Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

Salesforce.com Is Full of Surprises

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 10, 2013 8:58:11 AM

Anyone who follows salesforce.com is used to surprises, but over the last couple of months the company has come up with some that go beyond the usual. It rebranded the recent user conference in London as a customer company event. This follows from changing its messaging to urge every company to become a customer company not a social company. The event itself was everything we have come to expect, using an array of customer case studies to show how salesforce.com’s products help companies innovate and be successful, and a large partner and product showcase to prove how many products and partners salesforce now has. The real surprises were tucked away in meetings arranged for the many analysts present.

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Topics: Sales, Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Information Applications (IA), Sales Performance Management (SPM)

SAS Aligns Marketing and Customer Intelligence

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 16, 2013 10:10:50 PM

I recently attended SAS’s European analyst event, where I went to focus on new developments around customer intelligence, an application of big data that SAS includes in its high-performance analytics and visual analytics. SAS offers an amazing number and range of products that is hard to keep track of, so I was glad to get a sense that now it is focusing more on business solutions built with data visualization and discovery, big data, data management, cloud computing, marketing analytics (which appears to be the new branding for customer intelligence) and enterprise decision management. It appears that the European event followed closely the lines of the U.S. event my colleague Mark Smith attended; he offers an analysis of the company’s wider messages.

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Topics: SAS, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Barriers to Omnichannel Customer Communications

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 11, 2013 10:52:11 AM

In never ceases to amaze me, the number of new terms and acronyms the contact center market generates. Just as everyone is getting used to the fact that customers interact with companies through multiple communication channels (multichannel for short), someone invents the term omnichannel and we all have to get our heads around what this means. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that companies now support on average nearly five communication channels, and although the traditional channels are still the most common, as the chart shows, there are signs that new channels such as chat (used by 37%), social media (29%), text messaging (22%) and video (5%) are on the increase.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Echopass, Enghouse interactive, Five9, LiveOps, Mobile Apps, NewVoicemedia, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Interactive Intelligence, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Unified Communications

IBM Watson Engagement Advisor for Smarter Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 25, 2013 10:55:01 PM

Recently my colleague Mark Smith wrote about the IBM Watson platform. Mark is our expert on technically complex subjects like IBM Watson and‎ cognitive computing and the value it can provide to organizations and wrote an educational white paper on the topic. In fact IBM Watson was awarded the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award. I focus on the customer and the customer experience, but I became engaged with the launch of the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, which uncannily brings the two together.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), Call Center, Cognitive Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), IBM Watson, Text Analytics

SoCoCare Enables Social Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 23, 2013 2:44:26 AM

Much is being written about the impact of social media on customer service, although my research into the agent desktop shows it hasn’t reached the fever pitch that many commentators would have us believe. It is true that the number of consumers using social media and as a consequence the volume of posts are astronomical. But I wonder how many of these posts actually have to do with customer service and how organizations filter out the relevant ones to help them decide on customer service policies and the appropriate action to take.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Unified Communications, Social Media Analytics, SoCoCare

Interactive Intelligence Reveals Ambitious Plans for Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 20, 2013 10:10:22 AM

At its recent user conference, Interactions 2013, Interactive Intelligence (Nasdqaq: ININ) showcased its extensive product portfolio and its ambitious plans to improve the products both technically and functionally. I have written more than once about the complexities of building a contact center, which is getting even more complex as companies begin to support more channels of interaction as inbound ones are distributed around the organization including sales (59%), marketing (46%) and CRM team (41%) and distribute to many different contact center sites according to our customer relationship maturity research. To keep up with developments, I divide contact center systems and applications into five groups:

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

NICE Systems Leading Change at Interactions 2013

Posted by Richard Snow on May 1, 2013 11:34:13 AM

I recently attended NICE Systems’ annual user conference, this year called Interactions 2013. In discussions of its different products and latest releases and testimonials from selected clients, I was surprised by how the messages were packaged. NICE has a long history of acquiring companies, and it has let many of them continue to operate as autonomous lines of business. Often there was minimal integration with other NICE products, a variety of user interfaces, no common software administration tools. In my opinion this policy prevented it from taking advantage of having a suite of products focused on handling customer interactions. At the conference, Zeevi Bregman, CEO and President, positioned NICE as supporting three lines of business: interaction management, fraud and compliance, and security. He explained at length how the three are inextricably linked, tying fraud and compliance and security to interaction management and customer service. Fraud and compliance is linked to customer service because market segments such as banking have to ensure that the customer service they provide conforms to legislative requirements, and security is an increasing part of knowing customers and ensuring the safety of their information. Other executives also stressed these themes.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 23, 2013 10:55:18 AM

When I last wrote about Attensity I classified it as a “pure play” text analytics vendor, but the latest release of its product has lead me to revise my opinion. Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics

Kana Paints a New Picture of Unifying Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 18, 2013 9:46:23 AM

Back in July I wrote about Kana’s acquisition of Ciboodle and its previous acquisition of Overtone and what seemed to be its ambitious plans to release an integrated version of the products. I went so far as to say Kana would have “something unique to offer” if it pulled off this effort. Now, almost nine months to the day, it has launched a new version of Kana Enterprise, and from what I saw in a prelaunch briefing it does seem to be something unique. Billed as “the first omni-channel customer service suite,” the new product brings together the original Kana customer self-service and knowledge management products, the Ciboodle desktop and several new developments.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics

Companies Need Smarter Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 17, 2013 9:05:04 AM

I read a lot these days about how companies should pay more attention to contact center agent or customer service representative satisfaction, as it can have an impact on customer experience and meeting key customer-related metrics. This is a far cry from the “good old days” when agents were often locked away in a dark, dismal place and told to answer as many calls as possible. My research into the agent desktop shows that many companies have indeed latched onto these new priorities, and the two top first ranked goals (19%) with respect to agents is to increase agent retention and thus keep the skills they have to handle customer interactions, and to improve agent satisfaction, which in itself helps ensure more agents stick with their roles longer.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Workforce Force Optimization