By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Dexter Gordon's Dexter Calling...:
Jacada, a vendor of desktop and process products for customer service operations, has announced that it has entered into a material agreement with a new customer, a large telecommunications provider headquartered in the United States.
The majority of the revenue from the agreement, which was contracted through a Jacada global systems integrator partner, will be recognized in the current quarter, Jacada officials say.
The telecommunications company provides broadband services to customers in the United States, and its support contact center services customers who need help with their DSL, satellite television, long distance phone, or high-speed Internet service.
By "integrating the multiple disparate applications that the customer service representatives must access on each call," Jacada officials say, and by optimizing and automating key call processes, the company hopes the Jacada unified desktop will help improve customer service and retention, and reduce costs.
"The pressure on telecommunications providers to improve customer service has never been greater," said Sheryl Kingstone, director for customer centric strategies at the Yankee Group research and consulting firm. "As their offerings are increasingly commoditized, the one remaining differentiator is customer service and these companies' call centers are often plagued with a mass of aging, complicated and inflexible information systems."
Joe Horne, senior vice president, Americas sales operations for Jacada, and not the NFL wide receiver, who spells his last name "Horn," said it's even more accentuated "in a highly volatile and commoditized market like telecommunications, an industry where a clear link between the quality of customer experience and companies' financial performance has been so visibly established."
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Soffront Software has announced multi-currency support in version 8.7 of its software. This feature is supposed to increase efficiency of the sales team to conduct business using worldwide currencies. The support is available in all Soffront modules, including sales, forecasting, quotes and invoices, and reporting.
"During the last two years, many of our foreign and domestic customers requested us to support multiple currencies," said Manu Das, President of Soffront. "Using this feature, your European sales team can create quotes and opportunities in the euro, your Canadian team can use Canadian dollars, and your United States team can use U.S. dollars. And your VP of sales can analyze the forecast from all teams in U.S. dollars."
Soffront CRM supports all worldwide currencies and exchange rates. Customers can select a currency as their corporate currency to run monthly, quarterly, and annual reports for the enterprise. Sales teams in different countries can still manage all of their quotes and opportunities in their local currency.
Additionally, Soffront CRM supports price catalogs in multiple currencies. Users can select between ISO and currency symbol formats for viewing.
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Apisphere, a vendor of location-awareness services for mobile business applications, has announced it will be working with Atcom to expand into the Latin American market.
Atcom will provide Apisphere customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia with the professional services support to integrate its Geo-Enabled Mobility platform into mobile applications. Apisphere's customers will be able to use Atcom's software development, project and outsourcing management and services expertise.
Apisphere and Atcom will provide Latin America customers with professional services to use the GEM platform for their mobile enterprise applications.
"Apisphere is committed to providing our customers in Latin America with superior location-awareness features to enhance and differentiate their mobile applications," said Craig Harper, CEO, Apisphere.
Apisphere's GEM platform is intended to give independent software vendors, system integrators and enterprises the ability to integrate location-aware features into customized applications. Based on a SaaS-model, GEM provides mobile geo-location information to any mobile device, regardless of the carrier.
Sergio Torres, General Manager, Atcom, said his company's "technical expertise and extensive understanding of the Latin American market" will aid the GEM platform's adoption into future applications.
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Genzyme has announced that their European field representatives can now access Saleslogix from their BlackBerry handhelds. Genzyme officials said Vaultus Mobile Technologies worked on implementing the project.
With the Vaultus product in place, Genzyme field representatives, working from a BlackBerry, can access client reports, calendar items and contact information.
Genzyme officials say workers across all industries are moving away from their laptops and turning instead to their more capable mobile devices, which include BlackBerries and smartphones. So, "when it came to selecting a company to mobilize our CRM system, Vaultus was an easy choice," said Seppo Beumers, application manager at Genzyme.
With the CRM system, Genzyme representatives can capture visit report notes immediately after each meeting. Genzyme also has support for the many languages that are spoken in Europe, as Vaultus provided localized versions of the product in French, Italian, English and German.
Genzyme is a biotechnology companies, dedicated to working in the field of serious diseases.
The Vaultus product also gives Genzyme reps account management features, contact management tools and visit reporting abilities.
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In the global contact center industry, estimated to be worth some $130 billion per annum, organizations are not optimizing the value of their investments in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practices.
That's one of the findings in the 2008 Datacraft / Dimension Data Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which includes survey responses from 300 contact centers in 36 countries across five continents. This year's report confirms that "only a minority" of contact centers have established CRM practices and capabilities.
Karina Majid, Datacraft Asia's General Manager for Customer Interactive Solutions, lamented that only "minimal" progress has been made in adopting a more customer-oriented, CRM-based approach within the contact center environment over the last 10 years: "When we compared this year's findings with those from our inaugural 1997 Report, the picture is not positive."
Ten years ago, 39 percent of participating contact centers possessed a single view of the customer, with a further 45 percent of centers planning to implement a single view within the following two years, study officials found, adding that "this year's results show that the percentage of centers with a single customer view has decreased to 34 percent."
In addition, in 1997 many organizations stated their intention to deploy a more sophisticated set of customer metrics within their contact centers. These metrics included customer lifetime value and profitability, study officials said.
However, this year's statistics reveal that contact centers that are able to measure or actively employ these types of metrics are in the minority. "For example," study officials say, "less than 10 percent of centers surveyed have the capability to measure lifetime value, and only 18 percent of centers use customer profitability as a metric."
"These findings indicate that the development of a more holistic and sophisticated approach to customer management is less of a priority than it was 10 years ago, and there is a back-to-basics trend with contact centers focusing more on basic performance efficiencies and cost reduction," Majid said, adding that "only 16 percent of participating centers ranked 'creating direct customer relationships' among their top three commercial drivers, compared with over 50 percent 10 years ago.
The study also found that 38 percent of contact center managers polled believe that a contact center agent's ability to resolve a query during the first call is the most important factor in service improvement, while 74 percent rated it in their top three.
In addition, the time the customer waits before the call is answered had the second greatest impact on service improvement with 47 percent of participants ranking it in their top three. Furthermore, agent communication and service skills were ranked third with 34 percent of participants including this among their top three improvement indicators.
Majid says, 'This year's survey confirms that when the basic service components are firmly in place, customer service experience improves, and client retention accelerates. When we compared these service components to the level of priority or attention organizations place on them, the results were enlightening.'
'The choice of medium (or channel) was ranked among the lowest methods for customer service improvement: less than 2 percent of participants selected this option in their top three choices for impact on customer satisfaction,' adds Majid. 'Taking into account that call resolution is the greatest indicator of customer service improvement, we were surprised to learn that not all contact centers have aligned themselves to its measurement and targeting.
'Contact centers still rely on the standard efficiency metrics. Abandon rate is the most commonly used target with 90.1 percent of participating centers using it as a key metric, while only 63.4 percent of centers use First Call Resolution as a performance target. These findings indicate a discrepancy between what customers want and what contact centers focus their costs and energy on.'
Meanwhile, the average number of hours allocated to teaching telephone communication skills during agent induction training is 11 hours. This equates to only 7 percent of the total induction time. In addition, contact center agents receive an average of only six hours of coaching per month.
'Compared to last year's Benchmarking Report, these figures highlight the ongoing trend by organisations to reduce investment in training, even though agent communication and service skills enhance customer satisfaction and the service experience,' concludes Majid.
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Saaspoint, which specializes in business and systems consulting for customers using Software-as-a-Service applications such as salesforce.com, has established a new consultancy division that aims to employ 50 people and generate $15m in revenues by the end of 2010.
The company has recruited UK consultancy veteran Tim Pullen to head up the group. Tim Pullen has 30 years' experience in business and IT and has worked with financial services institutions and telco firms including UBS, Lloyds, HSBC, Abbey National, Standard Chartered Bank and Orange. More recently he has been responsible for a major business transformation program in Ireland at First Active, a subsidiary of Ulster Bank, part of RBS.
The primary practice of the new division, Saaspoint Consulting, will specialize in business transformation. "As we implemented Customer Relationship Management products for our customers we identified the change this often requires in an organization," commented John Appleby, chairman, Saaspoint. "We found that clients were keen to implement this change and we have responded to the needs of the market."
"We will do for business consulting what SaaS has done for technology," added Tim Pullen, practice director, Saaspoint Consulting. "In the same way that firms cannot wait around for 18 months and don't want to pay armies of IT consultants and technicians to implement traditional software, they want a quick payback from their business consulting programs as well. We aim to help them transform their business, which has a rapid impact on the bottom line."
He said that the current business environment mandates that companies evolve their business practices. "The global credit crunch combined with increased energy and finance costs will highlight inefficiencies that in the past may have been papered over by a growing economy and buoyant sales environment."
Tim Pullen added, "Throwing technology at a problem will not work unless you can manage the change required to implement it across the organization. These changes will impact on a company's ethos, beliefs and values and if not carried out correctly will actually have an adverse effect on performance and numbers."
The Saaspoint Consulting business transformation practice covers all aspects of a business including brand, customer contact, sales, operations, business processes, working conditions and practices. "What might start as a simple sales automation project will have implications and potential benefits across the whole organization," added Pullen.
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SnapLogic, Inc., the Really Simple Integration company, today announced the Salesforce.com Solution Pack, an extension to the SnapLogic open source data integration framework. SnapLogic enables enterprises to integrate data on both sides of the enterprise firewall and to create custom integration products, including application integrations, enterprise mashups, and rich Internet applications (RIAs).
The Salesforce.com Solution Pack enables rapid and easy integration of Salesforce.com with other SaaS applications, behind-the-firewall enterprise applications, Web sites, and other data sources. The Salesforce.com Solution Pack is the second SaaS integration product pack offered by SnapLogic to date. Recently, SnapLogic announced its SugarCRM Solution Pack, which supports both standard SugarCRM deployments as well as Sugar On-Demand implementations. The SnapLogic Salesforce.com Solution Pack will be available as a free download from www.snaplogic.com
beginning Aug. 18.
The Salesforce.com Solution Pack includes a complete set of SnapLogic Resources for reading, writing, and updating data in Salesforce.com accounts. Integration pipelines can be created within minutes of installing SnapLogic. Uses of the Salesforce.com Solution Pack include:
-- Integrating Salesforce.com account records with in-house accounting
systems and other enterprise applications
-- Migrating customer records from internal CRM systems to Salesforce.com
-- Creating custom data feeds that enable authorized users to import
Salesforce.com data securely into enterprise portals, wikis, and desktop
applications, such as Excel
"As Software-as-a-Service applications see increased mainstream adoption, the isolation of previously local data becomes a real concern," said Stephen O'Grady, principal analyst, RedMonk. "SnapLogic's Solution Packs are aimed at precisely that problem set -- the challenge of blurring the lines of internal and external data."
"SnapLogic breaks down barriers to SaaS adoption and enables enterprises to realize the full value of their Salesforce.com investments," said Chris Marino, chief executive officer, SnapLogic. "SnapLogic's product packs for Salesforce.com and SugarCRM provide enterprises with the fastest and easiest way to integrate popular SaaS applications with other enterprise applications and data, on whichever side of the firewall they reside."
The Salesforce.com Solution Pack is licensed under the GPL v2 and is available at no charge. It supports SnapLogic Community Edition and SnapLogic Professional Edition, which are each available for Windows, Linux, VMware, and Amazon EC2.
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LogMeIn announced the release of a standardized set of Web services that provide support technicians with the ability to streamline processes and increase their speed and effectiveness.
The release of this Application Programming Interface (API) enables LogMeIn's award-winning on-demand support tool, LogMeIn Rescue, to be easily integrated into existing helpdesk, CRM and support management systems.
LogMeIn Rescue is a Web-based support tool that enables helpdesk representatives and IT professionals to access, diagnose and repair a remote computer without any need for pre-installed software on the target system.
LogMeIn Rescue's new integration services provide IT and support organizations access to both their remote support service and their session data through a set of standard Web services accessible via SOAP, HTTP GET and HTTP POST methods. Users can now easily connect onsite systems and legacy IT support applications to LogMeIn Rescue.
"Delivering on-demand remote support helps support organizations better meet their growing needs for flexibility and streamlined operations," said Marton Anka, CTO, LogMeIn, Inc. "By offering our customers the ability to integrate LogMeIn Rescue with their existing applications, we can help them increase productivity and effectiveness, while lowering their costs of and improving the end-user support experience."
The API offers enhanced flexibility -- large organizations can use single sign-on integration or link Rescue support session information to current in-house helpdesk systems. Smaller users can display on their own Web site the status of technicians currently available for support.