| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

February 2007

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ClientLogic/Sitel To Become Sitel

February 28, 2007

In a follow up to the recent announcement of the merger of ClientLogic and Sitel, two large outsourced call center/teleservices providers, the merged company announced today that upon completion of the transaction, the entity will go by the name Sitel.

"This merger was not about combining two great companies to form one large company," said Dave Garner, president and CEO of the new Sitel. "The merger was about taking two great companies and creating the best. The new Sitel will set the industry standard for outsourced customer care and redefine what it means to be an outsourcing partner."

For more specific information about the merger, visit www.sitel.com/brandlaunch


Annoyed Germans, Irritated Brits

February 28, 2007

Sounds like an episode of "Fawlty Towers," doesn't it?

A recent survey conducted by GMI and commissioned by European IP communications provider Wicom Communications found cultural differences in end user attitudes towards and experiences with call centers in the UK and Germany. The survey was conducted this month (February, 2007) among 1,000 end users in Germany and the UK.

When asked for the motive/reasons behind calls to customer support centers, answers across both countries were consistent. Around 73 percent of respondents in both countries contacted a call center typically for general inquiries. "It may be a cliché, however the results reflect some of the cultural differences between the two countries.

Technology & Narcissism

February 27, 2007

Think about it...MySpace and YouTube. Not "OurSpace" and "WeTube". Me, me, me.

A study that has been regularly conducted by San Diego State University has found that in 2006, college students are more narcissistic and self-involved than every before...two-thirds of them think they're wonderful and the world ought to revolve around them.

While the study shows media such as MySpace and YouTube to be a symptom, not a cause, of the problem, it is indicative that somewhere along the way, the "Free To Be You and Me" movement of the 60s and 70s that was meant to build self-esteem in children has over time morphed into an alarming overdose in self-esteem and a rise in a "F*ck You, I'm Special And You're Not" generation.

But think about the technologies...iPods mean we can pick the music we want to listen to and never have to be exposed to anything we don't...in the way listening to the radio or sharing a family stereo meant you had to put up with other people's musical choices for part of the time. The vast array of Internet news (and increasingly polarized network news) means we can listen to current affairs information skewed in the political direction of our choice without ever having to be bothered by views from the other side or uncomfortable realities we don't like.

Entellium Ranks High For CRM

February 26, 2007

CRM provider Entellium announced today that it was among the select group of companies that Forrester Research invited to participate in its Q1 2007 Forrester Wave report, Midmarket CRM Suites. In this review, Entellium was recognized as a strong performer, offering small and midsized businesses “ready-to-use, affordable CRM.”

Forrester evaluated several midmarket CRM vendors using nearly 500 criteria grouped into three main categories: current offering, strategy and market presence. Entellium earned the highest scores for cost and time-to-value, as well as one of the top three scores for product strategy, corporate strategy and usability.

To read more about Entellium, visit www.entellium.com.


Product Release Timing

February 26, 2007

To tech editors, mid-to-late February becomes fodder for a horror movie. The phone never stops ringing, the e-mails pour in, and the briefing requests come in faster than our Outlook calendars (or editors' brains) can handle them.

Contrast this to mid-January: this is a time when tech editors are desperately writing up and posting any news, no matter how slight ("CRM Software Provider Moves Location Of 'Open Here' Instructions On Product Packaging!") out of sheer desperation. Why is the news so slow then? Because no one is announcing any new products.

Woman Power In Tech

February 23, 2007

One of the most prestigious prizes in computing, the $100,000 Turing Award, went to a woman Wednesday for the first time in the award's 40-year history. Frances E. Allen, 74, was honored for her work at IBM Corp. on techniques for optimizing the performance of compilers, the programs that translate one computer language into another.


Good for Frances...nice to see some double-X chromosomes being recognized in such a male-dominated industry.


Forrester Says Oracle/Siebel CRM Tops

February 22, 2007

Congratulations to Oracle. Analyst group Forrester Research has recognized Oracle’s Siebel CRM Professional Edition as "having the strongest current offering in the latest Forrester Wave Evaluation: Midmarket CRM Suites, Q1 February 2007." Forrester also named Oracle’s Siebel CRM On Demand as the industry leader.

Check out the full report at: http://www.oracle.com/corporate/press/2007_feb/oraclecrmondemandforresterfeb07.html


Suing Telemarketers

February 21, 2007

The Red Tape Chronicles blog on MSNBC has an interesting piece about how online court forms have made it easy, cheap and quick for consumers to file lawsuits...and win settlements...against telemarketers violating elements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. One of the most common grievances is against companies that fail to stop calling consumers after being specifically requested to do so.

The full article is here: http://redtape.msnbc.com/2007/02/suing_telemarke.html


Convergys CEO To Retire

February 20, 2007

James F. Orr, Chairman and CEO of giant outsourced call center services provider Convergys Corporation, today announced that he plans to retire at the end of 2007. In anticipation of Orr’s retirement, the company's Board of Directors today elected David F. Dougherty, currently President and COO, to become President and Chief Executive Officer effective at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, April 17, 2007.

Happy retirement, Mr. Orr.


E-Mail Addictions

February 20, 2007

Are you addicted to e-mail? Do you hit F-5 once a minute? Do you get the shakes if you've been away from your BlackBerry for longer than 10 minutes? Have you ever found yourself checking e-mail at movies, family dinners, in the middle of the night or during sex?

If so, it may be time to embark on the 12 steps, and the first step, as always, is to admit you have a problem.

See CNN's article today: http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/internet/02/20/email.addiction.reut/index.html


Call Centers Prefer Unified Solutions

February 14, 2007

Recently released research by Purdue University's BenchmarkPortal has revealed that call centers tend to prefer "all-in-one" contact center solutions that serve all (or most) of a call center's needs rather than a mix of point solutions from different vendors.

Integration was identified as the most critical condition behind this preference: all-in-one systems were preferred over point solutions based on their ability to support additional applications with virtually no modification or integration issues, and for their ability to "lower administrative costs by reducing support staff by a full 25 percent."

“Our findings show that, in general, all-in-one communications systems contain the same core ‘best-of-breed’ applications required by contact centers as their multi-point counterparts, and that they come with the advantages of fewer interfaces, lower support requirements, simplified management, and easier access to performance data across applications,” said BenchmarkPortal research analyst, Bruce Belfiore.

Another interesting result of the Benchmark Portal survey was that the three applications call centers are most likely to implement over the next year are post call surveys, Web chat and multimedia queuing.

To read more in-depth about the survey, visit www.benchmarkportal.com.


ID Theft Is All In The Family

February 13, 2007

Consultant organization Mintel has conducted a study that indicates that close to 70 percent of consumers surveyed are either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that their credit or debit card information will be stolen if they make purchases on the Internet (http://tinyurl.com/35fapm).

More than one third of respondents to Mintel's survey perceive the Internet as the medium most likely to result in ID theft. Twenty-eight percent who claim mail theft is most common and one fifth blame credit card receipts. In contrast with these perceptions, the 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by the Council of Better Business Bureaus/Javelin revealed that more than 60 percent of fraud actually occurred at the hands of friends, family neighbors and through other means than Internet purchasing.

In other words, forget Amazon or eBay and take a good long look at your loser cousin Bob who was rifling through your garbage last week because he said he'd dropped a rare collector's beer cap in there.


Interactive Intelligence's Record Results

February 12, 2007

In a familiar theme these past few weeks, Interactive Intelligence today announced record financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2006.

The company reported record total revenues in the 2006 fourth quarter of $23.9 million, a 36 percent increase from $17.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. Revenues for the 2006 fiscal year totaled a record $83.2 million, up 32 percent from $62.9 million in 2005.

Many companies in the call center space have reported record results in the last few weeks. It  warms the heart (well, a call center editor's heart, anyway) to hear such good news.

To read the full details, visit Interactive Intelligence's Web site at www.inin.com.


Verint & Witness To Merge

February 12, 2007

Analytics provider Verint and workforce optimization leader Witness this morning announced that the two companies will merge. The two companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verint will acquire Witness for $27.50 per share in cash. The convergence of Witness’ workforce optimization and Verint’s actionable intelligence will create a broad portfolio of contact center and enterprise performance solutions, delivering a compelling new vision for the customer-centric enterprise.

Stay tuned for more in-depth info later in the day.


Gmail's Cool Factor

February 8, 2007

TMCnet's Raju Shanbhag posted an article today about Gmail becoming accessible to all as Google removes the "invitation only" stipulation from it.

(See the article at http://www.tmcnet.com/ce/articles/4970-gmail-now-open-all.htm)

Does anybody remember the very earliest days of Gmail when having an account was worthy of bragging rights during cocktail happy hours after work? The cool factor lasted about as long as it took to finish the blood orange martini, if I recall. Then, you discovered your mother had a Gmail account, and it was all over.


Teleperformance Reports Strong Growth

February 7, 2007

I've received a flood of press releases lately from companies, both call center solutions providers and teleservices companies, reporting record profits or, at the least, powerful growth. French teleservices giant Teleperformance issued a release today indicating stronger-than-expected organic growth.

The Teleperformance Group, which has call center facilities all over the world, reported that 2006 consolidated revenues, based on published data, were €1,385.2 million versus €1,195.9 million in 2005, increasing by 15.8 percent.

For more detailed info about the financial numbers, visit www.teleperformance.com.



Enkata Reports Strong Growth

February 6, 2007

Enkata, which sells on-demand "performance and talent management" solutions, reported today that the company experienced a record year in 2006. This is good for Enkata, but such news is also a good portent for the market segment it represents.

Said Enkata, "Performance and talent management is one of the fastest-growing software categories. Its rapid growth has been driven by management desire to increase the productivity and morale of their employees. Enkata’s solutions help contact center and back-office managers unleash employee potential by automating daily/ weekly performance assessments and improving coaching effectiveness."

For more info about Enkata, visit www.enkata.com.


Web Anti-Fraud Measure Ineffective

February 5, 2007

An article in the New York Times today discusses a recent study by MIT and Harvard that examines the efficacy of the technology called site-authentication images.  (If you do online banking, you may be familiar with this technology. You are asked to choose an image, and create a phrase that goes along with the image, and you are advised not to proceed with your online transaction unless you see both the image and the phrase when you log in.)

As it turns out, there's actually nothing wrong with the technology itself, it's merely that users tend to disregard the directives. During the course of the study, 58 out of 60 users logged into their accounts anyway, though they did not see their picture and phrase.

Groundhog Fails To See Shadow

February 2, 2007

Famed weather prognosticator (hey...his track record is no worse than the guys on network TV) Punxsutawney Phil failed, for the first time since 1999, to see his shadow this morning, thereby offering a prediction of an early spring. (We got that already...it was called the early winter...my crocuses started coming up in December.)

But every good prediction needs corroboration, so it's good to know that two Canadian prognosticators, also both of the Marmota monax genus and species, Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam of Nova Scotia, also failed to see their shadows.

That's a consensus. Almost time to get the blender and margarita mix out.


Vista's Speech Rec Troubles?

February 1, 2007

Microsoft has admitted that it could be "technically possible" (though unlikely) for Vista's speech recognition capabilities to be maliciously used.

The scenario envisioned involves malicious e-mails or audio on Web sites telling the OS to "delete" or otherwise alter a user's files against the user's wishes.

Microsoft has said that the possibility is remote, however:

"The exploit scenario would involve the speech recognition feature picking up commands through the microphone such as 'copy', 'delete', 'shutdown', etc. and acting on them," blogged a Microsoft security researcher. The blogger added that it would require a perfect alignment of circumstances: the user not being in the room to hear the audio, the microphone and speakers being turned on, the microphone being aligned just right and the clarity of the audio being perfect.


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