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Customer Relationship Management News & Analysis

Complete the Digital Marketing Puzzle, One Integration Step at a Time

2015-12-February-Crossword.jpgBeing a marketer today can be a challenging task, particularly because today’s savvy customers have already completed about 80 percent of their purchase research by the time they even contact you. This shortened sales cycle means that if your data isn’t organized across systems to make your customers’ history and preferences easily accessible, lost sales opportunities and lower customer satisfaction will inevitably result.

Is Your Business Capitalizing On This $1T E-Commerce Market?

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With a population of about 1.3 billion and an emerging middle class, China is the largest market in the world.

In the past few decades, it has emerged as a global economic powerhouse. In fact, its population may be the very reason why China alone will exceed $1 trillion in retail e-commerce sales in 2018. By comparison, global e-commerce sales in 2014 totaled about $1.3 trillion — and by 2018, United States retail e-commerce sales will only be around $500 billion.

Although Internet access in China is reported as widely censored and monitored by the state, 645 million people in China regularly access the Internet. The US has approximately 253 million users, India has 215.6 million and Brazil has 107.7 million, making China far and away also the largest e-commerce market in the world.

So what is your business doing about it?

Janrain's Portal Gets Inside the (Social) Minds of Customers

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Janrain releases technology today that can reportedly help customer care agents get inside the minds of customers.

Well, not literally, but at least it allows them to get a more "social" data profile of the customer including their "likes" and interests, the company claims.

The Portland, Ore.-based customer identity management provider launched the technology today. It's called a Customer Care Portal, which officials said helps customer care agents acquire "psychographic characteristics of their customers" by accessing their social profile data.

"Customers want to be able to access their own accounts, and self-serve," Jamie Beckland, vice president of marketing at Janrain, told CMSWire. "It's good for them, and also good for customer care teams. But sometimes, a customer just needs to talk to a person. In that case, customer care teams can now manage customer accounts directly, using the same data as the customer themselves."

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.

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.

Is Your CRM System Failing You? 4 Ways to Tell

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Would you invest in something that has a failure rate of 46 percent? If you've recently acquired a customer relationship management (CRM) system, then whether or not you realize it, that is what you have done.

That 46 percent is the high end of the failure rate range for these systems. At the low-end, there is an "optimistic" 16 percent chance of failure, according to a white paper by C5 Insight, which analyzed the various studies on CRM failure.

C5 Insight itself believes the failure rate is 38 percent.

Salesforce Shifts Focus to Customer Success with Analytics Cloud #DF14

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Salesforce.com will launch a major strategic shift next week from a sales-driven CRM company to one focused on long-term customer success. 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff leaked part of the plan last month with a tweet that mentioned plans for an Analytics Cloud, but that is only part of a broader vision. The company, a pioneer in cloud-based software, will announce the new analytics service on Monday. On Tuesday, Benioff will outline how those tools will enable the company's evolution into a "customer success platform," a source close to the company confirmed today.

"We will be announcing the Analytics Cloud at Dreamforce, but that's just one of the new announcements we've got," CMO Lynn Vojvodich said during an interview with Bloomberg TV

SMBs Going Global with Mobile

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Gone are the days when a company launched locally, slowly expanding into other markets. Today, businesses are thinking globally from the start, thanks to the ever-expanding use of mobile technologies.

BIA/Kelsey’s US SMB Spending Forecast revealed that by 2015 SMBs will allocate 30 percent of their marketing budgets to traditional advertising (down from 52 percent in 2010), with the remaining 70 percent going to digital/online media, performance-based commerce and customer retention business solutions.

Today, TapSense, an independent mobile advertising exchange released its annual eBook: "A Complete Guide to Mobile Marketing 2015" which provides insights, forecasts and advice on what the mobile landscape will look like in 2015. The report covers mobile advertising industry predictions for 2015 in relation to The Internet of Things, mobile payments, real-time bidding, mobile video advertising and businesses using mobile to think globally. 

Salesforce Enhances Sales Cloud1 With New Mobile Apps

Salesforce officials call their latest enhancement to their CRM platform a transformation of existing, long-time CRM features to "full-blown apps."

The launch this week comes on the heels of news that Salesforce users want, well, mobile capabilities. And hence the investment in mobile continues with an update to Sales Cloud1 with new mobile sales apps delivered on the Salesforce1 Platform. The apps include Today, Tasks, Notes, Events and Sales Path.

"Tasks and notes have been features within CRM for many many years," Mark Woollen, senior vice president of Sales Cloud Product Marketing for salesforce.com, told CMSWire. But what Salesforce is doing is leveraging these features as "full-blown mobile apps," he added that are "powerful" and work "end to end seamlessly."

Salesforce CRM Users Embrace the Cloud, Mobile Tech

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Some people get freaked out by the thought of going to the cloud. We heard that last month at the SharePoint Technology Conference, for sure.

It's not the case in Salesforce's CRM world, at least according to a survey of 1,000 Salesforce users conducted by a Salesforce partner.

New York City-based Bluewolf, a global business consulting firm, today released its third annual State of Salesforce report. It found that 70 percent of Salesforce CRM users are diverting budget from on-premise to cloud-based solutions, down slightly from about 75 percent last year.

"In my view the security debate should have been retired years ago," said Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, which claims to be “born in the cloud” and was Salesforce.com’s first consulting partner more than 14 years ago. "The cloud and Salesforce.com specifically are serving some of the largest and most demanding global organizations on the planet, with tens of thousands of users, complex regulatory and compliance issues and multiple layers of both security and redundancy."

Measuring Community Success: More Than Just ROI

Social leaders ready to take the next step in their community journey now have access to a new assessment tool to help them evaluate their community’s strengths and weaknesses, and make better decisions to build more successful online sharing spaces for their employees, customers and partners.

The Community Performance Benchmark (CPB), developed by The Community Roundtable and released today, helps leaders understand how effectively their community management efforts are performing against organizational objectives. 

“Community management has evolved to the point where organizations understand the impact of communities and the best have created roadmaps and ways to measure value,” Rachel Happe, co-founder and principal of The Community Roundtable and CMSWire contributing author, noted in a press release. 

“However, goals simply tell you where you want to be, not how to get there. The Community Performance Benchmark gives you an understanding of where you are, your management gaps and your opportunities.”

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