By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Hootie & the Blowfish's "I'm Goin' Home:"
Customer Connect Associates, long affiliated with Microsoft, has become a Microsoft Certified Partner for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Connect officials say, adding that the "Certified Partner" designation recognizes "expertise and the total impact that Customer Connect has had upon the CRM marketplace."
Customer Connect President Geoff Ables said the company's goal is to reach the level of Microsoft Gold Certified "within the next twelve months."
Earlier this month Customer Connect Associates was retained by ClearWater Marketing to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy and products.
Industry observer Howard Dahdah in Sydney reports that Vodafone's CRM brownout was expected: "A customer relationship management (CRM) upgrade that caused Vodafone Group's pre-paid service to brown out for more than a week was totally foreseen," according to company officials.
Starting May 17, Dahdah said, the company was upgrading its Oracle's Siebel system handling its Australian pre-paid billing system.
So for over a week Vodafone couldn't provide such new products or services as voicemail or moving customers to new propositions, or change the rate plans or even churn customers to or from pre-paid phone accounts, Dahdah says, noting "there was no impact to the telecom company's post-pay business."
"This was scheduled as a piece of work. It was not as though we thought it would take a day and it has taken longer. It was certainly a nine-day brown out period that was factored in," Dahdah quotes Greg Spears, Vodafone's head of corporate communications as saying.
Spears added the work is part of the final phase of a three-year upgrade to the company's new CRM system.
EMS-Cortex, a New Zealand-based IT company with worldwide offices and operations, has announced Cortex 7.0 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 is available through the Microsoft SPLA and provides "a good opportunity for hosters wishing to move into higher valued hosted services," company officials say. Cortex 7.0, the latest upgrade of EMS-Cortex flagship announced recently, is considered by Cortex officials to be a "major upgrade," featuring a number of enhancements for Microsoft Exchange 2007, SharePoint services 3.0 and new provisioning pack for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.
Cortex v7 configures multiple CRM instances and servers to be managed and allows customers to be allocated to a CRM front-end server. Once allocated, user provisioning can be delegated to the end-customer without the need for the CRM administration tools.
Paris-based DigiCompanion, a download platform specifically designed to enable brands to offer digital gifts to their consumers, has announced its first funding round of 1.7 million euros ($2.3 million).
The round, led by Alven Capital and supported by Ile-de-France Développement, is intended to accelerate the development of DigiCompanion's digital gift download platform and to broaden its catalogue of digital content.
Charles Letourneur, managing partner of Alven Capital, said DigiCompanion's white-labeled platform helps brands to distribute downloadable digital rewards to consumers on mobiles and PC's and to collect CRM data.
Industry observer Julian Goldsmith has reported a partnership of ten local authorities in Staffordshire, England" has saved millions by consolidating its procurement processes."
Staffordshire Connects -- a joint venture focused around providing customer services, Goldsmith says -- has "invested in contact center and customer relationship management technology on behalf of the local authorities from Macfarlane Telesystems, reaping an initial saving of £1.8 million by buying together."
He notes that up to £1.4 million per year "will also be saved on joint maintenance and operational costs, once the CRM system is able to resolve 80 per cent of service requests at the first point of contact."
One of the leaders of the group, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has already seen a return on their investment, managing to reach a first-time-resolution rate of 85 per cent.
West Lindsey District Council has reported going live with the first phase of a three phase Customer Relationship Management implementation from Lagan that is already enabling the Council to "provide a more efficient service to a greater volume of customers -- with 8 fewer staff," Lagan officials say.
Bringing back office services to the front line, and enabling staff to resolve enquiries at the first point of contact, means the council is now able to handle an additional 200+ customer enquiries every week.
The Lagan product forms part of West Lindsey District Council's plans to provide a single point of contact to its 84,000 citizens, as well as meeting targets set out in the Transformational Government strategy. The overall contract, including support and maintenance, is valued in the region of £237,000.
Lyn Marlow, Customer Services, Manager at West Lindsey District Council, said one of the principal drivers for the CRM implementation was "to reduce the number of contact points for our citizens… the turnaround time that it takes to resolve enquiries has already been reduced by 20 percent."
The next phase of implementation will concentrate on expanding the current available processes for self service for West Lindsey's citizens by integrating the CRM system with the Council's Web site."
Auto/Mate Dealership Systems, ranked the highest for overall customer satisfaction in the last three NADA surveys, has announced that its Customer/Mate CRM system has achieved certification status from GM OneSource.
GM OneSource is the lead management service that General Motors uses to electronically deliver leads to its dealers.
CRM vendor Vertical Solutions has announced that DPSciences, a Cincinnati-based value-added reseller, has used VSI’s PowerHelp CRM to "triple revenues from its manufacturer maintenance program," Vertical officials say.
DPS uses PowerHelp CRM, a suite of customer-experience management software solutions, to actively manage its maintenance contract renewal process.
VendorGuru.com is offering two free downloadable white papers: "The 5 Must-Have Features of a CRM Solution" and "The Top 5 Telephony Solutions Your Business Needs Today" at www.vendorguru.com.
VendorGuru.com's new white paper, "The 5 Must-Have Features of a CRM Solution," describes customer relationship management software features that today's businesses find critical for their success, including data tracking and integration to give users throughout the company access to key data.
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