Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 – Starting a New Year with the Best Tech Deals

The internet of things? Can we learn about the future peering into the past? If so, this year will also be a promising one, as 2014 has been marked as the most active year in technology. Before that, 2000 was the most active one.

Numerous acquisitions happen each month, but to make my posts shorter, I select the most important deals only. Surely they are important from my personal point of view; anyway hope that my readers will share the same opinion.

The same “giants” all the time – as if conquering the heights. Do they need the products or the talents, or maybe both? Never remember any company announcing about that.

Year started with social deals – two Facebook acquisitions with two-day interval – not bad. Then Twitter joint the list with its ZipDial acquisition. Ok, let’s switch to the list, not to miss anyone. 

06 January - Facebook Acquires to Help Its Developers With Speech Recognition and Voice Interfaces
Facebook acquired, a Y Combinator startup founded 18 months ago to create an API for building voice-activated interfaces. already has 6,000 developers on its platform who have built hundreds of apps. The product lets developers add a few lines of its code to instantly build in voice control and speech recognition. The platform will remain open and free.  

08 January - Facebook Acquires Video Compression Startup QuickFire
Facebook acquired video-compression company QuickFire Networks, further underscoring the social networking giant’s increasing focus on video. Based in San Diego, QuickFire says, it can quickly convert video formats and allow them to be downloaded with less bandwidth and without a loss in video quality. 

Twitter announced that it has acquired Bangalore-based ‘missed call’ marketing platform, ZipDial, which assigns companies a special phone number which their brands can use in print ads or TV commercials. Customers can call the number and hang up before they are charged for the call. In turn, brands can phone or send text messages about their business to the ‘missed callers’. ZipDial’s clients include Unilever, Disney, Gillette, Amazon, Facebook and, of course, Twitter, whose customers have used the platform for placing orders, receiving coupons or entering contests. 

20 January – Microsoft Acquires Text Analysis Startup Equivio, Plans to Integrate Machine Learning Tech into Office 365
Microsoft announced it has acquired text analysis software startup Equivio, which uses machine learning to let users explore large, unstructured sets of data. The startup’s technology leverages advanced text analytics to perform multi-dimensional analyses of data collections, intelligently sort documents into themes, group near-duplicates, and isolate unique data. 

21 January – Apple Buys UK Startup Semetric to Power up Its Media Analytics
Apple has acquired Semetric, the London-based startup behind music analytics service Musicmetric.  While Musicmetric seems an obvious fit with iTunes and Beats Music, Semetric has also been working on analysing data for games, TV, movies and books so will enhance Apple’s understanding of data around all the digital products it sells. 

Microsoft has reached an agreement to acquire Revolution Analytics - the leading commercial provider of software and services for R, the world’s most widely used programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. This acquisition will help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics. 

Asia’s richest man is poised to take control of the UK’s biggest mobile phone network, after Three announced it had started exclusive takeover talks with its larger rival 02. The deal would create the UK’s largest mobile phone firm with 31.5 million customers, cutting the number of network owners in the UK from four to three.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Customer Age

“This is the age of the customer”, was the opening remark and I decided to call my post accordingly.
Now my own introduction – when I received the invitation to participate at The Future Contact Center Summit in Florida as an industry influencer with a free press pass, I was really happy. But I had no idea what to expect from the conference, it was the first summit I was going to participate.
I read the brochure which was very impressive - all about customer service - the topic I like so much. “Customer service is the new marketing. Marketing is the new customer service”- so cool!
Thanks to my management and the company I work, I appeared in Orlando. And the summit started. It was really a place where leaders unite, a place where you become aware of the latest technology innovations from the industry experts.
“Future success depends on what you do right now”, said one of the summit speakers.

Lack of “Excellent” Customer Service
Although we speak so much about better customer service and try to make it really a good one, statistics shows that we lack excellent customer service. Hold times during last year were 30-45 minutes long and callers were transferred multiple times. Is it the service we are willing for? Why we still have a poor service?
Some more “sad” statistics from the event:
  •  38% - give the same information or repeat themselves multiple times
  •  37% - getting transferred multiple times
  •  33% - not being able to get through the system to talk to a real person
  • 29% - unable to resolve the problem

Why can’t we give our customers an effortless experience? Is it really difficult or our call centers need some more trainings to produce better results?
The customer is changing so fast in the internet age, their expectations change every day. And many companies don’t even listen to their customers. Why? If you listen to them, you’ll know so many new things that will surely help your business. While listening to your customers, you’ll start generating new ideas that will face their needs. What else is needed for making our customers happy and loyal?

"Customer Experience is the sum of all interactions a person has with your company throughout their life"

I’d like to mention some great ideas from industry experts:
  • Listen to all you hear
  • If something matters to your customers, it must matter to your business
  • If your competition is doing something, find out “why” they are doing it
  • Put the power to your customers’ hands!”

While delivering customer service, we should keep in mind that the word of mouth is increasing the influence on the customer trust 3-5 times more that TV or radio ads. Instead of spending money on such things, try to delight your customers and they will help you sell your products.
Start with good people.
Lay out the rules.
Communicate with your employees and reward them.
If you do all those things effectively, you cannot lose”
~Lee Lacocca

Generation – Does it Matter?

Another important topic of the event was the generation which comprises the largest demographic- 80 Million people.  Yes, those are Millennials – the most tech-dependent, achievement-oriented and collaborative generation.  A generation, which is the most educated one ever – 63% of Millennials have a Bachelor degree. Millennials love blogging too - 50% of bloggers today are Millennials. They are the working power of most technology companies, so it’s of great importance to understand this generation’s needs and preferences.

Social Media and Mobile

In social media Millennials are leaders too, they love it so much. They are in many social platforms and like to be informed through both desktops and mobile devices.
71% of Millennials check social media sites at least once per day which is more than they watch TV-60%

Millennials are inseparable from their smartphones and they listen to each other on the social channels.

  • 75% of users access Twitter through mobile
  • 68% of all clicked Facebook “Like”s come from mobile
  • 62% of all emails are first opened on mobile
  • 40% of YouTube views are on mobile 

Create Magic for Your Customers

And to sum up my everlasting impressions, I cannot but mention the most inspiring session of the Former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney Resort, Lee Cockerell, who shared his ideas on how each of us can create magic for our customers, our families, friends, how to spend our time productively, as it directly relates to how happy, healthy and successful we are in all parts of our life. I do believe that he inspired the entire audience. 
  •  Focus on the right things - hire right people!
  • Training is of great importance – test people!
  • Make better habits, show appreciation!
  • Keep your life under control
  • Doing hard work makes your life easier
  • Get organized, become a better manager
  •  Make sure what competition is doing
  • Give people authority – people have no authority, that’s the reason of a poor service
  • Try to do business with yourself, although it’s scary
  • Do the right things to be trusted
  • Communicate with people in the right way, not an easy way
  • Management is about doing, leadership is about being
  • Treat people as individuals and they will surprise you
  • Set higher expectations of yourself, ask for more and you’ll get more
If you do all those, you can create Disney Magic too!