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  • signaltonoise 2:54 pm on July 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, CRM,   

    Does it ever seem like your life’s cluttered… 

    Does it ever seem like your life’s cluttered? Laundry piling up? Dishes in the sink? Papers scattered across your desk?

    While I try to keep a tidy house (can’t say the same about my desk), the main source of my clutter lately has been digital. Whether it’s a new app for my phone, a new web site to bookmark or a new service to sign up for…I just can’t seem to keep pace.

    I came to this realization recently when browsing through my phone. I had all of these cool apps that seemed like must haves when I got them, but now I realize I rarely use any of them. Many apps had different functions. Some apps offered duplicate functionality to others but perhaps took a different approach. However, the more apps I loaded onto my phone the harder it became to use my phone. Should I use UrbanSpoon or Google Places? LivingSocial or Groupon? TweetDeck or Twitter?

    Sure, each of these apps are great in their own way, but my usage of all of them was sub-optimized. I wasn’t really getting the most out of any of them because I could never decide which ones to use or when to use them.

    It was sort of a paradox of choice. So, I decided to de-clutter. I had to make some hard decisions between apps I really needed and those that were nice to have or redundant. Many of the apps I had got me from point A to point B. Rather than try (and fail) to use all of them, I picked the apps that were the best at getting me from point A to point B.

    The end result? I now have far fewer apps in my life. It’s easy to get at the apps I need to use, and I don’t really miss the apps I deleted. Am I tempted to try out new apps now and then? Sure. However, whenever I make a decision now I ask myself one question, “Am I really going to use that?”

    In talking to institutions about their CRM usage I often find similar issues. Many were inticed by wiz-bang features that wound up collecting dust on a virtual shelf. Unfortunately, unlike the apps on my phone (which were mostly free), these decisions resulted in thousands of dollars spent by institutions and sub-optimized usage of their CRM. The end result for them? Clutter. Underutilization. Frustration.

    At times, we must all make hard decisions when it comes to features and ultimately you need to ask yourself, “Am I really going to use that?”

    • Design Practice 10:05 pm on February 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend
      who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast simply because I found it for
      him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
      But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your web page.

  • signaltonoise 5:50 pm on February 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, , sales   

    Always Be Selling 

    As a vendor selling into higher education, I’ve learned just how skeptical…no, scared…people are of the word “sales” in this industry.  Wait, am I even allowed to call it an ‘industry’? Anyway, like it or not, you’re always selling something.  However, this isn’t a post about the ongoing debate about whether or not students are “customers” and whether or not higher education should be sold as a product.   There have been many books and blog posts written on this topic over the years.  In fact, The New York Times covered both sides of this debate last year as part of their “Room for Debate” series.

    While you may not view yourself as a sales person, you are in fact always selling.  I’m not talking about turning yourself into the guy in this picture necessarily, but he may have some tricks up his sleeve to help you sell your products.

    The products you’re selling are your ideas.

    In navigating the world of multi-departmental decision making and committees and top-down hierarchy that many higher education administrators deal with, there’s always an opportunity to sell your ideas. In fact, it’s because of this complex decision making structure that selling should be an integral part of your day-to-day job.

    To paraphrase Ben Affleck from the movie Boiler Room, “A sale is made on every call you make.  Either you sell them [your idea] or they sell you on a reason [you] can’t.  Either way a sale is made.  The only question is, ‘Who’s going to close?'”

    For more on the Affleck school of sales, visit this article (WARNING: includes some NSFW dialogue in the videos).

    Here are my PG-rated thoughts on the matter.

    You may have a great idea, but that won’t help you sell it.  The key to selling your idea is building a solid business case.

    In the corporate world, many organization use “Solution Selling” methodology to help overcome common objections to ideas.  The key to building your business case is to focus less on the idea and more on the problems you’re looking to solve with that idea.

    Rather than just promoting a specific product or tactic (eg. “We need to get on Facebook.”), focus on the organization’s pain(s) and addressing the issue with possible resolutions to those pains that include sound, strategic planning…not just products or tactics (eg. “We’re having difficulty retaining current students.  This has impacted our overall budget.  Other organizations have seen success in engaging students by integrating their communications efforts with social media.  What if we were to…)

    It seems fairly obvious, but all too often we get hung up on the tools and not the problems that we’re looking to solve.  It’s another spin on the strategy vs. tactics conversation.  Additionally, we often get hung up on our individual pains.  “This would make MY life a lot easier.” But another key to selling your ideas is how they will impact both the organization as a whole and other individuals within your organization.

    Solutions Selling Methodology helps you:

    • Diagnose your organization’s pain points
    • Identify key players affected by your institution’s pains
    • Create shared goals and objectives
    • Discover possible solutions to address your pains
    • Establish a value proposition for possible solutions
    • Creates a win-win resolution across every member of your organization

    Now, let’s assume you’ve got a solid idea and and a general idea of its benefit to your organization.  It’s now time to organize those thoughts into a comprehensive business case that brings all of your key decision makers and influencers on board.  Here is where solution selling can help.  They offer a framework to help you organize your business case by helping you identify:

    • Key players in your organization
    • How each player’s pain is linked to the other’s
    • The causes and effects of living with that pain
    • The benefits of overcoming that pain
    • Examples of what others have done

    It’s impossible to learn everything there is to learn about solutions selling in one blog post, but hopefully this gives you a preview.  For those interested in learning more, there are several books on the topic, but the New Solution Selling by Keith Eades is considered gospel by many sales professionals.  But we’ve always wondered what solutions selling would look like through the lens of those working in enrollment marketing and admissions at higher education institutions.

    Inspired by solutions selling methodology, we’ve seen how many educational institutions have struggled to build consensus within their organizations to launch new technology initiatives.  As a result, this week we’re holding a Workshop at the UPCEA Marketing Seminar that’s intended to help institutions build their business case.  In this case, we’ll be looking at building a business case for CRM since that’s an area where we feel we know a thing or two, but we hope the lessons learned can be applied to building a business case for any broad initiative you may have on campus.

    Below are some examples of the excercises we’ll be going through with attendees to help them identify the right solutions to addressing those pains.  Here are some examples of each “solutions selling” artifact followed by a “worksheet.”  For those of you that are unable to attend the session in person, use these worksheets to jot down your own thoughts about the pains YOUR ideas can help solve within your organization.

  • signaltonoise 2:11 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, ,   

    Silos and Cross-Channel Turf Wars 

    Multichannel integration continues to be the holy grail for most customer service organizations. However, despite recognizing this, most companies still operate their business units as individual silos that rarely intersect with one another.  Why?  The reasons vary.  Sometimes it’s lack of resources.  Sometimes it’s lack of ownership.  Oftentimes, it’s the result of age-old online vs. offline turf wars.  And like most wars, there can be innocent bystanders.  In the case of e-commerce, it’s the customer.

    At this week’s Frost & Sullivan Customer Contact Event, the challenges of integrating channels and breaking down silos are front and center. As 1to1 points out today, the challenges are ubiquitous, "from unsuccessfully disseminating information and not achieving a holistic view of the customer, to not obtaining cooperation in the culture and having the inability to optimize customer information from outside the organization.

    When each channel is its own island, there’s little hope of delivering integrated customer service experiences that impact the bottomline.  It’s not just a matter of changing technology, however, it’s a matter of evolving culture and process aswell.  In many ways, businesses must start thinking the same way that consumers think. 

    Most customers don’t care about channels, they care about brands, products and services.  If you offer them seamless cross-channel experiences that deliver on the brand promise they’ve come to expect, then you’re likely to have a customer for life.  If you present a jarring experience that distracts customers from what they care about, then you are  one step closer to losing them.

    1to1 adds, "If a company’s communications channel is not integrated with the rest of the organization, then customer loyalty is at risk. Without integration, companies cannot deliver an experience to the customer that is tailored and one that they’ve come to expect."

  • signaltonoise 2:09 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM,   

    Is your delayed response stressing out your customers? 

    A study commissioned by British web hosting firm Fast Hosts was published last week, and claims that 9 out of 10 consumers say that slow or poor response from a company’s email customers service caused them anger or stress.

    Unfortunately for those consumers, slow response rates are more common than you’d think.  Last December, a leading research firm in the U.S. found that email response rates across a number of industries are low with 41% of sites taking three days or longer to respond to customer inquiries, or not responding at all.

    While email is one approach to deflecting routine customer inquiries, lack of immediacy could not only anger your customers, but hurt your brand aswell.  Creating frustrating experiences for your customers is the first step towards making them ex-customers.  Avoiding frustrating your customers is the first step towards building loyalty.

    As Seth Godin puts it, the first thing any customer-oriented business should be worried about is customer satisfaction. 

  • signaltonoise 2:09 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM,   

    Does self-service trump human interaction? 

    Jeremy Nedelka of 1to1 Media responds to a new report published by IHL Consulting Group that finds spending on self-service machines is up and expected to grow another 18% next year.  The report, which covers in-store self-service options, states that retailers and other businesses are finding that self-service kiosks can significantly increase customer loyalty, as well as customer satisfaction.  Seems like some pretty compelling data, but as Nedelka points out, "Does replacing personal service to create added convenience hurt the customer experience instead of helping it?"

    Whether online or offline, self-service does pose a great opportunity to cut costs and improve service efficiency.  But ultimately, consumers will transact with whatever options are available to them. Finding the right balance between self-service and assisted service is not only a matter of gauging cost, but opportunity.  In certain sales situations, not offering human assistance can put the business at a disadvantage when it comes to leveraging cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

    For example, on any given day, a cashier at my local Safeway may have the insight to tell me that cornflakes are "buy 2 get one 1 free." Without that person being there to inform me of this, I may not have noticed the promotion and only bought one box of cereal. That’s the kind of information most offline self-service kiosks don’t provide.

    Online, thanks to advanced personalization features, it’s definitely easier to present consumers with relevant cross-sells and up-sells without human involvement. But sometimes, even in the online world, there’s no replacement for human interaction for sealing the deal and cross-selling customers, which is why proactive service is becoming so popular.

    So what if online customers transition to the phone?  In those situations, the best way to cross-sell is to have insight into customer’s buying behavior.  Just as the Safeway clerk can see that I’m buying cornflakes and suggest the "buy 2 get 1" deal, contact center agents should be able to see current online session data, and customer history, to present relevant suggestions.

  • signaltonoise 2:02 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: call center, CRM   

    Multi-channel Agents: The Contact Center of the Future? 

    A new report released this week by Aberdeen suggests that companies may benefit from integrating the support functions of their call center agents.  Traditional call centers, the report states, operate in four distinct channels — self-service, email, chat and voice — but enabling agents to operate across each of these channels could improve results.

    However, there are several challenges that have kept call centers from making this transition:

       1) Lack of data integration;

       2) Agent skillset (which, as we’ve mentioned in the past, could be a major hurdle);

       3) Lack of necessary software.

    As it should, consumer preference is driving change.  Customers want a consistent experience across channels, but does that mean companies need to move from their legacy systems to an entirely new platform that accommodates all these channels?  Not necessarily.  

    Switching your entire contact center platform can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. However, through hosted/on demand solutions, there are ways to benefit from channel and data integration relatively quickly, and without overhauling your entire contact center infrastructure.   Plus, these services allow for your contact center to have best-of-breed components for each channel, as opposed to one-size-fits-all solutions that may offer strong solutions for one channel, but mediocre services in another.

  • signaltonoise 2:00 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM,   

    Shocker! Survey Finds Customers Prefer Help from Live Agents 

    No real surprise here, but a new J.D. Power survey confirms what many of us already suspected…customer service issues handled by a computer automated response system (ARS or IVR) on the telephone generate significantly lower customer care ratings than those handled by a live agent.

    According to the report, "[C]ustomers who speak with a live agent on the telephone provide an average index score of 127 points, which is significantly higher than the industry average of 98 points. However, customers contacting their carrier through an ARS system rate their experiences significantly lower, averaging 92 index points."

  • signaltonoise 1:58 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, ,   

    E-Service Satisfaction Improving 

    The American Customer Satisfaction Index announced the results of a new consumer survey, which finds that online customers are increasingly satisfied with the level of service they’re receiving online.  In fact, according to CRM Buyer, “Customer satisfaction in the e-commerce sector continues to outpace most other sectors.”  According to the report,  the leaders in ecommerce service were BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

  • signaltonoise 1:54 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, ,   

    Problems online could lead to offline abandonment 

    Internet Retailer reports today on a new survey by Gomez, Inc. that offers some alarming news for online retailers and their offline counterparts. “The correlation between an unsatisfactory online experience and potential revenue loss has never been stronger,” says William Agush, vice president of marketing at Gomez. “Now more than ever, online retailers need to focus on ensuring a consistently superior web experience that will drive sales and brand loyalty or risk losing the customer to a competitor.”

    Ultimately, what the consumer remembers is not whether or not they had a good experience on your website, but whether or not they had a good experience with your brand.  That puts a lot of pressure on online marketers who are increasingly tasked with creating a good first impression for ALL potential customers, not just those that are more likely to buy online.  

    The article points out, “E-retailers will leave millions of dollars on the table this holiday season unless they dramatically improve their customers’ online experiences…And poor online performance leads consumers not only to abandon purchases but also to abandon the retailer, both online and in store, the surveys found.”

    How do you improve online customer experience? Recently, the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA), the largest and most influential association for technology services and support professionals, evaluated technology vendors to distinguish achievement in improving the way companies provide service and support to their customers, a part of the e-commerce lifecycle that has a direct effect on customer conversion rates and overall consumer loyalty.  

  • signaltonoise 1:23 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM,   

    Sometimes More is Less 

    The Consumerist reminds us today of just how smothering companies can get when they abuse their email privileges with customers.  They point out this web comic by Brad Colbow that walks us through several stages of email frustration.

    Email Frustration

    Sometimes, in all the excitement of having a prospect opt-in to receiving communications, organizations can get a little carried away by OVER sending information.  Whether it’s event reminders, registration confirmations, invitations to visit their new social network…colleges and universities have also been known to smother their prospects with too many emails.

    Automating communications – while certainly efficient – can be dangerous if you’re not careful.  In the case of Brad’s cartoon, the poor soul didn’t even leave his computer before he was bombarded with messages.  It may seem like the stuff of cartoons, but this does happen in real life too.  This is why email marketers are always asking themselves, “How frequently should I send emails to customers?”

    And just as there’s no set answer to the “best time of day/week” to send email question, the ideal frequency will vary as well.  But marketers across a number of industries have found that, generally, sending a low volume of triggered emails can have high returns.

    The key (as always) is to keep things relevant and direct.  Avoid all the noise of sending too many confirmation emails or too many follow up emails.  After all, if they ignored your first few emails, what are the chances they’ll read your next (almost) identical email?

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