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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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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Continuity of Customer Experiences Drives the Future of Commerce

Continuity of Customer Experience Drives the Future of Commerce. I just finished some new research on how improving online customer experiences boosts customer loyalty and revenue in matrix commerce. This survey report provides online businesses with insights into e-commerce challenges, tools used for success, and plans for e-commerce usage in 2015-2020.  The goal is to ensure better experiences and understand what experience-driven continuity means to online business leaders, learn how organizations rate their own brand’s online experiences today, discover what they do to engage with customers across devices, and find out how organizations would rate the emotional connection that customers have with their brand online.

How End Users Should Use This Information: Clients should use this document as a best practices guide in planning for the developing online customer experiences required for success to drive enhanced revenue in matrix commerce initiatives. Here are 6 Pillars of Customer Experience and here’s a link to a snapshot of the paper:

Here’s more of the details of what we learned:

Six Pillars of Customer Experience Commerce Must Haves

Start in one channel, finish in another.

  • Stat: Only 29 percent of U.S. and 22 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy for their customers to start the buying journey in one channel (e-mail, chat, video chat, mobile chat, co-browsing, etc.) and complete the purchase in another channel
  • Customers expect to start the buying process in one channel and finish in another of their choosing.
  • It is paramount to reach out to consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.
  • If a customer cannot easily transition from one channel to another in the buying process, a company will not be able to reach out to the customer at the moment the customer has questions, wants advice or needs help in making a decision.
  • The customer journey must involve continuous interactivity and a two-way conversation with the brand at the right time, with continuity at its core.

Start on one device, finish on another.

  • Stat: Only 35 percent of U.S. and 23 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy for their customers to start the buying journey on one device and complete the purchase on another device and keep all the information for the order correct and complete.
  • Customers expect to start the buying process on one device (desktop computer, tablet, smartphone) and finish on another.
  • Leaders should make the business case for not only the technology to make it possible to start the buying process on one device and finish it on another, but also the staff and the training for them to help customers when they transition from one device to another.

Proactively deliver contextual agent assistance during the purchase process.

  • Stat: Only 46 percent of U.S. and 48 percent of U.K. brands could provide excellent agent or human-assisted service through voice and chat while keeping intact the context about the customer’s search, previous purchases and likely purchases.
  • Stat: In addition, only 49 percent of U.S. and 41 percent of U.K. brands could anticipate when a customer may need human assistance while on an e-commerce site.
  • What this means is that brands are not able to provide the human touch often required to close a purchase or understand the context of customers’ potential purchases and help them make the best choice.

Create performance reports viewed as a dashboard or downloadable for reporting and analysis.

  • Stat: Only 51 percent of U.S. and 34 percent of U.K. brands had technology that could provide a variety of e-commerce/website performance information as a dashboard.
  • Without an easy way to look at analytics, the numbers can be lost on many people.
  • Actionable insights must be provided in a dashboard fashion, with trends and easy-to-interpret “next best actions” in order to optimize e-commerce conversions.
  • Stat: In addition, only 50 percent of U.S. and 34 percent of U.K. brands had technology that provided them with site performance reports that were downloadable for reporting and analysis.
  • Without this capability, it is difficult to communicate to senior leadership about the trends, the progress or what is needed to convert more sales and drive higher profits.

Detect if customers need pre-purchase assistance and then support them and send help.

  • Stat: Only 27 percent of U.S. brands and 19 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy to send the customer help.
  • When respondents were asked if they were able to detect when customers need pre-sales or pre-purchase support, the survey also asked them how they were able to determine the customer’s need.
  • The breakdown of how respondents currently can determine (or not) whether customers need help indicate a very rudimentary approach.
  • The way brands currently are able to determine if a customer needs pre-sales help is if there is general movement throughout the e-commerce site pages because they are toggling between products or because they are on a page for a long time.
  • Brands need to be smarter than this and the right technology can help here.
  • However, if the brand is not able to reach out to customers with the right information at the right time, it is unable to convert these in-need customers in time into purchasers.
  • The various forms of assistance included being able to send a knowledge base article or offer a proactive, pre-sales chat designed to stop the customer from abandoning the site or the shopping cart.

 Get high lead conversion rates from demand generation content.

  • Stat: In order to secure the resources for content marketing to generate demand for products, brands need to be able to have a high lead rate for the content they create.
  • This means that brands do not understand what type of content customers need to make up their minds and purchase the product. Content generation can be expensive and require additional staff.[2]
  • Content is not something to be taken for granted. It takes budget, people, and process to deliver relevant content to engage customers and drive commerce.

Next Steps?  Have you gotten your customer experience in shape so you can ultimately drive revenue and commerce? If so, what did you did you do? What do you think most brands are missing on this topic?

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Create Amazing Customer Experiences.

References

[1] Harris Poll Survey and Constellation Primary Research.

[2] How to Staff the Team for Effective Content Marketing: From Ad Hoc to Professional, Learn What It Takes to Staff for Success, Constellation Research, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff and R “Ray” Wang, April 10. 2015

 

 

 

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Social CEM: Moving Beyond Customer Loyalty to Customer Advocacy And Customer Experience (Part 2)

Leveraging Global Trends to Engage Today’s Consumers
According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report (Figure 3) which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries found that:
» 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from
friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
» 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicate they trust messages from online consumer reviews, an increase of 15% in four years.

While many companies are spending millions of dollars in traditional advertising, data like this suggests that perhaps money might be better spent developing social customer experience initiatives. Figure 3. Consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than TV, newspaper or radio ads.

tvTargeting the Millennial Generation
While global trend research points to the need for the management of customer experience and advocacy, companies need to especially focus on the Millennial Generation. This next generation consumer is a unique and large target segment, consisting of consumers that are 13 to 29 years of age, who have adopted social media into their daily lives more rapidly than any other target market. This group is particularly important as history has shown that early adopter behavior typically points the way to mass market adoption of new technologies. While over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old, the purchasing power of the Millennial group is estimated to be $170 billion per year. According to comScore3, in the U.S. there are:
» ~79M Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000)
» ~48M Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980)
» ~79M Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

In Edelman’s study of Millennials, “The 8095 Exchange: Millennials, Their Actionsbrands
Surrounding Brands, and the Dynamics of Reverberation,” they found a direct link
between the immersive, symbiotic relationship Millennials have with social networking
channels and the likelihood to define their personal brand and reputation by aligning
themselves with brands they favor.

According to the study, 86% of Millennials are willing to share information about their brand preferences online, this means creating customer experience programs is of the utmost importance for companies.
Brands must understand and use the demographic, psychographic and online
interaction preferences of Millennials if they want to learn how to engage this next
wave of the largest mainstream market segment.

For instance, when engaging or surveying Millennials, standard consumer survey approaches may not garner the
response expected. Tech-savvy consumers often are fatigued by wordy, lengthy
demographic surveys and the old style of interrogation. Instead companies need to
consider engaging in a dialogue with not only Millennials, but all consumers.
In fact, consumer surveys should not be generic but rather they should capture
the unique customer experience with the brand. For example, a company who is
very focused on the customer experience would actually post completed survey
questions/feedback in the back room of the retail store or a restaurant. With that
information of what the customer experience should look like, staff members can
use it as their guide to focus their customer interaction behaviors.

An insightful survey should capture the customer’s emotional experiences with the brand, moving
beyond traditional questions that tend to interrogate customers. For example, in a
food service context, a generic question like “Was your drink hot (or cold)?” is an
impersonal way to ask a question. A new way to phrase it would be: “The drink was
prepared perfectly for me.”

We’re not done yet…make sure you check back for part 3!

Dr. Natalie: voted Top 20 In Social Media HuffPo
Dr. Natalie’s ebook: voted as one of the Top Ten Most downloaded Social Media ebooks- On smROI

Click here to watch my videos on Social Media ROI:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company


Dr. Natalie’s Executive Success Acceleration Firm™
Executive Business Strategy Advisor & Social Customer Experience Industry Authority & Consultant

The Doctor Knows Social Media ROI & Our Business Strategies Rx Get Results!
Our Motto? Be Awesome by: Learning, Sharing & Growing!

What we do: We work with companies to deliver increased revenue and decreased costs:

  • Executive Leadership Guidance on Strategy and Business Use of Social Media
  • Social Media / Business Benchmark Assessments – Tell you what you got/ what you might consider
  • Social Media ROI – set-up measurement capabilities and dashboards
  • Workshops on Business Strategy: Customer Experience, PR, Marketing, Customer Service & Internal Employee Advocacy
  • Instructor MEMES Summer Institutes at UCLA Anderson & UCLA Extension
  • Customer Experience / Social Customer Service Excellence Benchmarking Assessments & Advisory
  • Software Company Visualized-ROI, Persona-based Solution Selling w/ Targeted USP & Messaging / ebooks, White Papers, Webinars…
  • Social Media Training, Organizational Change, Motivation and Goal Setting

My book: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Follow Me Here:
Twitter: @drnatalie
LinkedIn:
DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ :
Google Plus posts
Facebook:
DrNatalie Petouhof

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Ramon DeLeon Interview – Customer Service and Social Media

Up next, I had the opportunity to interview Ramon DeLeon at NMX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1986, Ramon De Leon started with Dominos Pizza in Chicago as a pizza delivery driver. Twenty Seven years later Ramon is the Marketing Mind of a six store Domino’s Pizza Franchise in Chicago. His career has also given him the opportunity to work in Mexico as a Business Development Consultant for Domino’s Pizza ’93-‘97. Extreme Passion and High Energy are words that best describe his love for the pizza business.

Ramon has been using Social Media for his business since before the word existed. AOL Instant messenger was his micro-blog long before Twitter was invented. When Facebook was closed to the general public, Ramon connected with customers in photos and groups. His Social Media strategies were highlighted at Gravity Summit Harvard and streamed Live on CNN.com. Domino’s Pizza Franchisees around the world seek his Social Media advice. Ramon’s creative uses of Social Media and enthusiasm have made him a sought after speaker.

Enjoy this interview where Ramon and I talk about how effective it is to really invest in your customer service via social media.

At Social Business Builders,
we work with brands & software companies to deliver increased revenue and decreased costs.
Our Motto? Learn. Share. Grow!

@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff
310-919-8467

Want to see how to get an ROI from Social Media? Check out these fun videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Here’s My book on How Businesses can Drive Sales on Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Want to get more info on the business use of social media? Connect with me here:
Twitter:
 @drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.petouhoff

 

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Social Customer Service—The Pivotal Driver of the Social Enterprise

The white paper I wrote is about Customer Service being the pivotal driver of the social enterprise. One could argue that Marketing should be the driver of the social enterprise. Others might even say that since it involves software, IT should lead it. Perhaps because Customer Service is always in communication with the customer and the software they use to do this scales — its what they have always done, they should lead the social customer interactions.

The issue for most organizations is that there isn’t one central group of people that is collaborating to foster the cross-functional collaboration required to do social really well as well as to gain the increase in revenue and decrease in costs that social aligned with traditional business can bring.The social customer is a radically new breed of consumer. They post online in e-review sites, in public forums, on blogs, on Facebook and Twitter. They don’t hold back. And these unabashed posts are in the open for everyone to see—other potential and current customers, competitors, your board of directors, etc. so it’s become impossible to ignore.

This white paper explores the idea that the software commonly used in Customer Service could provide other departments with the same access, awareness to what is happening with the customer and the ability to respond to customers. Should Social Customer Service Software be used by all departments?

Reward and Delight Customers with LiveOps

Watch this short video to see how LiveOps can help enterprises tackle the challenges of today’s customer interactions—quickly, easily and efficiently.

Learn more about Social Customer Service and LiveOps

  • Social Customer Service Webinar, presented by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, prominent Social Strategist and Evangelist, and Sanjay Mathur, LiveOps SVP of Product Management.
  • White Paper, “Social Customer Service: The Pivotal Driver of the Social Enterprise,” by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff.

Want access to these resources? You can get them by clicking here.

Executive Success Acceleration Firm
We work with brands & software companies to deliver increased revenue and decreased costs.
Our Motto? Learn. Share. Grow!

@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff
310-919-8467

Want to see how to get an ROI from Social Media? Check out these fun videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Here’s My book on How Businesses can Drive Sales on Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Want to get more info on the business use of social media? Connect with me here:
Twitter:
 @drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.petouhoff

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