Guest Post: How Social Media Has Changed Customer Service

The emergence of the 1-800 number changed the customer service game fifty years ago. It enabled customers to directly reach out to the companies they support with their hard-earned money. Back then, snail mail was the only other way to communicate.

Now, five decades later, the game has changed drastically. In 2014, brands were asked over 22 million questions on Twitter and Facebook alone. And statistics from Social Baker reflect that the majority of those questions are not being answered on Twitter.

Your customers want to interact with your brand, and you want to give them better customer service. Here’s how to tweet and deliver the customer service your customers want.

Taking Customer Service Public

Customers are attracted to the public nature of customer service tweets. They are not something a brand can erase. It’s not like calling customer service where you can be put on hold forever or be hung up on. It’s an upside that is no doubt responsible for the staggering rise in these types of tweets in the last few years. But while a public tweet can be very satisfying if you get a timely response, it can be equally frustrating if your tweet is ignored altogether.

In fact, fewer than 30 percent of questions to major brands were answered in the second quarter of 2015, according to Social Baker. Now that is a mind-boggling statistic. When a customer reaches out to you and you don’t answer the phone or respond to an email, it upsets that one customer, or maybe more if they write a bad Yelp review. But if a customer tweets to you publicly and you do nothing, it’s out there for the whole community to see. And you also open the floodgates for more tweets of a very negative nature. Remember, you can block a user but you can’t stop them from using a hashtag.

Making Marketing Magic

The best strategy to handle the public nature of customer service on Twitter is simple: answer every tweet. Every single one. This will not only show the customer tweeting that you’re on top of your game and present on your social media accounts, it will show anyone else looking at your account that you’re interactive and you stand behind your product or service. The best companies hope for complaints and turn them into content consumers. Look at every tweet, whether negative or positive, to show your customers and your prospective customers that you care.

Make Your Feed Extraordinary

If you’re a Twitter newbie, you might notice that a lot of Twitter users, even a lot of businesses, use duplicate content to populate their feeds. You’ll notice that many tweets don’t have pictures or even full-length descriptions, but are cut off in the middle of a caption and followed by an Instagram or Facebook link. Sounds like a great way to save time and build your Twitter following right? Wrong!

Duplicate content is a terrible way to build your brand’s Twitter presence. Your customers are not only looking for remedies to their problems or answers to their questions. Part of providing great customer service is providing information on your Twitter feed that your followers can’t find anywhere else. Why would they follow you on Twitter if they see the same content on your Facebook or Instagram accounts?

Add pictures and videos to your posts, and make them original, as well as useful, for your customers. Every sixth or tenth tweet should be an advertisement. Your other tweets should be relevant industry information, how-to guides, inspirational quotes and other non-advertorial content that helps define your brand, not just your product or service. Take Amway’s Twitter account for example. It’s not heavily recruiting new reps or pushing products. It’s informing its audience about its philanthropic ventures, posting pictures of its employees and sharing its ethos through photo quotations. This is how you engage your Twitter audience and inspire confidence in your customers to reach out to you and give you their valuable feedback.

 

About the Author

Stacy Eden is a Phoenix, Arizona native with a passion for art, power tools, and historical significance. She draws inspiration from classic cars, ancient mythological sculptures and jewelry designers such as Delfina Delettrez, Shaun Leane, and Dior Jewellery creative director Victoire de Castellane.

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The Need for Customer Experience is Based on Science Not Myth

The need for customer experience to improve is not a myth. In fact, here’s why. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities on a regular basis are happier than people who don’t[i]. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. With the advent of CoIT, we’ve actually imposed a new set of demands on our customer’s brains. But instead of offering a series of smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications are characterized by lag, downtime, and restarts. And at the same time customer’s flow-oriented brains simply aren’t wired to deal with poor digital experience interactions. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

And it can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient. But there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers at a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes.[i] Their impatience is an indelible part of their human circuitry. Brands must recognize that customers’ hardwiring of the brain’s and their neurological desire for flow and easy of use as part of the cost of doing business. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or drive customers to their competitors because of their poor focus on customer experiences.

Fast websites and mobile experience create happier users. Those happier users are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. Unhappy users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in how a web page loads, make almost two percent fewer queries, three point seven-five percent click less often, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience[i]. Worse, they tell their friends about their negative experience. With the word-of-mouth social networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of differentiating their brand’s customer experience or be left in the dust.

Response Times have been consistent for 45 years. Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than forty-five years[i]. In fact, these numbers are hard-wired in human brains. And they are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. In fact, that’s key to where customer expectations come from thus important to capitalize on. And what’s critical is determining where a brand’ web / mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as benchmarking against CoIT applications or competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Response Time Has Not changed Much. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions[ii]“, found people have always been most comfortable, most efficient and most productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, forty-nine percent expect page load times of two seconds or less, and eighteen percent expect pages to load instantly[iii]. And while optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have initially budgeted the resources to achieve these goals. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement so they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning activities. Here’s the results of the Walmart study on page load times and conversion rates:

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.11.29 AM

Businesses can keep arguing that customer experience doesn’t matter, it’s a touchy-feely construct or get it directly affects the bottom-line and start by designing and measuring customer experience performance management. For more on this see my report, here.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

[i] http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2014/07/16/eight-tricks-improve-perceived-web-performance/

[ii]Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions, https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/afips/1968/5072/00/50720267.pdf

[iii]http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/47-of-consumers-expect-a-web-page-to-load-in-2-seconds-or-less#axzz498kHSokj

[i] http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2010/06/15/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-web-performance/.

[i]Dual-task interference in simple tasks: Data and theory. Pashler, Harold Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 116(2), Sep 1994, 220-244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.116.2.220

[i] The Concept of Flow: Handbook of Positive Psychology, Nakamura, J. and Csikszentmihayi, M. 2002.

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Implementing Customer Experience, Cloud, IOT or Any Technology Project? Why Will it Fail?

Obviously no one plans on implementing a project that will fail. However, statistics show that over the past 20 years a very large percentage of technology projects do fail to result in the business outcomes that they were expected to meet. The real issue is that leading change (implementing new technology, whether it be CX, transitioning to the cloud, IoT, etc…) is different than the role of leading in general. But this point is often overlooked or some leaders don’t realize how big a difference there is in leading change compared to their every day leadership job.

The reasons projects often fail and the need for orchestrating customer experience projects using organizational change management range from:

  1. Projects ran over budget, were late, or never completed.
  2. Projects were attempted more than once because initial efforts failed.
  3. Only a small part of the organization adopted the new processes or systems.
  4. When the project went live, critical business systems halted, causing loss of revenue, increased costs, dissatisfied customers and frustrated employees.
  5. Parts of the business (or possibly the entire organization) eventually reverted to the old way of doing things.
  6. The return on investment (ROI) and/or stated benefits were never realized.
  7. The project cost the business more money than it saved or generated.

 

Our research shows that there are seven steps for leaders of change leaders can use to be more successful.

Practice #1 – Understand the Business Case for Change

Practice #2 – Start with the Executive Team: Move It from Involved to Engaged

Practice #3 – Engage All Leaders and Prepare Them for the Journey

Practice #4 – Build a Broad Understanding of the Change Process

Practice #5 – Evaluate and Tailor the Change Effort

Practice #6 – Develop Adaptive Leadership Skills in Change Leaders

Practice #7 – Create Change Leadership Plans

Don’t become one of the statistics of failed projects. There are best practices that work.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-Facing Applications to Create Awesome Customer Experiences

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Guest Post: Friendly Employees & Happy Customers: Gain a Competitive Edge

A woman's hand is drawing a cloud with business icons on the glass screen. A concept of new digital business opportunities.

Whether your business is booming or you’re experiencing a lull in consumer spending, it is important to defend your position in the market and remain competitive. Here are two key customer service trends that can help your company gain an edge over the other guys.

Treat employees well

Perhaps the easiest, yet most overlooked, way to be competitive is to simply treat your employees well. Employees are the face of any company and often the first interaction with customers. Happy, appreciated employees are more likely to feel invested in the company, thus willing to go the extra mile.

Experts indicate that treating your staff as if they were your most loyal customers is essential. Famed entrepreneur Richard Branson agrees, noting that if you meet the needs of your employees, they will “make the magic happen.”

The bottom line: Happy, satisfied employees are more hardworking, productive, effective and efficient. They don’t call in sick as much and they tend to be loyal to the company — in turn, allowing companies to spend less on recruitment and training. (Added bonus: happy employees are more likely to refer other talented individuals to the company for jobs.)

Providing great benefits and other perks (say, free gym memberships, extra vacation days for a job well done or even free office snacks and bottled water), a positive working environment and regularly showing appreciation can go a long way in your employees’ customer service efforts.

Cloud-based customer service

Savvy companies and business owners know that their call centers are their first line of defense in customer service and gaining customer trust and loyalty. In fact, three-quarters of companies out there say customer service is a customer differentiator. In light of this, many smart companies are migrating to the cloud to provide excellent customer service. Why? Businesses recognize the advantages of shifting contact centers to the cloud as a means of competitive advantage, as well as to see financial savings and an increase in customer satisfaction.

Just what is the cloud?

The cloud is a network of servers, each of which serve a unique purpose. Some servers use the cloud to run an application or provide a service.

Why should companies use technology like the cloud for customer service?

Cloud-based call centers allow companies to offer on-demand support to their customers, anywhere and anytime.

Companies that shift to the cloud are more agile and better positioned to react to customer issues quicker, in turn, gaining a competitive edge. Further, companies who move call centers to the cloud also cut down on sales representatives and on-site technology. Working with cloud software companies can streamline processes and also reduce your company’s vulnerability to cyber attacks.

A cloud-hosted contact center is fast and easy to set up with no equipment required — only a computer and a Wi-Fi connection. Most cloud-based contact centers also don’t require any money up front, but rather are based on a fee that you pay as you go. As a result, companies cut down on IT costs they’d otherwise have to pay for.

Cloud-based call center software also allows staff members to work from anywhere just as efficiently as if they were in an onsite office, easily making, receiving and transferring calls, as well as directing calls to the right company department.

Truth be told, anything companies can integrate to provide excellent customer service should be considered. But those that allow you the operational advantage of leveraging cutting-edge solutions without monumental costs are often the best to implement first.

About the Author

Sheryl Coonan is a seasoned journalist, writer, proofreader, content creator and PR professional. She has had experience in print, digital and broadcast media in a variety of industries, including entertainment, human resources, beauty, fashion, health, lifestyle, social media marketing, tech and more.

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New Report: Neuroscience Proves Customer Experience (CX) Isn’t Just Fluff

What’s the Importance of CX? There’s a lot of talk about creating a great customer experience. Seems the world has gone from being concerned with CRM to customer experience. And every vendor is talking about it- whether its a marketing vendor, customer service vendor, mobile vendor…. What I wondered was what scientific data is there to help prove that customer experience wasn’t just a fluffy initiative that was the next fad. From being a customer myself (we all are) I found that intuitively I know that the type of customer experience I have and others have does make a difference in our opinion about a brand. It changes whether we want to interact with them again, whether we purchase from them, whether we become a loyal customer bringing repeat business and whether we make positive remarks to our friends and family as well as what we post in social media. Social media carries more weight that most realize because while most people won’t post a response, they will read it. That’s the 1-9-90 rule, where ~1% of the people post, ~9% respond to the person who posted and ~90% just read the post, but don’t respond. 90% of my 58,000 followers on Twitter is 52,200 people.  Even if not all of them see a post, it’s still a lot of people.

The Science of Flow That Makes Up Customer Experience. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities regularly are happier than people who do not. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. However, instead of offering smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications often experience lag, downtime, and restarts. At the same time, customers’ flow-oriented brains simply are not wired to deal with poor digital interactions. As a result, when the customer experience is poor, they leave the site and go to a competitor’s that has optimized both their IT and CX metrics so the experience does flow well. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

The Neuroscience of Customer Experience. It can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient, but there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers on a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes. Impatience is an indelible part of human circuitry. Brands must recognize that the hardwiring of customers’ brains and their neurological desire for flow and ease of use are part of their expectations. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or risk losing customers to the competition.

Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than 45 years. They are hard-wired into the brain and are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. That’s key to understanding where customer expectations come from. It is critical to determine how a brand’s web and mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as to benchmark against CoIT applications, competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Customer Expectations Mean Business. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions,” he found that people have always been most comfortable, efficient and productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is that the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, 49 percent expect page load times of two seconds or less and 18 percent expect pages to load instantly. While optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have budgeted the resources to achieve this goal. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement. As a result, they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning.

Fast websites create satisfied users who are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. On the other end, unsatisfied users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in web page load time, make almost two percent fewer queries, nearly four percent fewer clicks, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience. Worse, they tell friends about their negative experience. With the word-of- mouth that social media networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of positively differentiating the brand’s customer experience.

Want more information on this new report? You can find it here.

The neuroscience of customer experience @drnatalie petouhoff

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences

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Local Motor’s Self-Driving Vehicle Taps the Power of IBM Watson

There’s been a lot of talk around self-driving cars and Local Motors, a leading vehicle technology integrator and creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. Local Motors is a technology company that designs, builds and sells vehicles. The Local Motors platform is a combination of a global co-creation with local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations quickly to market. Local Motors in National Harbor, Maryland is a public place where co-creation is the focus for advancement of vehicle technologies.

What can you see if you visit the Maryland facility? On display are 3D-printed cars and a large-scale 3D printer. There visitors can have an interactive co-creative experience that showcases what the future of 3D printing, sustainability, autonomous technology will be. Visitors can get involved with Local Motors engineers and the company’s co-creation community.

The automobile has a name and it’s called “Olli.” At its debut it was carrying the CEO of Local Motors and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. and vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento. The vehicle took them from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. While there are already self-driving action in Washington, DC, soon there will be vehicles on the road in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas. The cars can carry up to 12 people. More details can be seen in this video:

Source: IBM Watson

What’s the Big Innovation? The electric vehicle is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive. Passengers can interact conversationally with Olli and ask about:

  • Destinations, for example, “Olli, can you take me downtown?”
  • Specific vehicle functions  like: “How does this feature work?”
  • Time related questions like, “Are we there yet?”

In addition, Olli can make recommendations on local restaurants or historical sites. Olli is essentially designed to deliver interesting, entertaining, intuitive and interactive experiences for riders. How is IBM Watson is being used to improve the passenger experience? It is enabling the natural interaction with the vehicle via the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. As the vehicle gets used, Local Motors plans to install more sensors and adjust them continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

The platform leverages four Watson developer APIs:

  • Speech to Text
  • Natural Language Classifier
  • Entity Extraction and
  • Text to Speech.

Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education commented that, “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems. IBM is excited to work with Local Motors to infuse IBM Watson IoT cognitive computing capabilities into Olli, exploring the art of what’s possible in a world of self-driving vehicles and providing a unique, personalized experience for every passenger while helping to revolutionize the future of transportation for years to come.”

Having worked in the automotive industry in Detroit, it’s exciting to see new develops like this. It’s also exciting to see the application of cognitive computing in a real world situation. Using it for something like empowering self-driving vehicle is probably the best way to advance not only the self-driving cars but also the ability to deploy cognitive computing in a real world application. This looks to be the start of something very interesting that other brands in this space should be taking note of. Competition in the automotive is rapidly changing, from the provision of Cars-As-A-Service, with GM investing $500M in Lyft to cars that drive themselves. The Future is here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that create amazing customer experiences.

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Guest Post: The Relationship Between Cloud ERP and Big Data

There have been quite a few articles written on adopting cloud-based ERP, and whether the technology will be along the lines of its counterparts. Businesses are becoming more aware of the computer industry and the software is improving with each release. Cloud technology is becoming crucial in developing new capabilities to attract customers.

 

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) within the cloud is the engine utilizing data produced on the plant floor to power manufacturers. Cloud ERP gives manufacturers more precise and real-time data. Also, it is delivering programmable logic controllers, barcode readers, visual management systems, and wearable technology that can assimilate with the ERP system.

 

Big data is popular amongst business intelligence and analytics applications. Big data technology is evolving and it is changing application systems that have long supported them; it has given challenges and great opportunities. Acquiring business value is not only a challenge but it puts the business’ goals into context. 18-20% of the world’s GDP is contributed by manufacturing. Data is well on its way to becoming the new way to be efficient, since manufacturers worldwide are using it gain an edge on the competition. They are looking for products to better themselves and their consumers while discovering services that can be innovative and add to their image. 50% of reduction from manufacturing in product development holds real value. The largest source, arguably, of data in manufacturing is from ERP. Cloud adaptation is being forced at this point, which is the location where data is evaluated and processed using state of the art analytical engines that can slice and splice data into conventional and unconventional sources. ERP is now the connection of the cloud and Big Data.

 

Cloud ERP showcases enhanced flexibility, customization, lowered cost of ownership, and better integration with emerging technologies. You may also see a lowered number of times you call your IT department. The developments indicate that ERP on the cloud is not a situation of when manufacturing will become part of the trend, but what it will choose to deliver via the cloud before ERP immerses itself in the cloud completely.

 

In this moment, ERP in the cloud has proven itself to be a key player in manufacturing. Many companies will do their best to obtain flexibility, enhance customization, lower their costs and drive the integration of emerging technologies. The cloud will be a central figure in its success. As manufacturers gain confidence and experience the benefits, modules that go far above the functions of basic ERP will submerge in the cloud. Mobility and data growth are adding to the need, which would take ERP into the cloud, to create an improvement in efficiency and intelligence leveraged regardless of time and locality. This change coming will be historic. The ERP landscape is being reshaped as this is being written.

erp

 

(Image Source: FanRP)

 

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Saurab Prabhakar is a SEO & Outreach Intern at The Marketing Zen Group. He writes creative content on behalf of the ERP systems specialists at TGO Consulting, and enjoys his work. You’ll find him instructing Group Fitness classes and enjoying great food. You can connect with Saurab on LinkedIn.

 

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Guest Post: Operational Information to Include in Your Business Plan

shutterstock_338719268

Benjamin Franklin said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This is especially true when business planning. A business plan will be the road map that you follow as you create and grow your business. Central to the plan is the operational information that will link all of the parts together and transform your idea into a viable business.

Components of a Business Plan

Before focusing on one part of the business plan, it is important to understand all of the pieces that make up a good plan because they are all interrelated. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a typical business plan will have an executive summary, company description, market analysis and marketing methodology, management, services or product, and a financial projection. Each of these parts is dependent on information from other parts. For example, financial projections will influence the speed of manufacturing and vice versa. If you can only make 10 items a day, you either need to have a high price point or a low financial projection.

Start With the Market

There are several theories for developing a price structure, but the easiest is to set your price comparable to that of the industry average. Once you have your unit prices for products or services, you will multiply this by the number that you can make in a month to get your monthly revenue. Conversely, if you know how much you want to make per month, you can divide this by your unit cost to get the number for production in the month. Since all of your financial analysis comes from revenue and revenue comes from service or product delivery, this is the first important piece of operational information that you will need.

Know the Competition

Your competition will be one of your primary operational drivers. Do not look at them as an enemy. Instead, see competitors as businesses that have already achieved a market share and use them as a model of success. Most successful manufacturing companies have their pertinent information online. For example, Apple Rubber has material guides for its o-rings posted on its site. Assimilate this data into your operational plans instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

Develop Flowcharts

There are a lot of moving parts to any business. It is one of the reasons that you want to plan it out. To truly understand the minutia of your operations, use a flowchart and plan out every element of the process from concept to delivery of products. Since one of the reasons for a business plan is to prove competency to an investor, the operations flowchart should be done with extreme detail. The ordering of supplies, quality assurance and distribution all need to make an appearance. If this is for a sole employee business, then the flowchart needs to show all of your activities, including marketing, accounting and service delivery.

The Cost of Space

The space needed to run your operation is directly influenced by the business structure, type of business and number of employees. This information also flows into your financial analysis as the purchase of a building will change the structure of your assets. Decide whether to purchase or lease and do not forget to include various fees associated with real estate. Weave all of this information throughout your plan so that it gives the most guidance possible for you and your business.

 

About the Author:

Paul Reyes-Fournier has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his ownmarketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a BS in physics and an MBA.

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From the Field: Lithium Technologies and Microsoft Dynamics Partner To Create A Total Community Digital Strategy

Is social CRM dead? Depends on what you consider social CRM to be. With the partnering of Lithium Technologies and Microsoft Dynamics, we will see yet a new and more extensive version of intelligent customer engagements. The partnership includes Microsoft Dynamics and Lithium’s community data, social customer intelligence and analytics.

The expectation of the value of an online community is often associated with cost savings – just as call deflections can reduce the costs of customer service. While many cost savings are possible, there also are six major areas that my research has found through which an online community can contribute to a company’s revenue, profits and margins. The six areas are: increased revenue through new products and services; enhanced communications, marketing and public relations; improved employee engagement; better business cost efficiencies; expanded business value in customer service; and heightened senior leadership and board member business guidance. With this paper, leaders can create a basic blueprint to embark on a discussion about whether to create an online community, the value the community can provide, and how best to lead this key strategic initiative in their organization.

Back to the conference, @jasonlsilva gave a wonderful talk on perception, change and our ability to redefine the meaning of a billionaire to one that helps a billion people. That I think is quite different than most of the start-up wanna-be billionaire’s who are in tech to become the next billionaire. You can see more of the videos from Jason’s show BrainGames on youtube called Shots of Awe. He talked about how the smart phone is the most powerful tool to get people out of poverty. And that it’s important to step back and understand where we are in time with respect to technology. 100 years ago we were electrifying the world – today we are cognifying the world via technology. In cognitive psychology, after a signal reaches the brain, the instant when we are aware of a change in our environment, but it is before the brain is able to identify and codify what the change is. The key is to not only not be afraid of change, but to embrace it with a positive mindset. The book Mindset was recommended by Lithium’s CEO Rob Tarkoff @rtarkoff by Carol Dweck. And lucky me – got a selfie with @jasonlsilva – @jasonlsilva and @drnatalie

Speaking of great customer service, I got this note from Claudia Kardzair & Nena Gadingan who are Guest Care Managers at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis:

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.11.04 AM

The days of loyalty driven by customer care are here. Some analysts think companies will be competing on customer experience in the future. I believe they always have been. It may not have been as measured as it is now, it may not have been as obvious as now — but customers have been making mental note of their experiences. If it is bad, they will take themselves out of your marketing funnel, regardless of the number of emails, tweets or other communications a brand sends. It is the era of customer experience being the number one metric all CEOs and CFOs need to pay attention to.

And at the conference we got to hear about the wonderful total community results from customers like @USAA and Renee Horne and Mark Nichols from Skype.

Skype Community Results Renee Horne USAA Results

 

 

 

 

 

The keynote on the future of CRM and intelligent customer engagement by Jujhar Singh, General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, provided a deeper understanding of what the partnership means to customers.  He shared key insights into how businesses can maximize customer data to create more personalized brand experiences. The combination of online communities and the power of CRM is an amazing capability. Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO of Lithium Technologies, explained that with the partnership Lithium will be able to expand what they now offer, the power of Total Community across Microsoft’s intelligence and data infrastructures.

Microsoft Dynamics Integration with Lithium Technologies

By working closely with Microsoft, they together bring a much broader solution to their our customers. The strategic alliance will allow the integration of Lithium social interactions and community data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Dynamics customers now have a community platform that offers businesses greater insights from the wealth of customer signals embedded in communities.

What does the future of CRM hold? Perhaps it will finally go from it’s former capabilities – a customer contact management system to actually become the more aspirational customer RELATIONSHIP engagement system that enrolls a brand’s customers and never looses sight of what is important to THEM and is always there when their customers need them with the things that are important to them. When companies do this they become truly customer-centric.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications

 

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New Report: The Digital Disruption Blindspot: What Could Put Your IOT Initiative Out of Business

What drives business models? Do you know if your business model is linear or exponential? What would determine if the business model was exponential or linear? One good example of linear vs exponential business models is given in my new report: The Digital Disruption Blindspot. In this report, I compare Kodak, whose business model was in the chemical and paper business to digital picture taking (digital devices and derivative businesses related to digital devices – like Instagram.)

What’s the blindspot that companies could miss? The fact that business models can be affected by technology. Take for instance the digital camera, first invented by Kodak in 1975. That first camera was not much to sneeze at. Who would have thought, at the time, that it would turn into something really important and drive so many businesses? Everything from the resolution of .01 megapixels to taking 23 seconds to snap a picture made it seem impractical, much less a business proposition. Except and unless you understand Moore’s Law.

You see, Moore’s Law predicts that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. It was created by  Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit,[2] and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade.[3] In 1975,[4] looking forward to the next decade,[5] he revised the forecast to doubling every two years.[6][7][8] moores lawThere isn’t any law that is more powerful or important in Silicon Valley than Moore’s Law. It’s the simple idea that transistor density (and later semiconductor chip density) is continually increasing, which mean computing power (things like camera resolution go up) as costs and energy consumption go down.

Moore’s Law was shown to be accurate for several decades, and used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development. The period is often quoted as 18 months because of Intel executive David House, who predicted that chip performance would double every 18 months (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and the transistors being faster).[17] 

And guess what is in digital cameras? Semiconductor chips! Gordon E. Moore was asked to predict what was going to happen in the semiconductor components industry over the years. His response was a brief article entitled, “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits.” Within his editorial, he speculated that by 1975 it would be possible to contain as many as 65,000 components on a single quarter-inch semiconductor. His reasoning was a log-linear relationship between device complexity (higher circuit density at reduced cost) and time.[28][29]

So what happened to Kodak? Kodak thought they were in the chemical (developing of film) and paper (printing of pictures) business. There was nothing driving that business to go exponential. It was a predictable linear business model. But the digital camera, because it contained semiconductor chips was based on Moore’s Law –  it had the opportunity to become an exponential business model. That meant of course that companies would have to keep developing the components and the cameras and the smartphones. And that they did.

Steven Sasson Kodak Digital Camera 1975

Steven Sasson Kodak Digital Camera 1975

But back in 1975, when Steven Sasson, Kodak’s inventor of the digital camera, the digital camera didn’t seem like it was going to become a practical device. But if Kodak had been really paying attention, the might have seen that they had the potential to go from a linear chemical and paper business model to an exponential business model, where the digital camera, especially those in smart phones, would nearly knock out Kodak, as it were, out of business. If you look at the smart phone business, especially the ones with cameras, you’ll see an exponential growth model.

Shift from analog picture taking to digital picture taking

Shift from analog picture taking to digital picture taking

If we have learned anything from what happened to Kodak, it should be to look at our business models, what technology is driving their growth and then either change or adjust the business we are in or ought to be in. Kodak would have been smart to very quickly pivot to the digital camera (and maybe even the smart phone business.) But they didn’t they stayed with what they knew. They stayed with what the company started with back in 1888. Rolled Film

It’s never easy to change directions. But the need to continually look at what is happening in your industry and what is driving change has never been more important than today, especially because so much of technology is driving business change. And in particular, a blindspot that many businesses many not see is Internet of Things (IoT.)  That’s because, just like the digital picture taking business, the number of connected devices is also predicted to increase exponentially over time.

The Exponential Increase of Connected Devices

The Exponential Increase of Connected Devices

The blindspot in the world of IOT is NOT seeing that the rate of connected devices is predicted to grow at an exponential rate. So the question would be – what business are you in and what business should you be in? And if you choose to be in a business, perhaps in the very near future it should be in an area that is some how related to the exponential increase in connected devices.

For more details on this report, you can find it here.

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst

Covering customer facing applications that transform customer experiences and business models

If you want to know more about CCD (Charged Coupled Devices) vs CMOS chips, read more here. Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) are used to make millions of chips for computer processors and memory. This is by far the most common and highest yielding process in the world. The latest CMOS processors, such as the Pentium III, contain almost 10 million active elements. Both CMOS and CCD imagers are constructed from silicon. This gives them fundamentally similar properties of sensitivity over the visible and near-IR spectrum. Thus, both technologies convert incident light (photons) into electronic charge (electrons) by the same photoconversion process.  Both technologies can support two flavors of photo element – the photogate and the photodiode. Generally, photodiode sensors are more sensitive, especially to blue light, and this can be important in making color cameras. ST makes only photodiode-based CMOS image sensors.Color sensors can be made in the same way with both technologies; normally by coating each individual pixel with a filter color (e.g. red, green, blue).

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