August 21st, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

I know I speak not just for myself when I say I’ve often been annoyed to encounter a robot when calling customer service, but research from Pegasystems suggests that tides are turning. The software company recently found that customers are becoming more receptive to artificial intelligence (AI)-powered service interactions, but expect businesses to be at the top of their game and look out for their best interests by protecting their data, being transparent about the use of AI, and maintaining a human feel.

The survey, which took into consideration responses from 6,000 global consumers of various ages, found that 70 percent said they are open to AI helping them complete tasks if it would save them time or money; 40 percent said they anticipate that AI will in some way improve the quality of customer service they receive.

Companies, however, need to understand that people still want to be assured that humans are working alongside the machines, or are have at least had a hand in shaping the entity they are talking to. A revealing fact is that the most popular method for seeking help is by interacting with a human service agent (45 percent), and that it outranked chat, the second most preferred method, by 25 percent.

Pegasystems found that people also want to know–without having to ask first–when they are interacting with AI; 88 percent of respondents indicated that their trust in the company depends on such openness in communication.

Acquiring the necessary customer data for AI remains an obstacle for companies. Pegasystems finds that only 27 percent are willing to volunteer their information for the sake of better service, because the other 73 percent are not comfortable with how it will be used. Since these systems depend on data to make predictions and recommendations about customers, that presents a challenge that organizations will have to work their way around.

 

 

August 17th, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Marketer responsiveness to consumer feedback has become a key factor in brand performance, according to a report from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. The study defines responsiveness as the ability to source, understand, and quickly react to feedback, preferences, and needs.

90 percent of the 150 marketers surveyed indicated that responsiveness is crucial to providing a great customer experience. However, just 16 percent of marketers indicated that their organizations are extremely responsive to consumers, with the overwhelming majority reporting that their organizations fail to adjust products, packaging, services, and experiences based on real-time consumer requests and feedback.

The study also identified the top issues holding marketers back from improving responsiveness. These include lacking the budget to move forward on more frequent updates to physical touchpoints, not having the data or intelligence to make changes based on customer reactions and behaviors, functional teams separating marketing from product and packaging decisions, and vendors that are unable to meet expedited timelines.

“Customers fully expect for brands to engage at the speed of light—after all, it is exceptional customer experiences from brands like Amazon and Starbucks that have proven that rapid response, personalization, and real-time (or near real-time) omnichannel engagements are possible at the push of a button or click of an app,” Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at the CMO Council, said in a statement. “This is engagement at the speed of digital, and the customer expects a similar level of responsiveness across all experiences, regardless of whether the channel is physical or digital.”

August 10th, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Password manager Dashlane recently released its 2017 Password Power Rankings, which present the results of examining the password practices of more than 40 consumer and enterprise websites. The study, which was conducted by Dashlane researchers in July 2017, found that 46 percent of consumer sites and 36 percent of enterprise sites failed to implement the most basic password security requirements.

Companies were ranked on a zero-to-five scale, with zero being the worst and five being the best. Just one consumer site—GoDaddy—received a five-out-of-five score, while popular services such as Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, and Uber all received zero-out-of-five scores. On the enterprise side, Stripe and QuickBooks both had scores of five-out-of-five, and while no companies scored a zero, Amazon Web Services and Freshbooks both received one-out-of-fives.

“We created the Password Power Rankings to make everyone aware that many sites they regularly use do not have policies in place to enforce secure password measures. It’s our job as users to be especially vigilant about our cybersecurity, and that starts with having strong and unique passwords for every account,” Emmanuel Schalit, CEO at Dashlane, said in a statement. “However, companies are responsible for their users, and should guide them toward better password practices.”

August 9th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Though much ink has been spilled surrounding the wonders of CRM technologies, sales leaders often still face an often-ignored challenge: getting sales reps to use the tools they’re given. In The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver, author Suzanne M. Paling offers sales managers a set of tips on how to get reps to cooperate when it comes to using CRM software. Last week, I chatted with Paling to learn more about her new book, and how leaders can encourage their reps to share information that will benefit them and their team members.

CRM magazine: So this isn’t your first book, correct? Can you tell me a bit about the first book?

Suzanne M. Paling: My first book came out in 2010, and it’s called The Accidental Sales Manager.  It’s from my work as a sales management consultant. And [in it] I talk about the problems that occur when a company’s president, CEO, or owner–who sometimes has little or no sales experience–gets tasked with managing the sales effort. I offer guidance on how to prepare for, orient, and then successfully manage sales people.

CRM: Why did you decide to release a follow up last year with The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver?

Paling: Every year, I see really strong sales people get promoted to a sales leadership position, receive little or no training and just be expected to do their job. They put in long hours trying to figure out what to do; often they just don’t know how to go about solving some of the most common sales staff problems. And as they progress in their career, especially if they work  for smaller companies, they don’t get any training, they don’t have any type of mentor. They need guidance on handling tricky issues. I always say I hope the book is like a toll free number to call for a sales management hotline. I hope it provides some of that help, assistance, coaching, and mentoring.

CRM: In the book you outline 15 common problems that sales managers encounter. Is there one that you would say is more important that they focus on solving than the others? If so, why?

Paling: I’d say there are a couple of them that people seem to resonate with the most. I would say it’s inconsistent sales reps, selling only to existing customers, social media paralysis, and the unqualified vice president of sales.

CRM: Naturally you caught my attention with chapter 6, which is called “CRM Non-Compliance.” What are some of the most common difficulties you tend to see in this particular area?

Paling: The reps just don’t put notes into the system or use it adequately; they don’t do what they’re asked to do. In the chapter, I talk about what happens when the reps don’t populate the CRM system–especially the notes section–and how it really affects absolutely everyone in the company. And I talk about talking to the rep, explaining why it’s important, and also I talk about getting other people in the company involved in talking to the reps about CRM participation. That it matters to the president; it matters to marketing; it matters to product management, it matters to all kinds of people, and that when you bring someone on board, during orientation, they should talk to the various parties and learn a little about how the CRM system is used by them, and how the information benefits them.

And then I give tips for working with the rep who is just CRM noncompliant. One of the tips that I use in the book is that [CRM] should be made part of a rep’s bonus. They are judged on certain criteria to get their bonus, and take a small section and talk about their CRM compliance and if they don’t use the CRM systems correctly, you might hold some of that money back. And also make sure it’s part of their monthly, quarterly, annual review.

CRM: What are some common mistakes leaders tend to make when trying to address CRM Noncompliance? What steps should they be taking instead?

Paling: One of biggest things they don’t do is make part of the interview process or new hire orientation. They should–during the interview process, long before they’ve hired the rep–they should ask them about their CRM usage, how they feel about it, and I would go so far as to ask the rep–and I talk about this in the chapter–to bring in some examples of notes they’ve left in the CRM system and/or reports that they’re responsible for populating. Have them mark over any private information that shouldn’t be seen by anyone else but someone in the company, and show their work. Talk about CRM usage and make it part of the interview process.

And then, as I said earlier, make it part of new hire orientation as well, and have various people in the company talk about how it helps when the reps look at information in the CRM system; how it helps them do their jobs. But mostly, if the rep is not CRM compliant, call them on it really quickly. Don’t let a lot of time go by.

August 3rd, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Phone customers convert faster, spend more, and churn less, according to a survey of 213 U.S.-based marketing decision makers conducted by Forrester on behalf of mobile advertising analytics company Marchex.

The study yielded a number of findings that suggest that phone calls—particularly customer-initiated ones—are a powerful tool for marketers. 60 percent of marketers say that customers who initiate a call in the course of the customer journey convert an average of 30 percent faster; 60 percent of marketers say that customers who initiate an inbound call spend an average of 28 percent more; and 54 percent of marketers say that customers who initiate a call have a 28 percent higher retention rate. The study also suggests that ads prompting customers to initiate a phone call have higher engagement.

The study also suggests that marketers prioritize customers who dial into their call centers or directly to their business, and should take advantage of the data that can be tracked from those phone calls. With this in mind, the study identifies three advantages. The first is optimizing marketing campaigns: data from phone calls can assist marketers in understanding how keywords are semantically related and how specific offers drive phone calls. This information should be utilized in existing marketing campaigns to test and optimize advertising programs. The second is understanding the potential of voice search: marketers should familiarize themselves with the questions customers ask over the phone and use those questions to shape content strategy and improve intelligent agents. The third is shaping business strategy: the study suggests that marketers need to be “human, helpful, and handy,” and that they should incorporate those qualities in to their phone interactions with customers.



 
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