CRM from Microsoft for Conceptus, Verticals on Demand, Kana Hires Angel, PacificNet Sells 3G, Middle East CRM, Australian CRM

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CRM from Microsoft for Conceptus, Verticals on Demand, Kana Hires Angel, PacificNet Sells 3G, Middle East CRM, Australian CRM

By David Sims
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The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius' début album, titled Jaco Pastorius. There are only three or four bassists in the Jazz Hall of Fame, and only one electric bassist -- Jaco:

Microsoft has announced that Conceptus Inc. has chosen Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 to help with the Essure system, Conceptus' flagship medical device.

Since FDA approval of the Essure system, a permanent birth control procedure, in 2002, sales have grown to over $40 million, including 100 percent year-over-year growth in 2006.

The Mountain View, California-based company picked Microsoft's CRM software to "streamline tracking of Essure-trained doctors and stimulate the customer demand and discovery of these physicians," Microsoft officials say.

"Building a worldwide market for a paradigm-shifting medical procedure requires a large, coordinated marketing, sales and training effort," observed Jeff Letasse, senior director of IT for Conceptus, saying the right CRM tools could help turn "an emerging breakthrough like the Essure procedure into a gold-standard procedure in a matter of years, rather than the decades that it often used to take."

ISS Group Inc., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, developed the CRM system and assisted in integrating it with the company's Web sites and other systems using the Microsoft-certified ISS Group's iBridge data connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 provides Conceptus with marketing, sales and service capabilities, all with a familiar and consistent user experience based on the Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Office Outlook.

Specific benefits that Conceptus has begun realizing since ISS, VelocIT and Conceptus completed deployment in January include more reporting options, where data and reports can be entered through Microsoft Office and Outlook, a Web browser, or a broad range of mobile devices.

Conceptus also liked the product's data input -- "close integration with Outlook enables employees to look up customer information, send and manage e-mail, set up appointments, and capture customer or doctor discussions from within the familiar environment of Outlook," Microsoft officials say.

Matt Wallach, vice president of sales and marketing for Verticals onDemand, Inc., a private company, joined Market News First for an interview with host Saul Albom which aired May 2, 2007. If you missed the interview, log on to and click the Downloads and Podcasts icon.

Verticals onDemand was founded in January 2007, using the Salesforce Platform to build customer relationship management (CRM) applications for the global life sciences industry.

Its products to be marketed to the managed care teams of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to help them manage their customers and business plans will be released shortly.

During the interview Wallach focuses on the growing interest in Verticals onDemand over the past few months, including details about its first product release. He also discusses technology trends in the broader markets and how companies are taking advantage of the onDemand model to improve their operations while saving cost.

Kana Software has announced that Mark Angel has joined the company as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy. In this role, Angel will be responsible for defining and guiding Kana's strategic direction.

"I credit Mark Angel for bringing Web 2.0 to the CRM and eService world," wrote John Ragsdale, Vice President of Research for the SSPA, on his blog, titled "Ragsdale's Eye on Service."

Mark Angel has worked in the fields of customer service software, knowledge management, and search technology development for more than two decades. Prior to joining Kana, he served as CTO of Knova Software Inc., now a division of Consona Corporation, where he was responsible for the company's product and technology vision.

Prior to Knova, Angel founded Kanisa, where he served as CEO and helped develop a knowledge management and search platform driven by several patent-pending innovations.

As Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy, Angel will own the process of developing and evangelizing Kana's strategic vision. Angel will be involved with identifying new partner relationships, spearheading the company's M&A activities and working closely with customers and prospects.

Kana sells multi-channel customer service products. Company officials claim their clients "report double-digit increases in customer satisfaction, while reducing call volumes by an average of 20 percent."

PacificNet, a vendor of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), mobile internet, e-commerce and gambling technology in China, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its entire interest of 51 percent ownership in Guangzhou 3G Information Technology Co., a Value-Added Services Internet company in China, to HeySpace International.

The sale price for PacificNet's 51 percent ownership in Guangzhou 3G is $6 million to be paid in cash in five installments over seven months. PacificNet acquired 51 percent controlling interest in Guangzhou 3G in March of 2005 for $5.5 million consideration which was paid partially in cash and mostly in PACT stock.

HeySpace International is a social network services and virtual community service provider in China, and an integrated Internet and mobile entertainment media platform base on Web2.0 technology.

Based in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, HeySpace is building a "lifestyle and community destination" in China.

"This strategic sale made business sense," and was in line with PacificNet's "new focus" on gambling, said Tony Tong, CEO of PacificNet: "As we stated previously in our conference calls, PacificNet will continue to seek strategic alternatives for our legacy businesses while focusing on gaming and CRM going forward. We will continue to explore strategic sale of our legacy businesses including our other value-added service units, mobile e-commerce distribution and telecom units."

Tong said PacificNet's goal is to "streamline our operation, downsize the non-performing legacy operations, and simplify our business strategy with an emphasis on our new focus on gaming technology development."

How important is customer service, which is to CRM what playing a guitar is to a rock band, in a part of the world not exactly noted for its strong tradition of customer service? Evidently increasingly so: The diminishing level of customer service has caused almost half of Middle East consumers to switch service providers within the past two years, according to results of a survey published by Visionary Embassy.

The online survey of more than 1,700 Middle East consumers was conducted with the purpose of identifying prevailing consumer satisfaction levels of customer service offered in varying industries including retailers, telecom and internet service providers, satellite TV companies, property developers, hotels, airlines, banks and financial institutions, according to VE officials.

The purpose of the survey was to gain a broad understanding of consumers' satisfaction with customer service, particularly as technology has assumed a more prevalent role in the delivery of service across industries.

While more than half (54 percent) of respondents reported they quit doing business with a company in at least one industry category in the past year as a result of poor service, some industries fared worse than others. Retailers suffered the greatest number of customer defections due to poor service, which was selected by 21 percent of respondents, followed by banks (17 percent), property developers (13 percent), airlines (11 percent) and hotels (10 percent).

At the same time, CRM and other enhanced technologies didn't seem to be improving consumers' satisfaction with customer service. Nearly six out of 10 (57 percent) of respondents said customer service technologies such as automated phone service and live online chat had not done anything to improve the level of service.

"Good customer service takes a lot of work to assemble within an organization -- it has to be integrated into the mainframe functionalities. Esteemed organizations are relatively aware of what frustrates their customers and focus primarily on understanding their customers' varying preferences and intentions," said Farid Gasim, who carries the title of Chief Economic Ambassador. "They use vital data such as the survey findings to tailor services more towards the consumer's needs and thus foster consumer loyalty."

The VE survey found which aspects of customer non-service most frustrated consumers. Being kept on hold on the phone too long was selected by 72 percent of respondents, having to repeat information to multiple service representatives 70 percent, sales personnel over-promising and under-delivering 66 percent, and that old favorite, the inability of customer-service agents to answer client inquiries, irritated 59 percent.

Things don't get much rosier in the Great South Land either: Australian financial services organizations are "missing vital opportunities to deliver outstanding customer service due to a lack of enabling technology," according to enabling technology vendor Talisma. 

Talisma assessed the customer service capabilities of Australia’s top 43 financial services firms in April 2007, finding that only 42 per cent of institutions answered e-mails within 24 hours, phone service was "much better than e-mail service" but lacked personalization, none of the firms surveyed offered online assistance or chat services, only five per cent of firms offered Web self-service, and "only one firm gave customer service reps access to a unified customer interaction history."  None offered any type of on-line proactive assistance or collaboration to help customers complete complex forms or transactions. 

“Financial services is Australia’s third largest sector, accounting for 7.5 per cent of GDP and growing quickly, with new entrants to the market each year, keeping it highly competitive,” said Paul Bunn, Managing Director of Talisma Australia.

While ninety-five per cent of the 43 companies surveyed offered an e-mail-based service, with a 42 per cent response rate within 24 hours, "-54 per cent of all emails were never answered," raising questions about "the impact of such a failing on customers."

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1 Comment

Great article... customer service and the middle east, dont really go hand in hand.

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