Technology and creative professionals who include "make more money" on their New Year's resolution list may achieve their goal next year: According to the recently released 2013 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group, a number of positions in the information technology (IT) and creative fields are likely to see above-average salary gains in the coming year. The increase in compensation levels is due to high demand for these professionals as organizations enhance their digital presence and boost investments in IT infrastructure.
Following are descriptions for six hot technology and design jobs in 2013, along with their anticipated average starting salaries in 2013*:
Mobile applications developers -- As companies strive to reach consumers on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, they need professionals who can develop for the small screen. Average starting salaries for mobile applications developers are expected to rise 9 percent, with compensation ranging from $92,750 to $133,500.
Business intelligence analysts -- These individuals assist firms in making critical business decisions by gathering and analyzing data to better target marketing efforts. Business intelligence analysts should see a gain of 7.3 percent, with starting salaries ranging from $94,250 to $132,500.
Network architects -- These individuals provide the backbone of a company's communication infrastructure. They assess business and applications requirements for corporate data and voice networks, making it possible for data to be shared. Network architects are forecast to receive a 7 percent starting salary boost, to between $102,250 and $146,500, on average.
Interactive creative directors -- As companies of all sizes add interactive roles, they seek professionals with superb leadership skills and digital expertise to manage these growing teams. Interactive creative directors can anticipate a 4.9 percent bump in base compensation, with average starting salaries ranging from $95,500 to $160,000.
Interaction designers -- The best interaction designers step into the shoes of a company's customers and maximize their online experiences. These professionals understand the connections between people and products. Those with one to five years of experience should see a gain of 4.9 percent, to between $52,250 and $77,500.
User experience (UX) designers -- Since so much customer interaction happens online, companies are looking for workers who can create positive digital experiences. UX designers can expect a 4.8 percent salary increase, with starting compensation of $73,750 to $110,500.
*All salaries listed are U.S. national averages based on data published in the 2013 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group. Actual salary ranges may vary depending on location.
Consumers Defect in Growing Numbers But Majority Say “You Could Have Kept Me,” Accenture Research Finds
In 2012, one in five consumers switched companies they buy from, including wireless phone, internet service, and retailers, according to new research by Accenture. This marks a five percent increase in switching over 2011 levels. However, the eighth annual Accenture Global Consumer Survey also found that the majority (85 percent) of consumers say the companies could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.
The survey, which polled more than 12,000 consumers in 32 countries, found that among those consumers who would have stayed if their provider had acted differently, two-thirds (67 percent) pointed to having their customer service issue resolved during their first contact as a factor. More than half (54 percent) might have remained loyal if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider. The survey revealed that, of the ten industries covered, the largest rises in switching were among wireless phone providers (26 percent of consumers switched in 2012, up from 21 percent in 2011); internet service providers (23 percent switched, up from 19 percent in 2011) and retailers (22 percent switched, up from 16 percent in 2011).
Broken promises are a top area of frustration for consumers, according to the survey:nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents indicate it’s extremely frustrating when a company delivers a different customer service experience from what it promised upfront. Seventy eight percent of consumers say they are likely to switch providers when they encounter such broken promises. Other frustrations that make consumers more likely to switch include:
Having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason (selected by 65 percent of consumers)
Dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65 percent)
Being on hold for a long time when contacting customer service (61 percent)
Selling More with Tailored Experiences
The Accenture study found that a tailored experience is critical to a strong customer relationship. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents say that, compared to 12 months ago, they have higher expectations of getting specialized treatment for being a “good” customer. A similar proportion (50 percent) say it is extremely important for customer service people to know their history so they don’t have to repeat themselves each time they call.
Nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents prefer companies that use information about them to make their experience more efficient from one step to the next. However, only a quarter (24 percent) said their providers deliver tailored experiences.
Among the ten industries included in the survey, providers in the travel and tourism, retail banking and life insurance industries earn the highest marks for providing tailored experiences: 32 percent of respondents say travel and tourism providers offer tailored experiences, followed by 27 percent who say the same about retail banks and 25 percent about life insurance providers.
Corporate Websites, Expert Review Sites Top Social Media Influence
As technology provides an ever-growing number of channels for consumers to interact with companies, the Accenture survey found that on average consumers use five to six channels to learn about and select providers, including:
Word of mouth, relied upon by 79 percent of consumers to get information about providers
Corporate websites, used by nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of consumers
Online sources such as expert review sites, news sites and product comparison sites, used by nearly two-thirds (63 percent)
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, used by 47 percent of consumers.
Looking more closely at the influence of social media, the survey found that 31 percent of consumers say they trust comments posted by people they know, echoing the importance of word of mouth. More than a quarter (28 percent) say positive comments in social media affect purchasing decisions and 28 percent say negative comments do so.
Mid-market Executives View U.S. as Less Accommodating to Entrepreneurialism
High levels of economic uncertainty are affecting business and shifting opinions among mid-market executives, according to findings in Deloitte’s "Mid-market perspectives: America’s economic engine- why entrepreneurs matter." Specifically, only 59 percent of executives surveyed ranked the United States as the most accommodating country for entrepreneurs - a 32 percent drop from how those same executives said they felt in past years.
Moreover, while 35 percent of mid-market executives claim their own organization has grown more entrepreneurial, 15 percent state their company is less entrepreneurial, despite the clear benefits in terms of greater productivity and profit margins. Among respondents who did not choose the U.S. as the most attractive environment for entrepreneurs, 42 percent selected China, followed by India (26 percent), Brazil (21 percent) and Australia (18 percent) as most accommodating.
In defining “entrepreneurial”, 81 percent of respondents say any company, large or small, can behave in entrepreneurial ways. Mid-market executives say that being creative, unique, different, innovative and taking risks with the acceptance of failure are most important for keeping their companies successful.
Among mid-market executives who indicated their companies had become more entrepreneurial, they cited innovation to create entirely new businesses, enhancing products and services, and discovering and penetrating new markets as primary behaviors driving their organizations.
Mid-market executives citing a decline in entrepreneurialism attributed it to C-suite leaders’ desire to be risk-averse (36 percent) while 17 percent expressed their desire to avoid volatility by sticking to tried and true business practices.
Entrepreneurialism as a Catalyst for Growth
Overall, the survey shows entrepreneurial companies are succeeding at a faster pace in the marketplace.
Compared to all survey respondents, those who identified their companies as more entrepreneurial are more likely to have:
Nearly one-third (30 percent) of mid-market executives were more likely to cite ongoing investment in technology and people as a driver of success.
The Bigger Economic Picture
Companies that have become more entrepreneurial are likely to have increased their workforce by more than 10 percent during the past year, and plan for the same in the year to come. Additionally, this segment of survey respondents expect their revenue to grow by more than 10 percent next year.
Uncertainty, however, has not diminished. In fact, the survey shows consistent increases in the level of uncertainty, particularly in an election year in which fiscal policy, taxes and regulation hang in the balance.
Survey Reveals Shift in Customer Service Preferences
Angel, a provider of cloud-based Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, released the findings from a survey of over 650 attendees at the 2012 Dreamforce event in San Francisco. The survey results show an evolution of customer service preferences, with more customers expecting businesses to better anticipate customer needs and provide more personalized and on-demand customer service across any channel and device.
The results demonstrated a significant shift to web and mobile technologies as the preferred ways to connect with customer service. From these results, there is an opportunity for companies to better anticipate the change of customer preferences and begin providing multichannel customer support to quickly resolve problems, improve the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.
Shift in platforms – While 51 percent of the respondents named landline telephone customer support as the most preferred customer service channel five years ago, 34 percent called out email as their top resource today, followed by landline telephone (19 percent) and mobile devices (16 percent).
Mobile customer support quickly gaining – In the next five years, 24 percent expect mobile devices to be the leading customer service channel while 41 percent confirmed they have downloaded a mobile application to better connect to customer service.
Online self-service tools are critical – Currently, 63 percent turn to the company website as their first channel of choice to resolve an issue before calling customer service.
Customer service is an ongoing experience – 26 percent said they are likely to tell their friends about their experience, 21 percent said they would ask for the same representative next time and 14 percent said they would share their experience online.
Additional survey findings revealed what companies customers spend the most time with as well as how customers would like to interact with customer service:
Banking and retail organizations spend the most time with their customers – these are the leading industries for which customers said they spend the most time on a customer service issue, with 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Convenience is important – 47 percent said they usually connect with customer service from work and 33 percent reach out while at home.
On-demand support expectations are significant – 18 percent said instant messaging is their first channel of choice to resolve an issue, while five percent said they turn to social networks to resolve customer service problems.
Following these results, some key customer care recommendations include:
Provide multichannel support – Customers are turning to multiple channels to resolve their customer service issues, including email, mobile devices, instant message and text messages. Offering cloud-based customer service support for as many channels as possible can ensure issues are immediately resolved.
Anticipate customer needs – With 18 percent of respondents naming mind-reading as the second most preferred way to connect with customer service in five years, there is an opportunity for businesses to leverage analytics to identify past customer trends, better allocate customer service resources and incorporate the features to ensure each customer has a positive experience.
Personalize the experience – Identify how and where the customer base usually interacts with the business throughout the entire lifecycle and provide the support and tools that enable customers to immediately resolve their unique problems as well as quickly connect with the organization.
Research Reveals Major Fault Line Separating the Board Room, Marketing Suite, and Contact Center Threatens Customer Experience
New research reveals critical areas where organizations are falling short in addressing today’s growing expectations and demands for smart customer service. The key conclusion: Greater alignment is needed between the board room, marketing and customer service professionals, and in the metrics applied to measure customer experience activities, for organizations to succeed in today’s always-on multi-channel customer service environment.
The study identified a number of key challenges that threaten organizations ability to provide “smart” customer service. These include:
Companies are using new channels to support customer engagement, but they don’t understand how and why customers are using those channels.
While organizations are today increasingly deploying multi-channel engagement strategies to support consistent customer experiences, survey respondents indicated a lack of understanding of when and why customers choose to use certain channels over others, and overall channel effectiveness in driving customer satisfaction.
Customer service and the contact center are still not viewed as having strategic importance.
The survey also shed light on the fact that customer service and contact center functions lack adequate board representation, with almost 1 in 10 stating that the board is out of touch with contact center and customer service issues.
Marketing and customer service investment decisions remain siloed, at the expense of the customer experience.
The research also highlights conflicting views about the relationship between marketing and customer service. While many would argue the marketing function is well positioned to assist in orchestrating customer experience for the entire organization, a significant disconnect between marketing and customer service investment is revealed in the study findings.
In response to the research, KANA offered the following recommendations to help rectify the shortcomings and organizational misalignments identified in the study:
Bring the insights from the contact center and the voice of the customer initiatives into the board room, ideally with C-level representation from customer service
Embed a rotation in customer service into senior executive training and personal development plans, and involve operational managers in critical stages of investment planning
Partner with industry suppliers to create seamlessly integrated systems to enable complex business processes to be transformed into effective customer experiences, simplifying for both agent and customer
Understand how to accurately gauge customer satisfaction and measurement in as much as it is a true predictor of future behavior
Evaluate what technology investments will reap customer experience rewards, particularly when the current climate calls for a rational approach
Manage contacts so that the correct proportion and type gets automated or is facilitated by a human