Microsoft CRM and Astea, Customers Happier at VW, Switchvox Adds CRM, AgencyPro 'Beyond CRM,' Fujitsu in India

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Microsoft CRM and Astea, Customers Happier at VW, Switchvox Adds CRM, AgencyPro 'Beyond CRM,' Fujitsu in India

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a blistering "Sweet Home Chicago" by Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel and Dylan's legendary guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Jewish blues rock!

VoiceObjects, a vendor of adaptive self-service phone portals, has announced that Volkswagen Financial Services AG has deployed a new, personalized self-service voice portal from VoiceObjects which has increased customer satisfaction.

The VoiceObjects phone application server software suite lets VWFS manage increasing call volumes -- "within weeks after deploying the new voice portal," VWFS officials say, "VWFS customers benefited from unprecedented levels of personalized self-service, and more than 90 percent of them report being very satisfied with the new system."

VWFS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG. The subsidiary was founded to address the growing breadth, depth, and internationalization of Volkswagen's financial services operations and coordinates the worldwide financial services activities of the Volkswagen Group and its subsidiaries.

Previously, all VWFS customers desiring over-the-phone service were directed to a single contact number served by call center agents. Lack of segmentation led to long hold times for even the simplest inquiries. The new VoiceObjects self-service banking voice portal lets callers first use a self-service voice portal before reaching an agent: "Interactive dialogs and flexible menus help callers get the information they need quickly," VoiceObjects officials say.

Despite increasing call volumes, wait times have decreased and agents have more time for value-added consultation, cross-selling, and up-selling, Volkswagen officials report.

Astea International, a vendor of service lifecycle management software, have embedded their FieldCentrix service management and mobility product, both on-demand and on-premise, into Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Already a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, with competencies in Independent Software Vendor and Software and Mobility Solutions, as well as a Microsoft Dynamics partner for Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics AX, Astea has expanded this partnership to now include Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

This means Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers will be able to access the Astea product without ever leaving the Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Astea is developing channel sales strategies, create "go-to-market" campaigns, and assist partners in penetrating the market. With FieldCentrix for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, channel partners now can reach FieldCentrix for Dynamics CRM, already embedded within Dynamics CRM.

The acquisition of FieldCentrix, Astea officials say, "complements its existing portfolio with mobile field service execution products."

John Tobin, President, Astea International, said the market is "already experiencing the growing demand for service management products as more and more companies begin to view service as a profit center rather than a cost center as well as a competitive differentiator."

IP PBX provider Switchvox, recently acquired by Digium, has announced new functionality for its "Switchvox SMB" IP PBX system, designed for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The new Version 3.0 software adds support for real-time sales and customer service applications, SugarCRM and, as well as integration of Google Maps into the company's Switchboard Web-based call control panel.

The product's Switchboard application works with a telephone, "making it easy to connect and route telephone calls with a simple point and click, but also to record calls, view the status of other extensions and manage e-mail," company officials say.

With Switchboard, any number of "panels" can be displayed and shifted around on the user's screen depending on the options set up by the system administrator. Panels for SugarCRM or can be added to automatically "pop up" customer history records for an incoming call.

Additional Version 3.0 improvements include an upgraded operating system for higher call capacity -- 200 simultaneous calls. Switchvox SMB's most basic hardware platform is a tower PC with a 2.4 GHz processor, 80GB hard drive and 512MB RAM, appropriate for up to 24 simultaneous calls.

Switchvox SMB is priced starting at $2,495 and complements the company's more basic Switchvox SOHO introduced in February 2005.

The Word & Brown General Agency has announced that it is distributing AgencyPro, "an annual $2,700 value," to licensed health insurance brokers throughout the state of California.

John M. Word III, co-founder of the Word & Brown Companies, parent of the Word & Brown General Agency, said AgencyPro "goes far beyond any customized CRM program for Brokers by offering RFP development, robust Quoting, Policy Management, Commission Tracking and more, all with just a couple of keystrokes."

AgencyPro is a Web-based agency management program for brokers and agents in the health insurance industry. For Word & Brown registered brokers, registering with AgencyPro automatically uploads their quote and sold case history, allowing them to synchronize with Microsoft Outlook and their PDA.

In 1985, Word & Brown launched a quoting system that allowed brokers to compare different health plan rates side by side, "revolutionizing the way licensed brokers presented healthcare to California employers," company officials said.

AgencyPro is described by company officials as a program available to brokers that centralizes a broker's computer programs, contact information, files, quotes, censuses, policies and benefits details, commission entries and more, into one secure program designed specifically for brokers.

Fujitsu Consulting India has announced the official inauguration of its new offshore development centre in Noida, its fourth in India since the launch of its operations in 2001. The new center "underpins Fujitsu Consulting’s commitment to developing its operations in India business," company officials say.

This new facility is intended to help support a growing global client base and what Fujitsu officials see as "an increasing demand for hybrid global delivery services."

The company plans to add service capability related to Software-as-a-Service from its operations in India. This represents a new competency that it has added as a result of its recently announced acquisition of Okere, a New York City-based consulting and IT services company that serves enterprise-scale clients with CRM products based on SaaS delivery model.

This $10 million facility has approximately 100,000 square feet of office space with a capacity to seat up to 1,200 staff. The new center is expected to enable the company to expand its professional staff and respond to increased demand for software application development and implementations, quality assurance and sales support services for clients in India, the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific markets.

With the addition of this new facility in Noida, the company now has more than 220,000 square feet of office space in four locations throughout the country with plans for an additional 100,000 square feet over the next 12 months. By 2009 Fujitsu Consulting India expects more than 100 percent growth in its employee base in India.

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