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Phonatics' Freemate, CFI Group Study, Fewer Customer Calls, Local Calling Costs

November 28, 2010

We love this headset manufacturer’s slogan: “It pays in the end to buy the best in the beginning.” Indeed.

That’s courtesy of the Freemate headset brand, solely imported by Phonatics to South Africa. Phonatics officials said, “we sell and support this brand in the South African market. This is definitely the best alternative headset brand in South Africa, if you compare pricing and quality to other well known brands.”

The headset will be available in January 2011.

Phonatics, a South African supplier of call center equipment and headsets, launched its first 2.4MHZ wireless headset, the Freemate DW770 series headset. Company officials described it as a dual-function wireless headset “for both VOIP and traditional telephony, providing all the benefits of hands-free mobility in a lightweight, ergonomic and future-proof design.”

Read more here.

The results of a recent study of Contact Center Satisfaction Index provided by the CFI Group might surprise you, but we’re betting they probably won’t.

Quick -- guess what the study’s authors found to be the biggest frustration for customers?

Mansa and Salesforce.com, Interior Concepts, Call Center Focus, ThinkingSuite

November 28, 2010

San Francisco-based Mansa Systems officials are saying their company is “the only boutique IT consulting services company among Salesforce.com consulting partners that focuses on small, mid and enterprise markets by having onshore, offshore and nearshore centers for North America customers.” The near and off-shore locations are in Costa Rica and China.

Their product is an enterprise application services provider with main focus and proficiency in Software-as-a-Service applications implementation, cloud application development, cloud telephony development, data management, business intelligence and mobile application development. The company provides Salesforce implementation, customization and integration services and force.com application development services.

Mansa was founded in 2006 by Siva Devaki and Arti Devaki, and has focused on systems integration for small to midsized businesses since then. According to Devaki, CEO of Mansa, “It didn’t make sense to butt heads with the Big Five, so we targeted the SMB area where there was less competition."

Today Mansa claims customers globally “from various industries like education, entertainment, professional services, semi-conductor, clean energy, real estate and nonprofit.”

Read more here.

A company dealing with sensitive information in their call center has received customized workstations, featuring a locking chase system that physically secures customer service representative computers from access by agents.

Interior Concepts, a manufacturer of call center furniture, has announced that as part of a recent contract it was awarded in Michigan, it installed customized workstations featuring a locking chase system that greatly heightens security for the information contained in them.

Company officials said that this makes it difficult for anyone other than IT to access the computers. This may be especially important for call centers with healthcare clients and their HIPAA regulations, or for call centers that deal with especially sensitive information.

The contract, for a Texas-based provider of inbound and outbound customer interaction products, called for a new 37,000 square-foot facility in Michigan.

Indian BPO Growth, CRM Data Issues, Call Center Furniture, Zeacom

November 28, 2010

The Indian BPO and the call center sector has been instrumental in India’s economic growth, according to research recently conducted by IQPC, which found that it was responsible for adding five million jobs and $15 billion in revenue.

“India’s diversity, flexibility, strategic location, educated workforce and technical expertise have attracted global players to outsource their support and customer service operations to the country, despite stiff competition from countries like the Philippines,” the research found.

The International Quality and Productivity Center provides practical conferences, large-scale events, topical seminars and in-house training programs, aimed at “keeping business executives up-to-date with industry trends, technological developments and the regulatory landscape,” company officials say. IQPC produces more than 1,800 events annually around the world, and continues to grow.

To maintain this position, which the research characterizes as a global leader in the call center industry, and to retain existing client bases, “strengthening infrastructure and using the latest technologies are top priorites for Indian call centers,” the study found.

Read more here.

Want to know how to select the right furniture for your call center? Interior Concepts has six things to keep in mind:

Look for a furniture company that has experience working with contact centers. Seek a partnership with a company that will allow you to work with the same group of people regardless of your center’s location.

Impact 2010 and Schwab, Small Business and CRM, Consona and KM, Virtualized IT

November 26, 2010

Schwab Advisor Services used theI MPACT 2010 stage to anoint two vendors for Schwab Intelligent Integration that surprised some people and a third that many expected.”

According to RIABiz, the RIA custodian “picked Microsoft CRM and SalesForce – two brand names not readily associated with financial advisors — in addition to Junxure, a widely used CRM software that is already tied closely to Schwab.”

The industry journal cited executives who said the integrated platform would likely be launched by this time next year.

“It was somewhat surprising … because industry surveys don’t indicate that Microsoft and Salesforce are that high up on people’s list,” RIABiz quoted Joel Bruckenstein, a technology consultant who produces Technology Tools for Today, as saying.

RIABiz speculated that Schwab could be placing its emphasis on “satisfying the biggest, fastest-growing RIAs who need software built foremost for scaleability.”

Read more here.

According to SMB technology advisor Brent Leary, a new study has found that small businesses “are struggling with marketing and innovation, which is an eye-opener in an age in which "social" marketing and innovation have gained traction.”

According to the June installment of the “Network Solutions /University of Maryland State of Small Business Report,” the overall health of small business “has declined over the past six months. Marketing and innovation -- the second most important category used in measuring overall competitiveness (only behind access to capital) -- appears to be the main culprit, as it experienced the largest drop in performance.”

The reason why they’re struggling might surprise you. According to Leary, “more and more, businesses are are turning to social tools and strategies to communicate more with customers. In fact the study shows three-quarters of businesses surveyed look to social media to raise awareness of their business, compared to only 56 percent just last year.”

Read more here.

Knowledge management products vendor Consona recently highlighted the importance of making knowledge the center of attention for your customers.

Using the experience of their client VMware as an example, Consona recommends companies have “knowledge champions” that take ownership of the knowledge base and the user experience to maintain standards, ensure accuracy and availability, and generally ensure that the system is providing real value to users – both tech support and end-user customers.

One of the most intriguing aspects of VMware’s customer support structure, Consona officials say, is that their knowledge champions “are actual tech support representatives,” brought into the champion position on six month rotations.

IDG Enterprise, Oracle's CRM, Fair Trade USA, ESilicon Corp and CRM

November 26, 2010

IDG Enterprise, a media company comprising CIO, CIO Executive Council, Computerworld, CSO, DEMO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World, announced LeadAccel, enhanced online reporting and lead nurturing services.

"Marketing and sales work closely together to determine the best processes and methods for lead follow-up to drive additional sales," said Gregg Pinsky, SVP/GM of Online Operations at IDG Enterprise. "Technology is making this process easier. LeadAccel will provide the knowledge needed to determine the next stages in communication or sales engagement to accelerate the purchase process."

Available January 2011, company officials said, LeadAccel “will provide insight in topic specific engagement of customers and prospects, and nurture them through the purchase process based on interests.”

LeadAccel includes “three lead-focused services to assist marketers in understanding how their leads are engaging with their campaigns and educational assets,” company officials said.

Read more here.

Fair Trade USA, a third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, was presented with an Innovator Award in the Applying CRM To Manage Your Mission category for their use of both Salesforce and Convio Common Ground.

"As an organization, we are pleased to have won this award because it acknowledges the commitment we made to roll out Salesforce and Common Ground to every corner of our organization," explained James Bullard, director of IT and Administration at Fair Trade USA.

The citation noted their accomplishment in creating something that “enables them to track information about relationships, business partners, corporations, grants and giving.”

All award winners were recognized at a ceremony at Convio's Client Summit, the company's annual user conference where more than 800 nonprofit clients, partners and industry thought leaders gather as a community to share common experiences and effective strategies for nonprofits.

Read more here.

In order to improve security and data access along with new reporting and integration goals, Oracle officials said, eSilicon Corporation, an independent semiconductor Value Chain Producer (VCP), recently implemented Oracle CRM On Demand.

"Our deployment of Oracle CRM On Demand already delivers improved security and opportunity management, which we initially identified as the key goals to achieve," said Gino Skulick, eSilicon's VP Worldwide Sales, adding that the company looks forward to tightening the integration with other applications.

“The core of eSilicon's Oracle CRM On Demand deployment is focused on a smarter use of security and opportunity management to increase efficiencies within teams and knowledge across the organization,” Oracle officials said, adding that eSilicon transferred all data from their former CRM application to Oracle CRM On Demand for the first phase, including “a tightening of security and a seamless transition of similar forms.”

Recently, TMC had the news that eSilicon announced the availability of production-proven eFlex content-addressable memory (CAM) cores and eFlexCAM compilers, developed to support applications such as network switches, routers, gateways, firewalls and web servers.

Read more here.

High demand from organizations of all sizes for Oracle's enterprise-class Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Applications has led to an increase in partner-created Oracle Accelerate tools for Oracle CRM On Demand, Oracle officials reported.

Since the first Oracle Accelerate tool for Oracle CRM On Demand debuted in September 2009, 23 Oracle PartnerNetwork Partners have created 31 Oracle CRM On Demand products for midsize customers across industry verticals, company officials said.

Oracle CRM On Demand is a subscription-based CRM for sales, service, marketing and contact-center operations that enables companies to streamline mission-critical business processes.

Salesforce.com, IVR Call Volume Doubles, Ad Hoc CRM Reports, NetSuite

November 26, 2010

Bandwidth.com, a provider of Internet and VoIP services, outgrew its homegrown CRM system -- but its partners required controlled access to the Bandwidth.com CRM, This meant they needed a system with enough security but still easily accessible over the Internet.

The company’s specialized pricing engine, a component of the sales process, needed “sophisticated, bidirectional integration with the new CRM,” company officials said, adding that because Bandwidth.com is a reseller of communications services providing first-line customer support, “the efficiency of the company's service teams was critical to profitable operations.”

So after looking at their integration, customization, and functional requirements, Bandwidth.com selected Salesforce CRM. Using Salesforce CRM Service, Bandwidth.com officials say, they “coordinate and manage customer service and support across the numerous telecommunications parties involved in delivering service to customers.”

Force.com enabled integration between Bandwidth.com's proprietary pricing engine and Salesforce CRM, according to Bandwidth.com officials, adding that the company used Salesforce.com's customization tools to help track inventory, business initiatives, and referrals.

To meet the needs of four different customer support operations, Bandwidth.com implemented multiple case record types -- “a standard Salesforce CRM capability,” company officials said adding that VoIP integration “boosted call center and inside sales productivity through incoming call screen pops and outbound autodialing.”

Read more here.


Contact Solutions, a vendor of on-demand contact automation products including IVR, email/text messaging and Web transactions for business and government, has doubled its call volume to 2 billion over the past 18 months.

Company officials say this is “a strong indicator of not only strength during the recession,” but also that the vendor offers “world-class service” that allows its customers to provide superior customer service to the end user.

The company began offering IVR services to companies across the United States in 2002. They reached the 1 billion call mark in 2009 and doubled that amount in less than 18 months, according to Paul Logan, Contact Solutions CEO.

"This achievement is about much more than the number of calls," Logan said. "We have helped all of our customers get through rough economic times by helping them reduce operating costs through increased usage of self-service to automate their customers' inquiries and other activities.”

Read more here.


The great CRM Click War is back.

The good folks at Soffront ask “How many steps does it take to create an ad hoc report in your CRM software?”

They helpfully supply the answer: “Nine. That’s how many steps it takes to create an ad hoc report in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.” And then they go screen by screen showing in detail that yes, by golly, it really does take nine steps to create an ad hoc report in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

“Is there such a thing as express Ad Hoc reporting?” they ask, and you knew they had an answer, that’s a rhetorical question if you’ve ever heard it: “There is with Soffront CRM software.

Greenberg on CRM, Facebook and You, IVR Options, Cops and Auto-Dialers

November 26, 2010

A CRM Webinar entitled “Keys to Successful Social CRM Programs” took place Oct. 20 and the archived version can still be accessed. The Webinar features Paul Greenberg, who certainly needs no introduction to the CRM industry, as he’s one of the top CRM consultants working today.

“Your customers are now empowered with more choices than ever before, and can talk about you where they want, when they want, and in places you can’t control, ultimately affecting you without your permission,” Webinar officials said. “Customer behavior has changed, and thus, so must you.”

To support your relationships with 21st century customers, the Webinar’s officials contend, it’s important to develop responsive Social CRM programs that support these new dynamics. Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, will break down the basics when it comes to crafting successful Social CRM programs.

Greenberg’s best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light, Fourth Edition: Social CRM 2.0 Strategies, Tools and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers, is as close as CRM has to a standard textbook.

inContact Chosen, NetSuite's ERP, B2C Call Centers, Call Center Reporting

November 8, 2010

inContact, a vendor of hosted contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, has announced that a provider of positioning technology, such as GPS, optical and laser technologies, has selected the inContact call routing to power their service and support call centers across 16 global offices.

The company noted it will initially move approximately 175 agents onto the inContact platform, according to inContact officials, and over time “plans to scale to more than 250 agents.”

Prior to switching to inContact, this $4 billion company “was using another provider's offering in its call centers, but frequent software outages and the inability to support the customer's distributed global infrastructure dictated the need for change,” inContact officials say, adding that the company “has historically made a number of acquisitions per year, and needed a platform that could quickly and seamlessly provide flexible support for their ever-changing and expanding corporate service infrastructure.”

Evidently inContact's cloud-based platform, 99.99 percent uptime guarantee, and “ability to support multiple international locations effectively addressed the customer's needs,” inContact officials say.

Read more here.


NetSuite, a provider of cloud-based ERP software offerings, has launched a cloud-based ERP suite for the Philippine market, OneWorld PH.

The new OneWorld PH, NetSuite officials say, is “a localized version of OneWorld, an on-demand system to deliver real-time global business management and financial consolidation to mid-sized companies with multinational and multi-subsidiary operations.”

The company said that the new OneWorld PH has been localized for the accounting rules, usage conventions, statutory and regulatory requirements of the Philippine market, “including tax reporting requirements mandated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.”

The OneWorld PH, according to a description by NetSuite officials, “facilitates Philippine businesses to manage their domestic and global businesses in the cloud, whether they are locally headquartered or a division of a larger, multi-national enterprise.”

Read more here.


Large business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations are “shifting the focus of their call centers to become revenue generators rather than simply answering customer queries or executing transaction requests,” according to researchf indings from Portrait Software, a provider of customer interaction optimization software and now a part of Pitney Bowes Business Insight.

"Organizations are realizing that traditional, outbound marketing, particularly via the telephone, offers diminishing returns for the business," says Luke McKeever, CEO, Portrait Software. "As such, the future of the customer relationship resides in sustained, informed and tailored customer service and the call center is a critical factor in this process.

Conducted by Loudhouse Research, the study surveyed strategic decision-makers at UK and US in-house call centers and found that “69 percent of large B2C organizations view their call centers as business-critical revenue generators.”

To meet this demand for call centers to deliver revenues, study officials say, 60 percent of respondents cited “the need for better integration of inter-departmental customer data” as a key focus for the next 12 months. In particular, “the need to integrate call center data with online customer service” was seen as a primary focus for the next 12 months, with 54 percent of decision makers citing this as a key challenge for the year ahead.

Read more here.


Sitel, a global business process outsourcing provider, and SATMAP, which sells technology for matching customers to call center agents, have announced a partnership to offer clients “optimal call center routing based on customer and agent characteristics,” according to Sitel officials.

This collaboration is a part of Sitel’s investment in new call center technologies, “building on the company’s call center products to drive a better customer experience at a lower cost,” company officials say.

SATMAP gains intelligence by continually analyzing outcomes and updating agent information and performance after each unique customer interaction.

Working with neural networks and artificial intelligence technology used by the CIA and NSA, Sitel officials say, SATMAP pairs call center agents with customers through a list of more than 100 demographic, psychographic and geographic variables -- “Everything from gender and age to location and education are analyzed in billions of combinations to optimally connect calls with specific agents who are most likely to succeed with a specific customer.”

Read more here.

Mobile Website Ranked, Customers Love Octagon, Mobile QoE Issues, Redknee and Customer Service

November 8, 2010

Toronto-based Redknee, which sells billing and charging software for communications service providers, announced the launch of its customer experience management offering with KPN Spain.

Following the launch of Redknee's intelligent application development tool for Interactive Voice Response, Spain's largest MVNO experienced “an immediate return on its investment due to the reduced volume of calls to its customer support center,” according to Redknee officials, “and improved the subscriber experience for its customers.”

KPN Spain is part of the KPN group, which serves more than 42 million customers combined.

KPN Spain selected Redknee's customer experience management tool as its self-care front-office service to deliver “an improved user experience to its customers,” Redknee officials said, adding that “the new generation of application and development tools for IVRs is bringing service providers greater agility, flexibility, usability and quality through automated customer care.”

Read more here.


Recent consumer research from international research organization YouGov and Acision, a vendor in the mobile data field, finds that, despite the rising popularity of mobile broadband, 74 percent had experienced QoE issues.

The Quality of Experience challenges faced by U.S. carriers with the delivery of mobile broadband services extend to smartphones, laptops and other mobile handsets.

Most encountered problems with slow speeds (60 percent), poor network coverage (35 percent), inability to get connected (29 percent) and connection loss (29 percent).

Depressingly this problem isn’t getting any better, either: YouGov officials said this new research “echoes findings from a similar YouGov/Acision survey conducted in the U.K. earlier this summer.”

Other highlights from the research:

Consumers express support for increased fairness. When those surveyed were made aware of the issues surrounding the fair distribution of bandwidth, over half of consumers responded positively to an active approach to fairness aimed at distributing bandwidth between as many people as possible to ease congestion to benefit all users (63 percent).

Managed Services Grow, TCPA Legal Aid, Salesforce.com and Bandwidth.com, SoIP

November 8, 2010

The overall number of channel partners -- VARs, SIs, ISVs, what have you -- offering cloud services to U.S. small and medium businesses has grown enormously since 2008, according to AMI-Partners' 2010 US SMB Channel Partner Report, fueled in part by the prevailing economic conditions and new cloud solutions and technologies.

With strong adoption by these SMBs, Remote Managed IT Services are “growing rapidly and becoming more structured in the U.S.,” according to the report’s officials, who add that according to new research by New York-based AMI-Partners, “there are more products available for U.S. SMBs and more methods for delivering these tools in an efficient manner for channel partners.”

The research finds that overall, “current conditions are very promising for partners to embrace the cloud, cautioning that however, “the channel partners are hampered in their transition to cloud-based services by their small scale and accompanying legacy cost structures and business models,” according to Avinash Arun, Channel Partner Research Manager at AMI. These factors have resulted in somewhat higher costs for end-users.

Read more here.


According to Benjamin Stone, a lawyer of the Seattle office of law firm Cozen O'Connor, who handles Telephone Consumer Protection Act class actions nationwide, Simon & Schuster recently agreed to pay up to $10 million to settle a putative class action by consumers who allegedly received text messages promoting a new Stephen King novel.

“Thus, if your company uses any type of dialing hardware or software, or uses vendors that do,” Stone writes, “you should be aware of the provisions of the TCPA and strategies to prevent litigation.”

Stone provides a good summary of the key points of TCPA you should be aware of if you’re using this technology.

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