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For the sixth consecutive year, the editors of Customer Interaction Solutions dared readers to prove that their companies have what it takes to win the coveted CRM Excellence Award. Below is Part Two of the winners — the companies that offer the best and the brightest customer relationship management products and services, all to the benefit of their clients. Winners were chosen on hard data: quantifiable results that convinced us, without a doubt, their clients were infinitely better off with these companies’ products and services than without.

Congratulations to the winners!


Alorica Inc.
Helix by Alorica ' ASC Management
www.alorica.com

Alorica recently built an authorized service center (ASC) site for a large computer retailer, using the Helix product. The retailer was having difficulties involving delays and miscommunications between itself and its ASCs, prompting the company to search for a solution to facilitate communication. Post-implementation, the client reports: "The site has allowed our ASC partners to have information readily available to them at any given time. Our goal has been to listen to our partners' feedback, advise on site improvements and implement those improvements that we feel would benefit the majority of our partners. In recent months, we have received praise from our partners regarding the site, stating that it is very user-friendly and fast. The ASCs are able to request part orders very quickly, with a minimum amount of screens to maneuver through. Training on the site has been minimal, as it's an easy tool to use."

Amcat
Medicare Managed Services Desktop Application
www.amcat.com

The client, a large direct response company, reports, "Our contact center agents are less frustrated and morale has risen because the Amcat system ensures that their time is spent only speaking with customers." Amcat technology automatically filters out answering machines and busy signals. "Additionally, we use the Amcat HTML-based agent scripting program that guides the agent interactions and includes client and product information in the agent script. One huge advantage is that scripts can be changed easily and in real time to reflect industry variations such as new phones or tariffs. Finally, the success of the program is also measured by the number of call-backs we receive ' an impressive 83 percent."

APAC Customer Services, Inc.
Amcat Contact Center Suite 2005
www.apaccustomerservices.com

The client, a large health insurance provider, has experienced the following results after the implementation of the Medicare Managed Services Desktop application: improved call handling efficiency by nearly 12 percent; the creation of a Response Management system that validates, reads and translates PHS vendor files into one response system and auto-enters the member into the correct communication step according to their membership status and past communications; 360-degree business intelligence; and the integration of five disparate Medicare membership databases into one unified and customized view of member data. As a result, the company retained nearly 100 percent of its current Medicare base through the use of plan comparison and rate comparison tools.

Art Technology Group
ATG Customer Experience Platform
www.atg.com

A large book club retailer reports that since re-launching its integrated Web sites on one platform, with ATG technology at the core, its maintenance costs have steadily decreased, while productivity for both its IT and business staff has appreciably increased. Sales and customer satisfaction are up, and online operations are more efficient, agile and responsive. In fact, within two years, the client's sales increased 100 percent over the year prior to implementation and restructuring. Today the company is recognized as one of the top three book destinations on the Web.

Aspect Communications Corp.
Aspect Customer Self-Service
www.aspect.com

An Aspect customer since 1995, the client, a healthcare provider, employs 900 agents in nine contact center locations using five Aspect Call Center ACDs. The company's near-term goal is to integrate these locations so that from both the customer's perspective and management's perspective, they are one center. Asked what they like best about Aspect's solution, the client reports: "If you asked us 10 years ago, we would have said 'it's absolutely the ACD.' We first became an Aspect customer because their ACDs were top of the line and were the best that you could get anywhere. They never broke. They always worked. And they were flexible. If we had to answer that question today, we would say the thing we like most about Aspect is the direction that the company is taking with the vision to look at new technology and to be a partner in bringing technological solutions to meet the needs of businesses. We have business problems to solve and we need to partner with organizations that are forward-thinking."

Avaya Inc.
Avaya Customer Interactive Suite
www.avaya.com

An Alaska-based communications company using Avaya Customer Interactive Suite reports that 80 percent of all customer calls are answered in less than 180 seconds, versus 68 percent in the past. Customer satisfaction levels reflect this positive trend. Each month, the company asks 2,000 customers who have interacted with the contact center how they evaluate the experience. The company's managers compare those results with statistical reports from Operational Analyst, and with surveys of the call center agents. The most recent results in 2004 show 90 percent of customers are either highly satisfied or very satisfied with the service and support provided. This meets the company's aggressive customer satisfaction target of 90 percent.

Avolent, Inc.
BizCast
www.avolent.com

The client, a large office supply chain, has improved customer service and has reduced costs for billing and distribution of information through online presentment of more than four million accounts, 27 million invoices and 120 million invoice details. By enabling customers and internal collectors to download and distribute invoice information, the client has seen substantial cash savings associated with reduced paper "invoice reprint" requests and the process of handling more than 1,200 reprint downloads daily. ROI occurred in less than 18 months on paper savings alone. Annual in-house cost savings amounted to $1.7 million in labor, printing, postage and administration of invoices. The original target was $1 million annually.

BT
BT Contact Central
www.btplc.com

BT Contact Central has given the client's (a division of a large consumer electronics company) product engineers access to a single database of information and, as a result, cut laptop repair times by half a day. More efficient inventory management has led to a reduction of approximately $918,000 ('500,000) in the cost of warehouse stock. Also at the engineer's fingertips is an inventory of spare parts in stock, which can be requested instantly. This real-time inventory means there is no longer a need for the manual stock-taking process which used to be carried out once a month.

Cisco Systems
Cisco IP Contact Center (IPCC) Enterprise Edition
www.cisco.com

Before it could provision much-needed offshore contact centers or put new applications into production, the client, a bank, needed to resolve some thorny technology issues. The company's data network was a hybrid solution that required upgrading, and its voice services were primarily delivered through a TDM environment based on Nortel private branch exchange (PBX) systems. The bank implemented a Cisco network infrastructure from the ground up. At the same time, the company built its first two offshore, native-IP contact centers in Bangalore and Mumbai. The Cisco IP Contact Center and Cisco Internet Service Node were critical enabling technologies. Post-implementation, the bank has become a formidable competitor in the business process outsourcing industry, a $170 billion market growing at a 54 percent annual rate, according to International Data Corp. The bank's non-loan-based business grew by 94 percent over a recent 12-month period, with 212 percent growth in externally consumed (outsourced) services.

Concerto Software
Concerto EnsemblePro
www.concerto.com

The client, a financial services organization, found that by using desktop automation and skills-based routing, agent productivity increased by 32 percent. Presently, customer calls are matched to the proper agent based on skill set; and with "screen-pops," the agent has all the information needed to ask or answer the caller's questions. The client reports: "EnsemblePro has changed the way we view our call centers. With a fully functional, easy-to-use IVR and other new features, including our well-trained agents, we have been able to implement the best practices that help us get Six Sigma improvements and leverage our call center as a competitive advantage."

Edify Corp.
Edify Voice Interaction Platform/ATI's e-Government solution
www.edify.com

A California superior court system implemented a comprehensive interactive speech system that allows the public to obtain real-time information via the telephone at any time. The Jury Interactive module has been in production at the Court since 2003; the Criminal module ' including criminal records search requests ' is also live while the Traffic module is in final phases of testing. All have already returned or are expected to return considerable benefit. Rather than experiencing frustration with long voice messages, busy phone systems or in-person trips to handle issues, residents now have 24/7, self-service access to real-time jury, criminal and traffic information via the telephone or Internet. Callers use natural speech or touch-tone commands to submit requests or obtain court instructions. For instance, it is easier for jurors to confirm or postpone service with a few words via the phone or online clicks. Additionally, Spanish-speaking callers receive information in their native language.

FrontRange Solutions Inc.
GoldMine CRM Software
www.frontrange.com

When the client, a popular genealogical records Web site, found its rudimentary contact management system could not handle the rapid growth of its database of donors' and users' records, the organization turned to GoldMine software from FrontRange Solutions and FrontRange Partner Professional edge for customization services. Post-implementation, the client reports: "GoldMine is a common thread that runs through our business. Before GoldMine, sorting through 50,000 names in multiple databases was an unmanageable task. Our database is now almost at 100,000 users, and we are averaging 5,500 new registrations per month."

Knova Software Inc. (a merger of ServiceWare and Kanisa)
Kanisa Support Center
www.knova.com

A networking software vendor using Kanisa Support Center reports: "Our support reps preferred the Kanisa application without realizing it was Kanisa. We really liked Kanisa because it integrated well with Siebel, it had the analytics reports and views we needed, and its features were the easiest to use for our support engineers. They also showed us their product roadmap and nearly everything they talked about was in line with our requirements." Ultimately, the client was able to cut its total cost of ownership in half.

Live Person
Timpani Sales and Marketing
www.liveperson.com

A large online discount retailer, states: "We never stop searching for ways to better serve our customers. Adding permission-based chat has expanded our communication channels with customers and enables us to offer the best medium of interaction for each individual customer. Additionally, the return on investment we've experienced has surpassed our expectations, thanks in large part to the hard work of LivePerson's professional service team." Enhanced service and customer satisfaction has translated into increased sales for the retailer. As a result of offering live chat on targeted pages throughout its Web site, the retailer has increased average order size and improved conversion rates.

Microsoft Business Solutions
Microsoft CRM
www.microsoft.com

The client, a manufacturer of custom foot orthotics and customized footwear, installed Microsoft CRM to provide the information its sales and service representatives needed to serve clients quickly and effectively ' and to safeguard its confidential customer data. The company can now track, monitor and influence every customer interaction. In fact, all of the company's customer service and sales employees are now using Microsoft CRM. "With this combined system, our customer service staff are fully empowered and now have full visibility into our client base," said the company. The client scans all work orders and related documentation into Microsoft CRM, attaching the images to the respective work order record in Microsoft Great Plains. As a result, the company's customer service professionals have fingertip access to the information they need to answer customer questions and to resolve issues.

NetSuite
NetSuite
www.netsuite.com

The client, a company that provides imaging equipment to the dental industry, needed a scalable solution that could link directly into UPS. The client company reports: "The UPS integration is a great feature for our customers. Oftentimes they would ask us for status updates, and now we can provide it immediately. Instead of having to go to the shipper for the data, it is in our database and it doesn't matter who they call ' customer support, accounting, etc. ' we are all able to access it immediately." Because the customer data are concentrated in one location, the service reps no longer have to rummage through multiple computer files to find out what a customer ordered, what was owed or the shipment status.

NICE Systems
NICE Perform
www.nice.com

"Once NICE Perform was implemented, the client quickly realized that the solution can benefit the entire enterprise. For example, human resources is using it to identify new skill requirements to improve recruiting; the operations department for uncovering needs for new services (e.g., acting on a critical mass of requests for shipment services to a new geography with revenue potential); finance for improving days sales outstanding (DSO) by ensuring accounts receivable agents are offering the right payment options; IT to aid in the creation of a new order-entry system; and training for improving their focused quality training of new hires."

NOVO1
Orbital Customer Acquisition
www.novo1.net

NOVO1's Orbital Customer Acquisition program for a large wireless provider had NOVO1 utilizing a team of 10 TSRs, five days per week. All had extensive training and experience in wireless sales. Led by a project manager and one supervisor, they were backed by the client's dedicated account executive, the call center's COO and president, an IT specialist, a training manager and a team of quality-assurance managers and monitors. Customers were asked, "Have you considered an additional line for a child or loved one?" This question had no wrong answer. Any response was a TSR's invitation to offer the client's best advice on how its products and service plans can save the customer money and make life easier. Every contact was handled with the expectation that it could impact the client's future customer base in triplicate.

Onyx Software Corp.
Onyx Customer Management Suite
www.onyx.com

The client, a BPO provider, found that all of the information necessary for contact center employees to answer a call, find all the client information and solve the client's issue was all in one place, saving the company time and resource allocation. Executive management members have just started using the basic contact center reports of ReportNet and have already been able to gain better visibility and understanding into client and sales forecasting. The client is excited about the early results it's seen after only a few months post-installation. Benefits thus far have included the following: consistency in implementations, information and process; predictability and reliability in forecasting and profitability; huge efficiency gains in each department; and very high user acceptance and adoption with almost universal daily use of the Onyx solution.

PAR3
PAR3's Automated Customer Communications Solution
www.par3.com

The interactive, personalized voice and e-mail messages are enabling the client, a major U.S. airline, to do the following: replace the higher costs of outbound calls made by call center agents; reduce the costs of hard-mail drops and improve speed of communication to the consumer; elevate the message over routine e-mail and mail notices; increase the timeliness and reach of its communication with customers; communicate with more customers about issues they couldn't cost-justify before; provide multiple ways for consumers to "self-serve" or interact without involving costly human capital; and provide additional service through its direct channels which are not offered via third parties.

RightNow Technologies
RightNow CRM 7.0
www.rightnow.com

The client, a university, reports that its RightNow-powered information system has significantly reduced the amount of time its subject-matter experts must spend answering students' questions. This allows them to focus on their primary work responsibilities. The system brings together common questions and answers from across the university's various departments. Before implementation of the RightNow system, students would often have to inquire at several university offices before finding the answers they sought. Now they can quickly find those answers on the centralized Web site. More than 20,000 answers are viewed online by students on the system every month.

Saratoga Systems
iAvenue 6.4
www.saratogasystems.com

The client, a large investment company, reports: "The real power of consolidating the CRM effort becomes apparent when we are planning and coordinating sales and client service activities across the enterprise. A consolidated view of our clients and consultants enables us to collaborate on cross-business-unit client efforts, as well as uncover potential cross-selling opportunities." The centralized database reduces the chances of conflicting sales efforts while helping to ensure the right person is contacted at the prospect firm.

SITEL Corp.
SITEL Customer Care Services
www.sitel.com

The client, a business unit of a large aerospace company, provides in-flight, high-speed Internet and entertainment services. The organization chose to outsource customer care to SITEL, as it became apparent the client's challenges were too complicated for other customer care outsourcers. The association began with a testing phase, with SITEL providing technical and billing support by phone, e-mail and Web chat, and supporting multiple languages, including English, German, Chinese and Japanese. The client reports, "SITEL offered us the technology infrastructure and customer-care support we needed, and they were eager to help us find a flexible, cost-efficient approach as we launched our service with just a few airplanes."

SIVOX
SIVOX Recall
www.sivox.com

The client, a global integrated communications provider, reports that its trainees using SIVOX RealCall were found to be better prepared, in less time, than traditional call center trainees. The SIVOX RealCall trainees averaged better customer service scores, fewer calls on hold, less time on hold and registered fewer system errors than the control group. Significantly, SIVOX RealCall trainees handled 20 percent more calls versus trainees receiving traditional training. The client comments: "With role playing, you only get limited results. Role playing depends entirely on the skill levels of the agents involved. With SIVOX RealCall we can incorporate best practices at all times ' ensuring the interactions are what we expect once real customer calls are taken."

SugarCRM
Sugar Professional
www.sugarcrm.com

The client is a provider of physician revenue cycle management services that integrate workflow, billing and collections into a single service on a single Web-based technology platform. Post-implementation, the company reports: "Sugar Professional has become the platform for our vital business systems, which encompasses finance, sales, marketing and support. With Sugar Professional, the installation and customization is managed like a software development project, and the software is a function of our process now, not vice versa."

Syntellect
Continuum Self-Service
www.syntellect.com

A utility company that recently rolled out Continuum Self-Service reports: "Our voice-activated power outage-reporting system is one of the few in the country. Implementing this system has vastly improved our ability to pinpoint outages and the affected customers. With this system, customers both report their outage and confirm their report has been received. We find our voice-activated system is more customer-friendly and easier to use than touch-tone. As a result, we've seen significant improvements in customer satisfaction."

Talisma Corp.
Talisma 6.0
www.talisma.com

An online brokerage firm that implemented Talisma 6.0 has found that it is now able to handle a greater call volume and more e-mail volume per representative because of more efficient call distribution. The company has experienced increased efficiency in its call center because of the way Talisma's rule-based engine is able to distribute the contacts to customer care agents. Talisma also provides access to data that enable the client's agents to give higher-quality responses to customer questions.

Telephony@Work
CallCenterAnywhere
www.telephonyatwork.com

Since rolling out CallCenterAnywhere, the client, a division of a large office supply company, has made improvements in customer service, enhancing agent visibility and monitoring along with significantly improving its disaster contingency planning. Telephony@Work's browser-based thin clients add to the client's IT savings by eliminating administration costs at each location. They also enable any agent at any of their centers to log in from any desk without IT department intervention. The ability to apply skills-based routing discipline to get calls to the right people, regardless of their physical locations, offers the client even more cost savings by reducing per-call transaction times through improved productivity.

Tele-Response Center, Inc.
TeleReponse Center Blended Media Program
www.teleresponse.com

A national nonprofit charitable organization engaged Tele-Response Center to try an integrated approach that blended media for fundraising. TRC's performance-reporting capability allows the organization and TRC to monitor on a real-time basis, allowing TRC's client services team to make very specific recommendations to the client relative to the performance of specific cells. The client was able to watch the test results very carefully so as to make sure that poor performing segments were shut down before they exceeded acquisition cost targets. The organization estimates that Tele-Response Center's contribution to its new strategy for donor reactivation should yield several thousand reactivated donors per year, and their gifts to the organization should be worth several hundred thousand dollars per year.

TELUS - Hosted service powered by Telephony@Work's
CallCenterAnywhere technology
www.telus.com

"[CallCenterAnywhere] is a complete [contact center] solution hosted by TELUS. The service is built on award-winning technology developed by Telephony@Work. In this hosted model, the actual system and its hardware reside at TELUS, where it's available to TELUS clients on a monthly 'per-seat' basis. Instead of a capital investment, TELUS clients have a predictable, fixed monthly cost. They can offer multichannel communications to their customers, have their solution up and running in as few as 12 days and leave all maintenance and support to TELUS."

UniPress Software
The FootPrints Hosting Service
www.unipress.com

The client, an Internet security company, reports that after working with FootPrints for nine months, it has decided to migrate to the FootPrints Hosting Service to eliminate the need for its own IT department to manage the system in-house. Because the licensed (FootPrints) and hosted (the FootPrints Hosting Service) versions leverage a Web-based platform, the client was able to easily and seamlessly move its existing data over without disrupting its operations. Since the migration to the FootPrints Hosting Service, the client has achieved 99.9 percent up-time, crediting the system's performance and reliability. As of 2004, the client had seen 30 million downloads of its products and more than eight million customers.

VoiceLog, LLC
VirtualLogger
www.voicelog.com

The client, a teleservices agency, now provides recording that is adjustable based on client specifications of how much or how little they need recorded. Most importantly, with VirtualLogger's Web interface, the client has easy and immediate access to all of its recordings, making its client base much more satisfied. The agency has since reallocated the eight full-time employees at a savings of $360,000 per year and has replaced aging equipment that no longer fits the company's business needs. VirtualLogger was installed with little assistance required from the client (in fact, the CTO was on travel at the time!). Installation was completed in less than 30 days.

VXI Corporation Inc.
VXI Passport Headsets
www.vxicorp.com

During the evaluation process, VXI Passport was selected by the client as a headset of choice by the company's call center managers after test results showed VXI out-performing the other two leading headset manufacturers' in sound quality, comfort and ease of setup. Additionally, because VXI Passport headsets are the only products that are compatible with the other two leading manufacturers' disconnects, it was easy for this call center company to integrate VXI's Passport headsets into their centers. Ultimately, the client found that by switching to VXI's Passport headsets, it obtained a 30 percent reduction in headset acquisition spending.

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