September 28th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
If Clay Donaldson is reading this, I’d appreciate it if he contacted the post office and changed his address. The same goes for Octavio Menendez, Rebecca Weinberg, Jonathan Wu, and Rushell Smith. Don’t worry—I’ve changed these names (or at least some of them). But my point is I’m tired of getting other peoples’ junk mail, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experiencing this.
Some days I come home from work and my mailbox is empty except for the one letter that is addressed to some person I’ve never met. Getting rid of these items is never as easy as it should be. I’ve tried to place them in the communal mailbox, hopeful each time that it will magically end up in the right hands, but the mailman won’t have it. Instead, he circles the apartment number aggressively in red pen and shoves it back in my box the next day, suggesting that it’s now mine to deal with. As a result, I’m left with all these letters piled up on the counter in my kitchen.
A number of questions come to me: Do I let the mail sit there forever? Do I take my pen out and mark “return to sender” every single piece of mail that comes in? Do I toss them in the garbage? I certainly have no right to open any of it, because that’s a federal offense, isn’t it?
Mine is a common enough predicament, I realize, and luckily most of the time the items are harmless—a coupon book, a restaurant menu, junk like that. But this should be of concern to the companies sending out these aimless pieces of mail. A lot people would prefer not to be spammed by companies to begin with, but when that mail is also addressed to someone with a name that isn’t theirs, it could lead to highly negative reactions.
These are just some of the many challenges associated with data quality that companies should be struggling to correct. I’m working on a feature about it, right now, and hope to dig up some answers. Hopefully solutions are not far off, but only time will tell what vendors can do to better this situation. Stay tuned for the December 2015 issue of CRM, and my article on data cleansing best practices.
September 21st, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
It’s almost fall. The weather is cooling down, and the holidays are quickly approaching. With the transition, retailers are getting ready for the holiday shopping season, and many of them are wondering what they should be expect from their customers. Will they be ordering gifts online, or will they be shopping for them in stores? And what should companies be doing to prepare?
The answer is pretty much everything.
New research from Pitney Bowes, released Thursday, suggests that, more than anything, shoppers want choices. The company’s 2015 Holiday Shipping Survey, now in its third year, polled over 1,000 adults from the United States over the month of August on their attitudes about holiday shopping.The results indicate that this year, customers will be making online and in-store transactions in nearly equal amounts. 94 percent of respondents said they planned to shop in stores, while 94 percent said they would do so from a computer, and 49 percent from a mobile device.
93 percent of those polled highlighted shipping options as an important factor in their online shopping experiences. (This was 23 percent higher than last year.)
Respondents also indicated that they are more likely to use online shipping if a number of stipulations are met. 80 percent would complete a purchase online if they had a promotional code or coupon to use during checkout. Still, 60 percent said they would spend more just to meet the minimum fee required to qualify for free shipping.
It should go without saying that getting packages in time for the necessary occasion is one of the top concerns during the holidays. Most respondents–98%–said that they tend to track their packages online, monitoring the estimated delivery time. And though next day shipping not as important to most–88% said that they would prefer to settle for 5-7 day shipping options–there are those who resort to it when they are in a pinch (12%). Pitney Bowes’ chief operating officer of digital commerce solutions, Christoph Stehman, points out for instance that to someone who waits until the last possible minute to buy their spouse a gift, the 1-2 day shipping option is highly appreciated.
Unfortunately, we all know exchanges will be made on items that don’t quite meet the recipient’s expectations. When that happens, shoppers will want to have the option of returning their packages without too many barriers. 39% said they’d like to return to a nearby store while 38% said they’d like to return it through a shipping provider. A not inconsiderable 20% said they’d like to have a courier come pick it up.
September 18th, 2015 by Leonard Klie
Bringing an estimated 170,000 people to San Francisco this week, Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce user conference was a huge windfall for the City by the Bay. All those extra bodies need hotel rooms, dinners, late-night entertainment, and other necessities that go with attending events like this. And they need car services to take them around.
“Dreamforce has been good for Uber because it keeps the city moving for a week,” Travis Kalanick, CEO of the company that created a mobile app to connect passengers with available drivers in minutes, told attendees during a Wednesday morning session at the conference.
If you’re not familiar with Uber, the San Francisco-based company is responsible for the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit trip requests that are then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. In cities like San Francisco, the fares can be about 40 percent cheaper than regular taxis.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff admitted to being a big fan of the service, but he is not the only one. Uber, which is available in more than 300 cities worldwide, reportedly provides thousands of rides per minute around the globe. The company is said to be worth $50 billion.
Since Uber’s launch in 2009, several other companies have copied its services-on-demand business model, a trend that has come to be known to as “Uberification.”
The secret to its success, Kalanick said, is reliability. “Providing a reliable ride is the number one priority at Uber. Reliability is number one from the pick-up to when we get you where you want to go,” he stated. “We will do whatever we can to make sure that you have a quick, reliable, safe, low-cost ride.”
Also key to Uber’s success is its ability to predict demand. That means making sure its drivers are wherever there are people that need rides, and to do that, it uses Salesforce (would Kalanick have been invited to speak at the conference otherwise?).
And while most of the conference’s 170,000 on-site attendees were eager to hear from Uber, not everyone was excited about its presence at Dreamforce. As I hailed a cab to take me to the airport yesterday, the driver was less than appreciative of the Uberification of his industry. He complained that despite such a large influx of people, his cab had been empty for most of the day. He’d only made $50 so far. He blamed it on Uber.
I asked him why he wasn’t driving for Uber. He really didn’t have an answer. But I’m sure that’s something he could—and probably should–consider. After all, I’m pretty sure there’s no way to stop the Uberification of the economy.
September 14th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
Despite the excitement surrounding new CRM technologies, many speakers gave attention to the role people play in shaping customer experience, last week at Gartner’s Customer 360 conference in San Diego. On day two of the event, Ken Schmidt, former communications director of Harley-Davidson, stressed the importance of advocacy in shaping a brand’s image. For Harley-Davidson, much of its success over the past thirty years has been thanks to an elaborate rebranding effort, which Schmidt shared.
Clad in a black leather jacket and combat boots, and true to form, the irreverent Schmidt recalled that, when he joined Harley-Davidson in 1985, the company had a terrible reputation. People associated the brand with criminal activity from the likes of the Hells Angels, and wouldn’t get near its products because of it. The company had to work hard, and strategically, to change this.
One way Harley was able to change its reputation was by getting influential people to speak on its behalf. Every year, the company invites financial analysts and “Wallstreeters” to its annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. According to Schmidt, they have a tremendous influence on conversations surrounding brands, and have been great advocates of the brand.
“We’re not interested in just creating an experience, but in creating one that people talk about,” Schmidt said. ” The thing driving the business isn’t [the need] to sell you a product, it’s to make compassionately vocal advocates.”
Schmidt advised that organizations with similar goals ask themselves three questions: “What are the people who are most important you saying about you when you’re not there?”; “What do you want them to say?”; And “ What are you doing to get them to say it?”
Since Schmidt’s keynote, for me, was the highlight of the event, I’d like to share some memorable quotes from his presentation:
1. “Nobody told a story about a time when their expectations were met because it would be the single worst story ever told.”
2.“[Harley-Davidson works] really hard to build a narrative… that says no matter how good [a bike] is, it’s not perfect enough. You need to change what’s already perfect to make it even more so. The reason Harley is what it is is steeped in human behavior. We’re filling, for a lot of people, unmet human needs. Things that allow people to feel good about themselves.”
3.“No story means no demand is being built. Period. Every industry is commoditized. I don’t care what you have to sell me, I can get it from somebody else for less money. And if you are doing something that’s truly unique (there’s a word that doesn’t work anymore), we know that in six weeks, or six months from now, somebody’s going to copy it and sell it for less.”
4. “Over 90% of people that will buy a Harley this year won’t do it because they saw an ad for it, or because they stumbled upon it online. They will buy a Harley because their friend, their business associate, or somebody they sat next to on a plane, convinced them that they need to have one.”
5. “The way people see your business is a reflection of the culture of the business. It’s not a reflection of what you sell or what you do. It’s a reflection of who you are.”
September 4th, 2015 by Leonard Klie
With football season fast approaching, college and pro football players will be engaging their fans—many of them absolutely rabid—on social media. As the season goes along, fan posts can easily turn downright vicious, depending on how the team is doing in the standings. Players will undoubtedly want to respond, but doing so without fear of regret, reprimands, and unintended reputational damage to themselves or their teams is always a challenge.
And sometimes, the negative posts don’t even wait till the season starts. When a fan posted a rant on Instagram trashing the Washington Redskins owner, front office, and coaching staff for benching quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) in favor of Kirk Cousins for the 2015 season, RG3 appeared to “like” the post. Probably not the smartest move for a player who is still under contract with the team.
RG3 later said that it wasn’t him, that it was an intern, who liked the post.
Whether it’s true or not, the damage is done.
To help other teams keep track of player and fan activity on social media, AIM Sports Reputation Management, a specialty service dedicated to providing college and professional sports organizations with assistance in leadership, ethics, and brand management, this week introduced a suite of products.
Included among them are the following:
- Player Snapshots, to provide an in-depth look into individual players’ social media footprints and activity. AIM’s independent assessment allows an athletic department or front office to gain a stronger sense of the publicly available content that their players are posting on a daily basis across various channels.
- Social Media Dashboard, to track the social media relevance and presence of any player, team, or athletic department, from casual to caustic mentions across every social channel. AIM Sports Reputation senior counselors can alert teams to trends and provide an early warning signal and strategic recommendations should storm clouds develop.
- Porter Novelli Radar, a crisis monitoring service provided through AIM’s partnership with PR firm Porter Novelli. Last year alone, PN Radar’s dedicated team of media analysts published more than 2,100 client-confidential reports on issues and crisis matters. The service is on-demand 24/7 should a crisis emerge.
In the meantime, it might be best for RG3 to stay off social media for a while, or at least until things settle down in our nation’s capital, if that’s possible.