Month: December 2017

Tips to Train New Customer Service Agents

Getting new customer service agents trained can be frustrating. There’s a learning curve that takes time, and it can be frustrating for customers to deal with the new employee who may not know what they are doing. However, there are some ways you can train new customer service agents that will speed things up and improve their customer interactions in the meantime. Here are a few tips.

Use of technology

Customer service is only as effective as their technology they have available to help them. Make sure your new agents have an are properly trained on all the technology they will use to do their job. This includes training them on how the artificial intelligence technology works. If you don’t currently have an artificial intelligence startup working with your customer service department, that is a big mistake. Not only can AI chatbot answer customer questions through text and chat, but the right artificial intelligence can also listen to a customer call or chat and give recommendations on how to respond properly.

Focus on one type of interaction

Some people will hire a new recruit to work in customer service and then immediately have that person start working on all interactions with customers. They will answer calls, texts, emails, chats, and even have face to face interactions. Not only is that extremely overwhelming for your employee, it can make that agent far less effective without the ability to really learn any one part of the system well. When hiring a new recruit, start by putting them on one interaction; give them time to learn one part very well before asking them to start working on something else.

Don’t waste their time

An employee who is sitting at a desk reading a list of dos and don’ts probably won’t let the material sink in and probably won’t be good at their job. An employees success can be just as dependant on the training they are given as it is on the employee themselves. Group trainings and one on one trainings, especially in the beginning, can be very helpful. Make sure all information they are getting is necessary and that you are presenting it in a way that shows why the information is valuable in a customer interaction.

Use role-playing wisely

Sometimes, role-playing can be very helpful in getting new agents to understand how they should interact with customers. Don’t expect that they will automatically know all the answers to all the questions that come their way. However, they should know how to respectfully and cheerfully greet and work with customers to get a solution, which is the main purpose of a role playing effort.

Teach creativity

A customer service agent’s biggest job is to be creative and come up with solutions to problems. They need to be able to listen to the customer, understand their needs, then find a solution that satisfies the customer without sacrificing too much for your business. Creativity is extremely important to this process. The work environment should be conducive to creativity, and training exercises should include creative thinking to encourage this type of thinking.

Avoid threats of job loss

One way to quickly scare any employee is to threaten job loss for lack of performance. While this may be necessary in some situations where employees are showing a lack of commitment to the job and company, a new employee might be too afraid of the job loss to really be able to perform and learn the necessary job functions.

Many customer service departments really struggle with the balance in this area. In fact, many will threaten job loss to agents for things that are outside of their control entirely. It can cause customer service agents to lie or to do illegal things to try and keep their job secure. One example is Wells Fargo where their pay and jobs were based entirely on how many new accounts were opened, causing employees to open many fake accounts in the names of their customers and getting in a lot of legal trouble for it down the road.

Ultimately, with the right training and equipment, a new customer service agent can be just as effective as an old one. Just make sure they have all the tools and information they need available to them right from the start.

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6 Ways Brick and Mortar Stores can Build an Online Audience



Being online isn’t just a convenience for customers; it has become a necessity. Your business should already have an online presence of some sort, it may be hard to figure out exactly what that is. Most businesses should be trying to focus on online sales, but just building an online audience to get them in store is also valuable to a business that doesn’t want to sell their services online. Here are 6 ways a brick and mortar store can build their online audience.

1. Use Automation Tools

Artificial Intelligence tools make it easier than ever to automate marketing to customers. It can automate texts, emails, and even social media posts. With a machine learning company, AI can analyze data from customers and use that information to give recommendations on the type of content your audience will respond best to and even how to personalize that data to each individual customer. With automation tools, businesses who may not be as familiar with online selling are able to quickly and easily adapt to being online.

2. Get a website up and running

If you don’t already have a website online, get it started now. Many customers won’t come in until they’ve checked out your website to figure out what you have to offer. And often, customers assume a business without a website or with an outdated website is a bad store or isn’t a place they want to visit. For example, when searching for gymnastics schools available online, a customer is going to pick the one that has a nice website that is easy to navigate and is updated over the one that doesn’t have a website at all or even that has an outdated, old site.

3. Show your products online

Whether or not you want to actually sell online, showing your products on the Internet will get an online audience more interested in your products. For example, a fast food restaurant may not be able to actually sell online, but they’d still want to list all of their food items and nutritional information online. People are at the point where they do a lot of online research before making decisions about what to buy, even if it is as simple as deciding where to go for a burrito.

4. Focus on your Niche

When building an online audience, your goal really should be to find a specific set of people. You aren’t looking to recruit everyone on the Internet; you simply want the customers who are most likely to make regular purchases from you. Artificial Intelligence can help a business determine their audience, but it is essential to figure out what your niche is and market towards those people.

In doing this, a business has a much better idea of how to best market online. One example would be for a company that sells baby clothes. The business would want to use influencers on social media who have new babies and a good following and then have them advertise those baby clothes in their social media accounts. Using influencers is an extremely effective way to reach customers, especially given that it is a really great way to focus in on a niche and influencers who already seem like they would use your product or service.

5. Have a customer portal online

When your customers come into the store and make a purchase, they already like what you have to offer. Offer a customer portal with something useful to them. For example, you could have a customer portal that keeps track of all their receipts, so they don’t have to. The portal might also give recommendations or allow customers to make a grocery list before heading to the store, as many grocery stores have available. A customer portal also saves a business time because the customers can get answers to their own questions without having to call in to customer service before making a trip.

6. Make online communication easier

People are starting to prefer communicating with businesses online. If they are unable to do so, they may simply work with another competitor that will communicate with them easily online. Using chat on social media is one of the biggest ways customers are starting to reach out to businesses. If you aren’t already on social media, it’s time to make a big change. Customers also like being able to communicate through text and email. And of course, they will still make phone calls. For small businesses, artificial intelligence chatbots can be used to answer questions through chat, text, and email making it easier than ever to make these options readily available.

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Six things to know about Gen Zers this holiday season

Young and happy urban people having fun with digital tablet


The year 2017 may very well be the first one in which Generation Z is more important to retailers than millennials when it comes to holiday advertising. If young people are an important part of your customer base, then here are six things you need to know about this particular demographic heading into the holidays.

They do their homework

Gen Z likes to research and read reviews and weigh options before buying; 80% of Gen Z holiday shoppers say that they research a product online before buying it and as the price of the product increases, the likelihood of researching it first goes up. More than half of Gen Z holiday shoppers said they began researching products in October or earlier.

What this means for businesses: make any relevant information about products you sell online or in stores readily available. Especially try to promote good reviews of those products.

They can be impulsive

At seeming odds with the previous point is the fact that Gen Z can be quite impulsive in their shopping habits. This is the generation that coined the phrase “YOLO” after all. 70% of Gen Zers say they make impulsive holiday purchases especially when they see a good deal, that’s higher than any other age demographic.

What this means for businesses: make sure there are plenty of “stocking stuffers” on display through the store and especially near the point of sale so they can discover last minute ideas as they’re about to check out. Online businesses can offer an online equivalent by offering a deal as shoppers head to their cart to complete a purchase totaling more than a specified amount.

They’re open to suggestions

Fifty-nine percent of Gen Z holiday shoppers said they routinely make purchases based on a retailer’s recommendation. Since they were born and raised in the social media age, they’re also heavily influenced by the recommendations of peers, bloggers, and vloggers.

What this means for businesses: Feature a deal of the day leading up to Christmas or the New Year. Publish a top ten list for popular products. Get the right influencers to promote your brand and encourage your loyal customers to share your brand and products with their friends.

They’re picky

On average, Gen Zers are four times as likely than the other generations to leave a store without making a purchase at all because they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for. They’re also the most likely to return an item in the week following Christmas.

What this means for businesses: Make sure you have plenty of stock for items that are sure to be popular. You might poll your target audience to know their preferences as Christmas approaches. Make sure you have plenty of staff to quickly and efficiently manage after Christmas returns.

They leave positive reviews

We’ve already covered how important it is for Gen Zers to see other people having good things to say about your products when they’re weighing the decision to buy. Lucky for you, Gen Zers are also the most likely of all the age demographics to write those kinds of reviews for you. An incredible 72% say they will write a good review for a brand when they have a positive experience.

What this means for businesses: Don’t be shy about asking for a review especially when it’s clear the customer has received great service and seems happy about their experience. You can also encourage social media check-ins by offering a small freebie or discount at the point of sale.

They’re kind of into smartphones

No surprise here. The average Gen Zer spends about three-and-a-half hours a day on a mobile phone.

What this means for businesses: Businesses absolutely must have a mobile-first approach to digital marketing this holiday season and moving forward. Emphasize mobile channels in your marketing budget like SMS and location based marketing. SMS is a great way to notify your customers of great deals since 90% of all text messages are read within about three minutes of being sent.

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Holiday Email Marketing Tips


Some of the most shopping people will do during the year will happen in the next month. So how can your business make sure you are a part of the biggest shopping season of the year? While email marketing has been looked down on by marketers for a few years now as a less effective way of marketing, it has actually resurged as an extremely effective method. Most customers will check their emails for promotions before deciding where to shop, and it could be the one place that reminds customers your product is a good fit as a gift for others. Here are some holiday email marketing tips for your business to follow.

Personalization is key

One of the most effective ways of advertising, and something that customers have come to expect from businesses, is through personalization. By working with a machine learning startup, businesses can set up computer programs to analyze data and give recommendations to artificial intelligence, which can then create and send out personalized emails to customers. It will send emails when the customer has put stuff in their shopping cart but didn’t finish checkout offering discounts likely to get them to come back. It can send marketing ads targeted towards families vs single individuals. It can even send emails to customers who haven’t come in a while and offer an extra promotional savings to come back. This type of email marketing will benefit your company and keep customers happy.

Build a strong, quality list of customers

A business is going to have a much better conversion rate from customers getting emails than they are from random people stumbling onto their website. That’s why it is so important to build a strong, quality list of customers who opt-in to receive the emails and who are most likely going to be long-term customers. Here are some ways you can build your email list:

  • Offer a promotion: A good promotion and a promise to keep customers up to date with the latest promotions is going to be the easiest way to get customers to sign up.
  • Advertise to customers on your site: If someone has been on your site for more than 10 seconds looking around, an auto pop up ad offering an immediate discount in exchange for an email is one great way to get customers on your list who are truly interested in your product.
  • Use social media: Use social media to advertise your promotion for signing up for an email club.
  • Post perks upfront: Customers who know they are going to get a free meal on their birthday or who know how often they can expect to get emails are more likely to sign up right away. Transparency is important in our society, but especially if someone is going to sign up for an email service.
  • Advertise with bloggers: Bloggers who post deals online are always looking for more things to post about. Give your company information and what promotion is being offered in exchange for an email, and have them post it on their blog. All their followers who are interested in the perk will sign up immediately.

Look at the data

The best part about email marketing is the ability to see exactly what happens with the emails you send. This data can be used to then focus your future marketing efforts to ensure a better conversion rate. One nice thing about machine learning is the ability to record and analyze this data on its own without any human having to look it over. The machine will then pump out future recommendations based on how the emails have been taken in by customers. The information, such as whether or not the email was opened at all, how many times it was opened, and whether or not a customer clicked the links to get to your website, will help you determine what should be changed in your future holiday marketing emails.

Take advantage of all opportunities

There are many different opportunities to offer a great deal, and it’s your company’s job take advantage of them. For example, sending emails telling customers exactly how many days there are left to order and have a gift arrive before Christmas is extremely helpful to them, especially as we near the 25th. In all communications with customers, offering a discount or promotion of sorts peaks a customer’s interest.

Make your call to action clear

One of the most important parts of an advertising campaign is the call to action, though it is even more important in an email to a customer. If they open the email but don’t understand what exactly it is your company wants them to do, they definitely aren’t going to buy anything. Make it clear exactly why you sent the email in the first place and what you want them to do after they’ve opened the email up.

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Source: huffingtonpost.  com/entry/why-you-should-be-paying-more-attention-to-your-holiday_us_5a1ef90ee4b00579aa29f9ba

5 Tips for Marketing to Generation Z



It took some time to understand and market to Millennials. Now, marketers are working to start understanding how to best market to Generation Z. This group includes anyone who is 22 or younger now, though it will make up 40 percent of consumers by 2020. That’s only a couple of years away, which means it is time to start putting marketing strategies in place to marketo the new generation of buyers. Here are 5 tips to follow when planning a marketing campaign aimed at Generation Z.


1. Use AI technology to communicate

If you haven’t gotten set up with an artificial intelligence company yet, now is the time to do so. Generation Z knows how to use technology extremely well, which means they often prefer communicating with computers than humans. They know that computers are more concise and clear in their communications and will give a straight answer. Artificial intelligence can be setup to respond to texts from consumers or even chats through social media. By offering a quick and easy method of communication, you’re giving Generation Z a way to get all the information they need before making a purchase.


2. Get on social media, and don’t waste time

Generation Z is very involved in social media, though they spend mere minutes on a social media site at a time. They might still check the site up to 100 times a day, but they won’t spend long checking things out. That means you have very little time to make an impression. Make sure all advertising efforts are clear and to the point. The ad needs to grab their attention quickly and hold their interest enough to keep them from quickly navigating away.


3. Focus on the greater good for society

One thing we know about Generation Z compared to other generations is that they are very focused on providing a solution that helps the greater good instead of just themselves. They seem to have more money than previous generations, and they want to spend that money with companies that are benefiting a good they believe in. Your advertising efforts should highlight the ways your company benefits the greater good and why the product or service you offer is worth their attention.

This generation values social issues such as race, gender equality, income equality, and the environment. Show your company cares about those issues. Try to avoid saying anything that could be potentially damaging because Generation Z can take you to the Internet and destroy your reputation in minutes on social media.


4. Focus on real people

The reason why using social media influencers has been so successful is because it gets real people involved in sharing your product instead of just the big stars. In our current political climate, Generation Z tends to be distrusting of big name celebrities. However, they trust the people they spend time following on social media because they feel as though they are friends.

Another thing to consider is that it can be very valuable to highlight real people in your ads and marketing campaigns. Find a few teens or teachers who are doing great things and highlight them. Generation Z wants to see real people instead of size 0 models trying to sell them stuff.


5. Get them involved

Don’t just advertise to Generation Z. Get them involved in what you are doing. There are a lot of different ways to get them involved, some as simple as asking yes or no questions on social media in order to elicit a conversation about something on your page. Communicate with customers on Twitter, especially if you can get to joking around with customers. Work with geofilters on SnapChat. Social media is your biggest ally when it comes to involving your customers with your business. And if you can get customers talking about your business, you’ll have plenty of new customers coming in too.

Ultimately, the biggest thing to remember with Generation Z is that you have to be quick to catch their attention, and you need to give them something important to talk about. It’s the best way to get their business, which you’ll definitely be needing in just a couple of years.

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Small Business Marketing Tips to Compete



Competing with large companies such as Walmart and Amazon seems daunting, especially for small businesses. Trying to find a way to reach customers and keep prices affordable at the same time are two of the biggest challenges small businesses face when competing with the big guys. Fortunately, there are many ways a small business can stay just as competitive, if not more, as the big brand stores, and it is all because of the internet.

Before widespread use of the internet, small businesses were limited to the audience they could reach. It was really only possible to advertise to the fe people who lived in your town or nearby. Now, however, a business can sell products online and send them all over the world. It gives companies an opportunity to reach their same audience throughout the world instead of hoping to find a large enough audience in their one area.


Use of Artificial Intelligence

A small business can compete much better through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The availability and capabilities of AI over the years has increased dramatically, especially recently. It can be used throughout your company to help in decision making, but it is especially effective in the marketing and customer service departments. While having real people to help make final decisions is important, AI can actually automate a lot. You can use a chatbot to communicate with customers who text or chat customer service. It can also be used to automate marketing decisions. An artificial intelligence company can help you get AI setup for your small business, so you can start competing in a meaningful way



In today’s world, personalization is everything. Generic advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be, and people are more likely to actually buy what you are selling if it is something they want or need. Companies are using AI to send ads to customers that apply to their situations and even location based advertising, which is one of the hottest new trends. A customer is more likely to visit if they are already close by than making a special trip.


Text Marketing

Another way AI can help beat the competition is through sending out personalized text messages. It is extremely important to focus on maintaining your current customer base; it is the group of people who have opted in to receiving texts from your company. They already know they love your product. They just need a reminder that you are there here and there. A personalized, automated texting service will let you text them reminders and even allow them to text you when they have questions they need answered. A chatbot can then communicate with them to get their questions answered.


Email Marketing

Email marketing is another great way to stay in communication with your current customer base. It took a bit of a hit a few years ago when texting became more popular, but there has been a resurgence as customers are now checking their emails almost as frequently as texts. Plus, email is the perfect place for sending discounts and coupons. It is one of the first places customers will look to find store discounts, and they will check it on their own time when they are ready. But they can keep it there as long as they need it


Social Media Marketing

If you haven’t already gotten on social media, now is the time. It is the easiest and best way to reach customers for a small business. There are many people who prefer to shop small, and small businesses can reach out to each other and work together more easily through social media. For example, some companies will run promotions with 4 or 5 other companies to provide a large prize package to one customer if that person is willing to like all company pages. It is a great way to get new customers who didn’t even know your product or service exists and to get more exposure to other people who are in your same type of industry. Social media is one of your most effective tools for gaining new customers for a small business.

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Source: entrepreneur.   com/article/305064#


How to succeed with digital marketing in 2018


Word Cloud "Digital Marketing"


The world of digital marketing is always changing so quickly, that if you’re not constantly and proactively making adjustments to your strategy, you’ll quickly fall behind. Now that 2017 is drawing to a close, it’s a good time to look ahead to 2018 and try to anticipate which things are going to be the most important as you decide how to allocate digital marketing funds. Here are a few predictions about what’s going to be important for your brand in the coming year.

Video marketing

Video is going to be the single biggest content marketing channel. Already the big social media platforms are trying to prioritize video content through algorithms and improved video capabilities. Adding video content to your website greatly increases the chances your site shows up on the first page of Google search results. People are ten times more likely to comment on, “like,” or share video content as they are non-video content. Approximately 65% of viewers will watch at least three-fourths of a video; the retention rates for text-based content is much lower so video is the best way to get a message across if you want people to actually get to the end of it.

Location-based marketing

Google search is becoming increasingly localized. By that we mean that people are more likely to include the name of their location in their search. You can optimize for this by targeting Google ads by location. You can also encourage check-ins on social media if your business has a physical space so that friends and acquaintances of customers can discover you online. Finally, you can invest in real-time geolocation marketing in which customers can be notified of special deals via SMS (with their permission) when they get within a certain distance of your place of business.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has never been important. For Gen Zers especially, traditional marketing can seem inauthentic whereas influencer marketing feels more organic and genuine. If other people are promoting your products for you without being paid to do so, people will have an easier time trusting your brand. Influencer marketing is about building relationships with people who hold influence with your target audience already and sending them free samples so that they can publish an honest review of them for their audience.


Chatbots went mainstream in 2017 and will continue to grow in popularity in 2018. Chatbots can be used as a shopping assistant and/or a customer service agent to assist your customers in finding the product that is right for them through asking questions and it can answer frequently asked questions or provide other limited customer service.

Social proofing

Along with influencer marketing mentioned above, social proofing helps customers overcome the hesitance to buy when they see their peers saying good things about your brand. You can invest in social proofing by encouraging your loyal customers to become advocates of your brand by sharing their positive experiences with your brand on social media and directory pages like Google or Yelp.

Augmented reality

Recently, IKEA launched an AR-enabled mobile app that allows customers to aim their smartphone’s camera at a place in their room and on their phone screen, the customer can see IKEA merchandise in that space so they can visualize what it would look like in their own home before purchasing. Augmented reality will let your brand display advertising not just on customers’ screens but all around them as well.

Voice search

One-word, short-tail keywords are never going to go away completely but longer search strings are becoming the norm especially thanks to voice search functionality that encourages people to use a more conversational style when using search engines. Long-tail keywords are going to need to be emphasized by brands in 2018.


Only 3% of consumers make a purchase when they visit an online store for the first time. Retargeting will be especially in 2018 and you will need to find ways to retarget customers who visited but didn’t purchase.

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