August 31st, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
The enterprise applications market will see a healthy growth in the next five years, according to new research from Gartner. The findings, released last Thursday, indicate that in 2015, spending on enterprise software applications will increase by 7.5 percent to $149.9 billion, and surpass $201 billion by 2019.
“The majority of spending is going towards modernizing, functionally expanding or substituting long-standing business and office applications with cloud-based software-as-a-service,” Bianca Granetto, research director at Gartner, said in a statement.
Areas of the market that are expected to see the healthiest expansions include marketing, advanced analytics, and e-commerce software.
Gartner highlights a number of trends causing the changes. Among these is the fact that companies are continuing to transition from traditional, on-premises licenses, to subscription models. According to a recent Gartner survey, these lenient forms of consumption now account for more than 50% of new software implementations.
Another factor influencing the shift is the state of the global digital economy. Due to mounting pressure to compete on an international scale, it is becoming crucial for businesses to reconfigure and enhance their supply chain systems and applications, if they wish to stay relevant.
Gartner also notes an increasing interest in “’build,’ not ‘buy’” applications. By 2020, ¾ of purchases that support digital businesses will follow this model, as companies are becoming more inclined to create unique applications by combining components from various sources, rather than buying out-of-the-box solutions.
While the research firm estimates that 15% of business users are equipped with cloud based office system capabilities, that number is expected to grow to about 60% by 2020. Consequently, vendors’ revenue flows will slow down, as a great percentage of companies will be making smaller payments on an ongoing basis, rather than making larger purchases up front.
In the near future, organizations will be more likely turn to advanced analytics to guide their business decisions, rather than referring to simple measurements. By 2020, more than 75 percent of organizations will be relying on advanced analytics, in one form or another, Gartner suggests. Those companies will need sophistocated technologies that can keep up with those demands.
Cloud-based CRM will also see greater degrees of adoption outside of North America, Gartner says. In the past, SaaS deployments have been problematic in certain regions due to network and data center infrastructure constraints, government restrictions, and language limitations. This is going to change, Gartner predicts. By 2020, 25% of organizations in these emerging regions will run CRM in the cloud, up from just 10 percent in 2012.
August 28th, 2015 by Leonard Klie
Through 2014, the U.S. contact center industry added 50,000 new jobs in the United States, and in just three months between April 1 and June 30 of this year, it added 20,499 jobs, following the previous quarter’s gain of 7,965 new U.S. contact center jobs, according to jobs4america.
During the 1990s, many American companies relocated their call centers overseas to substantially reduce labor costs. It would seem that many of those jobs are now coming back to the United States as companies are finding that offshore call centers do not perform nearly as well as their U.S. counterparts, according to research from Marchex, which measures more than 300 million calls annually for leading brands and agencies worldwide.
Marchex says it is possible to quantitatively compare the effectiveness of domestic and offshore call centers by analyzing thousands of inbound sales calls fielded for comparable products. Based on key metrics such as hold time, agent talk time, and dozens of other metadata metrics that assess a caller’s overall experience, Marchex determined the top three performance differentiators between domestic and offshore facilities. They are the following:
DIFFERENTIATOR #1: HOLD TIME: The average offshore call center’s hold time was about 1 minute and 15 seconds longer than the average domestic call center’s hold time for a similar product.
DIFFERENTIATOR #2: TOO MUCH INFORMATION: There was a statistically significant difference in agent talk time, with offshore agents requiring 40 seconds more time to describe the same product information to a consumer.
DIFFERENTIATOR #3: TOO MANY TRANSFERS: Offshore centers use far more call transfers than domestic centers. This is because domestic agents tend to have a more comprehensive understanding of technical topics, which limits the number of transfers.
So, just in case all of the government incentives and other peace-of-mind benefits werern’t enough, now you have another reason to bring your call center operations back to American soil. Your customers will thank you.
August 24th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
Last week at CRM Evolution, a lot of emphasis was placed on customer engagement, and how important it is that companies use their channels to stay in touch with buyers. Many organizations have been investing in customer success management tools to help them make sure that people are satisfied well after a transaction has been completed.
Staying connected to customers, we are told, is necessary. But I think there’s a fine line between what is acceptable and what is irritating. At least not in my personal experience. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone, or even forget an interaction has ever taken place–especially if I’ve gone over budget and didn’t mean to.
I’ve been thinking about all this in relation mobile apps and the push notification feature recently. They’re a constant source of distraction to me. (This recent article in the Atlantic shows why this can be problematic for a lot of people.)
A few weeks ago, at an industry conference, I downloaded the event’s mobile app to help me keep track of my schedule. At large events with many speakers, apps really come in handy. It’s more convenient to tap a 4 inch screen screen than to lug around a glossy booklet. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and sped through the settings screen, neglecting to opt out of the push notifications. This was definitely a mistake, because it opened the floodgates to what seemed to me like incessant pinging.
I left the event Monday evening, but I was still getting push notifications about the event on Wednesday, well after I’d left the conference and was hundreds of miles away from its host city. “Don’t forget to get to a certain room for lunch,” the program nudged me. And, “Don’t miss such and such speaker,” or “cocktail hour in the lobby”. Normally I would have deleted the app, but I wanted to keep track of sessions I’d attended that day. But at the same time, I didn’t have the patience to begin fumbling with the app settings finding a way to disable the push notifications, so I just ended up deleting it.
Now, I realize that it might be good idea for a curmudgeon like me to simply turn off all notifications, or to avoid mobile apps entirely. But it’s not always easy to judge when they’ll come in handy. What if the one push notification I end up disabling ends up being one that is meaningful?
The past few weeks, Hale and Hearty has been handing out these cards encouraging customers to download their new app:
I’m on the fence about installing it, even though it shouldn’t even be a question. I hardly ever remember to pack my own lunch and I end up at Hale and Hearty more than I’d like to admit. To me, it’s well worth it, considering how often I eat there. And yet, do I really need Hale and Hearty reminding that they’ll have split pea soup in limited quantities? Maybe….
August 21st, 2015 by Leonard Klie
When it comes to improving the customer experience, a lot of emphasis this week was placed on the technology. Many of the speakers at this week’s Customer Service Experience and CRM Evolution conferences in New York talked up new and emerging technologies, particularly those that allow companies to better meet consumer needs over digital channels. Interest was definitely high when it came to solutions that enable brands to communicate with customers over social media, chat, mobile, the Web, and even the Internet of Things.
If there was one take-away from the conferences, it was that under the best conditions a digitally connected ecosystem will be equally beneficial to both customers and businesses.
Outside of the conferences, vendors this week also put a lot of money behind the emerging digital channels. Verint acquired Telliegent, furthering its push into the social media analytics space. Then Freshdesk acquired ICLICK.io, adding native video chat and co-browsing to its customer support technology portfolio. Spredfast bought Shoutlet, strengthening its social media capabilities. And finally, Oracle purchased Maxymiser, bringer greater mobile and Web capabilities to its Marketing Cloud platform.
And while these moves are significant to differing degrees, delivering the best customer service possible still comes down to the people operating all the technology in place. Focusing on employees was what propelled Southwest Airlines to the lofty position in now holds.
Often hailed as the textbook example of how providing fabulous customer service in a low-cost environment is not only possible but profitable, Southwest Airlines since its founding has invested heavily in its employees so they can then invest in the customers, Jason Young, its former manager of customer service training, told CSE and CRM Evolution conference attendees Tuesday.
The key to Southwest’s success, he said, “is building relationships internally so it expands outward to customers.”
The airline adopted what Young calls “customer-defined services,” where the customer is the most important part of the business. The moment of truth for any company, he added, is whenever “a customer comes into contact with your company that can leave an impression.”
It’s then that employee engagement comes into play, and where values, intentions, behavior, and perception all factor in, he said.
In that environment, teamwork is based on “relational coordination,” which Young said can sometimes be seen as countercultural at many companies. “It’s so easy to be so transaction-focused that you forget that we are in the business of building relationships,” he stated.
And relationships involve people first. The technology is just an enabler.
August 10th, 2015 by Oren Smilansky
Research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business indicates that social factors can have a considerable influence on the choices customers make. People are less likely to risk embarrassment in front of human beings, and are more likely to buy certain goods in private or online. “If you don’t talk to anyone, it changes your behavior,” Ryan McDevitt, the professor leading the study, said in a statement.
One portion of the study took into account more than 160,000 orders made by more than 56,000 customers at a North Carolina pizza chain from July 2007 to December 2011. Buyers who didn’t have to interact with a clerk usually made more unhealthy and elaborate decisions than those who did. Online orders, the professors discovered, contained an average of 14 percent more special instructions regarding topping combinations, and an average of 100 more calories than phone orders.
“Online, you’re not making anyone wait while you place your special order,” McDevitt said. “No one’s judging you.”
Also revealed was the fact that people are less likely to buy or request an item if its name is difficult to pronounce. The researchers looked at 14 liquor stores in Sweden over an eight year period (1988-1996), both before and after they introduced self-service options. The market share of the products that were hardest for buyers to pronounce went up by 8.4 percent after the switch to automated options was made.
The results aren’t particularly shocking to me; especially the latter example. Just this weekend I was at a book store and, for this very reason, didn’t end up getting the item I had in mind when I stepped in. I was looking for a book by an author whose name I had no idea how to pronounce.
I should mention that this particular bookstore is not known for being easy to navigate. In fact, part of its appeal is in its random layout. The staff tries to get creative and have fun with the way it groups books together. One table is dedicated to “must-own short story collections”, and not far away is another that has “gift ideas for the narcissist”. I have a friend who once told me that he can’t go to this book store if he’s looking for something specific.
I first tried finding it in the stacks, but it wasn’t there, though I was certain they had it in stock since the author had recently held an event at the store to promote it. I debated going to the information desk to see if the clerk could help me find it, but after very little deliberation on the matter, decided not to. I’m pretty sure that if I had the option of looking for it on my own, rather than risking the embarrassment of butchering the author’s name, I would have left with that book in hand rather than one of the others I found by chance.