April 17th, 2015 by Leonard Klie

In a bid to further extend its reach into the contact center space, Avaya last month quietly acquired KnoahSoft, a privately held provider of workforce optimization, call recording, and quality and performance management software. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

KnoahSoft, which is based in India, has been a partner of Avaya’s for the past few years and joined the Avaya DevConnect Select Product Program (SPP) two years ago. As part of that program, Knoahsoft’s Workforce optimization solutions, including call and screen recording, quality and performance management, coaching, eLearning, speech analytics, post-call survey, and workforce management tools, were certified as interoperability with Avaya’s Aura and IP Office Contact Center solutions.

Solutions in Avaya’s DevConnect SPP are available for order directly from Avaya and its channel partners in the United States and Canada.

And while Knoahsoft is a small WFO vendor, many industry analysts see the acquisition as a significant move for Avaya.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, for example, says its significance comes from the fact that Avaya is finally entering the WFO space on its own.

Avaya has had a tight partnership with Verint Systems, which provides the underlying technology behind Avaya Aura WFO, for several years. The Verint-based solution, though, is best suited to larger contact centers with hundreds of agents, and Avaya is actively courting smaller companies, as evidenced by the IP Office Contact Center solutions it released in January 2014.

Avaya IP Office Contact Center is designed to bring affordable, multichannel contact center functionality—supporting voice, email, and chat interactions—to small and midsized businesses with fewer than 100 agents.

From a business standpoint, the move makes perfect sense. Increasingly, companies are looking for a single vendor that can offer WFO components like call recording and workforce management as part of their larger contact center solution sets. Competitors like Aspect, Genesys, and Interactive Intelligence already do this, so Avaya needed to do something to stay competitive.

I only wish Avaya would have told us about the acquisition.

April 16th, 2015 by Maria Minsker

It’s no secret that Uber has pretty much already taken over New York City, but the company really outdid itself today with the #RideofThrones promotion. At 11am this morning, I received an email from Uber informing me about this awesome campaign–using a special promotional code (hint: it’s RIDEOFTHRONES), customers were able to order either a full-on Game of Thrones throne or a smaller, pedicab throne to be delivered to their door for photos ops and free rides as part of a co-marketing campaign with HBO.

HBO recently debuted its standalone streaming service, HBO Now, and partnered up with Uber to generate buzz by banking on its most successful show ever: Game of Thrones. Unsurprisingly, the hashtag #RideofThrones blew up Twitter, and no one seemed to care that the app was crashing every few minutes, and that it was virtually impossible to secure one of the big thrones. (The pedicabs were much more readily available.) The Twitterverse did, however, express frustration about the thrones only circling the area between 14th street and 59th street in Manhattan. Mostly though, people were pretty psyched and from a marketing standpoint, I was impressed.

Time and time again, I’m amazed at what people (myself included) will do for a cool photo these days. This may just be the millennial in me talking, but there are few things more rewarding in the world of social media than likes and retweets. In fact, all I could think while I was waiting for my very own throne ride was: “I’m going to get so many likes on Instagram!” But then again, that’s what everyone thought, right?

Uber and HBO hit it out of the park on this one. Once folks on Twitter caught wind of it, the tweets went wild. People started downloading the Uber app just to take part in the promotion, and Game of Thrones fanatics who weren’t yet aware that they could stream the series online thanks to HBO Now are certainly in the loop now. This campaign was about generating buzz and engagement, and it succeeded.

Though it’s too early to tell, I also suspect that this one is going to perform better than other campaigns that Uber has tried. When the company worked with the ASPCA on UberKITTENS, it charged customers $30 for 15 minutes of “kitten snuggles.” Getting kittens delivered to your door is probably one of the greatest joys in life, but does everyone want to spend $30 on that? My guess is no. Ride of Thrones was free, which I think will pay off.

Companies are constantly competing for seconds of consumer attention with banner ads and pesky commercials, but Uber and HBO got people to actually ask for (and wait for!) their marketing content. Heck, my fellow CRM editors and I waited outside for a good 10 minutes for our throne to arrive! Would we spend 10 minutes excitedly waiting for a commercial or a banner ad to load? Think about it.

These guys are really onto something here. The key to good marketing, apparently, is making it photogenic.

Check out our #RideOfThrones adventure! IMG_7286

April 13th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky

LinkedIn today introduced Elevate, an application that aims to make it easier for salespeople to “curate…share…[and] measure” content on its own site as well as other social media platforms like Twitter. The app, which will be available for Android, iOS, and desktop users, aggregates relevant content and generates suggestions on what articles to share and when. It will come equipped with analytics that give users insight concerning how many visitors viewed their posts, and how many times they’ve been liked or distributed. Users can schedule a post so that it aligns with the times the network is experiencing the most traffic.  In future iterations, users will also be able to see who viewed the content and send out a request to connect, according to LinkedIn.

The company claims that sharing content will help users to make the most of the site, and strengthen their company’s brand. In a blog post, LinkedIn Product Manager Will Sun pointed out that “employees have 10 times more connections than their company has followers”, and that when someone shares content, it’s much more likely to lead to pages views and new connections.  “People are 3 times more likely to trust company information from employees than from the CEO.” All of this is to suggest that companies are not powerful identities on the platform without a human being there to promote for them.

One of the early pilot testers, Adobe, states that using Elevate significantly increased engagement with its social pages. As of now, Elevate is only open to those who’ve been invited, but will be widely available in Q3, when more price information will also be disclosed.

This product launch doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the pushes LinkedIn has made over the past year or so to encourage users to become “social professionals”. Just last year it made enhancements to its platform to give people the option of posting their own long form writings from their profiles. But the problem they now identify is that only “2% of employees share content their company has shared on LinkedIn.”  The new app will leverage the strengths of two companies it bought out in the past few years–Pulse and Newsle–to make that easier to do.  These engines will give salespeople “algorithmic recommendations,” according to Sun’s post.

LinkedIn isn’t unique in its encouragement of social selling. Companies like PeopleLinx, which was formed by former LinkedIn employees, incidentally, are also focused on empowering salespeople on social media by giving them instructions on how to share content. It seems like the notion that salespeople are going to have to take it upon themselves to better represent their brands is becoming more and more popular, until, eventually, it becomes the norm.


April 10th, 2015 by Leonard Klie

Satmetrix recently released its annual Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks, ranking more than 219 brands across 22 U.S. industry sectors, and there were a few surprises this year.

For one, BlackBerry, which had largely been left for dead, showed the largest increase in this year’s study and appears to be on the rebound in the smartphone category. BlackBerry customers seemed pleased with its introduction of larger and better display screens.

jetblueDespite senior leadership changes at JetBlue, including the departures of its CEO and chief operating officer, JetBlue soared to new heights in the airlines sector, supplanting last year’s winner Southwest Airlines. Not surprisingly, JetBlue also took the top spot in the Temkin Group’s 2015 Customer Experience survey.

For JetBlue, customer experience has been the key all along, and customers continue to notice. I only expect the company’s ratings to rise given its recent introduction of a premium service equipped with private cabins, the longest beds in the U.S. domestic market, and a new menu. Plus, it still offers free entertainment, beverages, and snacks, all rarities in air travel today.

That’s not to knock Southwest by any means. I really like Southwest, but I think the open seating thing could be retired.

Overall, the companies taking the top spot in eight of the 22 industry sectors changed since last year. Netflix, which was second a year ago to Pandora, won the online entertainment category this year. Trader Joe’s, which led the grocery/supermarkets sector for four consecutive years until Wegman’s rise to the top last year, returned as the category leader.

The telecommunications industry witnessed several shifts in this year’s report. Verizon, which was runner-up to DirecTV last year in the cable/satellite TV service sector, is this year’s winner. Boost Mobile replaced TracFone as loyalty leader for cellular phone service, and Verizon took first place among Internet service providers, replacing Brighthouse Networks.

Other highlights from the 2015 NPS Benchmark reports include the following:

  • Costco had the best overall NPS score at 79.
  • USAA continued its preeminence in home insurance, auto insurance, and banking, winning each category for the sixth straight year.
  • The Apple iPad/iPad mini finished first for tablet computers.
  • Ritz Carlton won for hotels, overtaking Westin.

The entire rankings are available at www.satmetrix.com/benchmarking.

“The Net Promoter leaders in their respective industries have positioned themselves to outpace the competition in the areas of increased customer retention and acquisition, and ultimately in terms of bottom-line growth,” Brendan Rocks, a data scientist at Satmetrix, said in a statement.

To come up with its rankings, Satmetrix surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. consumers, who rated their experiences with the brands they use. The Net Promoter Score for each brand is based on customers’ likelihood to recommend the company’s product or service. NPS is calculated as the percentage of customers who are promoters, rating the company nine or 10 on a 10-point scale, minus the percentage who are detractors, rating six or lower.

April 9th, 2015 by Maria Minsker

Apparently today is Internet of Things day, and no, you’re not alone–I didn’t know this was a thing either. Turns out this is actually the fifth year that the IoT council is celebrating the “holiday,” and it seems like this is a good year to start observing it. Apple Watches for everyone! Just kidding. The Internet of Things has been a buzzed-about phenomenon for some time now. From Marc Benioff’s famous “smart toothbrush” to the introduction of Bluetooth umbrellas that ping their owners when they’re about to be left on the bus during the morning commute, IoT-enabled devices range from the brilliant to the bizarre.

Wearables are a special breed of Internet of Things devices, and offer a tremendous amount of potential for a number of industries. The role they will play in the medical field, however, is particularly intriguing because it opens the door to a realm of data that few consumer electronics have been able to provide thus far. One of my favorite IoT devices (and hence the one I’m writing about on this festive day) falls under the realm of both brilliant and bizarre, and it also happens to be a medical device. There’s no way of getting around explaining what this device does, so I’m just going to say it: it predicts bowel movements.

Yes, it’s kind of gross and weird, but when you really think about it, it’s pretty revolutionary. For people that are battling Crohn’s disease, cancers of the digestive system, or other ailments, this device could be life changing. Called D Free, the device works in conjunction with a mobile app to trigger a notification alerting whoever is using it (or that person’s health care provider) approximately 10 minutes before any activity. The D Free is still in the testing phase, and the company behind it, Triple W, is currently in the process of launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the launch.

Like other IoT and wearable devices, the D Free won’t only benefit the customers that rely on it. It’ll be game-changing for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, and nursing services that work with patients dealing with this particular health issue. The data will be a valuable source of information that can empower these parties to deliver better products, experiences, and care to their customers and patients.

As the Internet of Things gains momentum, I predict we’ll see a growing number of devices that fall under this same bizarrely brilliant category, and I am eager to see how they’ll revolutionize not only the tech industry, but also healthcare. In the meantime, who’s ready to pre-order their Apple Watch tomorrow? I know, I know–that’s the second time I mention it in this post. Can you tell I really want one? Happy IoT day, everyone!


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