NZ Telecom To Refund Customers, Vistula and Telstra, Intervoice and True Move, Visible Results and Virgin

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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NZ Telecom To Refund Customers, Vistula and Telstra, Intervoice and True Move, Visible Results and Virgin

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys' From One Good American To Another. First Coffee would hereby like to request all readers in Texas vote for the Kinkster for governor. Gotta love anyone who'd name their greatest hits album Pearls In the Snow, and who'd call his plan as governor to establish casinos to fund education "Slots For Tots:"

Feel for the call center workers at Telecom New Zealand, which will return just north of $3.3 million in New Zealand dollars ($2 million) to customers "after it settled out of court with the Commerce Commission over double billing," according to the Australian journal The Age.

The settlement, what The Age calls "the largest ever out-of-court settlement under the Fair Trading Act," means residential customers will get about $NZ1.25, while the average business customer will receive $NZ2.45.

"A fault in Telecom's system meant that when customers changed call plans on their landline or mobile, they were sometimes charged under both plans on the day they swapped over," The Age explains.

Telecom isn't denying the mistake and will refund all incorrectly-billed customers. Call center workers are taking deep breaths.

"Telecom co-operated fully with the commission's investigation and we commend the company for taking responsibility, working to resolve the problem, and compensating consumers," New Zealand industry watchdog Geoff Thorn told The Age.

In related news Telecom, New Zealand's biggest publicly traded company, "will stop making donations to political parties after feedback from shareholders, workers and customers," according to industry observer Tracy Withers.

"Telecom has traditionally made political donations as an expression of support for the political process," Chairman Wayne Boyd told company's annual meeting in Wellington recently, according to Withers. "We've now decided that we will end political donations altogether."

No it's not to punish the pols: Withers says that shares of Telecom "have tumbled since the government in May said it will force the company to give rivals more access to its networks, ending its monopoly on fixed-line services," but that Boyd said the decision to stop political donations "wasn't prompted by the government's decisions."

So don't even think it.

Vistula Communications Services, Inc. has announced an agreement with Telstra for Vistula's O2C Managed Office Software Platform.

Under the agreement, Vistula has granted a global license to Telstra Europe for the O2C software for the managed serviced office marketplace. Telstra Europe has also outsourced the support and management of their O2C client base to Vistula for a minimum period of eighteen months.

Rupert Galliers-Pratt, Chairman and CEO of Vistula, said following on from Telstra's launch of V-Cube-based services in the UK, they expect the deal "to be a source of new customers for the V-Cube product set."

Telstra International Managing Director, Drew Kelton said his company views Vistula's O2C product as "a valuable source of new business clients for our whole of business product suite, especially as it interfaces to our own Vistula-provided IP-PBX."

V-Cube is an Internet Protocol-P-B-X, "IP-PBX," that facilitates full contact communication services including voice, video, conferencing, call center, interactive voice response systems, and multi/sub-domain and unified messaging across enterprise and public networks.

Vistula is a telecommunications company providing hosted, managed VoIP services to carriers, service providers and transit network operators. Telstra Europe delivers connectivity business products, services and complex managed IP. Switches are located in London, Birmingham and Manchester working alongside 14 co-location points throughout the UK.

Dallas-based Intervoice, Inc., a vendor of converged voice and information products, has announced that True Move, a provider of mobile services in Thailand, will be enhancing its current voice product with Intervoice Service Gateway to support its growing customer base of over five million subscribers, while lowering operational costs.

With a high annual growth rate, True Move is using Intervoice's carrier-grade platforms to expand the company's existing voice portal to facilitate pre-paid mobile phone subscribers, Internet and Wi-Fi users.

Company officials hope the move will give True Move customers an enhanced customer experience with a quick and easy-to-use self-service system.

True Move's success and voice portal expansion underscores the growing cellular phone market in the Asia-Pacific region, where service providers are facing declining profit margins due to increased competition. To overcome this, providers must find new and efficient ways to automate their systems and operations. They must also create and offer new value-added services to their customers.

James Leander Powell, COO Mobile at True Move, said the company considers their continued investment in Intervoice technology a "critical step" in being able to not only serve customers with voice self-service, but also in "gaining a significant competitive advantage in the Asia-Pacific marketplace."

Auckland, New Zealand-based Visible Results is getting some notice as a world-wide customer-relationship firm, with clients across convenience, fast-food, fuels, restaurants and the general retail industry in fifteen countries globally, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Europe and parts of South America.

Their most recent splash comes from the American operation, Visible Results USA, Inc., which has announced this past week that its GraphiCard loyalty card technology and CRM system has been selected by Virgin Entertainment Group for implementation early this month in select Virgin Megastores.

The new program, branded the V.I.P. (Virgin Important Person) card, carries the tag line "It's not the size of your V.I.P.-ness, it's how you use it."

Customers join the program in-store and receive their V.I.P. card on the spot. Points earned on every transaction at Virgin Megastores are instantly displayed on the face of the member's card, along with their new points balance and the points required to reach the next reward level.

"We know that the market for loyalty programs is competitive and we also know there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to these types of programs," explains Dee Mc Laughlin, senior director of marketing, Virgin Entertainment Group, North America.

The real prize for Virgin Megastores, of course, as in all these information-collecting programs, is the ability to get an extensive array of customer data. This is the first time, Virgin Megastore officials say, that their marketers are able to effectively mine transaction data, profile their customers to determine the products that resonate with particular profiles, and identify their most profitable customers.

Each product, its genre, media type, and a range of other parameters can be automatically matched to the V.I.P. cardholder to facilitate the communication of relevant offers to each segment of the V.I.P. customer base.

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