SugarCRM, RIAS, Integrify SaaS, ATSI and ACA, ORCS Web, iPhone and POT

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

SugarCRM, RIAS, Integrify SaaS, ATSI and ACA, ORCS Web, iPhone and POT

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a weird album from 1968, The Zombies' "Odessey and Oracle."
You've heard the one hit from the album, "Time of the Season," the rest of it sounds like a decent pop band trying to cross Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper, as so many albums of that moment did. Listening to Odessey and Oracle, especially solid tracks like "A Rose For Emily" and "Hung Up On A Dream," one thinks "Man, these guys were good, why were they messing around with this overproduction, dubbing in flutes and harpsichords, and not just doing what they did best -- straight-ahead smart pop?"

Veon has announced the launch of a Territory Management product on the SugarCRM platform.

Officials of the Hyderabad-based firm say they believe Sales Force Automation products are "the need of the hour for organizations with distributed marketing geographies." Using the tool, they say, regional sales teams can "keep lock-step with one another when collaborating."

The idea behind Territory Management, Veon officials explain, is so managers can gain "an up-to-the minute view of their individual territory pipeline from the highest level to the most granular." Territory management "develops and implements a strategy for directing selling activities toward customers in a sales territory aimed at maintaining the lines of communications, improving sales coverage, and minimizing wasted time." Functionality for the product, therefore, includes the allocation of sales calls to customers and the planning, routing, scheduling of the calls and similar options.

The TM product, using the SugarCRM platform, is easy set up and assign territories, Veon officials say, adding that it's designed to simplify territory realignments after sales reorganizations, eliminate lag time in lead assignment and "plan effectively for avoiding losing sales to better organized competitors."

It also claims capability for "minimizing distractions and procrastination," which for First Coffee alone would be worth the price of admission. And of course it includes the more prosaic functions, such as maintaining contact with key prospects and accounts and helping find ways to improve users' return on investment (ROI) and reduce turn-around time.

Here at First Coffee we write a lot about how to improve your customer service, it's nice to recognize companies who are, in fact, doing it well. So a tip of the coffee pot to insurance provider RIAS, which sells to the over-50 demographic, for being named a finalist in customer service categories in two industry awards -- the UK Broker Awards and the CCF European Call Center Awards.

This is the third time in two months RIAS has been recognized for its customer service, company officials say, explaining that these latest two accolades come "hot on the heels of RIAS being announced as a finalist in the 'Customer Care Award' category at the 2009 British Insurance Awards" in June.

As a finalist in the 'Customer Service Provider' category for the 2009 UK Broker Awards, RIAS was noted for its "customer-centric culture and service innovation," including the launch of Voice of the Customer, an online system allowing all colleagues to feed customer comments directly into the system.

The 2009 CCF European Call Center Awards put RIAS in the "Best Centre for Customer Service" category against teams from all over Europe. Janet Connor, Managing Director of RIAS, said being recognised by "independent judges"for customer service in an increasingly competitive arena is "rewarding."

Adam Clarke, spokesman for the CCF European Call Center Awards, said their awards "highlight the quality performances of individuals, teams and call centers as a whole, and has entries in the hundreds."

Although independent of each other, the winners of both the 2009 UK Broker Awards and the CCF European Call Center Awards will be announced in September.

Keep the recognitions for customer service well done coming: The Association of Teleservices International are honoring Answer Center America with the 2009 award of distinction. This recognizes call centers across the United States who provide "superior customer service management," according to ATSI officials.

"Customer service is the heart of our operation. When we put customer needs first, business needs second, our employees will always come out on top," says Michael McMillan, director of sales and marketing. ACA recently received this award at the ATSI 65th annual convention and expo in Pittsburgh.

ATSI officials say call centers across the United States have "a need for a tool to measure the customer service skills of their professional agents." As a result, ATSI created the award of distinction to be what they describe as "an impartial, third-party means to measure agent courtesy, etiquette and proper call techniques, as well as response time and accuracy." To qualify for this award, call centers must receive an overall score of 80 percent or above in these categories.

The Association of TeleServices International was founded in 1942 as a national trade association representing live answering services. It now encompasses companies across the United States offering specialized and enhanced operator-based services including call centers, contact centers, inbound telemarketing (order entry), paging, voice messaging, emergency dispatch, fax, and Internet services, among others.

Based in Chicago, Answer Center America sells call center and answering products.

Integrify Software, which sells Enterprise Request Management software, has announced a new Integrify Single Sign-On service for its hosted SaaS offering, Integrify OnDemand.

In addition to the always-laudable goals of reducing employee frustration with multiple log-in events and remembrance of pesky passwords, the product is touted as a way to "help reduce costs associated with Help Desk fielding user authentication support calls," according to Rich Trusky, CTO of Integrify.

The Chicago-based Integrify's product is available either on-premise as licensed server software or as a hosted service, with a Web-based product to "streamline business processes, centrally manage user requests from multiple locations, streamline workflow and operations, automate business processes, and provide increased compliance, visibility and efficiency across organizations," according to company officials.
Basically, for a customer's internal users, the SSO service works by having the internal users browse to which brings them to the Integrify OnDemand SSO Web Client, described by vendor officials as "a small Web site running on the organization's internal network. This site is configured to authenticate users against their internal Active Directory.
Then once the user is authenticated, their User ID is passed to Integrify OnDemand along with a shared token and secret which is signed using OAuth. If the signed token, secret and User ID match, the user is presented with the Integrify Portal and may use any of the features available to them.

For a customer's external users, they simply browse to and log in directly to the Integrify Portal.

The SSO Service lets organizations "authenticate their users internally using Windows Integrated Authentication, Active Directory or LDAP bind or custom authentication schemes," company officials say, adding that this service "will allow users to access their externally hosted Integrify OnDemand account without having to be prompted for their username and password once they are already authenticated within their organization."

ORCS Web, a vendor of Microsoft Windows-based Internet hosting for businesses, has announced its renewed service agreement with Freshview, a Sydney-based e-mail marketing software developer.
According to the agreement, Freshview will continue to use ORCS Web as its primary hosting provider for its dedicated cloud environment. Dave Greiner, co-founder of Freshview, said his company "values ORCS Web as our hosting provider because of their customer service and their fully-managed dedicated cloud environment."

Freshview's flagship product, Campaign Monitor, is an e-mail marketing software to let Web designers send campaigns for themselves and their clients. Freshview officials pride themselves on their "refreshingly simple software" as well as "maintaining a fun workplace." First Coffee would like everyone to know that providing a fun workplace is a top priority here as well at the sprawling First Coffee campus, under stately pines amidst the rolling hills.

Brad Kingsley, president and chief executive officer of ORCS Web, said using a fully-managed dedicated cloud environment, "the Freshview team receives the benefits of a virtualized cloud such as their own Dell hardware which includes multiple PowerEdge R900 servers each with four Six-Core Intel Xeon processors and 64GB of RAM."

Operating as an extension of internal IT teams for clients such as Zagat Survey, Lake Quincy Media and AMD, ORCS Web provides a portfolio of hosting and managed services.

People operating technology (POT), a publisher devoted to buying, developing and promoting iPhone applications, has announced the launch of AudioPeople on the Apple App Store.
AudioPeople is described by POT officials as a way to post audio messages on friends' Facebook walls. POT CEO Jason Petralia said by "allowing you to access your social graph and leave crystal clear audio recordings on Facebook walls, AudioPeople will revolutionize the way you communicate with your friends." He added the company made this application "with simplicity in mind.
Simple it is, indeed -- the user needs no instructions, just log in and start posting. "With AudioPeople, iPhone users don't have to leave any more sterile wall messages. You can leave animated audio recordings on your friend's Facebook walls whenever and wherever," company officials say. First Coffee hereby owes an apology to all his Facebook friends subjected to sterile wall messages this past year.

AudioPeople is available for $1.99 from Apple's App Store on iPhone and iPod touch. Founded in 2009, POT is a publishing house devoted exclusively to creating iPhone and iTouch applications, drawing on "a global pool of developer talent to create, develop, polish and promote mobile applications in gaming, social networking, utilities and more." The company currently has several other applications available for download, including Magnetic Personalities, Animal Fun Time and the gag entertainment of 2009 Blockdrop iCon Trick.

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