Tag Archives: Business

What Do Customers Want? Survey Shows Growing Appetite for More Communications

In our always connected society, we increasingly rely on real-time information and notifications in our daily lives – from checking our bank account balance on a smartphone app to getting a text message saying a prescription is ready for pick-up. And, new research commissioned by Varolii shows consumers find this type of proactive outreach from businesses extremely welcome and helpful.

This national study of 1,000 adults shows that consumers want more, not less, customer service related communication from businesses. In fact, a majority of respondents – 70 percent – believe these messages could help them avoid issues, like a late fee. And, nearly 80 percent of respondents say they trust the judgment of the companies with whom they have relationships about when, why and how to send such messages.

What About Laws Restricting Communications?

The TCPA dictates that companies cannot automatically dial or send informational text messages to mobile phones without the prior express consent of the recipient. But, consumers may have a different opinion.

The research shows nearly one in four consumers automatically assume that the companies they do business with can contact them. Eighty-four percent of respondents also strongly believe that if they give their cell phone number as their primary contact to a company, then it is acceptable for that company to contact them at that number.

This doesn’t mean we should ignore the regulations – it just means that consumers may be more open to more asks for consent. Balancing compliance and customer satisfaction is a challenge we all face today. Companies must find the right blend of customer outreach – providing the right information at the right time, via the right channel – while still adhering to various state and federal rules.

How Do They Want These Communications?

Consumers still like traditional emails and phone calls, but mobile is fast becoming the top way to reach a majority of American consumers. Today, nearly 80 percent of Americans have given their cell number to a company – with more than one-quarter of respondents indicating they usually or always provide their cell number. Additionally, consumers now favor text messaging just as much as getting a phone call. One in five respondents surveyed say text messaging is their preferred form of communication.

top preferred channels What do Customers Want? Survey Shows a Growing Appetite for More Communications

What Do Customers Want? Survey Shows Growing Appetite for More Communications, 2013, October 24, by Brian Moore, retrieved from http://bankinnovation.net/2013/10/what-do-customers-want-survey-shows-growing-appetite-for-more-communications/.

A B2B e-commerce success story: Airgas

Game Plan B2B E-Commerce Forum in Chicago last week hosted a plethora of great keynotes and industry experts to talk all things e-commerce in the B2B space.

The attendees heard from Steve Max, director of e-Commerce at Airgas,  during a featured address with author and TV personality Mark Jeffries moderating.

Max discussed “The Airgas Story – Reinventing Your eBusiness: Platform, Operations and Organization.”

Through its subsidiaries, Airgas the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hard-goods, such as welding equipment and supplies. Airgas is also a leading U.S. producer of atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide, dry ice, and nitrous oxide, one of the largest U.S. distributors of safety products, and a leading U.S. distributor of refrigerants, ammonia products, and process chemicals.

It was insightful to get a peek into the Airgas customer base by market and how they sell gas online.

Airgas launched their first website in 1997 that resembled “brochure-ware” and in 2001 moved over to an e-commerce site.  Max stated that back in 2001 many folks thought e-commerce was “just a fad.”

“You say that now-a-days in a board room and you get kicked out,” said Max, when asked by Mark if he saw e-commerce as a solid career path.

B2C has set customers’ expectations for e-commerce. But for B2B, online procurement is just as important as online ordering.  Based on Max’s comments, his customers are telling him that, even more than being able to research and order online, they want to be able to complete the transactions with online (and even mobile) payments.

Companies need to ask themselves, “how does e-commerce fit into my overall brand?” before developing their strategies. After identifying what the e-commerce strategy is, then they need to find out what the customers really want out of it. The final step is bringing that strategic plan to management with a solid business case for making the investment.

E-commerce cannot be “siloed,” it must have an omni-channel focus. And as Max put it, “What is online cannot be too radical to what we do offline.”

A B2B e-commerce success story: Airgas, Retrieved from http://www.the-future-of-commerce.com/2013/10/11/airgas-ecommerce-success.

Banks Struggle to Keep up With Mobile Demand

Want to check your balance, transfer money between accounts, or locate the nearest bank branch? There’s an app for that.

But when it comes to making more complex banking transactions over smartphones — from depositing checks to transferring money to a friend’s account — many banks are not offering mobile technology as fast as their customers are ready to adopt it. Demands for new options are growing so quickly that by the time a bank upgrades its software, customers are already asking for the next new function.

Customers, in fact, are embracing mobile banking faster than they did ATMs after they were introduced in the 1980s, according to bank officials.

Sovereign Bank, for example, recently offered its first mobile banking app, which it designed based on surveys that showed few customers wanted to make mobile deposits. Not long after the app was released in May, customers raved about the ability to check balances and accurately find ATMs, but said they wanted more — particularly the ability to deposit checks via smartphone.

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How Citibank Made South Dakota the Top State in the U.S. for Business

This article is part of an America 360 series on Sioux Falls. 

When the international banking giant Citibank moved its credit-card operations to Sioux Falls, S.D. in 1981, it altered the small Midwestern city overnight. With a population of barely 80,000 at the time, Sioux Falls still had an economy built on agriculture and meat-packing. But when state leaders, desperate to attract outside businesses during the economic recession of the early 1980s, changed South Dakota’s usury laws to eliminate the cap on interest rates and fees, Citibank came calling.

The company initially promised to bring 500 jobs to the area and to build a large facility in northwest Sioux Falls. Citibank now employs more than 2,900 workers in the city, and it anchors a financial sector that provides more than 16,000 jobs in a metro area with a growing population of nearly 230,000 residents. And according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., South Dakota holds more bank assets—$2.5 trillion—than any other state in the country.

At the time, South Dakota was the only state with this unusually lax approach to banking laws, and Citibank was soon joined by Wells Fargo, Capital One, First Premier, and other financial institutions that were eager to relocate their credit-card operations to the Mount Rushmore State. A handful of other states, including Delaware and Nevada, have since followed suit, but other tax incentives such as the absence of personal and corporate income taxes—South Dakota eliminated both in the 1940s—provided a significant draw. (South Dakota does have higher-than-average property taxes and levies a franchise tax on financial institutions.)

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Mobile Banking Is Mainstream — What About Security, ROI, Payments?

Sitting alone at the back of a hotel meeting room, Theodore Iacobuzio had a stern message for bankers: “The train is leaving the station,” said Iacobuzio, a MasterCard executive, referring to the emerging mobile payment economy. “You have to get on.”

Earlier that Wednesday, Iacobuzio had spoken on a panel at the Mobile Banking and Commerce Summit in Miami about using data to drive relevant offers to cardholders. Mobile banking and payments are at the forefront of his mind.

After being more than a theory for the past several years, financial services companies have been iterating and tweaking their mobile banking models — offering mobile deposit capture (depositing a check with the snap of a smartphone camera) — for at least the past three. Continue reading

Why Business Credit-Card Holders Should Be Wary

Most small business owners are aware that their personal finances and business finances are inextricably linked. Apply for a small business loan, and the bank will ask for a personal credit score. Miss a payment on a business credit card, and the issuer is likely to report the transgression on the owner’s personal credit profile. Credit-card issuers can also go after personal assets in the case of default.

Since issuers treat business owners as proxies for their companies, it might seem business credit-card accounts would be afforded the same protections as are personal credit-card holders. Not so, says Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive of credit-card comparison website CardHub.com. Four years after Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, & Disclosure (CARD) Act to make credit-card borrowing more transparent, business owners lack protection that individual consumers get. Continue reading

Women Better At Handling Credit, Survey Finds

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Women may earn less than men but they are better managers of credit.

According to a new report from Experian , women earn 23% less than men, but men have 4.3% more debt than women. Women also have a slightly higher average credit score of 675 compared to the men’s average of 674.

The study found that men use more of their available credit (31%) than women (30%).

The average man carried $26,227 in debt from credit cards, personal loans and auto loans compared to a $25,095 average for a woman.

Men are also taking out larger mortgages–an average of $187,245 for a man versus $178,140 for a woman. Men also have a higher incidence of late payments on their mortgages (5.7%) than women (5.3%). Continue reading