acquired earlier this year by Verint, claims it is making that job a little easier by adding an internal social network into the 2014 version of its flagship contact center software, Kana Enterprise, which rolled out today.

The social network, called Activity Streams, isn't the only improvement. The company also enhanced ways to direct known callers to specific agents, to monitor call queues, to conduct multiparty chats and to share screens with customers, according to Kelly Koelliker, director of product marketing.

Verint Marketing Exec Calls Kana Acquisition a Game Changer

Acquisitions in the customer experience arena are reshaping marketing communications as consumers grow more powerful, more demanding.

Consistency in communication across all channels is now a key factor in satisfying individual customers. Today, companies realize their employees must be in sync on the latest promotions when they connect with customers through mobile, email, contact centers, websites, in-store or other media.

Verint, a big player in employee optimization and contact center technologies, made news earlier this year when it paid $514 million for Kana, a customer engagement company with about one-fifth its revenue. The first fruit of that merger came this week at Kana's Connect2014 conference, where the companies released their first jointly developed product -- Engagement Analytics.

Zendesk Masters Customer Service

After completing a successful IPO this spring, Zendesk, provider of a cloud-based customer service platform, recently added to the upside momentum, reporting second quarter revenue growth of 80 percent.

In the past quarter, the seven-year-old company added more than 3,000 new accounts and now has an installed base of 45,740 customers, up 40 percent year-over-year. Among Zendesk’s customers: Uber, OpenTable, Airbnb, Groupon, Adobe Systems, Box, Dropbox, L’Oreal, Nine West Group, Red Bull, Roku and AOL.

With so many consumers these days turning to Facebook, Twitter and Yelp to talk about their customer service experiences, it’s more critical than ever for businesses to get it right. Poor customer service is now much more of a social event, and potentially more harmful to an organization’s reputation.

Sitecore Tackles Barriers to Customer Engagement #SYMNA

It's clear from the sessions at this year's packed Sitecore Symposium 2014 in Las Vegas that Sitecore is tackling business barriers to customer engagement head on.

Sitecore partners see this in the field all the time. Customers are impressed with the system's customer engagement technology (with yet a new name, The Sitecore Experience Platform). In many cases the engagement tools are the reason they choose the product in the first place.

But once they get it in-house, they hit a set of core business problems that often stop full implementation of engagement features in its tracks. The biggest issue is that customer engagement software (and not just Sitecore's) needs to be managed in the context of a defined business model with objectives and resources to achieve those objectives.

Without planning and process to begin with those nice customer engagement features will be poorly used, or used not at all.

Why Infor is Buying Saleslogix

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Why would any company want to go into competition with Salesforce in the customer relationship management (CRM) field? Infor wants to do just that with its acquisition of Saleslogix.

Infor, based in New York City, reportedly plans to transform the Software-as-a-Service-based CRM company into Infor CRM. Translation: it plans to build the better mousetrap by blending Saleslogix' strength in CRM with its own cloud-based product, Infor CloudSuite.

This is no small task. Infor, which did not disclose the purchase price, said it plans to make a major investment in the existing Saleslogix system to make it more scalable, improve usability and then  tap into Infor's "deep expertise" in industry processes.

How the Internet of Things Drives Customer Engagement

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Now that we've accepted the idea of the Internet of Things (IoT), researchers are starting to look at when, where, how, why and who will use it. They're also looking into potential risks.

Recent research from IDC, for example, shows that retailers are leading the charge to the IoT in the quest for better customer experiences.

According to IDC, retailers see the IoT as a way to improve customer experiences. Specifically, they are using it to pull consumers into one of their channels, where they will entice them with products that have been contextualized and personalized for the customers’ gratification.

Have You Soured on Mobile CRM? #salesvelocity2014

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Want to make more sales, see more sales activity across your enterprise or close more deals? Want to do it quickly and want to do it on the road? Selligy, a mobile customer relationship management (CRM) vendor, claims it is making it easier than ever by adding advanced revenue and other upgrades to its platform.

The company contends its recent upgrades close the gap between what many vendors say they offer in the mobile CRM space and what they actually deliver. This gap, Selligy CEO and co-founder Nilay Patel says, has lead many users to sour on mobile CRM, noting:

Many tools over promise and under deliver, souring users on mobile CRM. Some provide very simple apps, but then don’t support the actual business needs of real enterprises. Others just shove all 100 fields from the CRM app onto the phone, resulting in an unusable app."

ScribbleLive Acquisition Shakes Up Content Engagement Market

A content engagement platform that powers real time content for major media markets just added a few muscles.

Toronto-based Scribble Technologies, whose ScribbleLive content engagement platform that powers brands such as Samsung, Shell, PwC, CNN and Reuters, announced today it acquired CoveritLive of DemandMedia. CoveritLive's client list includes Marvel, Ford, NFL, NHL, BBC, The Football League and Fox.

TinderBox Extends Dynamics CRM With Sales Automation

Think you’re missing something in Microsoft Dynamics CRM? TinderBox says you are.

In fact, according to TinderBox, Dynamics CRM users may have a lot of technology to provide customer insights and engagement, but its sales automation processes are just not up to scratch.

Cloud Disruption in the Call Center

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The $22-billion call center market — dominated by legacy solutions from Avaya, Cisco Systems and Genesys — is ripe for disruption. Of the estimated 14.5 million call center agents worldwide, 95 percent of them still sign into on-premise offerings.

However, thanks to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of as much as 40 percent and relatively easy implementations, the transition to the cloud has already begun: It’s estimated that within two years the cloud penetration rate in call centers will reach 13 percent.

At this month’s JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Mike Burkland, CEO of Five9, an emerging provider of on-demand software for contact centers, explained that the migration to the cloud is tied to the refresh cycle for on-premise solutions. Instead of spending big bucks to upgrade to the latest legacy offerings, the refresh often acts as a trigger opportunity to bring call centers to the cloud.

4 Secrets to Successful Customer Engagement

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We're still very much living in the age of the customer. So what can businesses do to increase engagement between employees and customers? Here are some suggestions from Gartner.

Engaged customers are generally better brand advocates. They are more loyal and spend more on that brand. In a report titled "The Four Attributes of Customer Engagement," Gartner researchers stress that it is important to understand the foundation of customer engagement. It defines that as "attracting and influencing of customers" to hold their attention and induce them to participate in a long-term relationship.

Yep, It's Still the Age of the Customer

Still need evidence that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology is hot? Then take a quick look at recent research from Gartner, which shows CRM spending in Europe remains strong despite continuing economic problems.

Half of the 102 businesses surveyed in 30 countries and 20 industries in the fourth quarter last year plan to increase spending an average of 2.5 percent on CRM projects this year.

Brands Still Struggle to Engage with Customers on Social Media

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Social media and customer service go hand-in-hand these days. We know consumers are likely to turn to social media to ask brands questions, complain, praise or to just say hi.

Though brands are more active on social media than ever before, they still struggle to engage with customers. To help us better understand how brands are connecting on social, we consulted the Sprout Social Index. It looks at channel growth, brand responsiveness and consumer behavior across more than 160 million inbound messages on 20,000 brand profiles and fan pages.

Zendesk Integrates with MailChimp, SurveyMonkey; Extends Customer Support

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 A month ago, we reported on the state of the multichannel customer experience. Despite brands' ability to create a presence across mobile, social and desktop channels, a Zendesk survey found that a majority of customers felt as if brands weren't necessarily using these channels to deliver a consistent or seamless customer experience.

As if answering the need for better support experiences, Zendesk has introduced capabilities to conduct proactive customer surveys and email campaigns through new integrations with SurveyMonkey and MailChimp.

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