June 26th, 2015 by Leonard Klie

Amid all the talk that the phone is going away as a communication tool with businesses, new research released today by CallRail, a call tracking and analytics firm, suggests otherwise.
According to the company’s latest data, more than 350 companies have shown a 16 percent year-over-year increase in inbound call volume since the first quarter of 2014. And, based those numbers, CallRail is projecting steady inbound call growth across service industries, such as auto repair shops, hair salons, dentists, and medical clinics, for the remainder of the 2015.
March showed the largest year-over-year increase in call volume at 22 percent. February showed a 17 percent increase, and January a 10 percent increase.
CallRail credits a stronger U.S. economy and increasing mobile device usage as the driving forces for much of the uptick. More calls than ever are being made on mobile devices, which prompted the company to suggest that small and midsized businesses place more importance on mobile marketing.

“We’re excited to see small businesses doing so well. Such compelling year-over-year growth in calls means businesses have even more reasons to invest in mobile marketing in 2015. We believe when it’s this easy to click-to-call a business, understanding what marketing drove those calls should be just as easy,” Andy Powell, co-founder and CEO of CallRail, said in a statement.

June 22nd, 2015 by Oren Smilansky

Mother’s day and Father’s day are both officially behind us, and hopefully most of us were able to get our shopping done without too much hassle. But as we all know, parents endure far more pain just shopping for their kids year-round, especially when those kids are not even old enough to drive yet.

Retale, a location-based mobile platform that connects shoppers with local retailers, recently polled 500 millennial parents between the ages of 18 and 34 to learn more about how they use their phones while they are in stores. I don’t know what’s more fascinating: that the company was able to find 500 parents under the age of 34, or the differences they discovered about moms and dads in the process.

Unsurprisingly, a majority of the 500 participants (85%) indicated that they used their smartphones to assist in the buying process while they were in a store. But moms and dads had different priorities when using their phones, as the following lists illustrate:


1.       Checking product reviews (53%)

2.       Comparing prices (52%)

3.       Finding nearby store locations (50%)

4.       Checking store hours (49%)

5.       Searching for coupons or deals (49%)

6.       Researching products (47%)

7.       Accessing saved coupons (44%)

8.       Creating shopping lists (42%)


1.       Searching for coupons or deals (66%)

2.       Accessing saved coupons (62%)

3.       Comparing prices (62%)

4.       Checking store hours (57%)

5.       Creating shopping lists (54%)

6.       Finding nearby store locations (54%)

7.       Researching products (48%)

8.       Checking product reviews (42%)

At the top of the list for dads is checking product reviews and comparing prices; for mothers, checking product reviews was only the eighth most popular activity, while comparing prices was number two. Moms most often use their devices to access coupons or deals. Searching for coupons was only the fifth most popular activity for dads, and accessing saved coupons was number eight. While 40% of moms say they never shop without a deal, only 22% of dads indicate the same.

I can only speak from my own experience to say that these findings ring true. My dad was always the go-to guy when I wanted a new skateboard or a pair of shoes, because he didn’t care about deals as much as he did the quality of the product. But of course, when we got home, Mom had no problems gathering the receipts and driving back to the store to return whatever it was. Looking back, I can see the logic behind both of their methods, but I still always appreciated getting a better product.

June 12th, 2015 by Leonard Klie

Global sales for contact center interaction recording and related products and services were $1.05 billion in 2014, up 8.7 percent from 2013, according to new research released this week by Pelorus Associates.  The firm expects the market to reach $1.6 billion in 2020.

According to the research, key market drivers for the recent surge are customer centricity, compliance, and a rapidly growing contact center agent population. Also driving adoption is the fact that “speech analytics and voice of the customer software are no longer options but must-haves for the modern contact center,” says Dick Bucci, principal at Pelorus Associates.

The market is also advancing as vendors are offering more value by bundling applications to create solutions. “It’s a combination of thinking more creatively and smarter marketing,” Bucci says.

The hosting model is also making it easier for companies to adopt recording solutions. In 2010 only one vendor—TelStrat—offered recording on a hosted basis; now nine other vendors, which collectively control more than 90 percent of the market, also offer a hosting option, according to Bucci. They are ASC Technologies, Aspect, Envision Telephony, HP-Autonomy, inContact, NICE Systems, OnVisource, Tantacomm, and Verint Systems

NICE and Verint continue to dominate the marketplace, with a combined 80 percent market share, up from 72 percent in 2013. Despite high market concentration, ASC Telecom, Calabrio, VPI, and ZOOM International are all growing much faster than the overall market.

Bucci was also pleasantly surprised to see a resurgence by HP-Autonomy, which he says has been “very aggressively beefing up its offerings.”

That, Bucci says, is great news for the entire industry, which is still seeing low penetration.

Not surprisingly, North America continues to dominate the market in quality management investment, while Latin America and Asia Pacific continue to lag, the research found. In 2014 recording purchases were $171 per agent in North America but only $63 per agent in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Those countries are still largely outsourcing, and it’s a little harder to justify the investment when wages are so low, Bucci maintains.

June 8th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky

Have you ever wondered how the big players of the entertainment industry determine where, how, and when to sell their products? For instance, does a new drama series belong on TV, or would it be better suited for a web-based streaming service like Hulu or Netflix? And if a program does belong on TV, what channel should it air on and at what time? What movie would it make the most sense to sell to an airline, and which ones?

With so many variations of these questions coming up in a multibillion dollar industry, it perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the big production companies rely just as heavily on data as do other suppliers of goods and services.

But if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how the studios collect data, and how they figure out what to do with it after they’ve collected it.

It turns out (no surprise) that a lot of them commission software vendors to do much of the heavy lifting for them. The cloud based software as a service (SaaS) provider FilmTrack is one such vendor. The company provides organizations like CBS, Dreamworks Animation, and the WWE Network among others with the tools needed to manage their copious amounts of data.  In addition to information about content (e.g. log lines, actors, synopses and genres), it collects information related to global contracts, royalties, and rights. “FilmTrack can do a very sophisticated availability analysis,” Say Theodore Garcia, executive vice president at FilmTrack. It can assess the many channels of distribution available across all geographies and offer up the openings that allow companies to make the most of their assets.

At Information Builder’s Summit last week, I caught news of a project FilmTrack is putting into motion with Information Builders. The product will combine the strengths of both companies to make it easier for studios to determine where their best opportunities are. “It will allow our clients to access their FilmTrack data in an enhanced manner,” Garcia says. The program will add on Information Builders’ functions that organize data in the form of color-coded maps, graphs, dashboards that can be easily maneuvered by sales reps who are trying to determine what to do next.

By making data more visual and easy to sort through, the people in charge of reselling rights to films can keep track of the status of their products.

I asked Garcia what particularly impressed him about Information Builders’ announcements at its user conference. He told me that the ability to aggregate sentiment from  social media will be of huge aide to studios as they try to get and idea of how their movies are being received in various regions.

“At the end of the day it’s all about CRM,” Garcia says. “Ultimately, you’re trying to determine who the client is. Depending on where you are within the ecosystem and the lifecycle, it could be the theaters or the moviegoers. ”

So next time you’re at the box office, wondering why there are so many superhero flicks coming out, rest assured that it’s largely because this is what the people want. The numbers don’t lie.


June 5th, 2015 by Leonard Klie

New research from Accenture has found that the number of customers participating in loyalty programs has grown by more than 40 percent in the past six years, with the majority of them joining loyalty programs to access the best deals. Despite this, 64 percent of customers switched providers last year in at least one industry. And of that group, 50 percent said they would consider future offers from non-traditional players that they might never have previously considered.

Even more telling, from a loyalty perspective, more than one-quarter (27 percent) are members of multiple loyalty programs within the same industry, meaning that loyalty does not translate into exclusivity.

Based on this information, it’s time for companies to acknowledge that loyalty is neither permanent nor under their control. They don’t “own” the customer, and they certainly don’t have a lock on his spending dollars.

The results from the study suggest that consumers’ decisions to abandon brands for competitors have less to do with the loyalty program, or even the company’s products or services, than with the overall customer experience as a whole.

Companies can also look to the Web and other sources of information as reasons for decreasing loyalty.  Consumers today have more knowledge at their fingertips, and they can connect with companies quicker and more easily than ever before. This equates to more choices, which creates more competition and decreases loyalty.

The bottom line is that companies must redesign their loyalty program models to keep up with today’s customers.  Provide a better customer experience  and customers will be more likely to stay with you than they are if you simply give them every tenth cup of coffee for free.

Accenture also suggests that companies can increase loyalty by coming up with innovative ways to collaborate with other companies, rather than competing. It singles out American Express and Uber, which have joined forces to allow AmEx users to earn double points when they pay their Uber drivers with their cards, creating a win-win for both companies.

It’s a win-win for me as a consumer too.


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