First Coffee for December 1, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for December 1, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is that great rendition of “You Belong To Me” from the Shrek soundtrack:

This may be the last coherent column for a while (“Whaddya mean “last?” Yeah yeah…) as tomorrow First Coffee packs up the wife and kids – actually the wife, known to friends informally as St. Sue, is doing most of the packing while First CoffeeSM downs caffeine and mutters gloomily about the BlackBerry ruling – and moves house twelve hours up the road to Istanbul. The truck’s coming at nine tomorrow morning, we’re flying up at five to start life in the most fascinating, diverse and surprising city in the world.

St. Sue will miss the beaches, hot weather and relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle here in Antalya. First CoffeeSM… won’t.

Nokia (hey, first time that company’s been mentioned in the column) has announced its plans to expand its mobile device production in Dongguan, China. This expansion will, according to the savants in Espoo,” provide more capacity and flexibility to meet the growing market demand worldwide, especially China and Asia.”

Dongguan is considered a “strategic location” for Nokia’s global supply network for mobile devices – “Dongguan is an elementary part of our global manufacturing network,” according to Raimo Puntala, Senior Vice President, Operations and Logistics, Nokia, who described increasing capacity in Dongguan as part of Nokia’s strategy to improve its competitive position in the fast-growing Chinese and Asian markets.

Nokia’s hoping the expanded factory will begin production in the third quarter of 2006, and expects to ramp up gradually, with the work force reaching approximately 1,900 employees when production is at full scale. The expanded production facilities will be located adjacent to Nokia’s existing facility.

Nokia currently has nine mobile device factories, and the Nokia Chennai plant in India is planned to be operational in the first half of 2006. Nokia has six R&D units, four manufacturing sites and widespread operations in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

There are about 6,000 Nokia employees in China.

Happy birthday, Sherlock Holmes. Today in 1887 the first Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” written by a bored young doctor named Arthur Conan Doyle, appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual.

If you were up late last night you might have caught this, but for the rest of us MidNet, Inc., proud creator, owner, and operator of The Middle Network, announced that it has signed a Bilateral Service Delivery Agreement with Galaxy Multi Media Corp. for collaboration in the delivery of their complementary services.

MidNet enables videophone services over The Middle Network, a purpose-built environment for video-based communications. Galaxy is a wholesale VoIP service provider with long-distance services and enhanced calling features. The Middle Network supports VoIP and VoIP-with-Video calls.

The migration from the traditional public telephone system to VoIP is well underway, as far as they’re concerned. According to International Data Corporation, the 5 million VoIP users in 2005 are projected to grow to 27 million users in 2009. These numbers may rise further as VoIP’s video capabilities are exploited, or so MidNet hopes.

Through this agreement, The Middle Network will be connected to the worldwide public telephone network, “the ultimate source of the migration to VoIP.” And yes, the agreement provides users of The Middle Network in the United States and Canada with access to 911 emergency assistance, 411 directory assistance, and toll free numbers (1-8xx).

MidNet’s president and CEO, Tilo Kunz said through the company’s partnership with Uniloc USA, “we’ve been able to extend our security and privacy features to the Internet and third-party private networks,” and now with Galaxy, “we’re able to extend the reach of The Middle Network to the public telephone network.”

Once the integration is completed, a subscriber’s Middle Network videophone can be used as their only telephone for both video calls and voice-only calls.

According to the invaluable Writer’s Almanac, “on this day in 1913, the first gas station in the United States opened at the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in Pittsburgh. It sold just thirty gallons of gas the first day it was open, at twenty-seven cents a gallon. It was a brick building with a little pagoda on top, and it offered free air for tires, restrooms, and twenty-four hour service.”

Evidently someone named Paul English has released a listing of major U.S. companies who, according to English, “design their IVR systems poorly and make it difficult for callers to speak with a live agent.”

If this has kept you up at nights,, a vendor of on-demand call center and Interactive Voice Response products and a division of MicroStrategy Incorporated, has released an IVR Cheat Sheet for Businesses, what they describe as “a listing of quick tips businesses can use to make their IVR systems more user-friendly and efficient.”

“I applaud Mr. English’s efforts because he obviously is acting with the consumer’s best interests in mind, but it is equally important to note that IVR, if used correctly, can often help callers resolve issues faster and more accurately than a live agent,” said Michael Zirngibl, President and CEO of and someone who never has to spell his name over the phone.

Okay okay, the top tips: Let callers know what to expect from the system immediately. This is a simple rule that applies to any customer experience – “present a pleasant greeting and explain succinctly what the system can and will do for the caller.” Don’t hide the option for callers to speak with a live agent, because “no matter how useful your IVR system is for customers, there will always be a segment of customers who prefer to speak to a live agent to resolve their issue.”

Whenever possible, give the caller an approximate time for the completion of the request. And if transferring to a live agent, let the caller know the expected hold time and provide options to go back into the IVR system.

Do not, repeat, do not make callers repeat information collected in the IVR to the live agent they are transferred to. If you do this the avenging angel will pull up all your shrubs and kick your dog, go to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. First CoffeeSM has asked many an agent why he finds himself repeating information he’s just given someone else and has never heard an intelligent answer.

If you want callers to believe that the IVR can help them resolve a problem, respect the time they put into the IVR and don’t ask for the same answers twice.

Oh, and always let the caller know what is happening: “Keep in mind that the IVR dialogue should be similar to a conversation between two human beings.” The system should explain pauses with messages such as “Thanks for the information, let me look up your account” or “I am trying to find the most appropriate person to handle your request.” The full version of the IVR Cheat Sheet for Businesses is available at

There are two kinds of people in this world, those who don’t mind hearing a good song repeated three, four, six times in a row, just keep hitting “Repeat” on the CD player, and those whose craving for novelty and attention spans of hummingbirds dunked in a vat of Jolt Cola render their lives forever a whirl of meaningless, colorless blur.

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