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Technology Highlights
September 2002


New Solutions For CRM And VXML


2002 Editors' Choice Awards

eCRM Suite From Firstwave

Richard Brock, founder and CEO of Firstwave, who has spent nearly 20 years developing software for the CRM market, compared many CRM packages to someone going to a gym and continually adding weights to their workout, which just doesn't make sense if the person ends up stacking on more weights than they can lift. Brock said that instead of trying to compete on feature lists, Firstwave, in the release of version 8.0 of it eCRM Suite, concentrated on fit instead of features, listening to its customers and studying how they work (Firstwave also worked with a third-party to conduct usability surveys). 'We develop technology to help people use our system by starting at the end user and working back. The essence of software is that it is prescripted. Ours is not prescripted but adaptive,' said Brock.

As a result of listening to suggestions from their customers, Firstwave added functional improvements on how the eCRM Suite looks and operates in version 8.0. The product is tailored for each client and the screens are customizable with Firstwave's eWorkbench toolbox. The new interface is designed to allow for faster and easier navigation, reducing the number of clicks needed to reach information and perform important tasks. Each group of users can have a customized view within the application so all of the group's relevant data is readily accessible. Firstwave's eCRM 8.0 also provides fast access to client information by its 'one-click' data export to Microsoft Excel and new sales analysis reports.

The eCRM 8.0 solutions include: eMarketing, which creates, executes and tracks one-to-one marketing campaigns that are tied to return on investment objectives; eSales, which is used to develop more accurate forecasts, measure effectiveness, up-sell and close accounts; eService, which is used to provide customer service that anticipates customers' needs; and u.Dialog, which is used to proactively control the flow of information between sales, marketing and support.

Firstwave is also unbundling the product into two distinct modules, which can be sold separately. The Sales and Marketing module is now the base product that is delivered to customers with each sale, while the Services module will be available to those who wish to purchase it separately.

www.firstwave.net / 770-431-1313

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2002 Editors' Choice Awards

Genesys Voice Portal

According to Joe Heinen, vice president of strategic marketing at Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, more enterprises are trying to find seamless bridging between self-service and assisted service so they will have the ability for live agents to jump in when opportunity is there. Heinen said that Contact Navigator in version 6 of the Genesys Suite gave the agent desktop customer data and chat tools, and with the Genesys Voice Portal, there is now a Genesys wrapper around customer contacts from first point of contact to last point of analysis tools.

Ashish Gupta, vice president of marketing and business development at Telera (which was recently acquired by Genesys' parent, Alcatel), said that users want to change the economics of voice by adding the ability to use off-the-shelf hardware. The advantage of voice is that it is a natural bridge for self-service and more and more information is being opened up for phone access. Gupta added that there are two large categories ready to take advantage of the voice portal: 1) business-to-customer information (such as obtaining account balances, transferring funds, requesting literature, checking flight status, ordering products and scheduling services) and 2) business-to-employee (giving employees access to personal information and voice-activated dialing).

The Genesys Voice Portal is an open, standards-based software solution that is designed to leverage Voice XML and other Web standards to provide 24x7 access to information using natural voice commands; supports 'in front of' or 'behind' the switch configurations; supports advanced network routing, self-service, intelligent queuing and routing; leverages the existing Genesys reporting capabilities of Contact Center Analyzer and Contact Center Pulse to provide real-time and historical reporting across self- and assisted-service; provides for central configuration and management through the Genesys Configuration Management Environment; is integrated with leading speech recognition engines; and provides a migration path for enterprises moving from a circuit-switched to a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) converged network.

Voice Portal has three primary software components that can reside on a single server or can be separated onto individual servers. The Voice Communications Server terminates incoming calls, delivers VXML scripts and transfers callers to the appropriate contact center resource. The Voice Portal Manager is a Web-based interface that is used to configure and manage the Voice Portal components. Genesys Studio is a drag-and-drop development tool for the creation of VXML-based applications.

www.genesyslab.com / 415-437-1078

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2002 Editors' Choice Awards

Helix 2002 By Alorica

Alorica has added new mobile capabilities to it Helix 2002 CRM software that are designed to improve its mobile field service and warehouse offerings. According to Mark Biskeborn, Alorica product marketing manager, CTI capabilities will allow agents to receive customer information and agents can perform searches in the knowledge base, which provides intelligence to determine the helpfulness of the answer. Biskeborn added that field service agents now can get dispatch information via wireless devices and that back-end information and business rules can schedule service visits automatically.

Through its support of mobile applications, Helix 2002 provides service representatives with up-to-date product and customer information before they arrive on a repair site through wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs) and Web-enabled cell phones. The Web-based software's compatibility with RF scanners further assists in facilitating inventory processes by delivering real-time product availability updates. Field service agents can now update inventory status and retailers can track warrantee costs through Helix and manufacturers can track problems with products. Agents can now give customers real-time information on the status of field repairs and can create RMA (returned materials authorization) so that returned parts can be tracked through reverse logistics.

The new Knowledge Base element provides call center and online tech support personnel, as well as customers through self-help Web portals, with up-to-date information for such vital customer support issues as product diagnostics, repair processing and warranty management. Through the use of the Knowledge Base component, call center agents immediately recognize who is calling, what products have been purchased and the warranty status of each product. Once a problem with a product is presented, the software guides the call center representative through a series of actions to resolve any customer issue, if at all possible, while they are on the phone.

Helix 2002 is compatible with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Oracle as well as Microsoft's Windows CE and Palm operating systems. The Web-based software also provides real-time business intelligence on all consumer purchase and service behavior.

www.alorica.com / 909-606-3600

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2002 Editors' Choice Awards

VXML For Aspect's IP Contact Suite

Enhancing the versatility that comes with an all-IP-based system, Aspect Communications has added voice self-service capabilities to its IP Contact Suite. Brian Anderson, product marketing manager for Aspect's IP Contact Suite, pointed out that with an all-IP suite of products, the switch and call control are all within the software, not the hardware, which allows for greater flexibility in handling all contact channels and reductions in integration and infrastructure costs (the system can operate on standard Windows 2000 servers). Anderson added that the IP Contact Suite supports SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and softphones from Cisco, Siemens and Pingtel, as well as Microsoft's NetMeeting.

The IP Contact Suite provides a single development environment for creating routing rules that handle self- and live service through voice, the Web and e-mail. Aspect's software is standards-based and integrates with VXML 2.0, allowing customers to perform the same self-service functions over the phone that they perform on the Web. Using natural language (through support of speech recognition software from Nuance and SpeechWorks), customers can request information, fill out forms and place orders. The enterprise uses the same databases, application servers and business rules as it does for the Web to process the voice self-service interactions.

The Aspect IP Contact Suite enables integrated multichannel communications, including traditional voice technologies (PSTN), VoIP, e-mail and Web collaboration. Voice traffic travels over the same IP network as data and other communications such as e-mail and Web-based communications, as opposed to over a traditional separate circuit-switched network. Aspect's solution merges all communication into a unified queue and delivers it to the integrated desktops of service representatives. One network for voice and data centralizes administration, and the browser-based desktop applications allow the representatives to respond to contacts via all channels on a single desktop interface.

The single development interface also helps to reduce application development time and costs. Aspect's self-service technology provides automated customer service, using links to databases and platforms to ensure that customers have access to the appropriate information needed to complete transactions. The software gives customers the ability to request live assistance, routing the contact along with relevant information to the appropriate representative.

www.aspect.com / 877-621-3692

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