A great promise held out by the Web and one of the end uses of CRM is
providing personalization on a scale unimagined and unimaginable a few
years ago. Unfortunately, due to the ease of Internet access and the
poorly thought out condition of many companies' Web sites, many
customers are demanding information and do not know how to request that
information, and so they are off to the competition's site in a flash.
In the current economic climate, it is an imperative to generate repeat
customers and provide them with what they need in the fastest manner
possible. To help companies meet this imperative, SPSS, Inc., which has a
background of more than 30 years of work in providing businesses with
statistical analysis tools, has released the SPSS Recommendation Engine.
Developed by its Enabling Technologies Division (SPSS ETD), the SPSS
Recommendation Engine provides personalized recommendations to customers
through SPSS data mining, modeling and deployment technologies.
The SPSS Recommendation Engine is designed to make personalized
recommendations based on data derived from demographic attributes and
customer behavior, including past purchases and Web usage. The system
discovers customer segments, establishes product associations for each
segment and uses the segments to make recommendations. The recommendations
can then be deployed online to Web sites, call centers and
brick-and-mortar outlets or off-line to direct mail or marketing campaign
The SPSS Recommendation Engine provides recommendations based on the
previous behavior of individuals and groups. By analyzing the previous
behaviors of individuals or groups, an organization can better understand
its customers' wants and predict their behaviors. The SPSS
Recommendation Engine applies statistical analysis and data mining
technologies to actual customer behavior with demographic and transaction
data; models can be updated easily and frequently to include emerging
trends; it can build models for prediction; it can support existing rule
engines and can read an existing data mart; and it can deliver
personalized recommendations online, at the point and time of customer
The recommendation engine can also be used to reduce customer churn by
identifying customers at risk of leaving and develop personalized messages
or offers to retain those customers, help reduce fraud by detecting which
customers are likely to commit fraud or make fraudulent claims, as well as
improve campaign management by identifying individuals likely to respond
to specific promotional materials and activities.
As companies are creating more Web-based self-service options for their
customers to provide them with more service choices as well as lower support
costs, finding a way to measure and ensure the quality of that service
presents new challenges. A company may have spent years developing
outstanding phone service, but a lack of coordination in providing service
across all channels can lead to customers deserting in droves.
To aid companies in their quest to provide consistent service levels
across all contact channels, Witness Systems developed eQuality Discover,
which allows the recording and review of captured samples of customer Web
experiences so that companies can identify ways to improve their Web service
by determining how customers interact with their site.
During playback of a recorded Web visitor's session, users can view
exactly what occurred during the visitor's experience on the site,
including the amount of time spent on each page. Users can access a
thumbnail layout of the events that occurred during the Web visitor's
session, providing a visual summary of user activity. Users can configure
eQuality Discover to specify the conditions, or business rules, to trigger
an action before, during and after a Web self-service customer interaction.
The user can then retrieve a sample of sessions by simply searching selected
criteria, including the date, time or business rule. Users and reviewers of
recorded Web visitor sessions can add annotations during a playback to note,
or 'flag,' a significant occurrence on a specific page or an entire
session. Users can configure eQuality Discover to notify one or more people
throughout the enterprise by e-mail when the system initiates recording
through a specified business rule. Management teams and departments
throughout the enterprise can access all system functions from an Internet
Explorer browser, giving all authorized users throughout the company the
ability to replay recorded sessions from the Web without a dedicated replay
client. Users can also denote areas of the Web site to be 'masked' when
containing confidential and proprietary information during recording and
replay, such as credit card and account numbers.
Subsequent extensions of the eQuality customer interaction recording
suite will monitor other self-service interaction media, including voice
commerce, interactive voice response (IVR) and kiosks to help companies
enhance these other customer touch points.
With resources stretched to the limit in the past year, there has been a
necessary emphasis in corporate America to squeeze every ounce of
productivity out of workers as can be squeezed, to get as much efficiency as
can be gotten from its technology infrastructure and also to provide supreme
service to hang onto every customer that can be hung onto. Where these
forces come together perhaps with the greatest impact is in the contact
center, which, if operating properly, has one foot in the front office and
the other in the back office. To tie the two together and help keep the
customers satisfied (no matter the channel they are using), Edify has
released version 7.2 of its Electronic Workforce platform. The Electronic
Workforce platform is designed to give companies the ability to provide
better agent-assisted or self-service options for their customers.
Newly upgraded for version 7.2 are the automated and assisted e-mail
management and a fully integrated Windows 2000-based interactive voice
self-service (IVR) system that allows customers to take advantage of
speech-enabled applications from technology partners including SpeechWorks.
Edify Assisted Email adds to the capabilities of Edify Auto Response by
giving agents the ability to view and choose suggested replies to service
e-mail requests. Using Edify Assisted Email, the agents can incorporate a
customer's unique data to give a more accurate, personalized reply. The
Edify Response Repository merges static and dynamic data together
automatically, giving the agents the answers they need, when they need it.
Edify Assisted Email also provides e-mail routing capabilities and full
integration into the Edify Enterprise Interaction Center product suite.
The IVR integration with SpeechWorks provides enhanced speech recognition
capability, allowing customers to use speech recognition technology from
leading vendors including Nuance, Vocalis and SpeechWorks. These vendor
integrations enable users to add applications such as natural language and
directed menu speech recognition to provide easier navigation to improve
self-service options for customers or to get them to the proper agent
Electronic Workforce 7.2 also provides a computer-telephony integration (CTI)
stand alone component, which gives Edify customers the ability to use their
own CT desktop applications with Edify's Electronic Workforce platform.
Electronic Workforce 7.2 will be used to collect the automatic number
identification (ANI) information and pass it to the customer's CTI desktop
application. CTI functionality can be purchased as a stand-alone option for
Issue tracking and resolution continues to be a major thorn in the side of
many companies. A service request may have come in weeks ago, but the
customer has no record of the complaint or may have contacted the wrong
department, which also has no record of it and has no way of gaining access
to it, all causing the customer to give up in frustration, saying, 'I wish
I could look it up myself,' or, even more disturbingly, 'that's the
last time I buy anything from them. Their help desk is no help at all.'
Aiming to combat such poor service, UniPress Software has released version
5.0 of its FootPrints software.
Among the features and functionality UniPress has improved or added in
FootPrints 5.0 are integrated support for Microsoft Active Directory and
LDAP directories, extensive e-mail integration, asset management, advanced
remote control and diagnostics and software change management and version
By integrating FootPrints with LDAP, users can dynamically access
addresses in Exchange or other address books while the information still
resides in the LDAP directory. By setting a pointer to the LDAP directory,
FootPrints can map the fields to get the data, so that separate address
books do not need to be imported, managed and updated by the service desk.
FootPrints 5.0 can build a comprehensive, fully searchable online
knowledge base to support Web-based collaboration and centralize workflow.
UniPress has added to the new version enhanced knowledge base capabilities,
including the ability to search public, online knowledge bases, better
manage FAQ lists and offer advanced search functionality for technicians
while entering a ticket.
Through an alliance with Centennial, FootPrints can now also provide
asset management capabilities, whereby users can identify and track PC and
network assets, hardware, software and changes from within FootPrints.
Version 5.0 is also integrated with AllChange to provide a Version Control
and Release Management module, which is an integrated tool to link the flow
of information about software configuration information and initial problem
reporting between help desk and software development teams. The Version
Control and Release Management module has the ability to automatically send
information and updates back to customers when the problem has been
UniPress is developing versions for German, Portuguese, French and
Spanish. Users will simply be required to change text files for the various
languages and not reprogram.