• April 24, 2020
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Technology Can Help Us Through the Tough Times

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As this issue of CRM magazine was going to press, very few companies and industries across the country were immune from the severe business disruptions brought about by COVID-19. In these times of hardship, it can be difficult to find the silver linings, but they are there.

COVID-19 is actually imposing changes on businesses that could be beneficial, both during the immediate crisis and into the recovery period and beyond.

For one, we can’t say enough about all of the CRM vendors that stepped up with donations of their products and services to the government agencies and healthcare providers on the front lines, offered their products and services for free or at huge discounts to businesses that needed to readjust operations quickly, and waived licensing fees and other costs for several months to get clients through the crisis.

COVID-19 also spurred companies to finally start embracing new technologies to continue operations as their employees were being urged to stay home. Companies quickly accelerated their digital transformations; began replacing legacy systems that outlived their utility years ago; and invested in new hardware, systems, and software to accommodate remote workforces. Contact centers were obvious beneficiaries, but the waves of change also rolled through marketing, sales, and other departments.

3-D technologies are one area that have seen a huge uptick, particularly by sales and marketing departments looking to attract customers who are unable or unwilling to walk into a store or showroom.

As our cover story, “Selling Opens Up with 3-D Visualization,” points out, 3-D visualizations are creating an interactive way for consumers to self-explore and learn more about products without ever having to leave their homes.

The message for businesses is clear: “Anything you can do to remove that barrier between having to go into a store to try something and getting a real immersive experience without having to go anywhere” will be embraced by consumers, says Stephen Childress, chief creative officer at marketing and advertising agency Scoppechio, in the feature.

With stay-at-home orders in effect across much of the country, e-commerce has also become a way of life for many Americans. And with that, consumers are turning to voice assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Siri, to help them find products, locate the best deals, and place online orders.

Companies have had to respond with a new breed of search engine optimization that allows them to address the unique challenges surrounding voice search, as stated in our second feature, “Marketers Need to Optimize for Voice Search.”

Businesses are finally realizing that their websites, online content, and product information need to be crafted in new ways so voice-based search engines not only recognize them but position them at the top of search results. This requires a new level of understanding into how consumers search with voice, which differs greatly from traditional text-based searches.

Companies are also starting to see the need to enlist their best customers to help them during these trying times. Our third feature, “Social Media Influencers Can Boost Customer Service’s Image,” outlines ways that companies can use social media influencers to counter negative feedback, increase brand awareness, improve perceptions, and even guide purchase decisions.

Yes, times are tough for businesses today, but with many of the new technologies that are finally being adopted, we don’t have to go through them alone.


We at CRM magazine have not been spared the disruption caused by the nationwide effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Because of the pandemic, we have had to make a few tough decisions as well.

Our CRM Evolution, SpeechTEK, Smart Customer Service, and Digital Experience conferences, co-located in Washington, April 27-29, have been postponed. Read the complete announcement here.

CRM magazine’s print version will be suspended until September and the publication will only be available in digital format. The health of the workers at our printing plant, and the fact that we deliver mainly to now-closed office buildings and not subscribers’ homes, makes this decision smart for everyone. Sign up for a landscape, PDF version of CRM magazine here.

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