By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, The Eagles. Hey it's just a few of their less boring songs on the iPod shuffle -- "Already Gone," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks;" songs with a pulse which weren't written by AOR computer programs.
Even a blind hog gets a few acorns, even The Eagles wrote a few good songs, although in the main First Coffee must agree with Tom Waits, whose song "Ol' 55" was covered by The Eagles, that "the best thing about an Eagles record is it keeps the dust off your turntable:"
TechExcel , a vendor of IT Service Management and customer support software, announced the release of ServiceWise 8.0 and CustomerWise 8.0.
It's touted as having "new features" and enhancements to automate repetitive processes and improve communication and collaboration between support teams and their customers. "Additionally," company officials say, "an improved self-service portal includes automatic active directory password reset that enables support managers to show precise figures on support time saved and improved ROI."
Tieren Zhou, Ph.D., CEO and Chief Software Architect at TechExcel, said the vendor has "added a lot of automation that improves usability and service level features that help teams be more responsive to customer requests and also keeps the customer informed."
By providing integrated CRM, help desk, defect tracking and test management applications, TechExcel officials say, the product "integrates Web, wireless, and client/server technologies."
Typically, company officials say, the ServiceWise product is used to manage internal help desk and IT management processes, while CustomerWise is used to manage external customer support, sales, and marketing processes. Version 8.0 introduces such features as Smart Screens, Microsoft Outlook integration, service level agreements, drill-down reporting and other.
The addition of Smart Screen in version 8.0 is billed by the company as improving the product's configurability and user interface customization, since it lets users manage the requests for a support team or IT team, including incident requests, change requests and non-technical requests and work orders "from within a single application."
EGain Communications, a vendor of customer service and knowledge management products, has announced that the company was named a leader in interaction-centric customer service software products in the October 2008 report "The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Software Solutions, Q4 2008."
The company received the highest score in the category of "current offering," as well as in the sub-categories of "customer service," "architecture and platform," "cost," "product strategy" and "employees" in interaction-centric customer service management software.
The vendor was among the companies Forrester invited to participate in this report evaluating customer service management vendors across approximately 180 criteria.
On a scale of 0-5, in the interaction-centric products evaluation, eGain score d 4.65 in "current offering." EGain also received a "customer service" product capability score of 4.70, architecture and platform mark of 4.74, product strategy score of 5.00, cost score of 4.66, and employees rating of 4.00.
In addition, the company received a score of 4.60 in the "strategy" category.
In addition, eGain received the top score in several key sub-categories in "current offering," such as knowledgebase (5.0), business process and workflow tools (4.4), Web 2.0 tools and applications (5.0), and deployment options (5.0).
"EGain is an application best suited for large multichannel contact centers that require a scalable product and complete suite of customer service and contact center software that sits on top of a common architecture and infrastructure," wrote Natalie Petouhoff, Ph. D., Senior Analyst at Forrester.
Oracle officials say recent growth in India and Southeast Asia and Australasia has gained the vendor "a wide following" for its social CRM product, CRM On Demand, across a range of industries including automotive, communications, financial services and non-profit.
The vendor points to contracts in the last 15 months with companies that chose Oracle CRM On Demand included EBZ Online and Fine Organics Industries in India, Alphawest Services, BP Australia and The Business Store New Zealand in Australasia and 3M Taiwan, Sinova Management Consultancy and Miramar Hotel & Investment in China, as well as Korea's Sejong Telecom and Indochina Capital in Vietnam.
David Mitchell, Senior Vice President, IT Research for Ovum, has recently authored a report cited by Oracle officials, noting that most CRM systems support "limited amounts" of collaboration and "do not adequately provision for more variable, less structured collaboration in the real world."
While bringing some team collaborative tools into the process "can help to carry out less formally structured processes," Mitchell said, "there is still a need for an integrated set of collaboration with the right mix of capabilities for sales, marketing and services, and with the right integrations into the underlying CRM systems."
Built on Siebel's CRM application, Oracle CRM On Demand is engineered to help companies use data and information about customer relationships contained in blogs, social networks, online communities, shared bookmarks and mashups.
Simon Banks, General Manager, CRM On Demand, Oracle Asia Pacific, called the Oracle Sales Prospector included in the latest edition "the first of a new class of Oracle Social CRM Applications that use collective intelligence and analytics help sales professionals qualify leads faster based on buying patterns."
Parature has been named a Fall 2008 Recognized Innovator by the Association for Services Management International and the Service & Support Professionals Association.
Winners and finalists were selected by a panel of judges, including industry experts, AFSMI and SSPA members, and Vice President of Technology Research John Ragsdale.
"SSPA and AFSMI Research focused on a topic becoming a common boardroom conversation today: how companies can shrink their corporate carbon footprint through green initiatives," Ragsdale said. "While the primary focus of most corporate green projects has been reducing electric consumption, these awards center on processes and technologies specific to support, such as virtual support operations, reducing field service visits, and field service schedule optimization."
The Enabling Virtual Support Centers award recognizes Parature as a provider of technology that "engages remote employees so they are not isolated, enables support management to understand the complete picture of the employee, even when they are working remotely and identifies training needs of remote engineers and streamline remote training delivery."
Parature officials say their product lets organizations change the way they support their customers through Software-as-a-Service delivery and "integrated, intuitive" design that lets users "serve, support, engage with and retain customers in today's Web world."
According to a recent study, conducted by the Global Call Center Network study and published as The Global Call Center Report: International Perspectives on Management Employment, replacing a call center worker costs the equivalent of three to four months of that worker's pay.
Industry vendor Bomgar cited the report to promote its remote access software as helping increase job satisfaction and "thereby reducing staff turnover and the associated costs."
The study gathered information from nearly 2,500 call centers in 17 countries of varied economic status.
In addition to the information on the cost of replacing a worker, the study found that call centers with low quality jobs have a significantly higher rate of turnover than those with high quality jobs. A high quality job is defined as one in which the worker is able to exercise discretion in the execution of their duties and is held responsible for their performance rather than being micro-managed.
According to the study, the major benefit of discretionary powers is the ability to satisfy a customer's needs and thereby derive a greater sense of accomplishment.
Bomgar's remote access software allows an agent to connect with the end user to deliver on-demand support and see the customer's computer as if it were on his own desk.
According to the study, turnover rates for call centers with low to very low quality jobs, which describes roughly half those in the U.S., Canada and the UK, are four times higher than centers with high to very high quality jobs.