| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

January 2008

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Agents And I.D. Theft

January 31, 2008

When the topic of customer data privacy comes up, there is a lot to talk about. Encryption, standards, firewalls, software, monitoring...and it's all great.

The problem is, most of it fails to address the most common origination of customer identity theft: the call center agent who walks out the door at the end of his shift with a list of social security and/or credit card numbers.

As you'll see in this story, a former TeleTech employee was recently convicted of using customer information to open accounts in others' names and changing the address to his own, allowing him to have merchandise sent to himself.

Many companies nowadays are trying to combat this kind of identity theft by allowing no paper whatsoever in the call center (notepads can be used to jot down customer information), and allowing agents no access to personal e-mail so they cannot cut and paste information into an e-mail and send it to themselves.

Some companies are even offering solutions for call centers who take credit card information over the phone: the agent is required to transfer the customer into an IVR, which takes the credit card information and processes it automatically. The agent never hears the credit card information.

One doesn't like to think one's employees could be thieves, but let's face it: there are thieves in every profession, and pretending that you have none in your organization is wishful thinking.


Is Your Call Center Ready?

January 31, 2008

According to holiday numbers for 2006/2007 (not this previous holiday season) released by the National Retail Federation, brick and mortar holiday retail growth was just three percent. Online sales, however, grew 19 percent.

According to researchers the e-tailing group, which recently released its 10th Annual Mystery Shopping Study and measured over 200 metrics on 100 consumer e-commerce sites in the fourth quarter of 2007, there has been both an increased presence and better execution of features that either deliver a richer, more robust experience and technologies that enable faster, more efficient shopping.

As more and more people who have never lived before the Internet age become consumers with good disposable income, shoppers' expectations for sterling online shopping experience is going to rise. This means well-designed Web sites with Web 2.0 technologies are a MUST, as is multichannel customer service that makes shoppers think, "Wow."

Offshore Coming Back Onshore

January 30, 2008

InfoCision Management Corp.'s VP Steve Brubaker wrote to me this morning letting me know about a piece he'd seen on MSNBC this morning about offshore call center work coming back to U.S. shores for quality reasons.

Steve wrote, "We are experiencing the same as several new high profile Fortune 100 clients are now using InfoCision to handle their calls in USA with high quality results.  These companies have told us they have become disillusioned with the offshore model as the expected ROI has not materialized and poor quality has significantly hurt their customer satisfaction rates."

Unfortunately, I missed the piece. Does anyone know if it's archived anywhere? If so, please let me know.


The Year Of the Home Agent

January 29, 2008

OK, you may have noticed that I write about home agents. A lot. You're probably thinking, "Sounds great, but does anyone actually do it, aside from a few high-profile companies?"

I was starting to wonder the same thing myself.

You see, every year, I am responsible for tabulating the Customer Interaction Solutions Top 50 Teleservices Agencies Rankings. On the application, we ask about the number of home agents a company has.

For the past several years, while I was busy extolling the virtues of the home agent model, the number of companies acknowledging home agents was depressingly small.


January 28, 2008

I'm using a new anti-spam solution called Sendio I.C.E. (Intercept, Confirm or Eliminate) and I'm fairly impressed so far. I had to do something. I was getting literally thousands of spams per week. I no longer check the "bulk/virus" folder of the product to make sure there aren't false-positives (legitimate e-mails) in there, since I have yet to find a single misidentified e-mail. The junk builds up and then self-deletes after a certain amount of time, and I never sully my eye-balls with it!

For a more in-depth review, check out Tom Keating's blog at http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/linux/sendio-ice-box-antispam-appliance-review.asp

I'm not the only one at TMC who likes it!


Bigfoot On Mars

January 25, 2008

OK, is it just me, or does anyone think that the figure in the photo many conspiracy theorists are touting as proof of life on Mars (see photo here) bears extraordinary resemblance to the purported photos of Bigfoot (see here)?

Proof of Bigfoot on Mars?


Charter Deletes 14,000 Inboxes

January 24, 2008

If you are a Charter Cable customer and stored photos, recipes, contact information and other valuable information in your e-mail inbox, you may find some tough luck this week: a technical glitch has irretrievably deleted the inbox contents of 14,000 Charter subscribers.



Cell phone jail

January 24, 2008

Loved this piece written by MSNBC's Tech Editor Bob Sullivan about the efforts American wireless companies have expended locking their customers into "cell phone jail." Why, in a country that is ostensibly proud to be a free market economy, do we put up with this?

There's some interesting information in the article about the rather sleazy practices the wireless companies have developed to keep customers locked up, which companies are better than others, and how you can get around some of those practices. (Did you know you don't HAVE to put up with a cell phone that is locked to only one carrier? I didn't.)



January 23, 2008

Here's a first look at Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo design.

Anyone else think it looks like a cross between an electric toothbrush and a Tie-fighter?

Self-Regulation Is The Answer

January 23, 2008

The time has come (the Walrus said), for a little self-regulation. This is the message that the American Teleservices Association (ATA) is offering to any company that does outbound communications. The conventional wisdom is that if outbound organizations don't regulate themselves, the government will, and the results will be much stricter than guidelines crafted by the industry.

This is the message that will be shared at the annual ATA Washington Summit in late April, which is accepting registration now.

To find out how you can help with crafting the legislation (and not just responding to it, as the ATA says), visit the event's Web site.


When Open-Source Isn't Open

January 22, 2008

In doing a little research today for a potential article I'm mulling over, I ran across this piece by Michael Tiemann on the Open Source Initiative's Web site (click here to see entry). The piece points out that many solutions on the market today, many of those in the CRM arena, that claim to be open-source are not, in fact, and that the term "open source" has become an abused buzzword by corporate marketing departments.

True open-source, he points out, should be defined by the open-source community, not by marketers. In fact, true open-source should be approved by the Open Source Initiative, as the organization was the one to initially define the term.

He indicates that Microsoft has been more honest in their approach by using the term "shared source" for some of its solutions.

It's true that the term is increasingly used without question under the enterprise business trade umbrella, and perhaps we all have to take a little more care that we're not using terms without fully understanding what they mean and recognize that this can harm the real thing.


$50 Billion Online Ad Market

January 18, 2008

Funny how time flies. It seems that not very long ago (OK...10 years ago, which still isn't VERY long ago), we were deriding the concept of online advertising as naive. Who would advertise online, we wondered, other than those dubious shady people operating in the porn industry?

Pay-for-content was the way things were going to go. Well, here we are, just a few weeks after the New York Times, the last hold-out of pay-for-premium content, gave up that particular ghost, and we get the news that the online advertising market is being predicted to reach $50 billion by 2011.

There's a reason why people are queasy about predicting which technologies are going to fly and which ones are going to die.

TMCnet's Call Center Credentials

January 15, 2008

What is Quantcast? It's essentially a team of Web analytics experts who work to help companies understand their U.S.-based Web audiences for the purpose of marketing and advertising. Why is this important? Because a Quantcast study has revealed that when it comes to call center content, TMCnet not only reaches more call center prospects than any other site, but has 23 times more reach than the next 10 call center sites combined.

Power of Direct Marketing

January 15, 2008

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) this week announced publication of its newest title, "The Power of Direct Marketing: ROI, Sales, Expenditures, and Employment in the US." The book was written to provide readers with comprehensive analyses and forecasts from the DMA/Global Insight economic model on the impact of direct marketing across all industries and sectors of the economy. It's a helpful read for companies looking to position their products, develop product marketing strategies and allocate budgets.

For more info, visit www.the-dma.org/bookstore.


Teleperformance USA Renews First Client

January 11, 2008

Teleperformance USA today revealed that its very first client, a major U.S. telecom provider, has renegotiated its original contract with the company, in an impressive show of loyalty to the company, for an additional three-year period.

Teleperformance USA will continue offering customer care, technical support and customer growth for the (unidentified) customer.

For more info about Teleperformance, visit its Web site at www.teleperformance.com.

Online Bill Payment

January 8, 2008

I pay most of my bills online. It's convenient, fast and saves a stamp. I'm pleased that many companies finally started seeing the light in that online bill payment benefits them. Up until very recently, many companies fixed a surcharge on online bill payments/electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Companies Expect IT Projects To Fail

January 3, 2008

A new study done by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) revealed some eyebrow-raising stats on the success (or lack thereof) of IT services projects.

According to TCS’ first annual survey on IT services delivery:

62 percent of organizations experienced IT projects that failed to meet their schedules; 49 percent suffered from budget overruns; 47 percent had higher-than-expected maintenance costs; and 41 percent failed to deliver the expected business value and ROI. The most depressing stat was that, "43 percent of IT managers say that their organizations’ business managers and the board simply accept problems as a necessary evil."

I smell opportunities for forward-thinking IT service delivery providers.

Check out the full summary on TCS's Web site: http://www.tcs.com/AboutUs/Research_survey.html


The Hispanic Marketplace

January 2, 2008

According to a new study called Reaching the US Hispanic Market: Consumer Attitudes and Buying Behavior commissioned by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association), the U.S. has the fifth-largest Spanish speaking population in the world.

The report also highlights some interesting facts about this potential market:
  • Major cities in the Southern U.S. have seen the most dramatic Hispanic population growth;
  • Over one-third of Hispanic households earn over $50,000 per year; and
  • Hispanic-American's purchasing power currently exceeds $700 billion and is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2008.
It's starting to become apparent that if you (as a call center) are not catering to your Spanish-speaking customers just as well as you are catering to your English-speaking customers (and keep in mind the two populaces may have different needs and preferences), you are killing a great deal of sales potential for your organization.

You can find out more about the new report at www.the-dma.org/bookstore


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