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Marketing Automation's Next Gig
April 24, 2014
If you aren't sold on marketing automation yet, there's another reason to consider it before you end up down two touchdowns with three minutes to play. We usually think of marketing in its traditional role of new customer outreach, which is good but no longer enough. Keep in mind that in today's zero-sum markets, your competition has not stopped marketing to your customers, so why should you?
inContact Rolls Out Feature-Rich Cloud Call Center Update
April 23, 2014
inContact has released its first cloud contact center software update for the year. Version 14.1 contains a new two-way SMS channel, more refined automated call-routing, deeper integration with Salesforce.com and Oracle, and new APIs that give enterprise users the ability to customize their own applications and do a deep dive into their data. The company currently is rolling out the new version.
Michaels Crafts Artless Response to Customer Data Breach
April 21, 2014
Another retailer security breach, another national conversation about how these now regular occurrences need to stop. In the Michaels case, though, some of the talk touched on what by now should be remedial public relations. When you screw up and it affects your clients, apologize -- profusely and without hedging or reservation. The hacked retailer du jour apparently was unaware of this rule.
SugarCRM Refines Customer Analytics for Sales
April 14, 2014
When SugarCRM debuts version 7.2 in the coming weeks, users already will have had a taste of one of its main themes: tighter integration around productivity tools aimed at better understanding a customer base. That is because SugarCRM has previewed two such integrations over the past month -- one with Marketo and one with Dun & Bradstreet -- both designed to improve the user experience.
Small Biz CRM Secrets Any Business Can Use
April 10, 2014
The rise of Internet commerce sounded a death knell for small businesses. Large e-tailers could wield massive buying power, had less overhead than brick-and-mortar stores, and could appeal to customers in new ways. They could collect customer data in the course of doing business, and turn around and use that data to better market to their customers. How could a small retailer compete?
Clari Sharpens Its Focus on Data-Driven Processes
April 07, 2014
Clari is bursting onto the CRM stage with a mobile sales productivity platform that is coming out of stealth mode, thanks to a $6 million infusion of funds from Sequoia Capital. The product, says CEO Andy Byrne, marries "a beautiful design," with data analytics and mobile tech to create a system that helps reps close deals faster, while cutting down on productivity-killing data entry tasks.
T-Mobile Kisses Up to BlackBerry Customers
April 04, 2014
After racking up a number of successes, T-Mobile clearly made a misstep earlier this year, when it promoted Apple's iPhone 5 to its BlackBerry customers. BlackBerry this week announced it would not renew T-Mobile's license to sell its products, which expires at the end of April. Now T-Mobile is now scrambling to keep its BlackBerry customers with an offer of a $100 credit.
Smartphone Tracking: How Close Is Too Close?
April 04, 2014
There you are, strolling down the coffee and tea aisle at the supermarket when you get an alert on your smartphone that you can get extra points in the store's reward program if you purchase a certain brand of coffee. Are you annoyed that you have been tracked with such precision that the merchant knows not only that you are in the store -- but also which food aisle you are in?
Transaction or Process?
April 02, 2014
After many years, I think I can boil down CRM to this: Vendors prepare for transactions but customers expect process. Of course, this demands elaboration and neither of these ideas is stationary. The desire for better processes evolves as customers and markets do, and transactions become more sophisticated as vendors play catch-up with their markets.
The Minimalist Guide to Inbound Marketing
March 31, 2014
Inbound marketing is an essential part of an online brand promotion strategy. It lets you target your audience directly and draw them in. Inbound marketing is the process of getting customers to come to your store before you try to sell them anything. Inbound marketing for e-commerce is no different. Give customers a reason to come to your site, and they're likely to return when ready to buy.
Telecom Customer Service: The Wrong Things Stay the Same
March 27, 2014
I started writing about service as a magazine editor back in the last century -- well, 1996, if you want to be specific -- but it might as well have been in the days of hula hoops and big fins on Fords. Service practices for telephone companies -- and for all utilities -- were still rudimentary, and they weren't getting any better. The telecom act of 1996 opened up competition.
Using Feedback Loops to Manage Your Subscription Business
March 26, 2014
Everyone in business claims to want to listen to the voice of the customer. It's a noncontroversial issue, but the approaches are all over the map. There is little consistency -- and truthfully, many vendors do a poor job of it. Capturing customer feedback always has been a challenge for conventional vendors because they have to generate new processes to reach out to customers.
Determining an Online Customer's Value
March 25, 2014
Chris remembered his mom fumbling for her keys as she stepped out of the house, quickly locking the door and dashing toward the car. They were off to shop. Chris felt this to be a very clichéd way of shopping and always dreamt of an easier way to shop with less hassle. Jane, experiencing a very similar drill, never hated it once. Over decades, the experience of shopping has taken many forms.
Digging Deeper Into CRM Data
March 21, 2014
CRM is sometimes described as the place where all your customer data resides. That's a nice image -- all that helpful data, chilling in its own hangout. That data works for you, though -- if you're just storing it, it isn't helpful. It's important to think about what you want to do with and learn from that data. We talk a lot about what we want to do -- less about what we should learn.
New Avaya Platform Defrags Customer Experience
March 20, 2014
Avaya has rolled out an upgraded CEM platform with two new major components: the proactive outreach manager and intelligent customer routing. The common theme in this product's enhancement is the unification of inbound and outbound customer engagement with self service across any media, explained Avaya's Cory Glover, senior manager in the customer experience solutions marketing team.
Developing Customer IP
March 19, 2014
Sales people have been demanding better leads for a long time, and marketing today is in a position to provide them. At the same time, marketers have discovered that the kind of data they collect is as important as its volume. Marketers need to provide rich prospect profiles that answer many of sales people's most important questions: Is there a need? a budget? an executive sponsor?
4 Sharp Tools for Honing Reseller Loyalty
March 17, 2014
As tricky as CRM seems, it's nothing compared to managing relationships with indirect channel partners. I often joke that it's CRM to the second power: You must not only manage the CRM tasks you always needed to do to create a relationship with end customers, but also enable partners to sell, service and support on your behalf. When it comes to selling, reseller partners are motivated.
Target Missed Bull's-Eye in Data Breach
March 14, 2014
Target acknowledged Thursday that it put information on a back burner that led to the compromise of more than 100 million customer records. "We learned that after these criminals entered our network, a small amount of their activity was logged and surfaced to our team," said spokesperson Molly Snyder, which "determined that it did not warrant immediate follow up."
Marketers, Start Your Engines
March 13, 2014
The connected car may be zooming into the mainstream: Apple has officially entered the market. The debut of CarPlay comes nearly a year after Apple first previewed iOS in the car, tweaking the platform to move Siri, Maps and other services to the dashboard. Apple showed off CarPlay and announced new partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo early last week at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Report: US Tech Titans Making Bank From Offshore US Treasury Securities
March 13, 2014
Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco have accumulated enormous amounts of money via interest payments from the U.S. government, according to a report from the UK's Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The companies together hold $163 billion in U.S. government debt. Of that $163 billion, $124 billion is in U.S. Treasury securities, much of which is held offshore.

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