First Coffee TMC

CRM, Call Center Surveys Integrated, QPerformance, Altitude, BeNetSafe and Foley?

October 6, 2006
By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is just about the only Bruce Springsteen song First Coffee has much time for, "Light Of Day" from his MTV concert. It's one of the refreshing times he remembers he's one of the greatest hard-driving rock'n'roll musicians alive and not thinking he's the only person alive who knows what's good and what's not:

Ah, Friday. Time to clear out the ol' inbox. Starting off on a decidedly low note:

Hi David,

Just wanted to let you know that BeNetSafe, a service that acts as a chaperone for MySpace and Xanga, will be adding Friendster next week. Parents need tools to help kids stay safe while online -- with news of Rep. Mark Foley and other accused Internet predators BeNetSafe stepped-up their production schedule to become the only service to cover all three major social networking sites.

Time out. Mark Foley, "accused Internet predator?" Is Mark Foley accused of having anything whatsoever to do with MySpace? No. Is he accused of having anything whatsoever to do with Xanga? No. Is he accused of having anything whatsoever to do with Friendster? No. Is there any evidence he's ever accessed any of those sites once? No. Does he even know they exist? First Coffee bets not.

This BeNetSafe looks like a good product, it has a good mission, no doubt it'll solve some problems and give a lot of parents some peace of mind, but why bring Foley's name into it? Nothing Foley stands accused of doing would have been remotely affected by this product.

Unless you're personally concerned about members of Congress pressuring your child for sexual favors on your kid's MySpace site, and First Coffee isn't saying this is a 100 percent unfounded fear, there's no reason to drag Foley's name into the advertising.

Is talking about completely unrelated problems, ones your product can't do a single thing about, really the best way to pitch your product to prospective customers? Look, the dangers from the sort of sexual predation that occurs on MySpace, Xanga and Friendster are real enough, can't we find any actual examples of that to cite? Examples that have, you know, something to do with the product's actual useful functionality?

Okay, maybe available examples of MySpace or Xanga predation aren't as high-profile as a Congressman sending sexually explicit e-mails, but to the persons affected they're real enough. There's no need to distract attention from the very real problem and confuse people by bringing in the irrelevant Mark Foley affair.

It's one thing for companies to rush out press releases touting their products' abilities to withstand "unforeseen disruptions" or "disaster-type conditions" in the wake a terrorist strike or natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina or Rita, that's marginally acceptable battlefield scrounging -- emphasis on the "marginally" -- but to call Rep. Mark Foley an "Internet predator," of the sort who would be red-flagged by whatever this product does, is not only wrong but distracting and, well, just tawdry:

These days kids live online and many children have access to their own computers. It was started by two dads that are technologists who were both having some serious issues with MySpace and their own kids. They went on to create a service that sends reports to parents on their kids activities while on MySpace, such as giving out their cell phone number, adding someone to their friends lists, posting photos, etc. The reports are sent directly to their parents, with red flags or information that their kids aren't crossing any lines. 

There are a lot of parents who don't know what their kids are doing online -- or how to check. With BeNetSafe (for $49.95 a year or $9.95 a month), parents can monitor their activity and keep them from harm. 

Right. So the only reason to bring Mark Foley's name into this product pitch is if you as a parent are worried that your kid, who's working as a page in Congress, might be receiving sexually suggestive IMs or e-mails from a member, and you… no, wait, this product doesn't cover that, uh, if you think that as a result of your kid's service as a page he met a member of Congress who's now trolling MySpace for sexual encounters and he might have your kid's site…

Online sex predation is a genuine problem, this product looks like it might help alert parents to some of it, which is a good thing, heck if my kids were surfing around online I'd probably get it.

But the company selling it doesn't need to confuse parents who actually follow the news correctly, this product is unrelated to anything having anything to do with the Foley mess, so why bring it in?

Things get better in another e-mail received from Ontario-based Altitude Software, an independent contact center vendor, which has announced a partnership with QPerformance, a Toronto-based hosting service provider, to launch a hosted contact center product within scalable, enterprise-class hosted communications, providing end-to-end voice and data products with "sophisticated call center capabilities," at the "flip of a switch," company officials say.

The joint product "expands the choices business have in how they implement and benefit from call center functionalities," Altitude officials claim. The product's being pitched to mid-sized and growing businesses, who can "add call center operations and capabilities to their portfolio and leverage their existing infrastructure across multiple locations, without having to purchase new hardware."

"The Altitude uCI powered Qperformance service delivers a secure, scalable hosted IP contact center and communications service, providing  a reliable and cost-effective way for companies to manage their contact centers with a single integrated product from a single provider," said Lorraine Green, General Manager of Altitude Software North America. 

It's true enough that in the past, many sophisticated call center applications were too costly for mid-sized and growing businesses to purchase and manage. The Altitude Software-powered QPerformance service is trying to appeal to this market, promising "intelligent contact routing, call treatment, network-to-desktop computer telephony integration and multi-channel contact management over an IP infrastructure."

"The hosted model is a natural market extension for our suite product delivery model that has proved successful with service providers in EMEA, Latin America and Asia-Pacific" said Miguel Lopes, Product Marketing VP at Altitude Software.

And finally, a survey software company that provides online survey creation, deployment, and analysis software tools, recently announced the ability to integrate its software into virtually any CRM, Call Center, or ERP system.

Support centers often "make the mistake of rating customer support agents on the number of calls they take," company officials say, or how quickly they can get off the phone with one customer to answer the next call. Key metrics such as customer satisfaction and recommendation scores are jeopardized as a result. Surveying customers enables organizations to improve the way they measure success.

Companies that have customer support centers can use the product to integrate the sending of surveys to customers who call in for support to obtain feedback on their services. "Picture this," company officials say: "A customer encounters an issue with a computer they purchased from your company. He calls a customer support center and speaks to a representative who gathers information on the issue, including his e-mail address. The support representative then helps the customer resolve his issue.

As soon as the support representative ends the call, a survey is automatically sent via e-mail to the customer. The customer receives a survey and spends less than 30 seconds providing your organization with feedback on the support experience. Included in his feedback is a satisfaction rating, and feedback on how likely he is to recommend products and services to others.

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