FrontRange's 5.0.3 IP Contact Center, Epicor and PSS, La Senza and NSB

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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FrontRange's 5.0.3 IP Contact Center, Epicor and PSS, La Senza and NSB

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The David Holland Quartet's Conference Of The Birds. Good music if you're into atonal '70s jazz, kind of like late period John Coltrane meltdown. First Coffee isn't particularly and doesn't see this album getting a whole lot more play until we have guests over we want to get rid of, but the album has distinctly cool cover art.

You really don't get high quality of cover art with CDs, as a friend of mine noted rather sadly recently, they have to cram a name and title on the tiny space, and the, well, art of cover art has declined precipitously as a result. No more Sgt. Peppers or Weasels Ripped My Flesh, no more Exile On Main Streets, no more of those Yes covers, no more Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream And Other Delights, a particular shame.

As is apparent First Coffee is a fan of album cover art, and laments the eclipse of this pop art genre. In its day it was a rather prestigious and fun job for a noted artist, Andy Warhol's designed record covers,

Lingerie and apparel retailer La Senza has gone live with Connected Retailer Merchandising 3.0 and Replenishment. The products are now fully re-integrated with La Senza's other NSB products, including Sales Audit, Warehouse Management and Sourcing and Product Development.

The initiative began last year with the implementation of Connected Retailer products at the La Senza Girl chain and was completed this year with the rollout at its parent company. The project was fully customized to meet La Senza's specific business measurements, lifting certain processes.

La Senza noticed a return on their investment the same week they went live, company officials say, explaining that the ROI came from "better integration with the sourcing application, streamlined processes, and reduced overhead and data manipulation when allocating goods."

Martin Thibodeau, La Senza's Vice-President of IT, said NSB and La Senza have had a "successful relationship" for many years, and this implementation was so successful that "we can predict further cooperation in the future. NSB's products have provided us with outstanding results in the past, so we felt confident in our decision to expand our Connected Retailer suite."

No word on whether La Senza's products have produced desired results for NSB officials.

"We are delighted that La Senza has chosen to once again entrust their business processes to NSB," says David Henning, NSB's Senior Vice-President of NSB's Enterprise Business Unit. "This implementation went very well, and NSB will continue to work with La Senza to ensure they achieve maximum ROI."

Connected Retailer Merchandising products basically exist to synchronize key retail functions with scalable tools, including .NET Allocation and Replenishment and .NET Purchase Order Management.

Bracknell, England-based Planned Storage Systems, an independent manufacturers of storage products, is to deploy Epicor Software's Vantage 8.0 manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) product to help improve its business processes as it expands its manufacturing capability into Eastern Europe.

"We have used Tetra CS3 for a number of years and it has offered us a competent product for financials, but lacked the more advanced lean manufacturing and logistics capabilities we need to grow our business," explains James Delap, CEO of Hi-Lo PSS Group, "We are in the process of expanding our manufacturing capability into Romania which provided us with a perfect opportunity to deploy a new ERP product that was more suited to our manufacturing and resource planning needs."

With over 30 years experience as one of the leading UK manufacturers of storage products, PSS is accredited to ISO 9001 standards. In March it began a selection process based initially on eight candidate recommendations by an independent ERP consultant.

Over a three-month process of evaluation and comparison, PSS reached a shortlist of three products from Epicor, Exact and Sage. And of those three, overall, "Epicor provided the best fit for our current operational needs with the ability to deliver modular upgrades to support the rapid expansion of our business," Delap said.

Epicor, and especially its Epicor Scala division, also had "a good understanding of tailoring the system to meet the needs of trading within Romania as well as localization for other countries within Europe," he explained.

PSS will deploy core Epicor Vantage 8.0 manufacturing and scheduling alongside Epicor iScala financials at its UK and Romanian sites by November 2006. A more advanced implementation of additional Planning, CRM and SRM modules will commence in early 2007.

FrontRange Solutions, a vendor of IT Service Management, Communication Interaction Management, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products for small to mid-sized enterprises (SME) and distributed enterprises, has announced the general availability of version 5.0.3 of IP Contact Center (IPCC).

Company officials describe it as a "communications interaction management product which provides an integrated voice communications platform that extends the functionality of other FrontRange software products.

FrontRange IPCC is now deeply integrated with HEAT, the FrontRange help desk management product. FrontRange created such interoperability with HEAT so organizations can use it for inbound call routing, customer self-service options, screen pops with pre populated customer data with status information, after-hours service and stuff like that, management of shared incidents that affect multiple users.

Self service is one area in which FrontRange officials believe they've made a "major enhancement to IPCC," since it now lets users offer callers the option of completing a service request without needing to speak to a live service representative. "Callers may now initiate and log a service ticket or check on an existing ticket without speaking to a live agent," officials say.

When callers identify themselves, IPCC creates a ticket and updates the database with the appropriate caller data and issue reported. The integration to third party text-to-speech engines allows IPCC to read ticket numbers and status updates from HEAT journal entries for tracking and follow-up purposes.

IPCC also performs "data dips" in HEAT to intelligently route callers based on skill sets, or to route callers to agents with whom the caller last spoke. Agents also handle calls more effectively because screen pops with corresponding information accompany the inbound call.

Company officials see that help desks run more efficiently when after-hours calls automatically open new service tickets that include caller contact information and voicemail attachments within the ticket, so they built that functionality in as well.

FrontRange officials also tout IPCC's ability to automate the handling of major "shared incidents" such as network outages or product recalls. The contact center communication platform can dynamically update the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) so that callers hear options for the leading open issues.

So if the caller presses "1" to indicate a product recall issue, the system automatically initiates a service ticket and groups the ticket for appropriate handling by the help desk. This eliminates analysts taking hundreds of individual calls on a single service issue. Analysts now take just a few calls, freeing them up to work on a resolution instead of being tied up on the phone with redundant conversations.

And once a shared incident is resolved, the system automatically outdials to all affected users to notify them of the resolution, as well as provide an option to close a service ticket. Callers may also opt to talk to an agent if they wish.

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