Target data breach leads to record settlement with 47 states, including Texas

Target Corp. has reached an $18.5 million settlement with 47 states, including Texas, and the District of Columbia related to its massive customer data breach in 2013.
The data breach affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts, along with contact information for more than 60 million customers.
Texas will receive about $1.1 million of that total settlement figure, the Houston Chronicle reports. About 5 million of the total 41 million affected accounts were in Texas, per the Chronicle.
The…

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At Google, bad behavior being called out in a big way

A group of Google Inc. employees have launched an anonymous message board and weekly email designed to call out bad behavior at the company — and it’s getting quite popular.
Since launching in October, “Yes, at Google” has gained more than 15,000 subscribers, roughly 20 percent of the workforce, Bloomberg reports.
Complaints in a recent email digest include: A manager who joked about raping one of his direct reports, a new Googler who was pressured by an engineer to have sex with him, and…

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Advanced Customer Service Strategy: The Hybrid Model

The following is an exclusive guest contributed post from James Ramey, CEO of DeviceBits.

Today, technology has taken over the standards of living amongst consumers. The latest smartphone or other device is in constant use and when a problem is encountered, it is the goal of customer service to resolve it. The interaction and connection between a brand and its customers builds the reputation and image of the brand. The focal point is to create positive experiences between customer service agents and customers. Happy customers lead to loyal customers, and when the product line of a brand increases, the business can be assured that they will gain business from that long-term customer.

With the good there also is the challenge. Not every customer can be pleased and not every customer service agent is able to assist to their fullest potential. Which is why it is important for businesses to focus on having solutions within the customer care system. Because of the tech-savvy market consumers are a part of, there is a crucial dilemma the customer care system is facing today.

The Troublemaker

Call centers are faced with high volumes of calls per day, particularly given today’s ultra-focused emphasis on tech-centric products. But the inquiries on resolving hiccups from smart devices also means higher chances of having a question too advanced for a customer service agent. Typically, these agents have a script handy in order to find any information they need for the usual inquiry on a device. But if the question is too complex and falls outside of the script, we have a problem.

When a customer realizes that their question cannot be answered, they can become irritated at the fact that there is no solution, especially if they were put on hold for a lengthy period of time before they could even speak with an agent. Both parties are at a disadvantage to each other and a proper solution is needed for efficient customer service that benefits the agent and customer.

The Smart Solution

We have two sides of the interaction line, the agents and customers, and we want to be able to resolve the problems of each side to benefit the success of the business. Agents want vital information and a better handling on customer calls; and customers want to be helped quickly and efficiently without being stuck taking a number slip to wait. This is where a new hybrid solution is deemed as the smart solution.

The hybrid solution mixes the traditional service of an agent and the digital self-support materials found on a brand’s website. By making a special combo of the two, it creates benefits to both the agent, to deliver better service, and the customer, to receive better service. These support materials, such as FAQ’s, interactive how-to tutorials, and informative videos, create a fast source of solutions to inquiries.

Success of The Hybrid

Understanding the hybrid solution gives a better understanding of why it works so well. With the mix of support materials and customer service agents, a business runs more smoothly and the brand receives better praise amongst customers. Each component of the hybrid solution has its own perks for an overall high-quality product.

Support materials are available online as an assistance to customers who have inquiries about their smart devices. Online, customers can expect the support materials listed earlier as well as converse with a chatbot when they aren’t the type to actually want to speak to a real customer service agent. This helps customers avoid the hassle of waiting long times to speak to an agent, and they can gain knowledge to resolve their own device dilemmas.

These support materials are also a perk for the customer service agents. As more customers convert to a self-support strategy, less calls will come in. Thus, customers who aren’t as tech-savvy can be on the phone with an agent who also has access to these support materials and can better resolve their problems.

This hybrid solution is a critical solution for businesses today. This resolves not only the typical customer inquiries, but also the problems customers faced with the traditional customer care system, and the problems agents faced with being limited to the sometimes-outdated script they had.

About The Author

James Ramey is CEO of DeviceBits, a software company that services clients through a predictive and personalized understanding of interactive tutorials, adaptive FAQs, Interactive Guides, and Videos designed to for self-serving consumers. For more info visit http://www.devicebits.com.

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CodeBroker Touts New Mobile Loyalty Experience Engine

With the stated goal to help loyalty marketers grow member enrollment and engagement, CodeBroker is making waves with its newest offering.

While loyalty program professionals at leading brands struggle with diminishing member engagement with their loyalty programs, CodeBroker — a developer of mobile marketing solutions — has just announced the “CodeBroker Mobile Loyalty Experience Engine.”

We’re told that this is the first loyalty marketing solution that gives marketers an omnichannel approach to mobile loyalty program member acquisition and engagement.

“Market trends clearly show that loyalty program participation is decreasing, so we developed this solution to help loyalty marketers address the challenges of both loyalty program member acquisition and engagement,” said CodeBroker CEO Dan Slavin. “Consumers have their own preferred mobile communications channel, whether that’s via text, Facebook, mobile wallet, email, or a mobile app. So we developed a complementary solution that marketers can plug into existing loyalty platforms to give consumers on-demand access to their loyalty card, rewards, and points via their favorite mobile channel.”

The CodeBroker Mobile Loyalty Experience Engine addresses many of the consumer complaints regarding loyalty programs that were discovered in the CodeBroker 2017 Shopper Loyalty research. Although consumers prefer to access programs via smartphones, there are a range of different communications channels that mobile provides — and consumer preference is across the board, which is why loyalty marketers need an omnichannel mobile approach to both acquisition and engagement.

More information about the program is available here.

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Discuss.io Raises ​Millions in Series A Funding

Discuss.io, an online consumer-connection platform, announced that it has closed $5.025 million in Series A funding, led by Unilever Ventures and Pereg Ventures.

This investment will allow Discuss.io to innovate their platform and expand their engineering and sales teams.

If you’re not familiar, Discuss.io enables brands and researchers to conduct real-time, online Consumer Connects, In-Depth Interviews (IDIs), and Focus Groups with consumers around the globe in as little as 48 hours, at a fraction of the cost of traditional market research methods.

Discuss.io is used by the world’s leading brands, including Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone, and Godrej, among many others.

“We believe that gathering consumer insights should be quick and hassle-free. Using Discuss.io, companies can reach consumer audiences all over the world, conduct one-on-one interviews, and have relevant, targeted insights within days,” Founder Zach Simmons said, elaborating: “The market research industry is ripe for a big change. The industry has been talking about online qualitative research for years, but until Discuss.io, the products on the market did not present a clear enough benefit to warrant a change. Securing this latest round of financing will allow us to democratize market research, and make it easily available and affordable for everyone.”

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Sonus and Genband Surprise with Confirmed Coupling

Sonus Networks, Inc., a global leader in securing cloud and real-time communications, and GENBAND, a top provider of carrier and enterprise network transformation and real-time communications solutions, announced a definitive agreement under which the two companies will combine to create a leader in next-generation communications networking, “with increased scale and market reach across products, customers and geographies.”

A statement provided to MMW on Tuesday suggests that Sonus and GENBAND shareholders will each own approximately 50% of the combined company.

The transaction combines Sonus’ software-based leadership position in real-time communication virtualization, cloud-based session initiation protocol (SIP) and 4G/voice-over LTE solutions and security initiatives with GENBAND’s network modernization, unified communications, and mobility and embedded communications solutions.  

Together, Sonus and GENBAND will be better positioned to enable network transformations to IP and cloud-based networks for communication service providers and enterprise customers worldwide, with a broader and deeper global sales footprint, increased ability to invest in growth, more efficient and effective R&D, and a comprehensive real-time communications product offering.

“Together, Sonus and GENBAND create a market leader in real-time communications with enhanced capabilities to support our customers’ move to cloud-based solutions,” said Raymond Dolan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sonus.  “The transaction is expected to generate significant near- and long-term value for shareholders, who we believe will benefit from their ownership in a combined company with increased scale and resources to invest in and accelerate each company’s growth initiatives.  This is a strategically and financially compelling transaction for Sonus and we are confident that together with GENBAND we will achieve our growth initiatives faster and more fully than either company could do on its own.”

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Marketers: Investment in ‘Snackable’ Visual Content Quickly Increasing

IZEA, Inc. operator of IZEAx — a premier online marketplace connecting brands and publishers with influential content creators — found in its annual State of the Creator Economy report greater year-over-year growth in marketers investing in visually-driven content than any other type of approach.

Although sponsored Facebook updates remain Influencer Marketers’ preferred tactic, with 78% reporting leveraging it in the last year, the usage of sponsored video saw a larger year-over-year jump of 20%.

In addition, use of sponsored blog posts increased by 16% and sponsored photos jumped by 12%.

This trend toward “snackable,” shareable visual content correlated with Content Marketers sampled in the study as well:

  • One-half of content marketers indicated imagery and infographics are their most commonly-utilized approaches.
  • Only one-third indicated white papers, lists and advice articles were their top form of content.

To check out the full 2017 “State of the Creator Economy Report,” click here.

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Austin’s plastic bag ban can stay: Measure dies in Texas Legislature, along with other local pre-emption bills

Environmentalists are declaring victory at the Texas Capitol in the fight to give cities the right to ban single-use plastic bags at stores, one of the few victories this legislative session for local governments in their fight against state pre-emption.
Those who track the issue say 16 cities, from Austin to tiny Kermit to Dallas, have bag bans. Senate Bill 103 was one of the earliest bills filed in the 2015 session, by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Rockwall, who said the choice of which types of bags to offer…

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Michael Dell’s salary, stock ownership detailed in SEC filings

Even though Dell Technologies Inc. has been privately held since 2013, it is possible to get a glimpse of top-level executive compensation at the area’s largest private employer.
The Austin American-Statesman dove into the company’s May 16 proxy securities filings — Dell Technologies is privately owned but has a tracking stock with the ticker "DVMT" related to its control of publicly traded VMware Inc. — to fish out all the details.
It pulled out standard info, including the base salaries received…

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PricePlow presents Super Bowl Champ Heath Evans Discusses Innov8 Nutraceuticals

Super Bowl Champ Heath Evans Discusses Innov8 Nutraceuticals
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Robert Interviews Super Bowl Champ Heath Evans, the co-founder of new sports supplement line Innov8 Nutraceuticals! This was filmed at the 2017 Arnold Sports Festival, where Robert (a New Orleans Saints fan) spotted one of his favorite players!

Mike O’Hearn is also with Innov8Athlete!

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