| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

April 2005

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Shocking News: CRM Doesn't Implement Itself

April 28, 2005

First, I'll say I hate the term CRM and always have. It's nebulous, fatuous, non-descriptive and confusing, and if you ask 99 people what it means, you'll get 99 different definitions. That said, I believe in the concept of CRM and bristle a bit when other news organizations and analysts talk about "the failure of CRM" as if it's the fault of the concept or the software that enables it.

It appears that someone agrees with me.

GeoLearning CEO Finalist For Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award

April 27, 2005

Congratulations┬ go today┬ to┬ GeoLearning's CEO Frank Russell, selected as a finalist for the very prestigious 2005 Ernst & Young Enterpreneur of the Year Award. GeoLearning, which produces products and services in the hosted e-learning and training environments, as grown more than 400 percent in the previous four years, a testament to both company quality and the explosion in popularity of the e-learning and interactive training methods as opposed to traditional, dry classroom training for call center professionals.

TES

Frank Russell, president and CEO of GeoLearning, Inc., has been named a finalist for the 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Gryphon Offers Regulatory Update

April 26, 2005

Operating in the (what's becoming) highly regulated outbound (and inbound, for that matter) contact center industry is increasingly like navigating a mine field. In this case, however, the mines are $11,000 fines per violation of a rule or regulation pertaining to the amended Teleservices Sales Rule passed over two years ago. In addition to federal compliance, there are numerous and ever changing state rules to be observed. If you were compliant two years ago, or one year ago, or even a few months ago, you may not be now.

Gryphon Networks has released its latest "Gryphon Advisory," a newsletter that updates the industry about what's new and necesary in compliance. The newsletter may be viewed here: http://www.gryphonnetworks.com/downloads/newsletters/2005_04.pdf

TES

Perseus Releases New Web Survey Tool

April 26, 2005

Far away are the olden days when companies could put content and functionality onto their Web sites, cross their fingers and hope. It really didn't matter if people had problems with your Web site...it wasn't their primary mode of communication with you, and it wasn't necessary to respond to customer e-mails. No one did, after all.

When companies finally began monitoring how their virtual customers were interacting with their Web sites, the surveys were cumbersome, limited┬ and needed to be designed by professionals.

Grab Your Towel, The Vogons Are Coming

April 25, 2005

""'People of Earth, your attention please,' a voice said, and it was wonderful. Wonderful perfect quadraphonic sound with distortion levels so low as to make a brave man weep.

'This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council,' the voice continued. 'As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes.

DMA To Teleservices Agencies: Pay Attention To The Hispanic Market

April 22, 2005

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has just released its first-ever "DMA 2005 Hispanic Market Report," in which it evaluates the growth potential of the Hispanic market in the U.S. for teleservices agencies.

Notable informational tidbits from the report include:

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  • US Census projections indicate that the U.S.

India's Largest Outsourcer Reports 58% Growth

April 22, 2005

India's largest IT, BPO┬ and teleservices outsourcer, Wipro Limited, today released its fourth quarter fiscal results (ending March 31st) to fanfare: the company reports a 58% growth in net income for its year end. Net income was totaled at $363 million (Rs. 15.83 billion). Revenue was $1.87 billion (Rs. 81.35 billion), which translates to a 39% growth rate over last year. The company's Global IT Services & Products Revenue was $1.39 billion (Rs. 60.71 billion), which is a 40% increase from the previous year.

Federal And State Teleservices Legislation Update

April 21, 2005

Next Tuesday, April 26th, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is hosting a teleseminar on "Federal And State Teleservices Legislation Update." The event is to be moderated by Robert Borders, president of The TM Group, and speakers are slated to be Dan Smith and Anne Darr of DeHart and Darr Associates Inc. and Joan Mullen of of ORC ProTel, Inc.

Those wanting to register can do so at http://www.the-dma.org/cgi/mtdsp?meeting=CTE0905.

Why is it so important to attend sessions of this nature regularly? Because compliance in teleservices is like aiming at a moving target.

Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005

April 19, 2005

Watch for the "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005" to be passed today by Congress. It's a big gift to the entertainment industry in terms of its prohibition of bootlegging copyrighted audio and video material, or recording a cinema-released film on videotape from the audience (which is the primary means┬ by which films show up for sale on DVD just days after they've been released).

The part that the entertainment industry won't be so happy about is the language that makes it legal for distributors to sell "edited" versions of films, with the language, violence and sex edited out. (One might ask, "What's the point of watching the film?" but then, I suspect I'm not in the target demographic for this type of service.) Hollywood film makers have argued for years that it should be against the law for anyone to alter an artist's vision by cutting out what some subset of the populace does not want to see.

Web Cams: Corn, Hamsters, Volcanoes & Cardinals

April 18, 2005

I find Web cams strangely enthralling. When Mount St. Helens threatened to blow last year, I periodically logged onto the "Volcano Cam" to see how high the plume of ash and steam was. I even fell for the "Corn Cam" several years ago, when it was chic among Web surfers to log in and see how high the corn in some Iowa farmer's field had gotten that day. (The link is at http://www.iowafarmer.com/corn_cam/┬ but it has not yet been made active this growing season.)┬ My particular favorite was the "Hamster Cam" (located at┬ http://hamstercam.frogtown.com/)┬ which more often than not, allowed you to watch a hamster sleep.

Staying Current With Compliance

April 18, 2005

Compliance is a tricky thing: you do your homework to find the most effective solution for following the scads of federal and state legislation, you implement the solution and then you hope for the best. Call Compliance and TPG TeleManagement have joined forces and created a new audit service, Compliance Testing & Solutions, LLC (CTS). CTS has been created especially for teleservices companies, which bear perhaps the greatest compliance┬ burden in b-to-c business.

The new service offers a kind of third-party verification and┬ covers the compliance gamut: do-not-call lists of all kinds, dialing restrictions/legislation, billing requirements, and internal compliance procedures.

California: The Harbinger Of Identify Theft Disasters

April 15, 2005

There's a great opinion piece in the New York Times today. Editors of the Times point out that were it not for California's law requiring that customers who have their personal information stolen be notified (California is the ONLY STATE IN THE UNION with such a law), no one would have ever known about the stolen data disasters at LexisNexis and ChoicePoint.

The writer calls the California law and the consumers that benefit from it, the "canary in the data mines," a great analogy.

Despite identify theft becoming rampant and producing an estimated $50 billion per year in losses, Federal legislation has been lagging.

Usernames, Passwords, PINs and Secret Handshakes

April 14, 2005

If you're like me, you frequently suffer from password panic. It's a chronic affliction.

I went to pay my Verizon bill online today. When I followed the link from my reminder e-mail, I was asked for my user name and PIN number.

Comcast VoIP: An Extra $10 To Bang My Head Against The Wall

April 14, 2005

Before I muse a little┬ on the news highlighted by┬ Johanne Torres' recent article on TMCnet, "Comcast VoIP Plan Rolls Out in Boston and Hartford, CT," (http://www.tmcnet.com/tmcnet/articles/2005/comcast-voip-digital-voice-boston-hartford.htm), I'll say first that I'm a Comcast customer, by virtue of where my house happens to be,┬ for both cable television and broadband. I've written in the past before about how I┬ find Comcast to be the most customer-service challenged company I've ever had the displeasure to deal with. Each interaction with Comcast takes a year off my life...I'm convinced of it.

Reading Johanne's article this morning, I find that Comcast is ready to offer me VoIP phone service.

Disabling A Browser's "Back" Button

April 12, 2005

There should be a special place in hell for Web developers who disable your "back"┬ button. I'm sure it's happened to you before. You're surfing a Web site, finishing copying down the recipe for garlic-pineapple pickles in aspic, and then attempt to return to the page you were looking at before the craving for garlic-pineapple pickles in aspic assailed you. No go...you're stuck.

Dictaphone Selling Call Recording Business To Nice Systems

April 12, 2005

News this morning tells us that Dictaphone has formally contracted to sign its $38.5 million call recording business over to NICE Systems to allow the company to dedicate more of its resources to its lucrative Healthcare Solutions Group.

The Healthcare Solutions Group provides speech technologies to the broad spectrum of the healthcare industry for dictation, transcription and voice recognition products. Dictaphone's current product line in this market provides speech solutions to over half the hospitals in the U.S.

Dictaphone plans to retain its Integrated Voice Systems and other business units.

Altitude Software IP-enabling Altitude uCI

April 11, 2005

Lisbon, Portugal-based Altitude Software today announced that it plans to launch its first comprehensive "all in one" IP contact center solution, termed the Altitude vBox, later this year. The solution is expected to look like an IP-enabled version of the company's flagship product, Altitude uCI, which is a suite of contact center solutions that offers both inbound and outbound dialling algorithms, call classification, unified supervision, universal queue and intelligent routing. The product, both the traditional version and, one can assume, the IP-enabled vBox, is marketed toward companies that offer customer service, help desk functions,┬ collections, ordering, outbound telemarketing, sales and service and business process management.

I'll post an updated blog when the product is released to the open market.

Feeling Sorry For Convicted Spammers?

April 8, 2005

I didn't think so. Personally, I have fantasies about restrained spammers, a bucket of honey and a hill of particularly cheesed-off fire ants.

Today, a judge in Virginia formally handed down a nine-year sentence to convicted spammer Jeremy Jaynes, a sentence levied on the defendant because he was found guilty of, according to the New York Times,┬ "pumping out at least 10 million e-mails a day with the help of 16 high-speed lines, the kind of Internet capacity a 1,000-employee company would need."

Mr. Jaynes said, upon sentencing, "I can guarantee the court I will not be involved in the e-mail marketing business again."

Peeling The Couch Potato Off The Couch

April 8, 2005

Addicted to your favorite television show? Unable to function without regular updates from your preferred television shows and TV personalities? Fret no further, you'll soon be able to keep abreast on your mobile phones. The entertainment industry, slavering over the seemingly weekly new entrant of alternative forms of media into the market, is giving birth to the concept of "mobisodes," minute-long teasers and snippets of your favorite shows, delivered to your wireless device.

Sendia Improves Wireless Delivery Of Salesforce.com

April 6, 2005

Wireless platform company Sendia announced today its release of Wireless SFA 2.0, the company's product that allows for the use of the enormously popular Salesforce.com┬ on handheld devices such as the BlackBerry and Treo smartphones. Version 2.0 was built with deeper integration between the contacts on the various devices and Salesforce.com's contacts, allowing more seamless instant messaging and e-mailing to contacts stored in both places. The company also polished the way the sales activity alerts are delivered, allowing for more customization for different users. Release is below.

"A Symphony In Splinters"

April 5, 2005

Speaking of the license news organizations (TMC included, see piece about Rich Tehrani joining the president's cabinet) are allowed to take on April 1st, I've just found the crowning achievement.┬ Even better than┬ Yahoo UK's story about changing all the "racist and sexist place names" in the UK (at least...I hope it was a joke: see for yourself: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/050401/17/ffg2g.html) is a piece presented by National Public Radio (NPR) on Friday during its program "All Things Considered."

Though labelled an April Fool's joke now, the piece was presented as dead serious. The gist of it was that, due to the popularity of Atkins dieting, the world demand for maple syrup from Vermont producers is at an all-time low. According to the story, untapped maple trees are dangerous...they have a tendency to explode, resulting in injuries and deaths, including decapitations.

A Vindication For Home Agent Programs

April 4, 2005

Bad news for the airline industry today, though the news is not news to anyone who flies. Airline service has worsened since last year.┬ The National Airline Quality Rating┬ Study,┬ conducted by the University of Nebraska, has found that overall quality scores have dipped again from the previous year's statistics (which were nothing to boast about). Ratings are based on on-time rates, baggage losses and customer complaints.

The good news for JetBlue, however, is significant: they're number one.

Happy Cheese Weasel Day

April 4, 2005

What is Cheese Weasel Day, you might ask? Each April 3rd (yes, it was yesterday, but yesterday was Sunday) is Cheese Weasel Day, an invented holiday (as opposed to Groundhog Day, which has some vague, shadowy historical roots). Each April 3rd, the Cheese Weasel -- and I'm not making this up -- visits every IT person on the planet and leaves a slice of cheese under his or her mouse. I suggest checking under yours...if you missed it, best to┬ catch it now rather than three weeks from now.

In Other News, The Newest Dance Craze Is "The Twist"

April 1, 2005

Do you ever get the impression that the federal government does not operate anywhere near the realm of the real world? I do...regularly...every time I visit a government office and find that the workers there consider themselves "harassed and overworked" when their three-times-daily coffee breaks are cut short by 30 seconds or someone asks them to do TWO things that day.

To further this well-deserved reputation, it appears the federal government recently announced it has finished a research project, assigned by Congress,┬ about Internet traffic. Problem is, the report was ordered in 1998 and expected to take just over a year. If the report was about methods of poulty breeding, for example, its lateness might not be so silly.

Does It Bother You That Amazon Knows Who You Are?

April 1, 2005

If you're a regular user of Amazon or online other book/DVD retailers, it's no secret that they know who you are (see Associate Press story below). Though I'm a bit of an online privacy advocate, the practices of Amazon or Netflix (both of which I am a regular user) have never bothered me. I've actually purchased books and CDs┬ that Amazon has recommended to me. Amazon knows I like British costume dramas, science fiction and epic fantasy novels, Jethro Tull and late medieval/early Baroque classical music.

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