July 24th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Customer service isn’t, has never been, and never will be, an easy profession. Day in and day out, service agents interact with irritated customers who are likely to take out their anger and frustrations on anyone who will listen (or, more likely, read, considering that an increasing number of people now file their complaints via chat, social media, or email).

In an interesting experiment, chat platform provider LivePerson  set out to see just which customers are most likely to swear at service agents. By analyzing the language used in 38 million customer service chats, gathered from more than 500 companies, the vendor uncovered some fascinating facts regarding the regions and industries that are most susceptible to bad words.

According to the findings, men revert to dirty language 16.5 percent more frequently than women do when interacting with support agents. They’re also more likely to use crass words, such as the one that starts with “c”.  Women, on the other hand, tend to use softer, euphemistic words, like “gosh,” “goodness,” and “poop,” for example.

LivePerson also found that customers located in Virginia, Alaska, Iowa, Utah, and New Mexico swore the most, which is surprising to me, as someone who’s lived both in Los Angeles and New York City–cities that don’t have the greatest reputations for service interactions. Those who cursed the least were located in Hawaii, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

Another surprise is that the industries most likely to be confronted with verbal abuse include charities, nonprofits, and hospitality. The most polite customer interactions occur in the pharmaceutical, consulting, banking, energy, and financial services industries.

The rest of the results are available here. LivePerson’s post gets into details I’d rather avoid listing here, because I’d like to keep my job for now.

July 20th, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

Revenue contribution from email marketing is up 18 to 20 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, according to a study by market research firm The Relevancy Group, in collaboration with content personalization and intelligence platform OneSpot. The study also found that marketers using deep personalization can drive up to 17 percent more revenue via their email programs than those that do not use deep personalization.

Findings from the study indicate the effectiveness of various personalization tactics. 60 percent of respondents report that leveraging real-time data in email is “effective” or “highly effective,” with 58 percent and 59 percent respectively reporting the same for machine learning and personalizing email content.

Nevertheless, the study found that many email marketers are struggling to capitalize on email personalization. 44 percent of respondents identified “lack of internal buy-in” as the largest impediment to implementing personalization, while 26 percent reported that email personalization is not a priority in their existing budget. Moreover, more than half of respondents are not making personalized product recommendations in their messages or using a recommendation engine to deliver personalized content to newsletter subscribers.

“Opportunities have never been greater to drive engaging, relevant, personalized experiences in email based on real user behavior, and marketers who are currently capitalizing are realizing measurable results,” Nicholas Einstein, vice president of research and principal analyst of The Relevancy Group, said in a statement.  “The organizational headwinds that prevent many marketers from innovating to drive personalization still blow strong, but can be navigated when companies take steps to implement measurement, align stakeholders and partner with experts.”

July 17th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Businesses are struggling to craft and deliver brand messages that meet the location- and market-specific expectations of their global customers, finds a recent report from the CMO Council and HH Global.

According to the study, “The Age of the Adaptive Marketer,” less than a third of the 150 senior marketing professionals polled felt their organizations or agencies were doing a good job at spreading their campaigns to global audiences in a timely fashion. Close to two thirds of the respondents rated themselves as “below satisfactory” in their ability to translate and adapt their materials across the various markets and channels they cater to. And only 33 percent said that their teams were “advanced” or “doing well” at simultaneously executing at a local and global level.

“At a time when the customer has higher expectations than ever for relevance and personalization of content and brand interaction, marketing organizations will need to step up their game when it comes to brand content adaptation to address geographic, cultural, customer and other differences,” Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, said in a statement. “Past research has shown that adaptation of marketing strategies and content can be a major enabler of sales and brand success. Yet most companies have a long way to go in order to get it right.”

Yet while companies realize it’s important to reach out to audiences with messages that are tailored to their native language, jargon, and culture, they’re being held back by costs, time constraints, process inefficiencies, and a lack of tools.

To improve such efforts, the CMO council recommends 1) taking steps to understand their customers’ local context; 2) determining their brand’s core identity and defining parameters, and; 3) establishing the proper platforms and systems to streamline processes and measure success.

July 13th, 2017 by Sam Del Rowe

63 percent of SMBs are operating multichannel businesses with both physical stores and e-commerce platforms, according to a study by Cogeco Peer 1 and eTail. Just 3 percent of SMBs utilize exclusively in-store business models, while 26 percent operate exclusively online. Additionally, 47 percent of all SMBs are making more than 50 percent of their overall sales through online purchases.

Yet this reliance on e-commerce is not without security risks. The report lays out three recommendations for SMBs to address security challenges. First, they need to stay up to date on the risks that they are exposed to. This is crucial for dealing with the ever evolving tactics of scammers. Second, they need to establish a risk management plan that outlines what to do in the event of a security breach. Knowing what to do when a site is down is particularly important, as every minute means lost sales opportunities, a negative impact on SEO, and a loss of trust from both suppliers and customers. Third, they need to develop an IT infrastructure that meets the latest PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance standards, which are designed to minimize the risks of handling customer credit card information and required by major credit card issuers.

“With the ease with which someone can be targeted by a DDoS attack or phishing attempt today, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. As an SMB, you need to think about risk management as planning what to do when a problem happens, regardless of the preventative measures you have in place. You can have many locks on your doors and the best alarm system money can buy, and can still get broken into. All that will do is alert you when it happens to allow you to be proactive in your defense. What you do from there is on you – no vendor can save the day. It’s up to the business owner to be as security and risk management minded as possible,” Enrique Velazquez, product manager of security and compliance at Cogeco Peer 1, said in a statement.

July 10th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Tonight, Amazon will kick off its third annual Prime Day, a Black Friday-esque sale event during which it offers deals on a vast array of listed products. And, this year, the e-commerce giant has decided to double down on voice-controlled shopping by giving exclusive discounts to users of its Alexa-powered devices, including the Echo, Tap, and Fire TV and Fire tablet.

According to a statement Amazon released on July 5th, the company has already begun appealing to voice shoppers by giving them access to “more than 100” pre-Prime Day offers. These shoppers will also start getting Prime Day deals at 7pm ET, two hours before the event’s official start time at 9pm ET. This  could prove to be a major draw to those customers hoping to get the best deals. Especially since  a common complaint  among shoppers has been that the highest quality merchandise tends to  vanish quickly, causing customers to waste their time sifting through less appealing listings.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon is using the event as an opportunity to generate interest in its Echo home speaker devices. The Echo will be available at 50 percent its normal listed price (at $89.99), and the Echo Dot at 30 percent the normal price ($34.99). Considering that the adoption of in-home smart speakers for shopping purposes has been relatively slow across the board, this could prove to be a smart move. By giving shoppers incentive to buy and use its virtual assistant-powered products to make purchases, Amazon also entices them to commit to its products before they consider competing offerings from the likes of Apple, whose HomePod is due out later this year, or Google who released its Home speaker late last year.

If Amazon’s efforts prove successful, it may be a sign that companies would be wise to cultivate a greater presence on Alexa devices. And the likelihood of that happening is looking positive. The first Prime Day proved relatively underwhelming, but the event showed greater potential last year, with Amazon reporting that the self-designated holiday in 2016 was its largest sales day ever. Sales were estimated at $525 million, a 26% increase from 2015. This year promises to be even bigger, with Amazon claiming 85 million Prime members, which is twice as many as it had in 2015. 

Amazon’s vice president of Voice Shopping, Assaf Ronen, is certainly optimistic. “This is going to be the most exciting Prime Day yet for voice shoppers,” he said in a statement last week. “We have deals on everything from smart home products to devices, chocolates and more starting today and going all the way through July 17th. Prime members have asked, ‘Alexa, what are your deals?’ more than three million times since we launched Alexa deals last year, and we’re thrilled to deliver even better deals this year.”


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