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 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,

Covering Customer-Facing Applications


Microsoft Dynamics and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Make Strong Connections

LinkedIn is building deeper integration between LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enabling companies to easily connect their social selling activities to their customer engagement efforts. LinkedIn’s  information embedded right into Dynamics CRM, sellers can better identify and build relationships with new and existing customers.

With the LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration, sellers can send connection requests, view the latest lead and account updates, discover similar decision makers, and send InMail messages directly from Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This is important because LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network, with more than 364 million members worldwide.

Sales Navigator is now on iPhone and Android. Access Sales Navigator’s key features where you need them most: everywhere. Learn more and download the Sales Navigator Mobile App.

Here’s links to the paper I wrote on Social Selling – how to build a personal brand, focus on the right prospects and build trusted relationships! Whether you are in sales or not, this is a very important integration. It connects a large social network to a CRM system and that’s only the beginning of what can happen….

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Marketing, Sales and Service to Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences


Customer Experience: How Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Drive Customer Loyalty

Customer Service is Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Henry Ford, an innovator in personal transportation said, “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” Nearly a century later, the number one reason a customer recommends a business to another customer is still outstanding service. Some things never change and they never will. But it’s up to brands and the senior leadership team to truly embrace this and support it with resources: people, process, strategy and technology. The right technology with the wrong strategy, only means you will be doing the wrong things, faster.

While delivering superior customer service has continued to be a key differentiator for companies, some things have changed forever. Today there are more channels, devices, and technologies. Customers’ behaviors have changed and so have their expectations. To win business and your customers’ loyalty, you have to deliver a modern service experience.

Marketing Maybe Bring You Customers, But Sales and Customer Service Keep Them

If no one knows about your product or service, no one is going to buy it. Marketing is very important to get the word out and make sure your customer acquisition is high. The content for marketing is one of the most important aspects on marketing, especially in the digital era. People do a ton of research on products and services online before they buy – either online or in a store. So making sure you are reaching your key target audience is key — but so is making sure your content is relevant, humanized (doesn’t sound like boring, corporate speak), authentic and genuine is key to getting or keeping the attention of our attention deficient audiences that are so prevalent today.

Is your marketing modern? Have you changed your marketing practices? Are you listening to what customers are saying? Often times creatives struggle with how to come up with new “catch phrases” or how to describe a new product or service. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Often listening to online conversations (just like many companies held in-person focus groups) you will understand more about the customers you are targeting and be able to kraft messages that are truly meaningful. And you’ll want to use analytics in your marketing to make sure you are targeting the best audience with the right messages at the right time. And then there’s channels and distribution of content on those channels. Marketers have more to do today than ever.

Sales Is Dependent on Both Marketing and Customer Service

Often customers read what’s posted in social networks about a product (think product review sites) or posts about how they have been treated as well as garner insights and research from respected analysts, journalists and bloggers.

Most information that decision makers collect and act on comes from their network. People—not databases or reports—form the primary source of information they use to formulate and validate decisions. And today’s personal network extends far beyond just the people they talk to in person. It reaches out to hundreds and even thousands of people, in nanoseconds, via social networks. And that’s in part, why it’s important to make sure your Marketing Content and Customer Service are aligned with your Sales initiatives.


It’s all about being in-tune with the customer and seeing the entire experience from sales, marketing, and service as a complete customer experience journey. Here’s a short video and my point of view on this topic of how intertwined marketing, sales and customer service really are. It’s time CEO’s put their foot down and demand that these three functional areas stop thinking of themselves as independent departments, but rather focus on how they can work together to make the best possible customer experiences:

What’s your take on intertwined marketing, sales and customer service?


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Deliver Great Customer Experiences


How Many Security Breach Notices Have You Gotten? Time Cloud Providers Step Up

I don’t know about you, but I do worry about cybercrime. I just got another notice in the mail from a company saying that they “may have had a security breach.”  The security of CRM or customer data is clearly something that customers care about. It’s become so common that it’s almost not a shocker when I get letters like this. CRM vendors, especially those that put customer records, data and customer analytics in the cloud must step up their security. I was relieved to hear about the independent auditors that verified that Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Intune align to ISO/IEC 27018, which provides a uniform, international approach to protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in the cloud.

The company hit other privacy milestones last year, including confirmation from European data protection authorities (Europe tends to have stricter regulations than the US)  that its enterprise cloud contracts are in line with “model clauses” under EU privacy law, and was among the first companies to sign the Student Privacy Pledge. In a blog post by Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, he said the privacy standard, known as ISO/IEC 27018, was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to establish a uniform, international approach to protecting privacy for personal data stored in the cloud.

What does this mean for companies and their customers? Adherence to ISO 27018 assures enterprise customers that customer privacy will be protected in several ways.

  • Companies are in control of their data. If they use the Microsoft products that adhere to ISO 27018, that adherence to the standard ensures that Microsoft only processes personally identifiable information according to the instructions that a company provides to Microsoft. So if you are a Microsoft customer, time to make sure the CRM folks and the IT/ Security folks are having lunch and meetings to discuss, plan and execute on their privacy strategies.
  • Companies know what’s happening with their data. Adherence to the standard ensures transparency about Microsoft’s policies regarding the return, transfer, and deletion of personal information the company stores in the data centers. Microsoft will not only let the company know where their customer’s data is, but if Microsoft works with other companies who need to access your data, Microsoft will let the company know who Microsoft is working with. In addition, if there is unauthorized access to personally identifiable information or processing equipment or facilities resulting in the loss, disclosure or alteration of this information, Microsoft will inform the company of this.
  • Microsoft provides strong security protection for a company’s customer data. Adherence to ISO 27018 provides a number of important security safeguards. It ensures that there are defined restrictions on how Microsoft handle personally identifiable information, including restrictions on its transmission over public networks, storage on transportable media, and proper processes for data recovery and restoration efforts. In addition, the standard ensures that all of the people, including Microsoft’s own employees, who process personally identifiable information must be subject to a confidentiality obligation.
  • Your customer’s data won’t be used for advertising. Enterprise customers have been expressing their concerns about cloud service providers using their data for advertising purposes, especially without consent. The adoption of this standard reaffirms Microsoft’s longstanding commitment not to use enterprise customer data for advertising purposes.
  • Microsoft will inform companies about government access to data. The standard requires that law enforcement requests for disclosure of personally identifiable data must be disclosed to a company as an enterprise customer, unless this disclosure is prohibited by law. Microsoft already adheres to this approach, and the adoption of the standard reinforces this commitment.

So as a consumer, do you feel safer or not? That’s the important thing. It’s a very good step in the right direction for Microsoft and it’s products. Now what to do about those cybercriminals?


VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Experiences that Engage, Empower and Ensure High Customer Lifetime Value



How Technology Affect an Agent’s Ability to Deliver Customer Experiences and The Affect on Increasing Revenue and Decreasing Costs

We conducted a study to determine the affect of technology on Customer Service Agent’s ability to deliver great customer experiences, increase revenue, decrease customer churn, agent attrition and contact center and call center costs, especially the cost of doing social media  Customer Service without a specific technology platform that allows all interactions- Facebook, Twitter, calls, chats, emails, etc.. to be delivered to the desktop and the context of the interaction to be maintained even if the customer uses another interaction action channel.

This study includes three case studies in which we measured the time it took the agents to deliver customer service through email, chat, phone, social media channels. We compared that to using a system that would provide a systematic way to pivot real-time between channels, reducing the cost to serve the customer and at the same time reducing the customer churn, especially where social media can drive negative word of mouth.

While not all customers post in social media and complain, many more customers are reading what customers are posting and not even bothering to buy from that company. The ratio for most customer bases for social media interaction follow the 1-9-90 rule. 1% of the customers post; 9% respond to those customers that post and 90% read the posts from the 10%. This ratio varies from vertical industry and whether its is a B2C or B2B company. However, the point is that the social customer service should not be underestimated just because all customers are not posting in social media. The important take-a-way is that word of mouth, whether its positive or negative, does influence large percentage of your customers.

Below is one of the two presentation I gave at the in Arizona –

How Technology Affects Agent Performance and the Bottom-Line by @DrNatalie Petouhoff_Contact Center

And the 3 white papers with the results of the study on how technology affects agent productivity and the bottom-line:

DrNatalie Study on Agent Productivity and Social Media and Traditional Customer Service_Case Study 1

The Affect of the Customer Service Agent on the Bottom-line Research #2

The Affect of the Customer Service Agent on the Bottom-line Research #3

Below is the 2nd of the two presentation I gave at the in Arizona –

7 Steps to Customer Experience And Contact Center Excellence @DrNatalie

If you would like to know more about how to add social media to your contact center, benchmark your current center and understand where you are with respect to best practices, please reach out to us!