| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

July 2008

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End of the Line for Toll-Free Numbers?

July 31, 2008

Today is the 'last run' for the toll-free number connecting New Jersey Transit, the third largest transit agency in the US, with its customers.

Could this be the beginning of the end for toll-free numbers in North America?

NJ Transit has since June been switching callers from 800-772-2222 to 973-275-5555. When you call the toll free number today you will get a recorded message asking you to call the 973 number And according to an opinion piece in the July 22 Cherry Hill (NJ) Courier-Post, after July 31, there will no longer be any message at the 1-800 number.

Bell Dings

July 28, 2008

Communications giant Bell Canada does not get often get much praise by consumers, telco professionals, and the media in its "home and native land".

This traditional of the traditional telcos has plodded behind the cable companies and others in offering competitive pricing and new services like residential IP and sometimes indifferent service. Not surprisingly, more consumers have let the old TDM-carrying copper wires go dead and instead are plugging into coaxial cable or go wireless altogether--including with firms other than Bell.

Bell, and some of its other communications counterparts have been ripped into by consumer advocates for their decision to charge for inbound text messages, including spam. Two Quebec residents, one a Bell customer, and the other a Telus subscriber, have just launched a lawsuit against the two carriers.

After-Hours Calls: the Next Speech Rec Killer App Opportunity?

July 24, 2008

Speech recognition-enabled automated voice solutions work best with heavily scripted interactions that leave little room for interpretation e.g. finding the right service, obtaining credit card balances, and ordering a movie.

For that reason more of these kinds of basic transactions are going automated with speech rec because they are relatively easy to do while permitting operating cost savings.

There are now so many firms and organizations that have deployed speech rec on their customer interaction front ends that these applications have taught us how to speak to the computers i.e.

IT Expo West--and IP--is Hot!

July 21, 2008

Forget about the economic cooldown: the IP solutions market is hot!

As proof, Rich Tehrani reports in his blog that over 90 percent of booth space at Internet Telephony Conference and Expo West (IT Expo) http://www.tmcnet.com/voip/conference/, which is being held Sept.16-18 in Los Angeles is sold out.


Few other technologies have the ability to deliver both cost savings and quality service as the IP-enabled applications and tools, which now support nearly every facet of contact center operations: from routing to recording, to CRM, and to linking home-based agents.

If you are a contact center executive you will find a strong ROI from attending IT Expo even with higher airfares and gas costs, You will pick up insights from a great roster of speakers and from finding out firsthand about IP-enabled products and services from exhibitors.

A green contact center and CRM opportunity...

July 21, 2008

Want to 'drive' in more shoppers to your contact center and/or website? Get out the word that calling or going online saves gas (and saves the earth) compared with driving to the stores. Make sure you offer free shipping, and for added incentive, price your items less online or by phone.

The New York Times ran an excellent article July 19 on how high gas prices are turning in-store shoppers into virtual buyers.

The saga of Talisma's RR proposal

July 18, 2008

When companies want to influence public policy they generally do it behind the scenes, either one-on-one between execs and officials or through trade organizations, unless the matter is very important and directly impacts their economic interests.

So it is with surprise that last year that I discovered that CRM/contact center solutions vendor Talisma was involved, through its VP of Corporate and Channel marketing Jim O'Farrell, in an effort to save and revitalize a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad line on the east side of Lake Washington, on the west side of which is Seattle. Yes, this is Microsoft country...The rail line's last major customer was the Spirit of Washington wine/dine train.

BNSF had wanted to rip up the rail line and King County wanted to buy it to convert it to a bike trail that would not carry anywhere near the amount of commuters, nor could it accommodate those with packages, the aging, and the disabled and of course not carry freight.

Convergys and Intervoice: Blurring The Lines?

July 16, 2008

Having worked for a teleservices firm as well as having covered/covering this industry I completely understand the rationale behind Convergys's acquisition of Intervoice. The app/platform firm provides a great and innovative set of solutions, a strong customer base, and revenues. There is also, as Reuters cites Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal, 'marginal overlap of products and customers.'

This last rationale is key. To survive outsourcing firms need new revenue streams because the margins on providing contact center services, which have always been tight, are being corseted even further.

There's No Place Like Home For Contact Centers

July 15, 2008

There really is no better place than home, and that goes for contact centers, defined as the functions they provide rather than the employer-provided physical spaces they occupy.

Home-based agents are where contact centers are going. They provide a high-quality, very productive, and loyal workforce that is less costly to support than agents working in traditional offices. Home agents dovetail into CRM strategies by handling the more complex calls--the simpler ones had been taken care of by self-service solutions--and by serving your best customers.

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