The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut album Crosby, Stills & Nash, one of the greatest debut albums followed by one of the most underachieving careers in rock history. People forget that when Neil Young joined this band they were the first rock act swinging enough steak to do full-scale stadium tours and were expected to be, in the post-Beatle breakup early ‘70s, the only group to rival the Rolling Stones. But then it all went pffft in a haze of backstabbing, drugs and general unbelievably selfish, self-destructive stupidity.
No doubt there’s a stern CRM moral in there somewhere, but with “Wooden Ships” sailing through the room right now – what promise! What potential! – it’s hard to think of what it is. It’s pathetic when one of a band’s greatest songs (“Wasted On the Way”) is about how badly aforesaid band wrecked its own career:
Last Wednesday industry observer Campbell Gardiner reported that Wellington, New Zealand-based IT services firm Synergy had “entered into a partnership arrangement with global CRM provider salesforce.com,” to be salesforce.com’s preferred integration partner in New Zealand around deployment of software as a service,” according to Synergy’s northern region general manager Steven Graham.
Graham cited to recent IDC research showing, as he claimed, that 79 per cent of companies “are now purchasing and/or reviewing SaaS offerings such as salesforce.com.”
As Gardiner said at the time, “salesforce.com presently services the New Zealand market out of Australia but the company is understood to be opening a local office later this year.”
And now it’s official: Kiwi industry observer Tom Pullar-Strecker has noted that salesforce.com will open an office in Auckland later this year.
According to Singapore-based regional vice-president Graeme Beardsell, Pullar-Strecker writes, “salesforce.com has signed up 65 New Zealand customers over the past three years. These include the local subsidiaries of Vodafone and Fairfax. Worldwide, its software is used by 444,000 people in 22,700 organizations.”
In what the sardonic would take as an evil omen auguring ill, the news was greeted by a freak power outage in Auckland, bringing “chaos to New Zealand’s Auckland city on Monday, leaving thousands of houses and businesses without electricity, roads gridlocked, phone lines down and hospitals closed,” according to Reuters.
It doesn’t get much more ironic than this. As Pullar-Strecker notes, salesforce.com “has been rattled by outages that meant customers couldn’t access its application for short periods.” Welcome to Auckland, you’ll feel right at home here.
Kiwis are getting a lot more demanding and sophisticated about CRM. Last week a panel sponsored by Genesys picked ANZ Bank as one of their 22 points of light, citing them for their outstanding CRM.
According to the official recognition, Melbourne, Australia-based ANZ, the number one bank in New Zealand, “has become one of the most highly rated businesses in the eyes of the customer, based largely on its commitment to investing in people and technology for its contact center operation.” Namely that ANZ has improved customer satisfaction “nearly 40% while at the same time reducing costs by nearly 30%,” thanks to a contact center called “a model of efficiency with validation and awards from the Australian Government and numerous consumer and contact center groups.”
Howzedoit? “ANZ’s intelligent routing and automated use of customer information has eliminated numerous customer issues, such as the need to repeatedly provide account information.” So they ain’t exactly green down there in Aotearoa… well, the landscape is some of the most beautifully green country you’ll find anywhere, but the people’s expectations for customer service are ripening rapidly.
Oh right, the power outage: Transpower spokesman Chris Roberts told Reuters that an earth-wire at the substation fell across a 110kv feed, one of two main feeds into Auckland, affecting about 230,000 customers: “About half of the region – including most of the south and central Auckland – were without power from just after 8:30 a.m.” local time. West Auckland and the North Shore, where First Coffee’s in-laws live, were unaffected.
Power was restored to the central business district at about 12:40 p.m. Nobody’s explicitly blaming salesforce.com for the outage, just like nobody’s explicitly blaming that Cambodian immigrant family down the street for all the dogs and cats disappearing from the neighborhood, or that nice new Italian family for all the petty criminals suddenly disappearing from the streets.
Pullar-Strecker, who’s about to get more to write about on the biztech beat down there in Aotearoa, notes that “salesforce.com is one of only a few successful application service providers,” hosting “its software in its own datacenters in the US, charging customers a monthly fee of US$17-$165 per user to access the application.”
Founded in 1999, salesforce.com is now valued at more than $3.3 billion on the NASDAQ.
(Current) Hometown News: According to the Turkish Daily News (for which First Coffee worked as Istanbul bureau reporter/ editor/ do-everything in the mid-90s, the newspaper’s quality’s only gone up since), Turkish GSM provider Telsim is going after market big dog Turkcell the right way, by making a priority of “improving the quality of its services, according to new CEO Attila Vitai.
The number-two GSM operator in Turkey, Telsim was handed over to Vodafone two weeks ago in a buyout deal, TDN says.
One nice touch is how Telsim’s approaching the difficult issue of someone who’d probably like to switch from Turkcell to Telsim but isn’t relishing all that hassle about changing numbers and all associated folderol which is just, like, so totally lame: “Vitai… indicated that various measures would be implemented for subscribers to overcome the psychological barrier of changing their cell phone numbers to Telsim from Turkcell and Avea. For instance, a subscriber to a rival operator would let Telsim use his or her phone for an hour and Telsim would send SMSs to all saved phone numbers informing of the new number,” according to the TDN.
And in newer phones, “if an SMS is sent to you informing you of a friend’s new number, you can replace the previous number with only three clicks on the phone,” Vitai told the TDN, understanding which side of the street his customers live on attention-spanwise.
And hey, existing customers? Your long, dark night of the cell is apparently over: “Our current customers have probably seen the worst,” Vitai tells the TDN. “The worst is over; it will only get better from now on. We are improving our network, IT and CRM system. Everything will be renewed and will reach world-class quality in a very short time.”
Zilliant, an Austin, Texas-based vendor of data-driven price management applications, has announced that Zilliant Precision Pricing Suite (ZPPS) 5.4 has completed formal integration certification testing with SAP NetWeaver.
Following the recent release of Zilliant’s Price Integration Framework, which provides connectivity between ZPPS 5.4 and enterprise order management applications, the “Powered by SAP NetWeaver” qualification is part of Zilliant’s strategy of integrating its science-based price setting and execution applications with mySAP ERP, mySAP Customer Relationship management (mySAP CRM), and SAP applications.
Eric Hills, Zilliant’s vice president of marketing explains that the customer, order, and product data at the heart of SAP’s applications “allows ZPPS to engineer precise price recommendations for every sales transaction across all channels.”
ZPPS’s comprehensive workflow and process integration with SAP’s transactional applications then ensures that SAP customers are able to “fully execute upon this pricing guidance.”
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