| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

January 2007

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Dell CEO Resigns

January 31, 2007

PC maker Dell said on Wednesday that founder and Chairman Michael Dell would become chief executive, effective immediately, replacing former CEO Kevin Rollins.

It's not hard to imagine the reasons behind such an event...Dell has admitted that its fiscal fourth-quarter results would be below less than hoped for.

See CNN's full report for more info: http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/31/technology/dell.reut/


Hosted Speech Takes Off

January 31, 2007

During the first few years of speech applications for the call center, we all admired them great...from afar. Few companies (with the exception of large rich organizations like banks and airlines) could afford them, or had the manpower to administer them.

That's why speech solutions have mixed so well with the on-demand delivery model. Costs, complexity and the sheer "fear factor" of speech can be greatly reduced...by keeping the headaches on someone else's doorstep while still being able to reap the benefits.

Speech solutions provider Fluency Voice (www.fluencyvoice.com) announced today that it is experiencing great demand for the hosted (on-demand) version of its speech recognition solution as well as its traditional on- premise version.  During the last three quarters alone, Fluency states that it has seen an 81 percent growth in sales of its Virtual Speech Agent (VSA) Suite solution delivered as an on-demand service compared with the same period in 2006.

Colds In The Workplace

January 30, 2007

An article in the Washington Post today repeats that old "common cold costs money to the workplace" mantra by stating that, "An estimated $40 billion each year, according to a 2003 economic analysis by the University of Michigan for both direct and indirect costs for medical treatment and lost work time. As the researchers noted, that's a higher economic burden than some more-serious conditions impose."

The common cold has been with the human race longer than fire and poking things with sticks. So why do we presume there is such a thing as a "cold-free" human race, and chalk up "lost work time" to it, as if there is such an attainable state as a cold-free workplace?

How can a thus-far unpreventable activity (suffering from a cold) built into the human race be "costing" us anything?

Customer Service Madness

January 29, 2007

Here's a little personal anecdote I just had to share:

I'm switching health insurance companies as of February 1st. When I completed the paperwork, I indicated my primary care physician's name and address on the forms. The health insurance company sent me a letter, correctly identifying my primary care physician by name, but indicated that before they could activate my account, they had to know his ID number.

That would be the ID number that the insurance company assigned to him.

They're asking ME for it.

Because apparently, I know better than they do what provider number they assigned to my doctor.

I looked up the number...on their Web site, mind you...and called their call center.

To give them the number.

Their number that they assigned to my doctor.

Next week, I'm going to anticipate a call from my bank asking me what their check clearing policies are. I'll be sure to keep a copy of the bank's customer service manual around so I can tell them when they ask.

It's enough to make you wonder whether anyone in Corporate America has even half a brain turned on nowadays.


Post-Mortem Service Charges?

January 29, 2007

A friend sent this e-mail to me today. I have no idea if it's true or just one of the many frequently circulated urban legends that strike a chord in all of us. But knowing what I know about many companies' customer service policies, I can believe that somewhere, some time...it just might have happened.

An elderly lady died in January last year, and a large financial services/credit card company billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, after the fees were added, it totaled about $60.00.

A family member placed a call to the bank.

Interview With The Hacker

January 26, 2007

Slyck News ran an interesting (and anonymous, for obvious reasons) interview with an individual who recently cracked the content protection on high definition DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. The individual, who calls himself muslix64, states that the process took him about eight days. When asked what label he would give himself (hacker, pirate, etc.), he replied, " I'm just an upset customer. My efforts can be called 'fair use enforcement'!"

The full interview can be viewed here: http://www.slyck.com/story1390.html


Voxify Announces New CEO; Chairman Of The Board

January 26, 2007

This week, speech technology provider Voxify announced that John Gengarella has joined the company as President and CEO.  According to the company, Gengarella brings with him "over two decades of technology leadership and visionary business practices with highly successful enterprise software businesses to lead Voxify through its current stage of aggressive growth." He is a former Siebel/Oracle CRM executive.

Voxify also announced that Carol Snell has been appointed to the position of Chairman of the Board of the company. Snell is, according to the release, "an accomplished entrepreneur and CEO bringing more than three decades of executive management, operations, sales and marketing experience to this key role at Voxify."  Prior to this appointment, Snell served as an active member of the Voxify Board of Directors since joining in 2002.

Visit Voxify's Web site at www.voxify.com.


New Facilities For Convergys

January 25, 2007

Teleservices giant Convergys Corp. today announced it will open new facilities in Kentucky and Texas as part of a plan to increase capacity for its Customer Care business. The two new customer care centers are in addition to the previously announced Albuquerque, New Mexico facility Convergys acquired in December.

In the first quarter of 2007, Convergys expects to open a new 600-agent contact center in Erlanger, Kentucky, in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. The company also plans to open a contact center in Longview, Texas in the second quarter of 2007 with approximately 550 employees.

Hiring has begun for both contact centers. Interested parties should visit www.convergys.greatjob.net for details.


Entellium Honored By Frost & Sullivan

January 24, 2007

CRM provider Entellium (www.entellium.com) issued a release today announcing it has won Frost & Sullivan’s 2006 Customer Value Enhancement Award. This particular award recognizes companies that best demonstrate an ability to expand its customer base and nurture its existing base while using "innovative value-creation and enhancement strategies."

Said Entellium CEO Paul Johnston, “We are delighted to be recognized by Frost & Sullivan in this category. It’s long been our aim to bring value to our customers in the form of increasingly robust and user-friendly products as well as industry-leading customer service. This award confirms that we are on the right track. We are determined to meet our customers’ highest expectations today and in the future.”

Congratulations to Entellium.


Targus Expects Strong Growth For 2007

January 22, 2007

TARGUSinfo, which provides both lists and what it calls on-demand lead verification, today issued a release that the company "anticipates another year of 'meteoric gains' for the affiliate marketing industry and is poised to help these companies with a solution that scales easily with their explosive growth."


Overall Internet advertising is expected to grow by 13.4 percent in 2007, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and affiliate marketing – the generation of sales and leads through advertising on others’ sites – is positioned to take on an even larger role within the expansion of the overall advertising market.

“I think we can expect another year of meteoric gains for affiliate marketing,” says Shawn Collins, the co-founder of the Affiliate Summit and one of the industry’s foremost experts. Collins also notes that 2005-06 holiday spending growth was 26 percent, and he expects affiliate programs to also increase with this uptick.

“The biggest challenge in the coming year for affiliate marketing is for the positive forces in the industry to dispose of the garbage in the space, including using better lead verification from the likes of TARGUSinfo,” Collins says.

Teleperformance Makes German Acquisition

January 19, 2007

Teleperformance SA and United Internet AG have signed a share purchase agreement relating to the acquisition by Teleperformance of 100 percent of the shares of twenty4help Knowledge Service AG, a European provider of technical support and help desk services.

twenty4help is the current European leading company in technical support and help desk with a consolidated turnover of more than 100 million euros. The company operates in European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic and offers technical support in 22 languages.

At the closing date, the acquisition will be paid in cash by Teleperformance for a consideration of approx 85 million euros. According to Teleperformance, the operation is the first step of its 2007 external growth plan.

Web Site Security

January 18, 2007

Anyone ever had this happen before? This is new to me.

At lunchtime, I visited Citibank's Citicards Web site to check my balance and see if my Vonage and NetFlix charges were posted yet, so I can pay my card balance off.

The moment I arrived on Citicard's Web site, however, Firefox (my browser) popped a message on me that it had been reported that the site was being hijacked by fraudsters, and warned me not to enter any personal information (user name and password) onto the site, because it could be used by criminals. I retried three times and received the same message each time before I gave up. This afternoon, the message was gone and I was able to successfully log in to my account.

I'm not sure if the problem was truly with the CitiCard site, or whether it was Firefox being overzealous.

New GM for Onyx

January 17, 2007

M2M Holdings Inc. today made an announcement that Pete Strom will join the company to become the general manager of Onyx Software Corporation, a business unit of M2M Holdings Inc. Onyx is a CRM and process management software provider that caters to for mid-sized and large enterprises. Strom will take over for Acting General Manager Tom Millay, who will return to his previous role as vice president of sales and marketing for M2M Holdings.

For more info about the appointment, visit www.onyx.com.


Mercado Improves E-Commerce

January 16, 2007

E-merchandising company Mercado today announced the launch of Mercado 4.0 – a solution the company is positioning as a "new generation of intelligent e-Commerce." According to the company, version 4.0 combines the best site search and navigation technologies with sophisticated merchandising and actionable reporting. It can provides e-commerce merchandising managers with the knowledge, tools and control that they need to immediately obtain maximum return on their online retail site.

Merchandising managers can deploy auto-ranking formulas that self optimize product ranking according to dynamic metrics such as inventory levels, conversion rates and product freshness. Mercado 4.0 automates the process of aggregating and analyzing data and affecting changes to e-commerce site behavior, helping save time and ensuring information is acted on according to a company’s formulas and merchandising campaigns.

Technology's Watchful Eye

January 16, 2007

There's a rather frightening article in the Washington Post today about how often the average person is tracked, recorded, identified and photographed during the average day. It shouldn't be scary...after all, we all know these technologies exist, and where those data go, but when you put them all together, it forms a picture better suited to the kind of dystopia portrayed in "1984" or "Blade Runner".

My only real solace is that, after dealing with consumer companies and the government for so long, I suspect that few of the organizations that keep this information are competent enough to actually use it properly.

I hope.

Here's the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/15/AR2007011501304.html


Executive Pay Lunacy

January 3, 2007

Did you read about the resignation of Home Depot's CEO, Robert Nardelli today? It appears that activist shareholders are being pesky and want to know why Home Depot sends all its profits home in ridiculous levels of executive pay while stock prices are flagging. So...to quell those ludicrous executive pay accusations, the company is letting Nardelli walk with essentially $210 million dollars. The New York Times reports that, "Under an agreement with the company, Mr. Nardelli will receive a severance payment of about $210 million, an amount that includes cash, the acceleration of unvested stock awards and options, bonus payments and incentive awards and various benefit programs.
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