The last 10 years has brought sea changes to the customer service industry from both operations and technology standpoints. Organizations have moved away from traditional domestic live phone support toward new technologies and business models such as interactive voice response (IVR), intelligent scripting and offshoring. E-commerce, in particular, has driven innovative sales and support models such as chat and email customer service by virtue of the global reach of the Internet as the channel of distribution. Despite radical changes in business models, too little attention has been paid to the growing field of multilingual customer support, especially in contact centers. Case in point: The last U.S. census found that more than 28 million Americans spoke Spanish, with only about half saying they spoke English "very well." The Spanish-speaking segment of the population grew more than 60 percent from the previous census, and Spanish continues to rapidly outpace all other foreign language … [Read more...] about Assuring Quality in the Language E-Commerce Customers Speak
Mobile CRM: Cost Center or Profit Maker? Part 1 Buried in a recent J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction study -- which showed consumers' satisfaction with credit cards was at a six-year high -- was this very telling factoid: Only 7 percent of credit card customers use their mobile phones to complete transactions, up from 4 percent in 2011. However, satisfaction is highest among customers who use mobile to interact with their issuer, compared with customers who use any of the other interaction channels, including the Internet. Mobile phone options, such as downloadable apps and text alerts, are important as customers who use their mobile phone for credit card activities are more satisfied and are more likely to understand their credit card terms, the report concluded. These stats fly in the face of the reality of countless mobile CRM projects -- that is, those projects implemented out of a sense of duty because customers expect to be able to reach out to a firm … [Read more...] about Mobile CRM: Cost Center or Profit Maker? Part 2
Problems facing e-commerce seem to turn up as often as eggs on Easter Sunday. Just since August, for example, 84 percent of Internet users surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project expressed fear that Web sites will obtain personal information without their knowledge. The U.S. government's Internet Fraud Complaint Center said that it has received 1,000 complaints per week since its May launch. A Gartner Group analysis of online customer service concluded that "e-tailers are annoying Web customers at a time when brand loyalty is the Holy Grail." After a while, it is hard not to take that huffing and puffing seriously. Without any guarantee that these problems can be solved, one might wonder if e-commerce is a house at risk of being blown down. However, while analysts agree that e-commerce will suffer its share of chips and cracks, they do not foresee a scenario where the industry itself would be at risk of collapse. Name That Problem The main challenges facing … [Read more...] about A Net Without E-Commerce?
[email protected] (Nasdaq: ATHM) was up 1/4 at 6 1/8 early Tuesday after the provider of high-speed Internet access called off plans for a joint venture with the Chello Broadband unit of Dutch broadband provider United Group. [email protected] said United Group wanted to change terms of the venture because of market conditions, but the companies could not come to an alternative agreement. [email protected] also said that the complexity of the proposed deal, which involved "multiple shareholders with differing opinions and interests," would have posed a risk to its international expansion plans. The company said it has no obligation to United Group as a result of its decision to walk away from the talks, and is free to pursue other partnerships. "We continue to regard international as a key element of [email protected]'s business," said George Bell, chairman of the Redwood City, California-based company. "We remain confident in the overseas opportunity and will continue to grow our position." Bell also said … [Read more...] about [email protected] Advances as Chello Venture Scrapped
We may have seen the worst of e-tailing attrition in the last two years, but we have not seen the last of it. Surviving online retailers still have substantial work to do in order to reach the end of 2002 without closing up shop. "The shakeout is not over," Gartner Group research director Geri Spieler told the E-Commerce Times. "Unless pure-play e-tailers like Ashford.com, Gloss.com, and other single-line players get the attention of the consumer, they will have a difficult time surviving." Effective marketing is indeed one of the challenges facing online retailers, along with channel integration and margin-driven product strategies, said analysts. Most Internet retailers have addressed the most egregious mishaps that sank their competitors, such as faulty order-taking and shipping systems. But their success in the new year is far from guaranteed. Money Mishaps Hindsight reveals that mismanaged marketing budgets were a key culprit in the failure of many e-tailers. "Companies got a … [Read more...] about E-Tail Shakeout Not Over Yet
Adding fuel to the argument that an e-commerce resurgence is at hand, 1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq: FLWS) has announced a second-quarter net profit of US$1.8 million, along with a sharp increase in revenue. "Despite what continues to be a very challenging retail environment, we were able to achieve solid revenue growth of approximately 21 percent," company chairman and CEO Jim McCann said. "Importantly, as evidenced by our improved margins, this was done without resorting to the aggressive promotional pricing that characterized much of the retail sector this past holiday quarter." 1-800-Flowers spokesman Ken Young told the E-Commerce Times that while the second quarter has always been a good one for the company, "it's only been in the last few years, with our emphasis on non-floral gifts, that it's become a really strong quarter for us." In the Black The company booked revenue of $162.3 million for the second quarter, an increase of 20.9 percent from the $134.2 million it reported in … [Read more...] about 1-800-Flowers Profit: Seed of an E-Commerce Revival?
Different experts might define e-commerce differently, but most agree on one thing: The sector represents a growing piece of the overall commerce pie, and its share is expected to increase steadily -- though gradually -- over the next five years. For example, Forrester research director Kate Delhagen told the E-Commerce Times that online sales accounted for US$51.3 billion in revenue during 2001. Revenue for 2002 is expected to total $72.1 billion, a 41 percent increase over last year, she added. Indeed, online commerce has continued to gain momentum this year despite an overall weak economy, coming off a woeful year for retailers in general. "Last year was a bad year for commerce as a whole," Delhagen said. "There was September 11th and a number of other factors." Gaining Momentum The resilience of the e-commerce sector in tough times supports the argument that it could become a larger force in the future, even though it currently represents just a small percentage of overall retail … [Read more...] about How Big Is E-Commerce?
By Andrew K. Burger Dec 23, 2006 1:30 AM PT Across the U.S., both consumers and industry have called on the government to build out an infrastructure for renewable energy sources following the latest run-up in gas prices. Part 1 of this two-part series on renewable energy reviews some of the plans industry participants have outlined to support various "green" power initiatives, along with some approaches to achieve success. With the introduction of the California Solar Initiative -- due to go into effect January 1 -- solar photovoltaic (PV) industry firms are scrambling to adjust to changes in application processes, rebate pricing, and energy efficiency and metering requirements. Some are using California as a test bed for new renewable energy projects, including solar-powered suburban communities and a large job involving California public schools. California's commercial and residential housing developers form one of the industry's long-term linchpins. They can consistently … [Read more...] about Renewable Energy in America, Part 2: Solar Powered Homes
Smartphone customers in the U.S. want bigger screens on their devices, according to a study from T-Mobile. The phone provider, along with Kelton, polled more than 1,000 U.S. consumers starting last May and found that 77 percent of smartphone users prefer a device that has a 4.5-inch or larger screen over a smaller display. T-Mobile highlighted the results of the study in a blog post announcing the availability of the Samsung Galaxy Note, a phone with a particularly large screen. Samsung's 5.3-inch device is meant to be a smartphone-tablet hybrid, with some tablet-like capabilities such notepad functionality. The product is sometimes referred to as a "phablet." T-Mobile relies heavily on sales of smartphones from manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC, since it is the only major U.S. provider not to offer Apple's iPhone. "T-Mobile's lack of an iPhone was probably a motivating factor for this study," Colin Gibbs, analyst at GigaOM Pro, told TechNewsWorld. "The carrier continues to … [Read more...] about Consumers on Smartphone Screens: Go Big or Go Home
Lyris Technologies said China-based Alibaba will use its e-mail marketing solution to handle messaging to both Chinese and international members who use the site to import and export goods. Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company operating in China today, will use ListManager to manage its communications with members who live in 200 countries and territories around the world, according to Lyris. The e-commerce site gets a half-million visitors per day, many of them global merchants looking to find trading partners inside China. Emeryville, Calif.-based Lyris said it would customize its solution to work in the Chinese marketplace as well as in the international markets that Alibaba also serves. "We are one of the few companies in China that has addressed the unique challenges of managing customer relationships globally," said Devin Beringer, Alibaba's Director of Customer Management. "By working with Lyris, we have been able to improve the deliverability of our messages and more … [Read more...] about China E-Commerce Giant Alibaba Taps Lyris for E-Mail Marketing
Daily Discount Coupons: Pay Dirt or Raw Deals? - Part 2 "Clearview Security is offering you an affordable 2-camera closed circuit TV system, complete with a 4-channel DVR for just $1,050...a 50% savings. This system will enable you, the small business owner, to remotely monitor your business workplace. Clearview's custom-designed system will give you peace of mind, thanks to the ability to remotely monitor your business workplace. They consider each and every installation a custom project and are fully-insured and licensed by the State of NY Department of State to install, service and maintain security and fire alarm systems." If this doesn't sound like the glib write-ups typical of Groupon or LivingSocial, which generally offer products priced less than US$100, that is because MarketSharing is a serious-minded site aimed at businesses. Image Control Clearview Security COO Drew Martin picked it, as opposed to Groupon, because he wanted to maintain control of his company's image … [Read more...] about Daily Discount Coupons: Pay Dirt or Raw Deals? – Part 3
Microsoft and HP announced the availability of the HP MediaSmart Server running Windows Home Server. The new class of server enables consumers to protect, connect and share digital media and documents. "Digital devices and content are everywhere in our day-to-day lives, and they are important all the time," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. "With the launch of Windows Home Server, Microsoft and its partners are creating a new consumer product category that will help people keep their digital media safe and make it easier for them to enjoy it with friends and family." The HP MediaSmart Server will begin shipping later this month. The 500 GB version is priced at US$599. For consumers with greater storage needs, there is also a 1 TB model for $749. Are You Being Served? Designed principally for homes with several personal computers, the MediaSmart Server provides consumers with powerful sever technology similar to that found in the workplace. It will automatically back up … [Read more...] about HP, MS Aim to Tidy Up Digital Clutter With New Home Server
Driven by competitive pressure to improve the customer experience, organizations are moving toward an online self-service model that pushes the boundaries of electronic information presentation, or e-presentment. Yet as they embrace this model, new challenges await, including how to ensure customers have seamless online access to relevant and accurate information in the format they want. E-presentment is the process of delivering traditionally paper-based documents online in electronic formats. Its most significant application has been with high volume transaction output (HVTO). HVTO includes customer-facing documents such as statements, bills, policies, explanations of benefits and customer correspondence. HVTO documents are usually produced in very large batches on a recurring basis, and have been typically designed and composed for paper-based fulfillment. With the advent of e-presentment, HVTO has become the highest value online content delivered through self-service environments. … [Read more...] about The Vital Role of E-Presentment in Online Self-Service
Amazon has reportedly agreed to new pricing terms with two major publishers on e-books sold for its Kindle. Amazon forged new agreements with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Publishers, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new terms -- which mirror the deals the two companies struck with Apple for the iPad -- will allow most bestsellers to be priced at US$12.99 to $14.99. Some bestsellers, however, will remain at the $9.99 price established by Amazon. Amazon did not respond to the E-Commerce Times' request for comment by press time. Macmillan's Footsteps These new agreements follow Amazon's capitulation in a face-off with book publisher Macmillan earlier this year. Amazon tried to play hardball with the publisher by pulling its books from the Kindle catalog after it demanded the right to sell its bestsellers at higher prices, but its resistance was short-lived. Amazon quickly acceded to the publisher's terms. Macmillan "has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of … [Read more...] about Nervous Amazon Knuckles Under on E-Book Pricing
The company conceived the idea of adding an e-bike to their collection of cars after noting the increasing reliance of people on bicycles and scooters, especially in densely populated cities. This trend may be attributed to the advocacy of "carless" cities for the protection of the environment, and Ford is not just sitting complacently and waiting for the trend to pass them by. The E-bike market has been growing rapidly which has inspired the concept by the Ford Design led by Executive Design Director Martin Smith. It's designed to appeal to both men and women because it merges a modern yet sleek look that everybody would love. The heart of the e-bike's design is its strong but lightweight trapezoidal frame made out of carbon and aluminum. It also boasts of its minimalist and clean look because the electric drive is concealed from view. The e-bike also has six spoke V-design wheels which lend a sophisticated overall appearance. A motor in the front wheel and a lithium-ion battery power … [Read more...] about Ford E-bike concept unveiled
I'm not sure how I missed out on National Cyber Security Awareness Month -- I know I have the press release around here somewhere. Then again, when I see the word "cyber," I usually set my brain to "ignore" -- it must be linguistic principles that cause me to react as I do to the never-ending misuse of perfectly good Greek. On top of that, I'm so over National This-or-That Month. I've always believed that designating a month for promoting a particular cause was a nice way to focus the staff of industry associations and other interest groups, while to the rest of the world it seems to trivialize a real problem. But I digress. The most meaningful thing to come out of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which was brought to us by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), was a study of 329 home computer users that the alliance conducted with America Online. (I have to stop watching cable TV -- the small-business and home-user makeovers suddenly sound really appealing.) [ Give … [Read more...] about Home users still the weakest link
Netbooks are starting to look like ultraportable laptops, while some ultraportables are beginning to resemble netbooks. In a tight economy, the question arises: Should you keep costs low by buying an inexpensive netbook, or spend a few hundred dollars more to get a full-featured lightweight laptop? Here's a quick rundown of three recent product introductions, along with some guidance on which direction to take--laptop or netbook? [ Stay ahead of advances in mobile technology with InfoWorld's Mobile Report blog and Mobilize newsletter. ] [ iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro vs. Pixel C vs. Galaxy TabPro S: The "tabtop" tablet/laptop hybrids compared. | Get deep into Windows: Subscribe to the InfoWorld Windows Report newsletter. ]But First, the Back Story A netbook is a small portable computer, usually with a screen between 7 and 10 inches in size, compared to the 12-inch to 17-inch screens on most laptops. Netbooks are often just a bit bigger than a standard hardcover books, but noticeably … [Read more...] about Netbook or Ultraportable for the Job?
As soon as September, we may see the first smartphones based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" release, the OS update with what CEO Steve Ballmer says has more than 500 new features. The first version of Windows Phone 7 had a compelling UI but fell far short of the iPhone and even Android devices in many areas critical to business users. It was a flop in the market, but Microsoft asked everyone to give it a second chance. "Mango" is that second chance, and Microsoft sent the final "reboot" OS to smartphone makers a month ago. Does "Mango" address the many gaps in the first version of Windows Phone 7? It's hard to say, as working versions of the OS are not yet available for people like me to test. And although Microsoft has been dribbling out information for months on "Mango," there's little meaningful detail yet -- especially on the core business capabilities that the first version lacked. When I asked Microsoft for what "Mango" added for business users, it was unable to tell … [Read more...] about Windows Phone ‘Mango’: Ripe or rotten?
Building and maintaining a wireless network at home is no easy task, especially if you're not tech-savvy or otherwise inclined. This presents a problem, since many people rely on Wi-Fi in their homes in order to get the most out of smartphones, tablets, laptops and a quickly increasing number of other products. Then you get into the issue of internet dead zones in your home and adding Wi-Fi boosters, or using other means to get a better signal. It's all pretty confusing. So, let's take a look at what you need to know about a home wireless setup. Wireless Networking StandardsThe first thing that you'll often run across when looking at wireless routers is how quickly they can transfer data between your device and the internet. This is known as the theoretical data rate and is often measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). How much a router can handle is largely dependent on the wireless standard that it's using. As wireless technology progresses, new … [Read more...] about What Makes a Home Network?
At this writing, it’s Wednesday morning after the U.S. election. None of my friends is sober, probably including my editor.I had a different article scheduled originally, which made the assumption that I’d been wrong all along, because that’s what everyone said. The first article in which I mentioned President Trump posted on Sept. 10, 2015, and covered data analytics in the marijuana industry. Shockingly, both Trump and marijuana won big.[ Download the InfoWorld quick guide: Learn to crunch big data with R. | Cut to the key news in technology trends and IT breakthroughs with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, our summary of the top tech happenings. ]I thought I was being funny. Part of the reason I was sure “President Trump” was a joke was that Facebook kept nagging me to go vote. First, it wanted me to vote early; eventually it wanted me to vote on Election Day. It wasn’t only Facebook—my Android phone kept nagging me to vote. … [Read more...] about Could Google or Facebook decide an election?