By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music, in honor of Bobby Zimmerman's turning 66 today, is The Bootleg Series No. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue:
Too many vendors forget about large swathes of the economy which could benefit from their products. Kudos to Biz IT Pro and PYA Wise for realizing that managing church congregations, volunteers and events is more than a full-time job. Churches are turning to technology to support their organizational, financial and relationship management needs, which is why Business IT Professionals, a customer relationship management (CRM) product provider, has partnered with PYA Wise Software Solutions, a vendor of Microsoft-based management products.
The two firms will focus on developing customizable technology products to churches nationwide. Churches working with the firms will "find their processes become more streamlined, relationships become more manageable and their overall performance improves," officials of both firms say.
"Aligning with PYA will enable us to use our mastery of Microsoft CRM to create products that will make an impact on churches and religious organizations across the country," states Steve Noe, President of Biz IT Pro. "The applications we have developed have the potential to revolutionize the way churches are organized," adds Bill Walker, Co-Managing Director of PYA.
PYA Wise Software Solutions is a Florida-based vendor of Microsoft-based financial, customer relationship and supply-chain management products to small and mid-market companies.
Talisma Corporation, a vendor of Customer Interaction Management (CIM) products, has announced that Mimeo.com, an online, on-demand printing vendor, has selected the unified Talisma CIM Suite.
Prior to deploying Talisma, Mimeo's could not provide the type of customer experience it wanted. They wanted a product that could improve agent productivity and efficiency, and deflect inbound phone calls to other communication channels.
Peter Brau, Director of Customer Service for Mimeo, said the main reason they selected Talisma is because the product integrates with salesforce.com."
Mimeo is deploying the Talisma CIM suite which integrates Talisma Chat, Talisma Email, and Talisma Knowledgebase via salesforce.com's AppExchange. The CIM suite's case management capabilities will help Mimeo agents by providing single-click access to the Salesforce customer account and case information, automatically opening or retrieving cases, capturing disposition codes, and updating the customer record with relevant customer interactions.
The product also enables users to view a complete history of interactions across all communication channels so agents are presented with a 360 degree view of the customer.
Relationals, a vendor of customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) for the newspaper industry, has announced that The E. W. Scripps Company has selected Relationals as its company-wide CRM platform.
Linda Sease, Vice President of Newspaper Marketing for Scripps, said the product "simplifies sales processes, adds a critical layer of collaboration, and enables effective targeting of potential advertisers with greater accuracy and more measurable results."
Based on success at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and other properties, Scripps is positioned to roll out Relationals to all of its newspaper properties. The newspaper chain plans to use Relationals to "execute opportunity-generating telesales and e-mail campaigns, enable account activity monitoring, integrate sales efforts with existing business systems, and consistently collaborate around the sales process," officials say.
Industry observer Marc Songini has reported on a survey released by Accenture finding that "most consumers of high technology products say that use of customer relationship management (CRM) software by their vendors has not improved their service offerings - and in many cases has made it worse."
Accenture noted that such consumer dissatisfaction has a ripple effect on vendors, Songini writes, adding that "73 percent of those surveyed said that mere 'average' service would prompt them to consider evaluating products of other vendors."
The consulting firm in March surveyed 1,200 technology consumers and 35 executives at high technology companies about their experiences with automated service systems.
"This is a wake-up call that customer service should no longer be relegated to a mere instrument for extracting costs out of the business," Brett Anderson, managing director for CRM in Accenture's communications and high tech practice, said in a prepared announcement. "With so many technology products on a natural path to commoditization, technology companies need to use customer service to differentiate themselves from competitors."
As Songini says, one of the "more sobering statistics" is that "42 percent of the customers reported that they had to access CRM channels multiple times to resolve a problem, while 61 percent said automated service systems doesn't speed resolution."
Disconnects abound: The survey "noted that 58 percent of customers using CRM systems believe that their customer service is average or below average, while 75 percent of vendor executives surveyed said they believed automated systems are providing 'above average' service to their customers."
And as Songini notes, "about 77 percent of vendor executives said that self-service CRM systems have had a positive impact on their businesses. And 93 percent of those executives contended that CRM systems have speeded problem resolution and 74 percent said the technology has directly led to higher customer satisfaction."
Xtime, which sells CRM products to service operations, has announced that the Ferman Automotive Group of Tampa, Florida has committed to a group-wide rollout of Xtime's flagship software product, ServiceCRM.
Xtime's ServiceCRM software combines consumer Web scheduling, service BDC automation, shop control and service marketing into one product for automotive service departments. The product's selling point is to help "schedule and manage more service appointments per day."
Over the past five years, dealership service operations have experienced increased challenges. With decreased warranty claims, lower profits on new car sales and customers that demand higher levels of service, dealers are scrambling to find new ways to increase revenue.
SAS, a vendor of business intelligence products, has announced new, enhanced versions of three of its suite of performance management products: SAS Financial Management, SAS Human Capital Management and SAS Strategic Performance Management.
The latest version of SAS Financial Management "improves the accuracy, relevance and timeliness of financial plans, budgets and reports while promoting the alignment and execution of strategy," company officials say.
Enhanced SAS Human Capital Management provides "a holistic workforce view, human capital scorecarding and predictive analytics to optimize and align human capital strategies," according to SAS officials, and the SAS Strategic Performance Management product is billed as helping executives "focus the entire organization on the initiatives and key performance indicators that support their goals."
The announcements came at SAS Forum 2007.
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