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We’re putting Italian businesses on the map

Yext partners Italiaonline

Yext has partnered with Italiaonline, the country’s largest digital media company. The partnership will bring Yext’s powerful technology to Italian businesses via IOL Connect, Italiaonline’s new service, which allows businesses to manage their location data online. By joining forces with Yext, Italiaonline will help businesses improve their searchability on any of the 100+ maps, apps, search engines and directories in Yext’s PowerListings Network — including Google and Facebook.

“Together with our partner Italiaonline, we’re excited to put hundreds of thousands of Italian small businesses on the map,” said Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext. “Using the Yext Location Cloud, they will be able to manage their location data online easily and in real time, reaching more customers and driving more visits.”

The partnership between Yext and Italiaonline comes at a critical moment in Italy, as mobile search continues to gain dominance throughout the world, and as the country’s ever-growing Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) community increasingly demands a one-stop-shop for making real-time location data updates.

“IOL Connect is an integrated digital location system that, thanks to the partnership with Yext, we are proud to launch exclusively for the Italian market,” said Antonio Converti, CEO of Italiaonline. ”Being found on the web is essential, especially for local businesses. We now have a powerful tool — together with our sales network and local ties — including over a thousand agents and a hundred media consultants specialising in digital marketing.”

Yext is expanding its European integrations and network rapidly, partnering with leading digital platforms and directory services throughout the continent. This latest expansion comes on the heels of several new product launches, including the Healthcare Location Cloud in the US, as well as a partnership with Snapchat to make sponsored Geofilters easy.

Avanti tutta!

For more information, check out Italiaonline’s press release.

No Cookies? No Problem: How ‘Digital Agility’ Can Help Marketers Meet Customers Where They Are In 2022

If there’s one thing we can say with certainty about the past two years, it’s that consumer behaviour changed significantly throughout the pandemic. From the shift to online-only life in early 2020, to the frantic Googling for new hours, policies, and stock updates in the first phase of reopening, consumers turned to the internet and relied on it in new ways.

But not always in the same new way. Covid-19 certainly accelerated the adoption of the “digital-first” mindset, but the sub-trends within that shift haven’t always been clear. Writing for Think With Google, Philip Steggals sums it up well: “The pandemic created an inflection point that led people to reassess their priorities and needs, and buy goods and consume information and entertainment in new ways,” he writes. “[But] pivoting without due consideration… carries a risk that’s substantial for businesses. And it can be difficult for marketers to determine which of these new consumer behaviours will stick for the long term, or even as things become less uncertain.”

At the same time, marketers are also contending with the demise of the cookie, as Google phases out the third-party cookie on Chrome browsers this year. This means that in an increasingly digital world, marketers can no longer rely on one of the primary tools that dominated conversations about personalisation and “consumer experience” over the past decade.

But the one thing that is for sure? Digital adaptability (or “agility”) is going to be required for the long haul — and it’s the only way to truly stay relevant in the post-pandemic, “cookieless” future. Here’s what that means for businesses.

Prioritise digital agility in 2022

The global pandemic accelerated digital transformation to unprecedented levels, so gone are the days of being digital first as a marker of innovation — to thrive in 2022 and beyond, businesses need to be “digital best.” And we found the data to prove it. As we wrote in 2021, when we were already a year into the pandemic, fact updates surged — with Yext clients updating their facts 75% more than they did in 2019.

In plain English, that meant that they were keeping their online information current and communicating with their customers more frequently. The result?  The more updated facts a business offered to customers online, the more customer trust increased — and so did customer engagement. 

In one sense, this is simply proof of the old Darwin adage “adapt or die.” (Hey, businesses and species have some things in common. Most businesses would have been unlikely to survive 2020 if they couldn’t adapt their offerings and communicate with customers online.) But beyond that, it offers us a peek at what makes businesses successful no matter what is going on in the wider world: an ability to seamlessly adapt and communicate with customers, digitally.

In short, business success today isn’t about being the best at any one online trend, whether that’s adopting a certain e-commerce platform or getting on Clubhouse (remember that phase)? Instead, digital agility — being able to adopt and adapt as consumer behaviours shift, regulations become stricter, and consumer expectations for ecommerce heighten — ​​ will be the major key to business success. Being one step ahead of the consumer (while still maintaining a consumer-centric approach) is the only way to stay competitive.

The New Cookie? Listening To Your Customers

For all the hand-wringing about the demise of the cookie, it’s important to remember that cookies were never the goal — just a means to an end.

As we wrote recently for Adobe, for a long time, brands used cookies to improve the quality of “push marketing” — where they served up a variety of messages to consumers. This made sense: if you’re going to show someone a banner ad or send them an email, you might as well make it about something that’s relevant to their browsing history, right?

But “push marketing” is now on the decline. Brands have been throwing message after message into people’s faces: via billboards, commercials, display ads, and it has almost felt like an arms race to see who can be the most distracting. Meanwhile, the people on the receiving end of those messages — customers — have started saying “enough.” They’re opting out and trying to avoid ads, with close to half of all internet users (42.7%) now using ad blocking software worldwide.

The good news? There is a better way. Stop throwing display ads at your customers and start listening to them instead.

Your customers are actually already telling you everything you need to know in order to deliver them a relevant, personalised experience on their terms. How? They’re doing it every single time they search. The questions they ask — from “Japanese restaurant near me that’s open now” to “buy midi-length dress with pockets” — reveal their intent. People search so that they can access information or take a specific action.

What can you do with this information? Well, you can start by embedding search into your digital experiences to deliver more relevant, personalised content — no cookies necessary. When you can see (and understand) what your customers are searching for, you can understand them better and deliver more of what they want.

Start with a data structure that’s at the centre of all great search experiences today: a knowledge graph. A knowledge graph is a data structure that’s optimised for answering questions. Then, you can add on a great search experience everywhere your customers could ask questions: on your own website, in your app, on your customer support page, and on Google.

Finally, it’s critical to pay attention to what people are searching for, both so that you can serve them the right answers when they ask questions and so you can highlight more important and high-value things in your other marketing efforts.

Marketers who do this see an estimated 1.4X increase in conversions* — a stat that looks pretty great in the face of ad blockers and email unsubscribes.

Embracing the cookieless future

According to research from McKinsey, 75 percent of consumers tried new shopping behaviours during the pandemic. Fully 39 percent of them, mainly Gen Z and millennials, deserted trusted brands for new ones. In a moment where we see a decrease in brand loyalty and an increase in time spent online, the status quo isn’t going to cut it.

So, give yourself the best chance to win: not by adopting one digital trend but instead by being prepared to adjust — and adopting solutions that give you the digital “agility” and allow you to prioritise true personalisation through search (not ads).

Learn more about how you can be “digital best” in 2022 — and beyond — with Yext.

*Yext customer data, 2020

The Great Resignation Hit Support Agents Hard — So How Can You Help?

Americans quit their jobs at record rates through 2021: 4 million in April, 4.2 million in October, 4.5 million in November. All told, 47.4 million people handed in their resignation letter last year — nearly one-third of the entire workforce.

The newly unemployed reported a myriad of reasons for their decision: toxic culture, job insecurity, reorganisation, lack of employee recognition, poor response to the pandemic, the list goes on. These drivers aren’t new. They’ve been festering through the pandemic — and that’s sort of the problem.

During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people battened down the hatches. Tens of millions of people had lost their jobs and those who kept theirs were grateful for it. But as the situation stabilised and the economy began to rebound, the floodgates opened, unleashing a tidal wave of pent-up frustration.

But the Great Resignation didn’t hit all fields and functions equally. While airlines lost just 5% of their staff, apparel retail experienced an eye-watering 19% attrition rate. If that sounds high, just wait until you hear about the worst-hit functionsIn customer service and support, more than 70% of agents have considered quitting in the past six months.

Why support and service agents are so prepared to quit is a complex question. In many ways, they sit at the epicenter of the crisis, both personally enduring the turmoil and professionally bearing the brunt of ongoing disruption. In order to help support agents cope during this difficult period, we have to first understand these pressures in detail.

A perfect storm for support

The COVID-19 pandemic was tough for everyone. But the disruption hasn’t been uniform. While some have been lucky enough to continue near to business-as-usual, contact centres have not.

The joint healthcare and economic crisis was something of a perfect storm for customer service and support, heaping immense emotional and greater professional burdens on frontline staff. There are three key dimensions to highlight:

Remote work transformation. Since their conception in the 1960s, contact centres have operated as physical business units. Team leaders relied on floor walks to monitor calls. Managers used informal one-to-ones for impromptu coaching. Because they were surrounded by colleagues, agents naturally overheard innovative approaches and picked up tips. The pandemic led to a rapid transformation to distributed work.

Call volume peaks and troughs. The pandemic drove extreme change in contact centre call volumes with 41% of businesses reporting higher call volumes. Some industries — home services (+92%), senior care (+77%), and financial services (+45%) —were particularly hard hit. These weren’t simply more of the same calls, either. The pandemic wreaked havoc across settled industries. When family members called into care homes or customers contacted their HVAC installer, they brought complex questions and emotionally-charged queries.

Staff shortages. Despite increasing call volumes and growing call complexity, contact centre headcounts aren’t increasing. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to one call centre president, there are approximately 25% fewer contact center agents than before the pandemic due to cutbacks and a lack of remote working resources.

Considering that contact centre workers are being asked to do significantly more with fewer resources, while simultaneously navigating a once-in-a-generation healthcare-economic crisis, it’s not surprising that many are thinking about leaving. Indeed, it’s surprising that so many are still here.

To avoid the imminent support worker exodus, you need to act now.

But what should you do?

How can companies support their support staff?

The simple answer is: Hire more people. But with a brutal market for talent and already tight budgets, that’s not always an option. Besides, it’s not an infinitely scalable tactic.

Most businesses will hit a point of diminishing returns where throwing more people at the problem stops returning results. To build a sustainable contact centre, you need a technological approach. Specifically, you need technology that augments your agents’ performance and empowers customers to self-serve.

“Migrating customers to self-service is long overdue and will alleviate cost and employee pressures, but simply adding more channels or functionality will have the opposite effect,” said Devin Poole, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “Instead, service leaders should focus their attention and investments on the end-to-end resolution journey and migrate key contact types to self-service channels. This has proven to drive more cost-effective customer behaviours while maintaining the service experience.”

Technology like AI-powered site search (which agents can leverage!) tackles that end-to-end experience. It’s not an isolated fix. Instead, it transforms your entire frontline support.

Improved help site search and case form defection both allow customers to solve their queries before they hit submit on a contact form. Developer doc search delivers relevant search results from in-depth articles for technical support. And when a customer really needs to talk to an agent, Yext Answers keeps helping.

Agent desktop search acts as an external brain. Instead of expecting agents to know everything about everything, we put searchable institutional knowledge at their fingertips, helping agents resolve cases in record time.

Your support agents need your help — now

We’re not out of the pandemic just yet. Even when COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past, it’ll leave immense disruption behind. With pressures high and demand unrelenting, we have to think about how best to support our people. That means looking at how the crisis has affected specific fields and functions. Contact centre staff are under unique pressures. After two years, they’re hurtling toward burnout at an alarming pace.

But we have the technology to shoulder more of the burden, help agents to work faster, and empower customers to self-serve.

All you need to do is seize the opportunity.

Learn more about Yext Answers for customer service and support.

 

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