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New Research from Podium, Talkdesk,, SimplicityDX, and Influence Mobile

Research Topics Include Burnout in SMBs, AI in Contact Centers, Engaging with Gen Z, Customer Acquisition Costs, and Shopper Rewards

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This is the latest Dash Network roundup of new and recent research from the field. Details follow below.

Podium: Small Business Owners Are Struggling with Burnout, Losing Hope

More than 7 in 10 small business owners (SMBs) feel burned out from the pandemic’s impact on their livelihood, with owners identifying inflation and rising gas prices as the two main threats to continuing operations, according to a new survey from Podium, the Lehi, Utah-based provider of a technology platform facilitating customer interactions and payment transactions. The top pandemic-related issues include inventory shortages, the lack of separation between work and home, and challenges in communicating with customers.

“Running a local small business has always been hard, but in the last few years, it’s been especially tough,” says Eric Rea, Podium founder and CEO. The survey of 1,001 SMBs also shows that staffing remains a sore point, with 40% of owners hesitant to hire because of rising wages, and with 42% saying a shortage exists in qualified workers possessing the required skills for the job.

To be more efficient and help reduce strain, businesses are turning to technology, the survey notes. Nearly 9 in 10 (85%) owners say using contactless communications, such as text and online messages, are helpful for their business. More than half (57%) say that communicating with customers over text helps reduce stress and workloads for themselves and their staff, with 44% opting for technological solutions as an alternative to hiring.

Talkdesk: Disparity Between CX Belief in Value of AI, and Difficulty of AI Implementation

The value of artificial intelligence (AI) in contact centers remains uncontested, states a new report from San Francisco-based cloud contact center provider Talkdesk, but various barriers persist in centers fully realizing the scale and scope of AI implementation.

Among CX professionals, 79% say their companies plan to increase AI investments in contact centers in the years ahead. Without AI and automation, 52% acknowledge that customer satisfaction will decrease, while 48% expect a decline in contact center team productivity. Yet, the use of AI and automation in contact centers has scaled back, their use in self-service declining from 69% in 2021 to 60% today, the report notes.

The decline can be attributed to companies realizing the many challenges that confront them in implementing AI. One challenge is the misalignment on AI business goals, with resistance to change within organizations and a lack of strategic vision cited as common hurdles. A second challenge is in the form of security risks, with half of the respondents polled for the study attributing their concerns to the limitations imposed by legacy contact center infrastructure. A third challenge is the lack of in-house AI expertise, given the scarcity in general of AI professionals able to build, train, and maintain AI solutions.

The findings are contained in the report, The Future of AI 2022: Progressing AI Maturity in the Contact Center. Brands Must Be Creative to Engage with Gen Z

Brands that incorporate variety, video- or motion-specific content, and brand authenticity are the most likely to connect with Gen Z, the largest and most coveted consumer segment today, according to results from two surveys conducted by, the provider of a social advertising automation software headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.

Results from the surveys show that Gen Z—the current generation of consumers born between 1997 and 2012—favors variety, and is active across more social platforms than other age demographics. For instance, 82% of Gen Z consumers use social media as a way of finding new brands, compared to 57% of general consumers. Moreover, 87% of Gen Z is open to seeing advertising from brands they like or have purchased from before, as well as from new brands, and 40% of Gen Z consumers prefer TikTok stories, reels, or videos when seeing ads from brands on social media.

“For brands wanting to make a personalized impact on consumers, creative is a must,” says Lyle Underkoffler, chief marketing officer (CMO) at “This data shows that brands investing more time and understanding in creative can help develop new strategies for producing personalized and relatable experiences for consumers. For many—specifically Gen Z—this investment creates a genuine connection.”

SimplicityDX: Customer Acquisition Costs Have Risen, Impacting Brand Profitability

Brands are losing $29 for each new customer that is acquired, an increase of 222% during the last eight years, reveals new research from SimplicityDX, a digital analytics firm for e-commerce sites headquartered in San Diego, California. The demise of third-party cookies and increased consumer privacy legislation are among factors that have contributed to the rise in customer acquisition costs, impacting e-commerce profitability for brands and retailers.

The research also shows that repeat sales through targeted marketing are key factors to maximizing customer value and for brands to become profitable. The finding has implications for social commerce in particular, the research notes, because brands lose money each time customers make their purchases through a social network instead of the brand site, setting up a perpetual cycle of unprofitable sales.

The best practice, according to Charles Nicholls, SimplicityDX founding director and chief strategy officer, is to direct engaged traffic to the brand site for purchases, enabling brands to build an ongoing relationship that turns a first-time buyer into a profitable, repeat shopper.

Influence Mobile: Cash and Reward Points Sway Consumers to Switch Brands

Just 3 in 100 consumers would remain loyal to their brands, with the remaining 97 agreeing to switch to a competitor brand if they were offered cash or incentives to do so, according to a survey of nearly 54,000 consumers conducted by Influence Mobile, the Kirkland, Washington-based provider of a mobile rewards platform.

The survey findings carry implications for brands and rewards-related shopping, says Daniel Todd, Influence Mobile founder and CEO. “The emergence of rewarded shopping has changed the way consumers shop and save. Your customers no longer want to be tied to a single store or item. Instead, they desire a loyalty platform that is highly flexible,” Todd says.

Rewarded shopping apps and websites allow consumers to earn cash, points for future redemption, or both when they buy goods from participating brands and retailers. With the popularity of rewards programs continuing to rise, brands should consider offering them to entice or retain customers, the survey notes, because shoppers get a clear deal out of rewards, while retailers benefit from greater customer patronage.

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