The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Horace Silver Quintet's album "Song for My Father." Not sure what you'd call this, bossa nova jazz, or jazz with strong melody lines and cool piano, jazz that sounds like actual songs as opposed to meandering noodling, the album Steely Dan ripped of the intro to "Ricky, Don't Lose That Number" from, you know, that duh-duh, duh-DUH figure:
, described by its officials as an "international members-based network to the improvement of customer experience" which is owned by OgilvyOne Worldwide, has published a free report to help firms retain their customers in an economic downturn.
Recently Customer Futures' MD Peter Lavers teamed up with his San Francisco-based associate, John Todor of The Whetstone Edge, to commission what they regarded as "some of the world's top experts in Customer Experience Management" to write short papers on "how not to lose customer focus when difficult decisions have to be made."
The resulting publication, cleverly titled The Importance of the Customer Experience in a Down Economy
, originally published for Customer Futures' membership, is now available free for all.
Peter Lavers says the report is "for all business people who are facing tough decisions at the moment. It contains numerous nuggets of good sound advice from 18 different contributors who are some of the world's most respected experts in the field."
The report can be downloaded completely free from Down Economy Publication
. You will be asked to register.
Lavers speaks of businesses making "right" tough decisions, not ones that will alienate their customer bases and so cause prolonged suffering even when good times return. I hope it also helps those same readers influence others regarding the importance of customers - and the staff that serve them - in these trying times."
Todor notes that while "there are always winners and losers in down economies," winners act "to create competitive differentiation that is meaningful and valued by customers. Losers focus internally on cost-containment and efficiency."
, which sells phone self-service products for contact centers, has extended its IVVO phone self-service suite with the launch of a new range of Visual IVR applications, designed to "open a new revenue stream and customer service enhancement channel for businesses."
Through a video call on a 3G mobile phone, callers "gain a visual representation of business transactions such as transferring money or checking in for a flight," and leisure transactions like booking cinema tickets and checking sports scores.
One advantage the SpeechStormers play up is how the product "dramatically reduces" the time spent listening to voice-based menu options, as "IVVO enables the user to complete the transaction much quicker and more intuitively."
Visual IVR, using video as the delivery channel, "offers businesses significant new potential to generate and drive additional revenue and provide innovative customer services improvements," says Daniel Hong, Lead Analyst, Customer Interaction Technologies at Datamonitor. "The continued growth and adoption of the 3G network in Europe and the Middle East paves the way for this new channel."
The company points out that IVVO Visual IVR benefits for the caller include a visual, intuitive interface, service not subject to IP/HTTP latency problems between device and server and no downloads "it's delivered as part of a transient video call, so no data is downloaded to the phone which, in turn, improves security as no footprint is left behind when call ends."
Oliver Lennon, CEO of SpeechStorm and a guy who's never called "John," notes that visual IVR is "gaining increasing acceptance in Europe and the Middle East with the growth and proliferation of the 3G network."
Elephant Talk Communications
has announced that it has signed a Heads of Agreement contract with Telecombination International BV, where Telecombination will become a mobile virtual network operator initially for the Dutch market.
As an MVNO, Telecombination will launch its product during the spring of 2009 and will focus on both residential and business customers by using the technology of Elephant Talk's mobile virtual network enabler platform, company officials say.
"With the technology of Elephant Talk's platform and our partnership with one of the largest media groups in Europe, we believe that we will create a unique proposition to the Dutch market, soon to be followed by the rest of Europe," said Jaap Nieuwenhuijs, together with his brother, Gert Jan Nieuwenhuijs, director of Telecombination.
"To compete in a market purely on price is not a winning strategy anymore," remarks Gert Jan Nieuwenhuijs.
Martin Zuurbier, CTO/COO of Elephant Talk, notes that his company's IN platforms has a CRM/Billing product resulting in "a wide ranging line of possibilities," and says the company is "entering the next phase in the industry - new MVNO's request complex integration of different systems, like banking, media and converged technologies without getting a higher upfront investment requirement or substantial operational expenses."
Telecombination International BV was established in January 2005 and will become a new MVNO in the Netherlands. Telecombination has its roots in Sweden, where a Telecombination sister company has successfully run an MVNO model since 2001.
Elephant Talk Communications is positioning itself as an international telecom operator and enabler/systems integrator to the multimedia industry, selling traditional telecom services, media streaming, and distribution services primarily to the business-to-business community within the telecommunications market. The company was ranked fifth on the Orange County 2008 Deloitte Technology Fast 50.
San Mateo, California-based Cloud9 Analytics
, a vendor of on-demand business intelligence apps, has announced its expansion into the United Kingdom and Europe through a partnership with Revenue Insights, a UK-headquartered vendor of B2B sales performance products.
Through what Cloud9 officials describe as "a combination of technology and consulting," Cloud9 and Revenue Insights are marketing services aimed at helping Salesforce.com customers in the region "improve forecast accuracy, optimize sales resources and revenue generation."
The announcement comes on the heels of Cloud9's recent expansion into Asia Pacific, and represents what Cloud9 officials feel is their "next step in creating a global network of Cloud9 product providers."
The company describes its services as helping sales teams "unlock" access to "the hidden asset of otherwise unsaved sales data." With Cloud9, the spiel goes, "executives can base decisions on historical trend insight and focus precious time and resources where they'll have the biggest impact on revenue."
Accurate sales forecasts are "necessary to ensure effective resource allocation - you need the right people working on the right opportunities," says Bob Apollo, director and co-founder of Revenue Insights, adding that the right technology is needed to provide "meaningful data about the pipeline - where it's been, what's changed, and where it's going."
Orlando, Florida-based CampSoftware
has announced FMSmallBusiness, described by company officials as "a complete product, specifically designed for small businesses," to track and manage contacts as well as a calendar of events and activities, integrate documents, schedules, projects, letters, invoices, and more.
It's a cross platform database which runs on Mac and Windows, using the FileMaker Pro database platform. "Think of it as a CRM with more power," company officials say.
Evidently it runs on Mac, Windows, or a combination of both - "we've designed it to work as either a single or multiple user solution on up to 250 workstations," company officials say adding that it also provides a Web-based iPhone interface to Contact and Calendar Events data. Desktop and Web-based address books and calendars can be updated via vCards and vCal subscriptions also available for iPhone syncing.
"We believe in eating our own dog food," company officials say, claiming that they use the latest version themselves to run their own business. "Using this approach, we are able to make the product better simply by using it."
As the product is built on FileMaker Pro and developed from the start with individual customizing in mind, it has a main file and a custom file. The custom file is designed in an open fashion so that anyone with FileMaker experience can make changes or even add functionality.
The product also lets users track time and "stop losing income by tracking time and items using FMSB's built in Timers, Activities, and Events."