April 22nd, 2014 by Sarah Sluis

With the goal of being a “startup oasis in the desert,” Infusionsoft is located in Phoenix, Arizona—far from Silicon Valley. But that seems to suit the 478 employees who work at the CRM solution for small businesses, which posted $60 million in revenue last year, a 54 percent increase from the previous year.

Cliff Mask Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft CEO and Co-Founder Clate Mask

The high-growth, startup energy was clear during a tour of the company’s offices prior to this year’s Infusionsoft conference. A quarter of the building is unused open space, planned for the employees that will soon fill it. A thousand-employee company is just a few years away, according to Senior Manager of Talent Tractor Beam, Laura Hodgson. (Yes, that’s her real title, and yes, it’s on her business card.)

Most of the employees focus on getting the word out about the product, working on sales and marketing. A smaller but growing slice focuses on customer service, and the software developers carve out a corner on the main floor. While there are fun startup perks like a cereal bar and a game room, Hodgson emphasized that all the extras come after the company hits goals. “Entitlement is the total opposite of what entrepreneurship is all about. We don’t want to head in that direction,” she said.

Infusionsoft Everest

Laura Hodgson showing off Infusionsoft’s game plan (which is on the doors of the game room).

While that strategy makes many think the company is losing plenty of loyal customers as their businesses outgrow the solution, Mask said that’s not the case.  He explained that most of Infusionsoft’s customers are “lifestyle entrepreneurs,” who are unlikely to grow pas two, five, or ten employees. They have a passion for what they do and like being independent. Infusionsoft allows them to automate their tasks and free up time to spend on family, travel, or other pursuits. If anything, the company is looking for growth in the other direction, working on a solution that might work for small entrepreneurs who have less than $100k in revenue.

When it comes to product, Infusionsoft’s plan is not to keep adding technology features, but to focus on adoption of those features. Using Infusionsoft should remain easy for the 73,000 subscribers to Infusionsoft. “We measure our success not just by the volume of features, but the success of customers and how they’re using those features,” explained Lindsay Bayuk, the director of product marketing. The company has good reason to pursue this strategy. The number one system Infusionsoft imports from is Salesforce.com. Those “Salesforce dropouts” leave for a reason: the product is too complex and powerful for the needs of the small businesses that try to use the technology, according to Infusionsoft.

On that note, the company rolled out stats emphasizing  how well-used the software is, like the 31,000 customer installs of thirty-five pre-built marketing campaigns. One of the most popular was oriented around customers’ birthdays. 90,000 business cars have been scanned since Infusionsoft added the feature. 6,000 people downloaded their new mobile product in the first month. Most importantly, there’s incredible volume at the core of their business, marketing automation. One hundred million emails were sent through Infusionsoft—last week.

Aligned with its focus on education and adoption, not features, the company is moving away from twice-yearly product releases. “In the future, there will be smaller, bite-sized updates” focused on “making aspects simpler, smarter, and faster,” said Bayuk. The company has learned that education and technology must go hand-in-hand in this market A lower-priced product aimed at the “solopreneur” failed a couple of years ago. The company found out that it can’t be as simple as giving less power for a lower price. “It’s not as easy as handing them a piece of software. Running a small business is hard,” said Mask. Both the Icon Conference and Infusionsoft’s programs for its users now focus on helping small businesspeople on all aspects of making their business healthy. “We’re embracing the entire responsibility of helping small businesses be successful,” said Mask.

Check back on destinationCRM.com for more updates from the 2014 Icon Conference.

April 18th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

If you’d have told me a few years ago that consumers would abandon the phone as a customer service channel, I would have told you that you were bonkers. After all, dialing the digits is the way it’s always been done.

Today, it’s no longer a surprise that customers are turning away from the phone as a means to reach customer service. In fact, a recent survey by Firstsource found that only slightly more than half (54 percent) still prefer to use the phone to resolve their customer service issues.

So what are the other half using? Increasingly, it’s Web chat. According to the Firstsource research, 38 percent of Americans often use Web chat to buy products or services, resolve customer service or technical support issues, and get answers to their product questions.

What’s more, 67 percent expect Web chat to become more widely used, with a full 69 percent saying they would use it to contact their wireless, utilities, banking, healthcare, insurance, and education providers if it was available. And, as Web chat continues to evolve, 79 percent of Americans would be interested in having a Web chat feature on their mobile phones or tablets.

According to the research, Web chat has a 91 percent satisfaction rating—much higher than calling into a contact center. Instant access to customer service representatives without having to wait on hold and the fact that it’s readily available, often 24/7, were cited as the most important benefits of using Web chat.

So it behooves companies to provide Web chat  as a way to transform their customer management processes and ultimately improve consumer satisfaction. Consumers are definitely looking for self-service options and instant engagements with companies without compromising their experience. Why not give it to them.

April 17th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

In 2013, Gartner ranked analytics and business intelligence as number one in a list of the top 10 technology priorities for enterprise companies and since then, the importance of analytics and BI has only grown. By 2016, worldwide business intelligence software revenue is projected to reach $17.1 billion and mobile analytics technology is playing a major role in the growth–as the popularity of mobile devices continues to skyrocket, the need for analytics technology aimed specifically at mobile devices is rising as well. But delivering meaningful mobile analytics is about much more than just gathering device data.

According to Netbiscuits, a mobile analytics company, context plays a tremendous role in helping brands better understand their customers. Last week, the company released an infographic outlining the four primary consumer personas, and what each type expects from a mobile interaction. I think I am, as perhaps most consumers are, a little bit of all of these:

The Morning Professional

morning professionalWhat This Persona Prefers: According to Netbiscuits, this device user prefers large screens, typically connects to his home WiFi with high bandwidth, is willing to watch HD videos, has high battery levels thanks to an overnight charge, and engages in highly interactive touch journey experiences.

What Marketers Should Do:

“To appeal to these personas, marketers should be populating their web content with rich media assets, integrated social media sharing functions, and highly interactive touch navingation,” Netbiscuits recommends.




The Technophile


What This Persona Prefers:

This user typically interacts with multiple, high-end and high-performance devices throughout the day, can easily get distracted as bandwidth varies, and expects high performance and beautiful content. Technophiles will also likely abandon a site if it is too slow, and will convert at a high price point if the experience is right.

What Marketers Should Do:  

Netbiscuits suggests that in this case, “marketers should consider content interaction that is geared to a customer who enjoys tech, and expects superior performance. Think about how certain features or functionality slows download times, [and] consider displaying these only when it doesn’t impact performance, which is key.”



The Lunchtime Powerbrowser

lunchtime powerbrowser

What This Persona Prefers:

These site visitors are usually “information hunting” and comparing prices. Their bandwidth can vary greatly, and their battery status may have taken a hit in the morning rush. They’re typically not keen on interacting with complex navigation, HD videos, or images and are unlikely to go through a heavy check-out process.

What Marketers Should Do:

“Marketers should be aware that these users are typically on the go, and may be within close proximity to a physical stores. Having access to their geolocation can enhance the purchase experience by offering incentives to come in to the store, such as coupons or special offers,” according to Netbiscuits.


The Sofa Surfer

sofa surfer

What This Persona Prefers:

Usually visiting in the evening, these consumers spend the most time browsing Web sites. They’ve got the time, bandwidth and computing power to enjoy the full Web experience, and are more likely to be using a tablet or interacting with multiple devices. Chances are they’re ready to make a purchase, and are also willing to allow cookies to access rich content. Overall, Sofa Surfers want a rich, consistent experience across all devices.

What Marketers Should Do:

“Marketers should emphasize strong calls to action and endeavor to align their most important marketing messages to when this persona is most receptive to want to take action,” Netbiscuits urges.

To help brands leverage these different types of personas, Netbiscuits launched a free enterprise-grade versions of its Mobile Analytics and Device Detection software. The tools can develop and track visitor personas around device, preferences and contextual use, identify causes of abandonment and ultimately deliver better engagement to increase conversions from mobile channels. In other words, now marketers have a way to infer whether a consumer is browsing while noshing on the couch, or sneaking a peak during a break at work, and then target content accordingly. Cool, eh?



Images courtesy of Netbiscuits.

April 14th, 2014 by Sarah Sluis

What happens when people fill out online forms asking for a salesperson to contact them about a product? 12 percent of inquiries made to Fortune 100 companies fell into a black hole and received no response, according to a study conducted by Velocify. Of those that did respond, their results weren’t optimal. 46 percent of buyers received both phone calls and emails, which Velocify judges a good response. 21 percent received only emails, while another 21 percent received only phone calls. A multichannel touch, reaching out over the phone and through email, works better.

Companies generally weren’t quick enough to call, at least according to the study’s standards. Only 15 percent of companies called within an hour, which research shows increases the likelihood of conversion by 36 percent.  On the other end of the spectrum, 10 percent of  people waited a full week before they heard back from the company. The average time before a call was 3.5 days, far above customers’ stated preference: a response within 24 hours.

When it came to email, companies’ responses were even worse, considering how easy it is to automate responses. Some companies clearly are automating emails: 10 percent received an email within seconds, and 20 percent within minutes. But then responses spread out: 20 percent didn’t receive an email until hours or days later, and 13 percent not until weeks later. A third of people didn’t receive any emails (though some received phone calls). For me, it’s important to separate quality and speed here. Obviously, anywhere from weeks onward is too long to wait for a response. But receiving a personal email within a day or two means more to me than an automated email with no personal follow-up.

The study also linked a company’s response to buyer inquiries with its profit margins and revenue growth. Companies with the highest revenue growth generally had response scores four percent above the norm, while the bottom 20 percent of revenue performers had response times four percent below the norm.

There was a stronger relationship between revenue scores and profit margins. Companies with high profit margins had response scores 20 percent above average. Those with the lowest margins were almost 40 percent below average. Clearly, devoting staff and technology to following leads and touching more customers saves money, despite the investments in people and technology that may come with it.

One thing the study doesn’t mention is the possibility that lead scoring could have played into the timing and frequency of the call backs. Maybe a company had reason to believe they had an extremely poor or highly likely lead on their hands, and acted accordingly.

The study also doesn’t touch on the interplay between channels. Is a personal call or email followed by automated follow ups? If a customer doesn’t respond to email, do sales teams call to try to elicit a response? The interplay between channels will become more important as other paths to reach the customer, like social media, enter the equation. That said, for the companies that can’t get the basics right, they have plenty of other problems to take care of first.

April 11th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

Strativity Group this week released a research report that shows a staggering 83 percent of business executives don’t know the cost of a customer complaint.

According to Strativity’s 2014 Global Customer Experience Management Survey, 76 percent do not know their customer acquisition costs, and, even more staggering, 81 percent are not fully committed to executing their customer experience strategies.

So what’s the harm? According to the research, non-committed companies arte three times more likely to have greater customer attrition. Conversely, fully-committed companies are five times more likely to get higher referral rates.

This comes at a time, quite surprisingly, when 80 percent of the executives involved in the survey expressed the belief that customer strategies are more important now than ever before.

So what’s the bottom line? The only conclusion that I can make—and it seems to be a belief that Strativity shares–is that clearly, companies are talking the talk when it comes to being customer-focused, or even better, customer-centric, but they’re falling far short when it comes to action.

Few companies, it would appear, are using customer experience as a differentiator, and, in fact, most still struggle with getting the very basics right.

“It seems, despite the growing interest in customer-centric strategies, the vast majority of companies are demonstrating little sense of urgency,” said Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, in a statement “Resources, budget and sponsorship commitments do not match corporate declarations.”

Come on, people. By now, haven’t we learned that to be competitive today, companies need to be customer-centric, truly committed to engaging with their customers on all levels and across all channels.


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