Web hosting firms win customers’ hearts with live chat, but automotive is failing

live-chat-automotive-failing-customer-service

Web chat service LiveChat has launched its annual Customer Service Efficiency Report, and the findings show a big change in some industries’ grasp of web-based customer service.

While the company has an obvious interest in the research, the data can’t be ignored. It monitored 8,400 companies across 22 industries, taking in data from 118 countries. In total, 65.6 million web chats were monitored to create the study, taking in over 6 billion page views.

Overall, customer satisfaction is slightly down on 2014, but that is likely due to the increased sample size. In this year’s study, the test group grew by almost 40 percent, which improves the accuracy of the results.


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The big winners? Web hosting firms.

After taking fifth place in last year’s report, companies that offer web hosting services have jumped to the front of the pack with an average satisfaction rating of 94.95 percent. This is a considerable jump, considering the industry only managed to score 88.40 percent customer satisfaction in 2014. What’s interesting to note is that hosting companies are not the fastest to respond to a chat or a ticket. It seems that the customers of hosting companies value the quality of the response much higher than its speed.

I wondered why this was the case.

“I believe that hosting companies treat customer service as an added value to their offering,” Jacob Firuta, customer success manager at LiveChat, told me. “Since they are selling a non-physical product, it would be hard for them to beat the competition by only tweaking their server capabilities. Good customer service is as important for their customers as high uptime values. Since hosting companies use customer service to acquire and then retain their customers, they want to make it as good as possible.”

And why are those response times largely unimportant for web hosting companies?

“Although hosting companies don’t offer the fastest response or handle times, they yield good results,” Firuta said. “According to Robert C. Gregory, senior director of hosting support at GoDaddy, the customers are looking for resolution on first contact when coming to a web hosting company for support. This is why they don’t mind waiting and can perform other tasks while an agent or a technician finds a solution for them.”

At the other end of the ranking, the automotive industry is still in last place. Despite raising its average chat satisfaction score from last year’s 69.38 percent to 72.73 percent, it still wasn’t enough to rise in the ranks this year. Poor chat response times, with an average of 88 seconds, and average handle times of 16 minutes and 35 seconds seem like a big contributor to the industry’s lack of success.

“Automotive companies — for example, car dealerships — often lack dedicated agents whose only task would be to chat with customers online,” Firuta said. “The chat is usually handled by a salesman who prioritizes customers in the showroom over those online. The live chat customer service is also often outsourced to a third-party company that handles chats from multiple dealerships at the same time. This definitely doesn’t help with the speed of response or customer satisfaction.”

So what is the answer for those at the bottom of the live chat support ladder?

“A solution to this problem would be to hire a dedicated online customer service agent,” Firuta said. “Although it may seem like a bigger cost than having a salesperson chat part-time, it would allow for more efficient and faster customer service. Companies should treat it as an investment for which the return might be surprisingly high.”

My own research shows that brands aren’t listening on social media for complaints, and other recent research shows that eight out of ten retailers are ignoring social complaints. Yet here, with web-based chat solutions, we see that the response times and percentages are — on average — reasonably high. Other recent research I’ve conducted shows that “digital natives” prefer social solutions, whereas older users prefer web chat/forum/community solutions for support.

I wondered if LiveChat had data to reflect the age of the people using these systems, and whether they agreed that web-based chat systems appeal more to older consumers/customers?

“Although we don’t gather this kind of data, I’d agree that it is much easier for the younger customers to seek customer service on the social channels as they use them more extensively than the older customers,” Firuta said. “However, the poor satisfaction results of the social media channels when compared to chat may suggest that they may not be the best to handle the support cases.”

Advanced marketing and customer service teams will often use customer segments, paired with conversion optimization tools, to serve different support channels to a user, altering them based on the consumer’s age, preferences, or history. But that isn’t the only reason to personalize the website to provide the best service option.

“Companies offering support both on social media and via live chat will often ask the users to switch channels from social to chat as it will be much easier to handle the matter using one-to-one communication,” Firuta said. “Some personal details required to resolve a case — for example, a credit card number — can only be shared using direct communication without anyone else listening in. Although this is not a perfect solution, as the users need to switch from their preferred channel, they can get the matter handled much faster this way.”

The full customer service efficiency report is available today.

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Ecommerce merchant? What you need to know about contextual commerce

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.00.32 AM

This sponsored post is produced in association with Braintree.


For 15 years, ecommerce provided a good framework for how merchants could accept and securely process customer payments. But the advent of new technologies — notably mobile, apps, and social media — have changed the way consumers discover and want to pay for goods and services.

Most recently, merchants looking to offer customers leading-edge payment options are wrestling with the dawn of something called contextual commerce — using data from devices, apps, and websites to provide customers with the ability to make purchases and payments wherever they happen to be online, not just on a merchant’s website.

The primary driver behind contextual commerce is the advent of massive social media platforms, exposing brands to millions of users inside their experience. The logic is: When the user is happily engaged with your product or service, why force them to switch to a different website or app, and enter their payment credentials there in order to make a purchase?

The big buy-now button

This is particularly crucial on mobile, where there’s already a gap between engagement and sales conversion. That’s why the big social media players (think Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) are all introducing, or planning, ‘Buy’ buttons for goods and services featured on their sites — to make it easier for the consumer to act on their impulse and allow merchants an easier way to monetize on that via secure transactions.

Let’s use Pinterest as an example. Pinterest’s 100 million or so users visit the site because they’re often interested in products featured there. When a user sees something they like, instead of forcing them to redirect to a merchant’s site to buy the product, Pinterest uses technology powered by Braintree to serve up a purchase experience right inside of their own user interface. That reduces the amount of clicks required to buy, making the entire process simpler and increasing conversion rates.

The ability to do this is a huge asset to Pinterest and it’s great for consumers as well. And, of course, those selling their goods and services on the site benefit just by being there. The solution allows consumers to use a wide variety of payment options (PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Bitcoin, etc.) and the tech is baked-in, making getting into the game a breeze for even the smallest of would-be web and mobile merchants.

Important to the future of contextual commerce (and ultimately your ability to monetize on it) are a couple of supporting technologies of varying degrees of transparency to most merchants. Digital wallets, certainly, will be critical.

Digital wallets and order management systems

Digital wallets are an electronic way of storing credit card data for when you want to buy online, or in an app, for example.  The contextual commerce vision is to leverage digital wallets to allow a consumer to buy with a single click, based on their Pinterest (or other social account) login credentials, without having to enter in any further data, like a password or credit card data. The logic is, while it’s great to be able to have a product or service served up that’s tailored to the consumer’s unique experience, requiring extra actions throws a roadblock between the consumer and a completed transaction. So, having that digital wallet setup with all your stored payment data that’s tied directly to your active login takes all that friction away, and makes it very easy for the consumer to complete the transaction, optimizing the opportunity for online merchants.

Another important technical component in all of this is for payment processors to be able to tie-in to order management systems – computer software used for order entry and processing. The big platforms such as Pinterest rely on these systems to track their inventory.  Braintree, which powers payments for a number of top web merchants and SMEs alike, moved to acquire a company called Modest in August, largely because Modest had great technology for tying into these big order management systems.

A victory for smaller e-tailers 

So, creating a harmonious experience for both consumers and merchants that couples the 1-click simplicity of digital wallets, along with the muscle of automated orders and inventory management, is the secret sauce for delivering great contextual commerce going forward.

The good news for smaller web and mobile retailers looking to leverage the power of contextual commerce is that you have access to these same tools and technologies via the big social media platforms and outfits like Braintree — platforms that provide simple, off-the-shelf solutions that allow you to get up and running with your own secure web and mobile payments solutions in no time.


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Yes, Millennials Do Buy Cars

coolteenscar History is littered with bad predictions. In 1876, Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer of the British Post Office, claimed that his countrymen and women would never adapt what was then a just-emerging technology. “The Americans have need of the telephone,” he quipped, “but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” Read More

Pushbullet launches $5/month premium plan, starts charging for some existing free features

Pushbullet

Pushbullet, a startup that’s been setting out to make it easy to transfer information between different devices, has finally revealed how it plans to make money: a premium, pro plan.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2013, Pushbullet offers apps across most major platforms, and lets you send links, photos, and other files speedily between your computer and smartphone. It can also sync up your notifications so you can read and reply to text messages directly from your laptop. The company has raised around $1.5 milion in seed funding to date, and has some notable investors under its wings, including Y Combinator and Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian.

So far, Pushbullet has been focusing on increasing its user-base with “millions” of people signed up. But it has now answered the perennial question of how it will monetize. And it isn’t hugely surprising that the company is turning to a freemium model, given that this is favored by many other productivity startups such as Evernote and Dropbox.


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“Pushbullet makes money by offering features worth paying for,” said Pushbullet co-founder and CEO Pushbullet Ryan Oldenburg in a blog post. The new Pro plan will cost $5 per month if you pay on a monthly basis, or $40 per year ($3.33 per month) if you pay up front.

While there are some new features available for the first time only to paying subscribers, Pushbullet has also chosen to remove some of the features from the free account, effectively forcing existing users to upgrade if they wish to continue using the service as they did before. This could prove unpopular — by all means introduce new “premium” features to the mix, but by cutting into the current offering this may alienate some users who have grown to depend on certain functions.

For example, in August last year, Pushbullet introduced a useful universal copy & paste feature, meaning you could copy something on one device and access it instantly on another device. This will now be a Pro feature, as will mirrored notification action support.

Other benefits of a Pro plan include 100GB of cloud storage space compared to 2GB, the ability to send files up to 1GB in size, and unlimited message-sending.

Pushbullet: Plans Compared

Above: Pushbullet: Plans Compared

There is little question that Pushbullet has proven its credentials — it has built a solid, useful, user-friendly service that works across many platforms. Its challenge was always going to be about how to make money.

“We could have kept Pushbullet completely free, following the path of many free services by showing ads and selling data to make money,” said Oldenburg. “We don’t want to do that. We never want to hurt the Pushbullet experience with ads or betraying your trust by selling your data. Since Pushbullet must support itself, we want to do that by having you as our customer.

You can continue using Pushbullet in its current form until December 1, after which all features that need a Pro account will no longer work.










Pushbullet launches $5/month premium plan, starts charging for some existing free features

Pushbullet

Pushbullet, a startup that’s been setting out to make it easy to transfer information between different devices, has finally revealed how it plans to make money: a premium, pro plan.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2013, Pushbullet offers apps across most major platforms, and lets you send links, photos, and other files speedily between your computer and smartphone. It can also sync up your notifications so you can read and reply to text messages directly from your laptop. The company has raised around $1.5 milion in seed funding to date, and has some notable investors under its wings, including Y Combinator and Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian.

So far, Pushbullet has been focusing on increasing its user-base with “millions” of people signed up. But it has now answered the perennial question of how it will monetize. And it isn’t hugely surprising that the company is turning to a freemium model, given that this is favored by many other productivity startups such as Evernote and Dropbox.


From VentureBeat
How do you get consumers to connect with and engage with your brand flawlessly? This free and interactive web event arms you with the tools you’ll need to get ahead.

“Pushbullet makes money by offering features worth paying for,” said Pushbullet co-founder and CEO Pushbullet Ryan Oldenburg in a blog post. The new Pro plan will cost $5 per month if you pay on a monthly basis, or $40 per year ($3.33 per month) if you pay up front.

While there are some new features available for the first time only to paying subscribers, Pushbullet has also chosen to remove some of the features from the free account, effectively forcing existing users to upgrade if they wish to continue using the service as they did before. This could prove unpopular — by all means introduce new “premium” features to the mix, but by cutting into the current offering this may alienate some users who have grown to depend on certain functions.

For example, in August last year, Pushbullet introduced a useful universal copy & paste feature, meaning you could copy something on one device and access it instantly on another device. This will now be a Pro feature, as will mirrored notification action support.

Other benefits of a Pro plan include 100GB of cloud storage space compared to 2GB, the ability to send files up to 1GB in size, and unlimited message-sending.

Pushbullet: Plans Compared

Above: Pushbullet: Plans Compared

There is little question that Pushbullet has proven its credentials — it has built a solid, useful, user-friendly service that works across many platforms. Its challenge was always going to be about how to make money.

“We could have kept Pushbullet completely free, following the path of many free services by showing ads and selling data to make money,” said Oldenburg. “We don’t want to do that. We never want to hurt the Pushbullet experience with ads or betraying your trust by selling your data. Since Pushbullet must support itself, we want to do that by having you as our customer.

You can continue using Pushbullet in its current form until December 1, after which all features that need a Pro account will no longer work.










IIX Raises $26M from Silicon Valley’s VC Heavyweights

IIX, the startup that is addressing the growing need companies have for interconnecting their networks with other companies' networks, has closed its second funding round, raising $26 million from a group of well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalists, tech entrepreneurs, and executives. According to IIX and others, such as data center and interconnection giant Equinix , demand for private network links between companies' own servers and the servers of their cloud providers and partners without using the public internet is growing.

Asia Pacific: An Evolving VC Market

China and India, two key economies in the region, have grown at a substantial rate over the past decade and is fast becoming the hotbed for global venture capital investments. While lack of transparency, regulatory framework, lack of infrastructure and poor governance continue to act as impediments in the short term.

Numecent raises $15.5M to bring cloudpaging to Android and Linux

Irvine-based Numecent said today it has raised a new round of $15.5 million from a broad range of European investors as the company seeks to expand its cloud-based services beyond Windows. The series B round includes $4.5 million from Deutsche Telekom, with the rest from "European industrialists, family offices and private equity firms," according to Numecent.

Ex-Clippers owner gets slam-dunked in court

A California appeals court has rejected former Clippers owner Donald Sterling's attempt to reverse the $2 billion sale of the team. The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Sterling failed to show any legal error by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who approved the sale last year to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

This wristband keeps you from stressing over stress

Sona_RoseGold_White

Move over, Apple Watch, this sleek new wearable will actually teach you how to improve your health and let you look good doing it.

Today, Caeden, a maker of luxury headphones, launched pre-orders for its Sona wearable wristband. Designed for men and women, the band comes in leather and silicon and detects heart rate, monitors activity, and calculates calorie burn, like most wearables on the market. But rather than focus on fitness, Sona is geared toward understanding stress levels and regulating a person’s autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing, heart rate, and a person’s fight or flight response. To do that, Sona measures heart rate variability or the difference in timing between heartbeats.

Heart rate variability is mostly frequently used by athletes to help them determine how well they’re able to recover from activity and whether their body is overstressed and therefore not in a good position to work out. It also was an early metric for monitoring astronauts health in space.

Caeden Sona_Sensor_view

In the 1960’s, when Russia was sending cosmonauts into space, there wasn’t an effective way to measure their health. The only signal that could be sent  down was an electrocardiogram signal — a heartbeat.

“So, the scientists, they had to play with what they have, so they started to look at all possibilities, research in the heart rate and what can be done out of this,” said Bronya Vaschillo, a physician and wife of Evgeny Vaschillo, one of the scientists in charge of monitoring Russian cosmonauts during their space voyage in 1968. Evgeny and his team developed a test wherein cosmonauts would view their heart rate variability waveforms and try to keep those waveforms stable. When the cosmonauts were able to handle this task, the scientists realized they should try giving cosmonauts a heart rate variability goal to replicate in an effort to improve their health. The cosmonauts succeeded in hitting these benchmarks, as well.


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The trick to controlling the frequency between heartbeats appeared to be regulated breathing. Recognizing this, in the 1970’s and 80’s Evgeny went on to develop a system of paced breathing at a specific resonance frequency that would exercise a person’s internal reflexes and strengthen their ability to stay calm. He took that research and began training people working in high stress environments, like fighter pilots, submarine operators, and eventually, the Russian Olympic wrestling team. Now, he’s helping to bring these techniques to the U.S. workforce. Vaschillo is advising Caeden on how to incorporate his system of breathing into the app as a way to help people understand both their own stress levels and how to avoid burnout.

“That’s where this breathing meditation comes in,” said Nora Levinson, cofounder and chief executive of Caeden. The app features six 15-minute guided meditations as well as a silent timed meditation. To help users maintain even breathing, the app shows an expanding and diminishing circle. Sona users will be able to track their stress levels over time and see the way that the breathing exercise affects their ability to remain calm.

Caeden’s Sona band will cost $129 for early adopters and comes with both a leather and silicon band. Once the company stops accepting pre-orders the band will be priced at $199. Sona is expected to start shipping in March of next year.