Guest Post: Increase Your Social Media Engagement with These Proven Strategies

How-to-Create-a-Brand-Identity-Using-Social-Media-04

There is no question that social media has earned its spot in every business’ digital marketing strategy. The rise of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have forever shaped the way users express themselves online.

Nowadays, almost every business has some type of social media account. 83% of fortune 500 companies have a presence on Twitter and over 3 million companies have LinkedIn profiles. However, simply having a social media account and posting content is not enough. What makes the difference between good brands and great brands on social is not only the quality of content, but also the level of interaction and engagement they devote to their audience. Are you replying back to users who comment on your photos? Do you regularly like trending posts within your industry? Have you developed an online personality for your brand?

Follow these guaranteed strategies and you’ll be well on your way to connecting with your target audience and increasing engagement on all of your social media platforms.

Facebook

4 million likes are generated by Facebook users every minute.

Liking is one of the most important aspects of social media. So hop on the bandwagon and click the thumbs up button! It’s important to like something when you see that it pertains to your business because you’re not only engaging with your industry, but you’re also connecting with accounts who share similar interests. Over time, social media platforms will start to see patterns in the content you’re liking and expose you to more related items. The great thing about Facebook is that if you have a particular reaction to a post, you can choose that instead of just thumbs up. Choose the laughing emoji when something is funny or the angry face when you’re upset. The important thing is when you react to a post, you begin to get filtered into a particular niche. What you discover in that niche is other users who belong there as well.

Those users are your target audience. So be friendly and say hi! Put a huge emphasis on liking content in your social media marketing strategy. Give users a like on their posts and explore what you have in common. These users will start to recognize your name and become familiar with your online presence. With one click and some curiosity, they could end up on your page! Don’t be stingy with likes, spread the love and watch it return back to you.

Instagram

Instagram generates over 3.5 billion likes a day and its usage has doubled in the last two years.

Much like Facebook, the way you’re able to connect with people through Instagram is by liking photos. Some users will exercise proper etiquette and like one of your photos in return for your like, but other times it just might not happen. That’s okay though, there’s no limit on the amount of posts you can like, so go ahead and double tap on posts that are relevant to your industry!

YouTube

100 million people take social action on YouTube every week in the form of likes, shares, or comments.

Commenting is just as important as liking for the same reason that you get to interact with your target audience and engage in your community. The difference with a comment versus a like is that you have the opportunity to communicate your unique perspective on a topic.

You can answer questions on trending posts, offer insight, or type something reactionary. This will help increase your engagement because users can actually see what you’re thinking.  They can go off on your ideas or like your comment in agreement with what you’ve said. Comments provide another opportunity for users to engage with your brand. Be social and leave a comment!

Twitter

500 million Tweets are sent every day, which translates, to 6,000 Tweets a second.

Twitter is all about the short and the sweet. Essentially, Twitter is a string of comments. The way you get your brand to increase engagement on Twitter is by participating in the never-ending dialogue. You can do this by liking, commenting, and most importantly, retweeting.

Twitter is a little different from other social platforms because it has a higher frequency of posts. According to Neil Patel (social media marketing maven and co-founder of KISSmetrics) the optimal amount to post on Twitter to increase engagement is 1 – 5 posts a day. Plan your posts beforehand or retweet other authorities within your industry. Keep up with the pace of Twitter so users can recognize your effort.

LinkedIn

The 14 most popular posts on LinkedIn are all about advice in the workplace.

LinkedIn is the platform business professionals go to in order to apply for an internship, look for a job, or expand the range of their professional network. What users are looking for on LinkedIn is the means to gain a better standing in their career. This can be in the form of acquiring a job or the knowledge to gain better skills. Your posts on LinkedIn should be about interesting water cooler topics professionals can read in their downtime. It’s perfectly acceptable to be on LinkedIn during work, so keep your content related to the workplace if you want to see engagement from this audience!

A Quick Recap

Social media marketing is genuinely about being social on the screen. If your brand is

participating in the social aspect of each platform, you will begin to see engagement rise because your account is active. It’s important to keep that part of social media in mind because it shows your followers you understand how to use their media! Let’s Recap:

  • Facebook – Like posts that are related to your industry
  • Instagram – Double tap appropriate photos in your niche
  • YouTube – Provide insight, leave a comment
  • Twitter – Keep up with the pace of tweets
  • LinkedIn – Make it about the workplace

 

About Author:

therese

Therese Palmere is a passionate content writer at Aumcore. Aumcore is a New York based digital marketing agency offering solutions from creative social media campaigns to SEO and web design driven by results.

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The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

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What’s a Key Part of a Digital Transformation? Digital Workflow

As companies take on digital transformation for real, they need to consider the people (their skills and backgrounds), the processes (has the brand made them digital or they still doing things on spreadsheets?) and the technology (to enable the company to be more digitally oriented.)

That all sounds easy, but it is only if a company uses a digital business platform that enables an advanced,  easy-to-use workflow and document / content generation and automation capability; Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities that improve the way people work digitally. This type of software needs to enable point and click workflow automation to handle everything from basic business functions to company-wide processes with a few clicks.

But in addition to WCA, the digital business platform also needs to have analytics. Why? Because the business will want to monitor the workflows and determine which ones are working well and which processes still need improving. (Most of the time companies don’t look to see if a process they have implemented is effective or efficient.) For example, let’s say you wanted to see how well your expense claims process was working. In the figure below, Nintex Hawkeye is used for expense claim processing;  to look claims  submitted and service level agreement infringements data to sharing among the management to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the expense claim process.

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Not only can a company automate a workflow digitally, but they can also monitor, capture and share the process performance for expense claims. The company can see number of claims submitted (677), the amount of expense claims submitted ($1.41M), the average expense claim amount submitted ($2.08K) and what the SLAs infringements were (1996). They can also see how the average expense claim is rising in cost each year (bar chart) and the departments who are submitting the expense reports (the circle graphic.) In this one simple example, a company can take what used to be a manual or somewhat manual process and make it completely digital as well as provide analytics around how well the process is working.

Nintex’s intuitive user interface eliminates the need for complicated coding and training for the lines of business, system integrators, and IT departments as they pursue digital transformation. In addition, the workflow analytics allow companies to more effectively optimize workflows across organizations, be more productive and intelligent, correct ineffective or inefficient workflows, and thus increase revenue as well as decrease costs.

In evaluating the value of digital transformation software, it is important to look at departments that drive revenue and affect customers. High return on investment (ROI) use cases are processes that involve content (documents, forms, records, etc.) for which requests for further automation and process improvement may take a long time for IT to accommodate. (IT has a lot on their plate and what seems to the business as a simple change, could take IT much longer without a digital business platform.)

To successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform their slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation. As companies consider their journey to a digital workplace, they will need to consider how they are going to transform all their processes that were once done on paper or in spreadsheets, to a fully digital process. A digital business platform is a great place to start. For more on this report, please click here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering-customer and employee-facing applications that make employee and customer experiences better

 

 

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AMAZON: Virtual ‘Dash’ Buttons for One-click Buying From the Homepage

How could it be easier to order from Amazon? Amazon just launched One-Click buying by adding dash buttons to its homepage and mobile applications. The dash buttons help Amazon Prime customers order their most frequently used items more easily. Amazon Dash buttons allow for quick reorders without hassle.

So what’s new? The original dash buttons were  physical, Wi-Fi connected buttons  users place around their home. When they realize they are running out of something like dish soap, they can place an order on the Dash button by tapping on the button. So what’s new is Dash buttons are now virtual Amazon Dash buttons that allow one-click purchases on it’s homepage.

The digital Dash buttons are for products such as groceries, pet supplies, diapers… with reorders one click away. Now Dash users don’t have to clutter their homes with actual buttons. To use the Dash buttons, a shopper can go to the Amazon site and select the option to “Add to your Dash buttons.” Perhaps these Dash buttons may even lead to more impulsive shopping.

Amazon Prime Dash Buttons

You just click on “Your Dash buttons”, see the figure above, and then buttons for things you’ve ordered before pop up.

Dash buttons

Here’s more about on how the buttons work to the video from Amazon: https://youtu.be/w1lrQgXa6pY

Amazon knows a lot about its customer’s shopping history and preferences so it has a good idea on which items to display.

Amazon is betting seeing a favorite item on the homepage will prompt users to buy it. This is an interesting innovation in e-commerce. Will it make shoppers order more? That’s the big question at hand. Only time will tell.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, Constellation Research

VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

 

 

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Facebook Video Ads: What’s the ROI?

With the variety of common products available, often customers want to learn how a product or service works before purchasing. With more and more buyers using mobile devices to shop, 4 out of 5 shoppers say a video showing how a product or service works is important in their decision to purchase or not purchase a product or service. In fact, shoppers report research on mobile devices with visual content helps inform their product selection. As a result, Marketers who use video grow revenue ~49% faster than non-video users. But if a brand is going to use video, understand that shoppers of shoppers expect a consistent set of visual content across desktop and mobile devices.

Where does Facebook come into this equation? Over 100 million hours of video per day are watched on Facebook. (Techcrunch) It is reported that shoppers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers and more than half of the marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

With over 1.5 billion users, ~1 billion users visit Facebook on their mobile device, so brands considering must think mobile first. What sets Facebook apart from its competitors is its unique ability to harvest vast amounts of customer information to create custom audiences, generate leads and build brands. The advantage is that it’s all within a platform that is already known for its engagement opportunity.

Facebook also  rewards advertisers for shares with cheaper views, cheaper clicks, and more impressions. This combination leads to an overall better ROI. The net-net is that retailers & brands should be seriously considering video advertising because advertisers cite a 40 percent increase in purchases as a result of video – specifically in the categories of apparel, home goods, and electronics.

While there seem to be many advantages, some businesses are holding back on video advertising because they feel video is too hard to make, or doesn’t produce conversions the way other ads do. But video content does not need to be difficult to create. There are vendors that make it easy, like Animoto. And attribution to video ads is easier often than TV ads because of the digital footprint.

Brands should also use the analytics Facebook provides and make sure to not waste budget by not segmenting your audience. Segmenting audiences can be done by looking at jobs, life events, relationship status, purchasing behaviors and additional segmenting can be done beyond this, for example geo-location targeting. Without segmenting an audience, marketing risk wasting their ad budget on the wrong audience and not generate the conversions expected.

In addition, as in any advertising, it’s important to include a call-to-action. A call-to-action can be as simple as Book Now for travel, Learn More for addition features on a product, Contact us for more information or Shop Now to be taken to the actual online store or landing page or a click-to-call button. But be careful – a call-to-action without engagement can result in consumers feeling “pushed” vs “pulled” into taking action. Include special offers and time sensitive, last minute deal to motivate consumer to come to a store, call or click.

If Marketers use a click to call button, make sure the contact center is ready to take the calls and knows what the special offers are. Consumers seem to prefer to call than fill out a web form and call convert to revenue 10X more than web leads. That is only true if there is someone at the other end of the phone to take the call intelligently. This means Marketers must ensure the ad copy and landing pages are optimized to drive calls and that they can attribute calls and the outcome to the right ad campaign so you can do more of the right thing and optimize the video marketing.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Facing Applications

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Guest Post: 5 Tech Solutions That Will Help You Exceed Customer Expectations

In a time where the world is more connected through technology and social media, providing excellent customer service is crucial. The reputation of your business is built on its effectiveness, including the customer experience.

Exceeding customer expectations creates loyal customers and it differentiates you from the competition. In addition, word of mouth is now more powerful than ever, as customers can easily share both positive and negative opinions online.

Here are 5 powerful tech solutions that will help you exceed customer expectations and provide exceptional customer service:

work

  1. Vision Helpdesk 

Serving businesses of all sizes and levels, Vision Helpdesk is a leading customer support software that comes in 3 different products. There’s the Helpdesk software, which enables customer support agents to receive, process, and respond to service requests. On the other hand, the Satellite Helpdesk software provides a multi-company customer support management solutions.

Additionally, all features from Helpdesk and Satellite Helpdesk combined are provided by the Service Desk software which follows the discipline of IT service management.

Unique features of these software include task management, ticket billing, asset management, and release management. Vision Helpdesk allows you to stay on track as you serve clients, creating a client portal that is convenient for both customer and company.

There are multiple pricing plans offered, varying by the specific software and the hosting plan. Pricing starts at $7 per month to host Helpdesk on your server with a recurring license, or a one-time license for $150.

  1. TeamSupport

This customer support program allows teams to collaborate better by eliminating miscommunications and quickly addressing customer issues. Improving customer communication helps teams handle the customer service process better.

The program has some key unique features that help with the delivery of cohesive customer support. There is ticket automation, which allows support staff to flag messages by word or type. For example, a staff could add a flag for any support request that contains the word “upset” or “frustrated.” This allows the team to prioritize the more urgent requests that need attention.

Another key feature is the Knowledge Base tool. This allows clients to try to solve their own minor issues, which enables support staff to handle bigger challenges that may arise. With TeamSupport, customers can have their needs prioritized and met with efficient responses. Pricing starts from $40 per month.

  1. Office 365 

Another top solution that will help you exceed customer expectations is Office 365. This cloud-based service features a number of different tools that can be beneficial. One of the newly debuted services is Bookings, which allows customers to schedule appointments with a company using online software. This makes a convenient process for customers as it eliminates the need for a phone call.

Dynamics is another Office 365 software tool. The CRM package brings a line of integrated business management solutions that allow your staff to make important business decisions with a greater sense of confidence. Key features of Dynamics include lead management, contact management, and territory management.

Pricing for Office 365 starts from $5/month per user, for the Business Essentials plan. Microsoft Dynamics pricing plans start at $4 per user/month.

  1. Samanage

If your company is seeking a more advanced, user-friendly help desk solution then Samanage is the option for you. Making life easier for both your team and the customer, Samanage has comprehensive functionality that allows you to quickly respond to service requests. This results in improved support for your customers.

The intuitive service desk ensures that your team will deliver exemplary support. Clients use their email or the powerful self-service portal to submit service tickets. Users can even search for a solution independently by using the system’s Knowledge Base.

In addition to submitting a new service ticket, your customers can easily track the status of a pending issue.

Samanage allows for a desk data integration and can be used on the go from any smartphone or tablet with web browsing capabilities. You can experience the convenience and up-to-date reliability of Samanage for an affordable annual subscription based on your software needs.

  1. AmoCRM

AmoCRM allows you to manage your pipeline and sales team. The sales management service is a web-based platform enables businesses to manage customer relationships more effectively. You can directly link platforms such as Facebook, Dropbox, Xero, and Zendesk to AmoCRM.

Valuable features include sales analytics, lead scoring, and email integration. The software supports custom field creation and provides a user-friendly approach to managing your company’ interactions with current and potential customers.

AmoCrm allows you to upload existing customers from contact databases such as Gmail and Outlook. There are also follow-up tasks to keep you up-to-date on meetings and calls, and these are attached to the contact or lead cards.

AmoCRM is free to try and plans start from $15/month.

There are many excellent technological solutions available that help businesses thrive in managing their customer service by maximizing efficiency and enhancing communication. However, technology can only take you so far. In order to provide a stellar customer service, your entire business should be customer-service oriented. Strive to exceed customer expectations whenever you can and this will definitely take your business a long way in terms of longevity and reputation.

 

About the Author:

heather

Heather Redding is an avid reader, freelance writer, coffee snob and a tech enthusiast from Aurora, Illinois. When she is not working, Heather enjoys swimming and hanging out with her friends. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

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Guest Post: How to Manage Your Remote Customer Service Team

The internet has made it possible for businesses to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world – yet at the same time, the internet has shifted power to consumers as they can get information on any product or service from multiple vendors and compare prices. In order to win business and succeed in this type of competitive environment, you must take a customer-centric approach and support your customers with the best possible customer service possible, even if that team’s scattered around the world.

That brings us to our next point. How do you manage a remote support team? How can you optimize support to cover all 24 hours of the day? Aside from logistics, how can you keep everyone productive and accountable? How can you make sure nothing slips through the cracks? While it may seem like a daunting task, successfully managing your remote customer service can be done well by following the below tips.

 

people-office-group-team

 

1. Hire the Right People

Working remotely first appears to be a great opportunity for most individuals. You get to work from the environment you’re most comfortable in, there’s more flexibility in your work schedule, and you don’t have to deal with hours of commuting, to name a few. Yet working remotely is a skill in itself and it’s important to look for people who don’t just like the idea of working remotely, but can actually work efficiently with limited supervision.

To ensure that you hire the right remote staff, see if they’ve worked remotely before. Perhaps they have experience freelancing or running their own business. These two characteristics can demonstrate the applicant’s level of accountability, and often is an indicator of a hardworking employee you can trust. You’ll also want to make sure to ask the following questions to make sure they’re the right fit for how you like to manage your teams:

  • What kind of work schedule do you prefer?
  • Have you worked from a co-working space before?
  • Can you attend regular meetings via platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts?
  • What are some out-of-the-ordinary things you’ve done to help customers and make them happy?

 

2. Choose the Right Customer Service Software

Along with hiring the right staff, having the right customer service software in place is essential for successfully running a remote customer service team. The right help desk software will automate the way customer inquiries or issues are submitted, handled and followed up on, making it easy for your remote team to support customers efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, your team will be given access to a wealth of data which allows them to track conversations, monitor client relationships, and revisit past communications with a specific customer at-a-glance. Having this type of organized, easy-to-access information makes it possible for your support team to provide the high-quality assistance your customers deserve.

And while giving your team the tools they need to succeed may be important for you as a manager, let’s not forget the value that customer service software provides you. Such software allows you to avoid micromanaging your team (which can be time consuming and counterproductive when your team’s scattered across the globe) because you’re always in the loop. From details like number of calls taken each day and numbers of issues resolved to hours worked by each staff member and any high-priority issues that need addressing, you’ll have a pulse on the health of your team so you can make any necessary adjustments and fix productivity issues as soon as possible.

 

3. Utilize Knowledge Bases

Did you know that 62% of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience? Make sure you don’t become a part of this statistic and create engaging customer service experiences that not only assist your customers, but make them comfortable making a repeat purchase with your company.

In order to achieve this level of trust among your customers, your customer support team will need to have access to as much company information as possible. Even your best customer support representative will come across a question that requires a bit more research. And when that representative is a remote worker, getting answers quickly isn’t as easy as walking over to you and asking a question. This problem gets further compounded when you factor in the time differences between you and each of your remote workers.

This is where a robust knowledge base comes in. By having information in one easily-accessible place, your team always has access to the answers they need to best support your customers. You can create private wiki for this type of knowledge share or create your own internal customer service knowledge base. But keep in mind that the creation of this knowledge base shouldn’t just be left to you and other managers and executives.

Utilize your customer service team to help with its creation and encourage them to update it and add answers on an ongoing basis. Thinking of your knowledge base as a living, breathing document that is constantly changing will give you an unparalleled resource to use for years to come.

 

4. Keep Your Team Productive

One of the most common concerns of individuals managing remote teams is how to keep the team productive and accountable. Fortunately, with the many technologies and platforms available for task management, your support team can be just as productive working from home as they would be in the office. Here are a few types of technologies to look into:

  • Messaging apps – Open communication is a must when managing a remote team. You need to be able to easily share questions and feedback so team members can share what they accomplished the day before, what they’re working on, and any roadblocks in their way. This keeps everyone accountable for making progress each day and keeps your team in the loop about what’s going on.
  • Video conferencing apps – While messaging apps can be helpful for quick check-ins, it can be good to have regular face-to-face meetings via video conferencing apps. Being able to talk to your team and see them visually can help to foster feelings of positivity, support, and encouragement.
  • Task management platforms – It can be hard to manage the tasks of one team, let alone one that’s remote and possible scattered around the world. To increase team cohesion and make sure there are no overlapping duties or individuals encroaching on the work of others, task management apps like Trello are a great option for easily identifying and staying on top of short-term activity, long-term goals and overall progress.

Remote work comes with its challenges, but with the right strategies and tools, you can build and grow a productive and effective customer service team that helps your customers – and your business – succeed.

 

About the author

 jill

Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps

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Amazon Go – A Retailer Using AI, ML and Vision Technology

The idea of Amazon Go is to weave into the shopping experience the capabilities of deep learning algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and sensor vision. A practical application of AI and ML is Amazon Go via advanced shopping experiences. The ability to walk into a store, grab what you want and walk out, never having to wait in-line: no checkout lanes, no registers. For many customers, especially after work when they are tired and just want to get home or during the holidays could be a much better customer experience.

So how does this work? A customer opens up the Amazon Go app on their smart phone and scans their personalized bar code as they walk into a store. The phone goes into your pocket or purse and the customer begins their shopping. As the customer picks up a product, it’s added to their total. If a customer decides they don’t want an item, replacing back on the shelf removes it from their total.  Amazon Go calls it “just walk out technology” for the modern shopper. Once you are done shopping and leave the store, the total is calculated and charged to the customer’s amazon.com card.

From the customer’s point of view, while on-line shopping has increased, some customers still like the idea of going to a store and touching / seeing the merchandise. To help ensure that brick and mortar stores don’t turn into showrooms (where customers go to look at merchandise and then search on their phones for a better online deal (from that or other retailers) and buy it online while standing in their store, technologies like Amazon Go provide convenience. Perhaps the thought and the hope is that the convenience will be more important than searching for a cheaper price and buying it online.

Showrooming can be very frustrating for brick and mortar stores and put some of them out of business. It’s interesting that the online and offline shopping worlds are colliding. Fresh goods have a short shelf-life and often thought of as poor candidates for online shopping because of their perishable nature. However, it’s a high margin area that Amazon wants to tackle by using brick and mortar stores and the convenience of shop and go. Younger generals don’t have the tolerance for standing in line.

The future of shopping is just getting more and more interesting as the new technologies get implemented.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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Oracle Service Cloud Announces New Releases

Oracle Service Cloud announces new releases for enhanced functionality in Web Customer Service, Contact Center including the Agent Browser User Interface, Knowledge Advanced, Policy Automation, and the Oracle Service Cloud Platform. Included in he release is a new Internet of Things (IoT) Accelerator, which provides a bi-directional integration with Oracle IoT Cloud.

The integration helps customers seamlessly interface with IoT technology so that service events and alerts received from smart devices can be consumed, as well as appropriate action taken by agents, within the Oracle Service Cloud desktop. Field Service seems to be an area where IoT can easily provide true use cases that can quickly garner ROI. It will be interesting to see how vendors incorporate IoT in the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator will allow internet enabled devices connectivity to Oracle Service Cloud. Accelerators are a collection of sample code, sample workflows, and best practices, documentation, and design guidance to assist customers with seamless updates or integrations with Oracle Service Cloud.Oracle Service Cloud Releases

Oracle Service Cloud also provided a sneak preview of Live Chat. What is the capability really about? Sneak preview allows chat agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit submit. Sneak Preview is designed to enhance agent productivity and bring value to the contact center by decreasing handle times. By allowing the agent to see what the customer is typing ahead of time they can begin to formulate an answer faster, which results in faster responses, and faster conversations. And Live Chat is now a fully supported channel; contacts are automatically matched and the contact and chat workspaces are integrated.

In addition, the release includes analytics performance enhancements with caching for frequent reporting and better notifications for report authors. Modern gauges are added to create much more intuitive and modern reports, allowing users to interpret data quicker, as well as new rendering options, to remove unnecessary components in reports, crisper rendering of charts, and a new modern layout theme. In addition, there is a new dashboard concept—specifically designed for that 5-second-glance overview for busy customer service leaders.

These at-a-glance infolets are available out-of-the-box and contain a number of single metric charts with real-time key performance indicators like open incidents by severity, SLA, First Contact Resolution, new incidents by channel, and so forth. Contact Center Directors can also schedule and send the infolet dashboard by email to key stakeholders at regular intervals. This is key as the more senior stakeholders are more involved, the more they begin to realize the importance of customer experience and customer service to the overall health, stability and revenue generation capabilities of their company.

In addition, the the agent browser UI has gone through a significant performance enhancement to support high interactivity and now supports a much broader range of analytics capabilities. The agent browser user interface is now a single version, meaning it is compatible with versions of Oracle Service Cloud all the way back to May 2015 and upgrades will now happen with zero downtime.  The UI theme has been updated for consistency across all Oracle Cloud portfolio applications. Knowledge authors can now use the Agent Browser User Interface to author and edit knowledge articles with a new HTML editor with HTML5 support.

As the race to provide the best customer experience continues, brands must choose between more single point solutions vs large system platforms. It will be interesting to see the choices of brands and how the customer experience evolves to meet the brand promise.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Drive Awesome Customer Experiences

www.constellationr.com

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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