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Voice activated "What can I help you with?"

Voice search AI and local business strategy

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer system to perform tasks of human intelligence. Conspiracy theories about what Artificial Intelligence is, can do, or what it’s used for are all over the place. Humans are naturally fearful of what we don’t fully understand so we create adverse ideas and scenarios to rationalize our fear. Whether you harbor suspicions about AI or not it’s already here and making things easier. As I write this blog Google’s Smart Reply just identified the text in an email and provided me 3 options to use in response with the click of a button…boom just saved twelve keystrokes. Speaking of saved keystrokes, AI has made huge strides in the voice activated virtual assistant channel. Virtual assistants are in-home devices like Alexa and Google Home, but they’re also available on your mobile devices like Siri and Cortana. Virtual assistants recognize voice commands in many different languages with only a 5.9% error rate; meaning they understand the same amount as you or I do in a conversation now. When using a virtual assistant you are utilizing…

Various Gift Cards in a Pile

It’s A Gift Card Kinda Party

Hooray, 2018 is here! 2017 feels like it went quicker than a Scaramucci tour in the White House. Even though retrospective perception of time seems like a flash of light, that doesn’t mean much did not occur. The retail world is a constant day after day battle of retaining customers, attracting new and staying ahead of competition. It takes a conscious effort to take a look back at events, accomplishments and glance ahead, so here is a 500-word 3-minute snapshot. We all got our You Know What’s handed to us over the last couple years by EMV (Europay, MasterCard & Visa), yep those little chips embedded in credit/debit cards. Thanks to the EMV compliance mandate thousands of businesses suffered losses from the shift in fraud liability. What happens is repugnant no-good swindling victimizers take stolen credit cards or card information and purchase as many gift cards as possible. Why gift cards? Because they are a form of currency, and are basically cash. By the time a card owner realizes they have become a casualty, the thief already has untraceable funds.…

Customer loyalty program w growth arrow

Keys to effective loyalty

Loyalty programs begin with wanting to reward loyal frequent customers, however most loyalty programs fail within 2 months of implementation because there isn’t a strategy designed to support them. Recently I attended an event hosted by Spin Pizza where I learned how their loyalty program achieved success. They started by identifying that they did not want it to be a discount program. Offering frequent discounts tells the customer you’re playing with margin and they are being over charged at regular price. Reward based loyalty performs better than instant discount by more than 42%. Upon customer sign up they load the users card with points, this kind of “primes the pump” so to speak. The customer then builds additional points per visit, when certain bench marks are reached the customer gets special perks like “Spin Club Dough”, basically cash vouchers that can be used for purchases. Loyalty rewards need to be carefully analyzed to determine how tolerable the reward is to sales. As a customer it would be nice to get paid for eating pizza, but that wouldn’t be the most…

Digital face depiction

Internet Technology and It’s Crazy Capabilities

I attended a presentation on technology and consumer trends. Here’s a little of what I came back with. Ever log onto the Interwebs to browse your favorite sites and an advertisement pops up? Of course you have. Did you think it was coincidence that the ad was promoting something you had searched before? Well, it wasn’t. In fact that advertisement was specifically for you. I know you’re thinking to yourself. How is that even possible?! I knew the government was hiding aliens! No, not really, well maybe, who can really be sure. What I can tell you; is that aliens didn’t generate that advertisement; it was delivered to your screen by something called AI (Augmented Intelligence). Augmented Intelligence is a technology that analyzes 2.5 Exabytes per day. What’s an Exabyte? I know, I had to look it up too, but to save you time I’ll share. An Exabyte is one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes. Gigabytes are one billion bytes, so it’s a billion times a billion times 2.5…A LOT of data. We all contribute data. The sites you…

5Reasons for Social Media

Children’s Mercy provides millions of dollars of uncompensated care to patients thanks to the generosity of their charitable donors. Children’s Mercy provides high-level care to thousands of children each and every year. They have journeyed a long way from their single bed beginning in 1897 to today, where they are building and growing relationships via social media. As with many businesses social media is a primary area of focus for Children’s Mercy. During a recent AMAKC event, members of the Children’s Mercy team outlined their 5R approach to social media. Their 5R approach was a key takeaway for me and can be associated to any business’ social media presence. This is how I view the relevance of each 5R when utilizing social media for business. Reputation: Social media delivers tons of information that affects how people perceive businesses. Companies are exposed more now than ever. It is paramount that businesses have a social media presence and dedicated personnel maintaining their platforms. Reputations are built, improved and destroyed in minutes due to the reach of social media. Referrals: Society is very…

Credit card chip as a pad lock

EMV…The New 4 Letter Word in Retail

Credit card fraud has been an issue for a long time. EMV chip technology is designed to minimize card-present counterfeit fraud. EMV chips create a cryptogram with every transaction, a temporary dynamic transaction code. If card data is stolen via data breach (see Target 2013, or Home Depot 2014) the information cannot be used to create counterfeit cards because the cryptogram expires. So why are more secure transactions such a heated issue for retailers? The EMV mandate shifted the liability onto the merchant, which is costing retailers tons of money in charge-backs. Many businesses have the equipment necessary for EMV transactions, but becoming compliant with EMV standards is proving more difficult than expected. Acquirers, processors and POS providers are inundated with stores needing the certifications to turn EMV on. Testing requirements have been streamlined from 35 scripts to only 14, however there are still countless vulnerable retailers out there waiting for their equipment to be certified. Since retailers are now burdened with the liability of fraudulent charges, individuals committing fraud are relentlessly targeting merchants that are not EMV compliant. One…

Large gift card display

Where are the gift cards!?!?

If you’re like me, and I’m sure plenty of you are, you procrastinate shopping for holidays. Or get so wrapped up in the day-to-day you forget about important events, such as Mother’s Day. Yes, I forgot about Mother’s Day. I know! I’m a bad husband and son; I’ve already come to terms with this. So it’s Saturday and Mother’s Day is tomorrow and I have no time to shop, nor any idea of what I would even shop for if I had a little extra time, which I didn’t. I needed a plan and I needed it quick. So I devise a plan to gift a $50 gift card to my Mom and wife along with a Mother’s Day card, some flowers and a nice home cooked brunch. I’m thinking this is great, I just saved my “you know what”! With that I’m off to the local grocery store because it’s really close and I’m confident it’s a one-stop-shop for all my needs. I have a small window of time to gather my goods, get back home and put everything…

US covered with national flags

Marketing in a Country of Cultures

Currently there are 15 states beyond the tipping point and 8 others that are very close. What is “tipping point” you ask? It’s the point where the majority becomes the minority. We are a country that is very diverse culturally and continuing to grow in that direction. Recent Census Bureau projections show that in 2043/44 the US population will be less than 50% non-Hispanic whites. So now days when marketing products or services we need think away from whom we’ve always thought of as our target audience. At a recent event Hallmark’s Monic Houpe explained their 3-pronged strategy on how they market to different cultures. Cultural Specificity- Solutions that are targeted to a specific culturally identifiable group. Take a good look at the entire environment and find a connection to the target audience and be authentic when delivering the message. You can’t just cut a white person out of an ad, plug in a Hispanic person and think that you’ve successfully achieved cultural marketing. Multicultural Relevance- Solutions with heightened relevance to non-white consumers that are driven by ethnic insight, but…

Change cartoon image

Leading the Process of Change

In today’s business environment companies are forced to change and adapt to a dynamic landscape or be surpassed by their competition. The rapid pace of growing technologies is forcing business owners to adjust their internal processes, improve logistics, update software and hardware systems more often now than in previous decades, those who don’t face drastic consequences. Unfortunately when these changes occur within an organization some individuals are much less accepting than others. Don’t let fear of non-acceptance paralyze necessary business decisions! Instead learn how to understand and assist your valued employees through transition. Mitchell Nash at Linkage, Inc. used a marathon analogy to portray on how differently people in an organization adopt change. Some marathon’s participation are so large that it takes over 1½ hours to get all the runners off the starting line, by the time the last runner gets going those who began upfront are almost done with the race. The same is true with organizational change; those who adopt early will be almost completely acclimated before those who are resistant even let go of the “old ways”.…