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Judith Aquino | November 26, 2015
Instead of visiting a shopping mall or website after Thanksgiving, imagine combining both experiences in a virtual mall. As virtual reality headsets become more affordable, virtual reality is becoming accessible to the average shopper. And while it's still in the nascent stage, VR stands to impact the way people shop and give new meaning to showrooming and e-commerce. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | November 24, 2015
One of the conveniences that consumers look for heading into the holiday shopping season is the ability to order products online and then pick them up at a store. In fact, nearly one-third of U.S. shoppers say they plan to purchase gifts online and pick these items up in-store, according to a recent Shopatron study. That's great news for retailers, since 40 percent of consumers make additional purchases when they come to a store to pick up a purchase. Meanwhile, Read more »
Tom Hoffman | November 17, 2015
This week, as we recognize and celebrate the 2015 1to1Media Customer Champions, it's a reminder of the communal characteristics that are shared by customer advocates. They place customers at the center of their strategic efforts. They also listen to and act on customer feedback. In addition, Customer Champions also gather customer insights from a variety of sources in order to better understand what customers want and to continually improve upon the customer experience. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | November 10, 2015
Most business leaders would be thrilled to have their companies be able to deliver a differentiated customer experience. But many organizations are often hamstrung by a lack of insights about individual customers and process gaps that are needed to provide personalized, smooth, and tailored experiences. This can manifest itself in customer service interactions when a poor customer experience can result in desertion. Brands that consistently deliver strong customer service continually monitor and refine their processes. But in too many cases, Read more »
Judith Aquino | November 5, 2015
It's no secret that presidential candidates spend massive amounts of money on political advertising. But TV commercials and billboards are no longer enough. Next year's presidential hopefuls will be facing off on a highly digital stage, giving candidates new opportunities--and challenges--to engage voters. Read more »
Anna Papachristos | November 4, 2015
Gone are the days of black cats and witch hats. Instead, consumers have redirected their attention toward twinkle lights and velvet bows. Yes, the holiday shopping season has officially begun. (What's Thanksgiving, again?) But, as retailers dive into this increasingly complicated, nuanced time of year, leaders must recognize that the busy season presents critical lessons that are the true gifts that keep on giving. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | November 3, 2015
For too many years, contact center measurements have been focused on efficiency instead of customer experience. Metrics such as average handle time (AHT), number of contacts handled, average wait time, and average speed of answer have all been heavily used and tracked. And while a couple of customer-centric metrics - customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score - have become entrenched among contact center measurements, only recently have other customer-focused measurements such as Customer Effort Score and First Contact Resolution risen Read more »
Judith Aquino | October 29, 2015
REI, the Seattle-based outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer, generated some buzz by announcing that it will be closed on Black Friday. While the company portrayed its decision in an altruistic light, it also underscores the fact that the day after Thanksgiving isn't as critical for driving sales as it used to be. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | October 27, 2015
Unless you've been living under a rock, it's pretty obvious that marketing has become incredibly technology-focused. Instead of sending out batch and blast emails and conducting other random acts of marketing, marketers are increasingly exploiting the value of data-driven decision making to deliver more personalized communications and engage more effectively with customers. Heading into 2015, 65 percent of marketing executives planned to up their spending on marketing technology this year, with nearly a third planning to increase their spending by Read more »
Anna Papachristos | October 21, 2015
Happy Back to the Future Day, everyone! That's right. Today's the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive from the past to change the course of history once again. Yet, while we probably won't see Doc's DeLorean (or any other car, for that matter) zipping through the air any time soon, fans across the Internet can't stop comparing fictional 2015 with the real thing. Of course, when Universal Pictures released Back to the Future II in 1989, writers Robert Zemeckis Read more »
Tom Hoffman | October 20, 2015
One of the best pieces of advice that's offered by customer experience professionals is that when it comes to designing a customer experience, be sure to approach it from the customer's point of view. This axiom is especially applicable when crafting mobile customer experiences. Think about what it's like to be a customer using a smartphone. The screen is small, so the font for a company's mobile app or mobile website should be easy to read. Because of those small Read more »
Tom Hoffman | October 13, 2015
Big Data can provide marketers and customer experience professionals with a wealth of information about customers such as web pages they've visited, sentiments they've shared about brands on social media sites, and other information that can provide insights about customers' preferences, needs, and behaviors. But in some cases, opportunities to engage with a customer or to improve a customer's experience occur at a particular moment when marketers, customer care associates, and other customer-facing professionals require access to real-time customer data. Read more »
Anna Papachristos | October 7, 2015
Much has changed over the last 28 years. But on this, the anniversary of my reluctant birth, I can't help but dwell on the fact that my people (a.k.a. narcissistic, lazy, screen-obsessed Millennials) are no longer the new kids on the block. That's right! Soon we'll be as irrelevant and useless as Generation X or whatever they're called. (Honestly, when's the last time you heard researchers analyze anyone other than Baby Boomers and Millennials? I rest my case.) Read more »
Tom Hoffman | October 6, 2015
As we celebrate CX Day to recognize the companies and people that create great experiences for their customers, it's a great opportunity to remember why senior management's commitment to customer experience is so critical. As Peppers & Rogers Group founding partners Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. have often noted, customers are a company's sole revenue source. Not its products. Not its services. By understanding and delivering on customers' needs and preferences, companies can deliver the types of experiences that Read more »
Tom Hoffman | September 29, 2015
Customer churn is a big problem for companies, especially in industries such as telecommunications where annual churn rates average between 10 percent to as much as 67 percent, according to the Database Marketing Institute. And while technological advances have made it easier for marketers and other decision-makers to better identify and respond to the triggers for churn, most customer churn programs are reactive and don't leave marketers adequate time to deliver messaging or offers that might change a customer's actions. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | September 15, 2015
In April, I posted a blog about the difficulties that sales, marketing, and customer care leaders face in obtaining a truly comprehensive view of customers. This view includes the full stream of transactions that a customer has had with a company, the most recent touchpoints she used to interact with the company, feedback she shared about her experiences in social media or in the contact center, etc. Without question, a big part of this disconnect is the result of the Read more »
Anna Papachristos | September 9, 2015
Over the years, we at 1to1 Media have attended countless conferences and industry events as part of our promise to bring our readers the latest trends within the customer experience strategy space. But, after attending multiple events this summer, I've come to realize that said conferences might not be as beneficial as leaders believe. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | September 8, 2015
As the parent of now two college students, I've had a front row seat in viewing the approaches taken by two schools in facilitating the transition for incoming freshmen to campus life. The shift to college can be both exhilarating and terrifying for many young students, so making this passage as smooth and as welcoming as possible is critical for shaping a successful college experience. Read more »
Judith Aquino | September 3, 2015
Giving consumers recommendations or directions to a restaurant is no longer enough--personalized recommendations have become the new standard. Tech companies from startups to huge enterprises are rolling out personalized recommendations tools in the race to deliver the most relevant content to consumers. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | September 1, 2015
The calendar might read September 1, but retailers are already busy planning for the holidays. As 1to1 Media Senior Writer Judith Aquino points out in this week's feature, "How to Overhaul Your Holiday Retail Strategy," although holiday spending is projected to jump by as much as 5.7 percent this year thanks to lower gas prices and declining unemployment rates, retailers will continue to remain under pressure to distinguish themselves from competitors and to find creative ways to engage with shoppers. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | August 25, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about "The Rise of the Customer-Centric CIO" and the role that IT leaders are playing in helping organizations to differentiate the customer experience. In many organizations, the role of the CIO has evolved in recent years from reactive order taker to proactive business partner in helping business leaders to recognize and act on opportunities to leverage technology, people, and processes in new ways, thanks to their unique view of various functions and business Read more »
Tom Hoffman | August 18, 2015
Author Anne Wilson Schaef once wrote that "we are always surrounded by the doors of opportunity" but that because we're often so focused on a goal, we don't see what's right in front of us. I think there's a lot of truth to what Schaef says and that her musing is applicable for a lot of organizational leaders who are usually so pressed to meet short-term business or operational goals that it's hard for them to see the bigger picture. Read more »
Anna Papachristos | August 12, 2015
With each passing day, data protection becomes increasingly critical, for the more insight shoppers share online, the more they're at risk. Yet, while companies and consumers continuously work to safeguard this sensitive information, many still haven't adopted the best practice procedures necessary to prevent these attacks in the first place. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | August 11, 2015
The role of the CIO has evolved in recent years from a focus on helping the organization to reduce costs to enabling the enterprise to grow revenue and become more agile in responding to changing customer behaviors and market shifts. And while there are a number of components that factor into this metamorphosis, including the threats and opportunities posed by disruptive innovation, one of the greatest sea-changes for CIOs is reflected in their shift from a focus on supporting internal Read more »
Judith Aquino | August 6, 2015
In what will hopefully become a trend, some companies are extending their maternity and paternity leave policies in the U.S. On Tuesday, Netflix announced that new mothers and fathers will get unlimited (full) paid leave for the first year of their newborn's life. And yesterday, Microsoft unveiled its own new parental leave policy. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | August 4, 2015
Customer relationship management (CRM) has come a long way since ACT! burst onto the business scene with contact management software in 1986. Companies continue to invest heavily in CRM systems to deepen their understanding of customers and to better engage with them. But as 1to1 Media senior writer Judith Aquino points out in this week's feature story, "6 Misconceptions That Will Drag Down Your CRM Strategy," inaccurate data, data silos, and fragmented technology implementations are among the challenges companies continue Read more »
Anna Papachristos | July 29, 2015
Everywhere you turn, it seems there's another "connected" device that promises to make your life easier. But, while these gadgets continue to breathe life into the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, consumers are increasingly wary of how widespread adoption will impact their daily lives. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | July 28, 2015
I read a Wired article over this past weekend that really struck a chord. The article referenced a recent speech given by U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at New York University's Stern School of Business who argued that undue earnings pressures on executives at public companies are suppressing wages and having a detrimental effect on innovation and long-term growth opportunities among U.S. companies. While this blog post isn't intended as an endorsement for any particular political candidate, the Wired article Read more »
Tom Hoffman | July 21, 2015
Each customer is unique. As Don Peppers, founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group notes, "customers differ from each other, in terms of both their value to your business, and what they need from your business." Customer differentiation also applies to the various ways customers can access a company's products and services - whether they purchase from a physical location or, as 1to1 Media Senior Writer Judith Aquino points out in this week's feature story, through their use on-demand services. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | July 14, 2015
One of the mantras echoing across businesses these days is the need for organizations to become data-driven. And for good reasons. Senior executives and other knowledge workers who use analytics tools against a wide range of data sources can gain deeper insights into customer behaviors and preferences as well as operational and market trends - and not simply rely on their gut instincts for decision making. These benefits can also extend to the contact center where customer sentiment and performance Read more »
Anna Papachristos | July 8, 2015
Though I'm not opposed to the occasional selfie--What? If you want to immortalize your good hair day, sometimes you've got no other choice--I'm the first to admit that our society has become consumed by nauseating narcissism. (I also believe the selfie stick's true purpose is to whack public selfie-takers upside the head, but that's beside the point.) Regardless, MasterCard sees such behaviors as an opportunity to engage and protect consumers of all ages with its latest innovation. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | July 7, 2015
In June, I posted a blog about how customer journey mapping has come a long way since its roots. And while customer journey maps have certainly evolved and become more detailed in recent years, customer personas don't appear to have advanced at nearly the same pace. Read more »
Anna Papachristos | July 1, 2015
By 2020, the U.S. Treasury expects to replace Alexander Hamilton's spot on the $10 bill with the face of an unidentified woman. But, as The Daily Show correspondent, Jessica Williams, recently highlighted during an episode of the Comedy Central news program, this gesture seems like an ineffective, and relatively pathetic, attempt to appease female critics. "Honestly, at the end of the day, I don't [care] about who's on the bill. What I do care about is getting an equal share Read more »
Tom Hoffman | June 30, 2015
One of the biggest challenges that telecom industry executives face is customer churn. While churn rates vary by country and by provider, annual churn rates for telecom companies average between 10 percent and 67 percent, according to the Database Marketing Institute. And while there are a variety of reasons that customers disconnect from wireless providers in particular - dissatisfaction with the quality of service, cost, poor customer support - the use of customer data and analytics is providing decision-makers with Read more »
Tom Hoffman | June 23, 2015
Organizations that deliver exceptional customer support typically have at least a few things in common. They listen closely to what customers are asking for and not only act on customer feedback but they also communicate back to customers how and whether their requests were acted on. They align their customer service processes and practices with customer-centric goals and objectives. These organizations also strive to make it easy for customer-facing employees to provide customers with seamless support to ensure that both Read more »
Tom Hoffman | June 16, 2015
The healthcare industry is undergoing dramatic changes, not the least of which is an increased focus among payers (healthcare insurers) and providers (physicians, hospitals, clinics, etc.) on customer centricity. Payers who historically had customers funneled to them by employers are now beginning to market to individual customers. But payers aren't the only healthcare industry participants that are blazing new trails in customer centricity. As last week's PegaWORLD 2015 conference indicates, life sciences and other healthcare companies are also getting into Read more »
Tom Hoffman | June 9, 2015
When companies first began attempts to map the customer journey, it often involved a rudimentary arrangement of Post-it notes or other unsophisticated steps to chart the customer's end-to-end path to purchase or mission to resolve a product or service issue. Customer journey mapping efforts have become considerably more mature over the past year or two as decision-makers are placing greater focus on understanding the types of experiences customers want as a means of attracting and retaining customers. Progress on customer Read more »
Judith Aquino | June 4, 2015
It's not a secret that Pinterest, Google, Facebook and other companies don't want users to leave their platforms. Pinterest is adding "buyable pins" that enable shoppers to purchase items directly on its site; Google announced a similar feature with buy buttons on its ads, and Facebook increasingly offers features that encourage users to check in and never leave. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | June 2, 2015
It's pretty easy to see how pervasive the use of mobile devices has become with consumers. People are tethered to their smartphones just about everywhere - at work, at home, at ballgames, shopping malls, airports, and cafes. As of January 2014, consumers now spend more time on their mobile devices for Internet usage than on desktop PCs, according to comScore. Yet despite how "mobile" we've become as consumers, many companies continue to struggle to develop comprehensive mobile marketing strategies or Read more »
Anna Papachristos | May 20, 2015
Digital and mobile technologies allow employees to remain connected no matter their physical location. Thus, the traditional office no longer exists in its original form, for workers have the ability to operate remotely. But, as the future of the average workplace shifts to accommodate these evolving standards, leaders must also realign their mindset to provide these employees with all they need to conduct business like their in-office counterparts. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | May 19, 2015
There are a lot of ways that marketing automation helps marketers to connect more effectively with customers. Technology enables marketers to gather more insights than ever about customers, including information about their behaviors, preferences, and needs. Marketing automation helps companies achieve deeper engagement and higher conversion rates through more personalized messaging. And while each of these capabilities are critical for helping marketers to succeed in today's fast-paced world, some of the greatest opportunities for driving effective and efficient marketing are Read more »
Tom Hoffman | May 12, 2015
Periodically, a big brand will announce plans to invest millions of dollars in its customer service activities. In some cases, the same company continues to stumble a year or two later. We've all seen it before. Improving customer service isn't simply about throwing money at the problem or adding agents. Because customer care is multidimensional, organizational leaders also need to evaluate their customer care processes, the technologies they have in place, the criteria used to recruit and train agents, the Read more »
Judith Aquino | May 7, 2015
The marketing and customer engagement landscape is getting more crowded and enterprise firms increasingly find themselves competing with nimble startups that offer innovative solutions. As a result, enterprise companies are turning to innovation labs for a competitive edge. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | May 5, 2015
Customer experience leaders talk a lot about the importance of providing customers with simple and easy experiences. But in the real world, some customer interactions can be quite complicated. For instance, as customers continue to increase their use of self-service tools to resolve issues they may encounter on their own, the types of customer inquiries that are hitting the contact center are becoming more complex. Read more »
Judith Aquino | April 30, 2015
Do marketers suffer from an unjustified youth fixation? Teens and young adults are often seen as trendsetters and business bellwethers, particularly in the digital space. But what if chasing after teen opinions is a waste of marketing dollars? Read more »
Tom Hoffman | April 28, 2015
As companies continue to gain deeper proficiency using the Internet of Things for a range of applications (to monitor a patient's vital signs in a hospital, for enhanced connectivity between automobiles, drivers, and automakers, etc.), decision-makers will need to pay careful attention to how IoT influences the customer experience. Because as Fusion92 Founder and CEO Matt Murphy recently shared with me, "if there's not a benefit to consumers, you're probably not going to be successful." Read more »
Anna Papachristos | April 22, 2015
For today's data-driven marketer, more advanced omnichannel campaigns have become standard. But, as companies begin to crave more data in an effort to gain deeper understanding of their customers, many are beginning to recognize that Big Data isn't about volume--it's about what's actionable. SMBs, however, are uniquely positioned to use data to develop closer customer relationships and obtain insights that bigger brands can't, as the explosion of cloud-based technologies has put these companies on equal footing with their larger counterparts. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | April 21, 2015
In case you hadn't heard, Google is introducing big changes to its algorithmic formula beginning today that will place increased weight on the mobile friendliness of a company's website. If a company's website isn't deemed mobile friendly by Google (you can take the test here to find out), this will adversely affect the website's ranking by Google and, as a result, the volume of traffic headed to the website along with the potential leads being generated. The good news for Read more »
Judith Aquino | April 16, 2015
Do you find yourself making more impulsive purchase decisions based on convenience and emotion? If so, you're not alone. Technology advances are making us inclined to make quick, gut-based decisions instead of well-rationalized decisions, according to Forrester Research analyst Shar VanBoskirk. Read more »
Anna Papachristos | April 15, 2015
Just as the U.S. population grows more diverse, so must the average company's workforce. To remain on the cusp of innovation, leaders must conduct an internal audit to explore their brand's current scope and expand future outreach initiatives. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | April 14, 2015
One of the biggest challenges that sales, marketing, and customer care leaders continue to encounter is their inability to gain a truly comprehensive view of their customers. Whether it's the ability to see the full stream of transactions a customer has made with a company, the most recent channels they used to interact with the organization, or the feedback they've shared about their experiences in social media or with the contact center, there's often one or more pieces that are Read more »
Tom Hoffman | April 7, 2015
As companies strive to cater more effectively to the omnichannel customer, many organizations find themselves struggling to find and hire marketers with required technology skills. For instance, while many marketing organizations have a voracious demand for people with analytics skills, just 26 percent of respondents to a global survey conducted by the American Management Association believe they have the ability to meet these requirements. Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Online Marketing Institute reveals that just 8 percent of respondents Read more »
Anna Papachristos | March 25, 2015
Personalization remains paramount for marketers across industries. However, with the constant influx of customer data, it's increasingly difficult for brands to parse this information and bring insight to action. Consumers often find themselves in similar situations, as companies attempt to lure their business with extensive channel outreach. Individuals frequently drown in emails, texts, and social media posts that fail to capture their attention (and their eventual loyalty, too). Read more »
Tom Hoffman | March 24, 2015
Companies that consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences - companies such as The Ritz-Carlton, Apple, and USAA - don't get there by accident. They also don't rest on their laurels. They listen closely to what their customers are telling them and incessantly review and act on customer feedback, including processes that stand to be improved. Apple is a great example of this, having made recent modifications to the Apple Genius Bar through new mobile features. Read more »
Tom Hoffman | March 17, 2015
Corporate leaders are beginning to recognize that the lines have blurred between the brand and the customer experience. This revelation is prompting a growing number of companies to establish a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role and bring a more unified approach to customer centricity. According to The 2014 CCO Study conducted by the Chief Customer Officer Council, 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies have adopted the role. While that's an impressive milestone, it's clear that the industry is still early Read more »