SMS Text Marketing is Still Relevant

March 13, 2012 1 comment

A major trend in marketing today seems to be SMS text marketing as it is an extremely useful and effective form of marketing. Research demonstrates that approximately 200,000 text messages are sent every minute. 97 percent of those messages are opened, and 83 percent are opened within the first hour of receipt.

SMS text marketing is tremendously effective as part of a comprehensive marketing plan when used correctly. For example, this solution can greatly enhance local marketing. Since customers more often expect companies to know both what they like and what they are thinking, pairing a local promotion with an event, like a weather event or a sporting event, can make the promotion far more significant to the customer.

Promoters may also find SMS text marketing effective for local conferences, trade shows or sporting events. Changes to the schedule, for instance, can be sent out via text message, as can speaker announcements of logistical information. SMS text marketing can also engage customers by inviting them to participate in a poll or in a fun activity, like a quick scavenger hunt.

In addition, marketers can support other channels by using SMS text marketing. For instance, a Facebook only promotion can be mentioned to customers via text message. With social media networks, email, QR codes and offline channels, customers can be persuaded to opt into a mobile database. To build a database for SMS text marketing, companies should offer exclusive incentives, promotions or content. SMS text marketing can complement marketing across multiple channels when used consistently.

In addition, SMS text marketing can be used to deliver value to customers related to their transactions. For instance, companies can send text messages regarding shipping details, appointment reminders, payment notifications and service outage notifications. As NFC grows in popularity, companies can use SMS text marketing messages to immediately deliver transaction information to customers, like receipts.

The key to SMS text marketing, according to Jeff Lee of Distributive Networks, is to remember that it’s more important to give than to receive. When companies obtain a customer’s mobile number, then they should make it worth the customer’s while to remain on an SMS text marketing list. “I like to think of it as the certified mail of digital communications,” said Lee. “When you want to be sure people see something, send it by text.”

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Call Center Software Predictions for 2012

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Call centers have long been an element integral to a business’ success, but this year in particular showed considerable improvements and progress in terms of how agents interact with customers.

The rapidly approaching year is looking to be no different, as the contact center as a whole will certainly integrate next-generation features and technology that empowers agents to handle large numbers of inbound inquiries and outbound contacts.

Based on developments that occurred throughout 2011 in the contact center, here are some predictions for what call center software tools will help take contact centers to the next level in 2012.

IVR self-service: The call center industry will surely take on a more dedicated approach to improving customer satisfaction and loyalty, but will still heavily rely on IVR self-service to handle call influxes and disperse high-value customers to live agents. Much like a traffic cop, a call center’s IVR system can immediately handle call queues and direct each call to the appropriate department. According to recent statistics from Global Industry Analytics, the global market for IVR systems is projected to hit $2.78 billion by 2017, with much of this growth to kick-start next year.

Social media: As social media continue to come to the forefront, call centers are increasingly adopting this technology as an additional layer to customer outreach. In 2011, social media proved to be a channel of rapid and voluminous feedback from customers, especially with the prevalent tendency of people to voice their customer experiences – negative or positive – on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. In 2012, we will see social media become more of a requirement and less of an option as more companies move to assess the benefits to their customer service processes.

Unified communications: Video conferencing and instant messaging definitely underwent a big audition in the enterprise in 2011, but easily made the team as effective communication tools for businesses. In 2012, conferencing and chat will potentially become “captains” in the call center, as contact centers come to terms with these technologies as being additional interactive methods for agents to communicate with customers. Thanks to faster broadband and more emphasis on collaboration, conferencing and IM capabilities will continue to secure their niche in the contact center in the New Year.

Virtualization: As opposed to traditional contact centers, which require lofty set-up costs and installation wait-time, cloud-based call centers – or those in which agents work from remote locations and require just a headset and computer – are rapidly gaining traction. In addition to speedy deployment, virtual call centers enable businesses to easily scale their workforce based on current business demands, trimming down on costs and boosting productivity. In 2012, call centers will increasingly move to the cloud in an effort to achieve financial and technical advantages without being limited by geography.

Performance management: Call centers will always be customer-centric, which is why in 2012, contact centers will hone in on gauging how well their agents are performing, and how satisfied their end-users are with service. Using specialty call center software, such as recording and analysis tools, call centers will be able to gain an objective method for measuring and evaluating the performance of all contact center activities. The clearer the picture, the more likely agents will deliver a more superior performance that will positively impact customer satisfaction, as well as callers’ brand experience and revenues.

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Categories: Technology & Telecom

Business VoIP vs Cloud PBX

December 30, 2011 2 comments

As different types of technology are constantly introduced to the market, it is easy to get confused about what solutions have certain capabilities and features. To help break it down, this article will detail the key differentiators between business VoIP and Cloud PBX.

Business VoIP utilizes voice over IP technologies that allow calls to be made over an IP network such as the Internet rather than a traditional PSTN. VoIP phone systems are typically used by small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) and offer users a cost-effective way to make and receive calls, while simultaneously gaining access to multiple features that seamlessly integrate with the company’s resources over the Internet.

Outdated phone systems required circuits to be switched by PBX equipment and phone lines to be connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). However with business VoIP, the system can quickly convert the signal digitally and sends it by voice data packets through an Internet Protocol (IP). In addition, VoIP can also utilize the PSTN which enables calls to be connected to l land lines, according to a recent piece.

VoIP technology is extremely important as it combines voice and data into one unified network. This helps to dramatically increase mobility, as the system can be accessed wherever an internet connection is available.

Some features typically associated with business VoIP are advanced call forwarding and electronic messaging, auto-attendant, three-way conferencing, Advanced Call Distribution (ACD), call routing and more.

On the other hand, Cloud PBX is a phone service that is connected via the internet, and the phone service provider is required to maintain and manage the overall cloud PBX system.

Cloud PBX boasts many capabilities that go above and beyond what a conventional telephone system can offer such as caller ID, voicemail and call routing.

A huge reason to implement a Cloud PBX solution in your business is the increased scalability it offers. “It is enough if you initially buy the base system and add extensions and features as your business grows. With normal telephone systems it is necessary to pay more or install additional wiring to add another phone line, but this is not the case with a Cloud PBX system,” the article revealed.

Cloud PBXs also enhance mobility, as they work no matter where you are and can call a mobile phone directly.

Moreover, there are several different types of Cloud PBX systems including Public Cloud PBX, Private Cloud PBX, and Hybrid Cloud PBX. Each of these Cloud PBX systems rely on business VoIP technology to work successfully.

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Cloud Computing Revenues – 2016

December 27, 2011 7 comments

The cloud computing market will represent $240 billion worth of revenue by 2016, up from $77 billion in 2011, according to Visiongain.

Visiongain believes that mobile cloud service revenues will reach $45 billion in 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 55.18 percent from 2011.

At year end 2016, more than 50 percent of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud, Gartner researchers also believe.

Those forecasts are higher than some forecasts in early 2011. To forecast revenue, analysts start with the concept of average revenue per employee per month. Yankee Group calculates average revenue per employee for software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) as $4, $2 and $1, respectively.

For example, a typical enterprise will spend $4 per employee per month on SaaS. This is equivalent to $48 per year per employee, or what a small business or sole proprietor might pay for an online backup service such as Mozy or Carbonite and simple collaboration software like Evernote or Dropbox.

All of that adds up to annual revenue of about $23 billion by 2014, Yankee Group has estimated.

The Yankee Group global forecast for cloud computing revenue includes some key definitions.

Yankee Group defines midsize to large enterprises as 250 or more employees. The forecast also includes SMBs, which the firm defines as organizations with two to 249 employees. The forecast excludes consumer cloud services but does allow that small businesses will often adopt consumer cloud services for business use.

Yankee Group excludes sole proprietors from infrastructure as a service and platform as a service because analysts do not believe the typical small business has a need for those services.

The forecast likely understates demand in the small business segment to the extent that many small software firms will have high incentives to buy platform and infrastructure services “as a service.”

Those developments will affect many other industries and businesses. Separately, analysts at Gartner estimate that, by 2015, low-cost cloud services will cannibalize up to 15 percent of top outsourcing players’ revenue.

Gartner sees low-cost cloud services disrupting traditional IT in the same way that low-cost air carriers like Ryanair and Southwest disrupted the major commercial airlines.

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Mark Zuckerberg Vs. Mark Zuckerberg

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Facebook has set its legal hounds on Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder could be forgiven for having a slight identity crisis now that Facebook has been forced to send a cease and desist notice to Zuckerberg, asking him to delete his profile on the social network. Confused? Perhaps it’ll make more sense if I mention this: There’s more than one Mark Zuckerberg in the scenario.

The Zuckerberg who’s being threatened with legal action is an Israeli businessman formerly known as Rotem Guez, who changed his name to that of the more famous American businessman on December 7 in the latest in a series of strange Facebook-centric decisions. Not only has the newest Mark Zuckerberg already threatened to sue Facebook after the site shut down an earlier account he’d created under the name–way back in January this year, before he was “officially” Zuckerberg–but he’s also faced legal threats from Facebook for the creation of a company called “Like Store” that claimed to sell Facebook “Likes” for brand pages.

On his personal website,, Zuckerberg 2 has shared the most recent communique from Facebook’s legal team (they continue to refer to him as Rotem Guez), which states that the company is continuing to “gather evidence detailing additional illegal activities” that NewZuckerberg is participating in, adding that Facebook “takes the protection and proper working of its network very seriously and is committed to keeping Facebook a safe place for users to interact and share information” and requesting that he confirm in writing that he will no longer access Facebook, nor develop any business offering related to Facebook in order to avoid “whatever measures [Facebook] believes are necessary to enforce its rights, maintain the quality of its site, and protect its users’ privacy and information.”

Zuckerberg’s response? He’s attempting to create a viral campaign painting himself as a wronged party, of course, which doesn’t seem to be going so well judging by the comments on his site: “The ultimate troll,” writes one visitor, while another writes “God, what a coward.” Hey, at least he can claim to share Internet hate with the real Mark Zuckerberg.

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Categories: General

Customer Service Technology Trends for 2012

December 20, 2011 8 comments

Place your contact center at the heart of your corporate social networking. You should be monitoring relevant social media channels, using them as self-service knowledge bases and engaging customers in real time on key networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Your website needs to be optimized for mobile/smartphone access. Sabio notes that 46 percent of U.K. smartphone customers used their device to access the Internet over the last three months.

Consistent customer interactions across multiple channels. In 2012 consumers will expect their interactions to be handled consistently regardless of the channel they’re using, whether it’s mobile, a social interaction, traditional voice, webchat, e-mail or other emerging channels.

Have you got an App for that? Customers are now familiar with using apps as a service channel. These dedicated apps are increasingly giving customers a fast-track route into customer service centers, bypassing lengthy IVR processes and offering rapid escalation to webchat and voice interactions.

Tracking key service metrics through customer feedback. 2012 looks set to be the year when major organizations really start to embrace the link between offering a high quality customer experience, loyalty and longer-term financial success.

Capturing the true Voice of the Customer. Speech analytics technology has now reached a level of maturity and affordability where you can quickly determine exactly why customers are calling and highlight those calls that really shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

Helping your agents to make more of a difference. Deploying multi-channel agent desktops empowers agents, helps to deliver better quality of service to customers, and can unlock operational savings.

Video to become a mainstream customer service channel in 2012. The massive popularity of online video sites such as YouTube is driving the use of video content to support customer service operations.

Applying Cloud technology where it can deliver the best value. 2012 will see an increased emphasis on organizations identifying which customer service tools can benefit most from being implemented as cloud services.

Delivering real added value through Virtual Assistants. These avatar-style animated digital characters support customer service operations by interacting with web visitors.

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11 Warning Signs Your Career Has Stalled

November 14, 2011 1 comment

Your career can lose power for many reasons: a lack of opportunities, industry changes and plain old boredom are just a few of them.
Are you wondering whether your career has stalled? Here are some of the top warning signs, according to experts:

1. Your role and responsibilities haven’t changed in a few years or more.

2. You’ve bounced from employer to employer without much change in job title or salary.

3. You can’t remember the last time you learned something new about your industry or field.

4. People hired after you have been promoted faster than you.

5. You’re not invited to important discussions or meetings of the kind you used to attend.

6. You have fewer job duties than you used to.

7. Your performance reviews contain terms like “consistently meets expectations” or “adequate performance.”

8. No one at work asks for your help — or no one in your professional network asks for advice.

9. You dread going to work in the morning.

10. Your manager and coworkers stop communicating with you — in general, your phone rings less and you get fewer emails.

11. You spend a lot of time complaining about work, or and when you tell stories about work, you are the story’s “victim,” not its hero. Sound familiar? Never fear — there are plenty of ways to get your career back in the fast lane.

Here are some ideas:

Talk to Your Boss

A first step is to address problems head-on. For instance, if you’ve been stalled in the same position at the same employer, request a copy of the title hierarchy and job descriptions in your organization, says Debra Yergen, author of the Creating Job Security Resource Guide. “Work with human resources and your boss to find out what steps you need to take to move from where you are to the next step up,” she says.

Alternatively, tell your boss you’re ready for new challenges and new assignments. If you’ve been quietly doing your job and
keeping your head down, he may not realize that you’re feeling unfulfilled.

Ask for What You Need

Alan G. Bauer, president of recruiter Bauer Consulting Group, says you can ask your manager for tips on what you need to improve. Also, he says you can ask your HR department what’s going on with an overdue raise. “If your merit increases are lower than your coworkers’, there may be an issue,” he says. “The company budgeted a certain amount for salary increases — if you aren’t getting your share, you need to find out why.”

Brad Karsh, founder and president of the career-services firm JobBound, says to look for ways to be more effective, efficient and
strategic. “Ask your manager about the possibility of a rotational program to see the inner workings of the company and gain fresh perspective and new ideas,” he says.

Take Initiative

Karsh also suggests figuring out what keeps your boss up at night. “Find a way to solve that problem,” he says. “You need to be a key player.”

You can also take some classes or work toward a degree, suggests Mary Greenwood, author of How to Interview Like a Pro.

Or consider on-the-job training. “If you value continuous learning, you can volunteer for a project that will require new skills,” says executive coach Elene Cafasso. “Perhaps you can transfer to another area of the business or learn what’s needed to back up a coworker.”

Rick Dacri, author of Uncomplicating Management, suggests getting actively involved in a professional association. “Get a leadership role, speak before the group or write an article for the newsletter, for instance,” he says.

Adjust Your Attitude

Negativity is one of the worst career killers. “If you are spending a great deal of your energy moaning and whining about your circumstances, it’s time to try and make a new start before you become so emotionally expensive that the organization feels the
need to cut you,” says Cy Wakeman, author of Reality-Based Leadership.

Identifying your dissatisfaction and taking steps to resolve it is the first step. The next step may be to update your resume and start
looking for a new job. “It may be that hanging on to an unhealthy or unproductive employment relationship is what’s holding you back,” Yergen says. “I’ve witnessed a handful of people this year who have identified their dissatisfaction and set a date to quit —
even without a job waiting — and found something just before or just after the date of their resignation. Sometimes you just have to take that step.”

If your career is stalled, perhaps a new career is the right answer. Start exploring options by reaching out to your professional network, job shadowing or talking to your HR department about an internal transfer.

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Categories: Human Resources (HR)