Shopping, From A To Z
Its the holiday season and like any
good American, its time to do that uniquely American thing and beat the
devil by shopping. Unfortunately, I cant get the silly shopping
song by Toni Basil I have used as the title of this column out of my
head, but will try long enough to present some new items contact center
managers would be pleased to see under their trees on Christmas morning.
The benefits of distributed contact centers are many,
and as more companies look to move away from the one large central center
model, a problem that has cropped up is the management of information
across centers, where often (especially in companies that have gone
through mergers and acquisitions), there are platforms from a variety of
vendors. Aspect Communications has
been working on improving the handling of data analysis since it launched
its Customer DataMart product five years ago. According to Tom Lockwood,
senior product marketing manager at Aspect, DataMart 3.0 can provide
reporting on multiple channels and sites and integrates with switches from
Avaya and Nortel Networks, so that contact
center managers can now obtain information from these platforms in
real-time to design multidimensional data models that aid intelligent
decision making for business profitability. Lockwood said DataMart 3.0
provides features for reporting against geographically based queries and
provides multiple summary periods, allowing managers to more easily
perform profitability analysis while protecting their current technology
investments. For example, companies can now
identify not only which of their service representatives are the most
efficient, but also which are the most valuable to the business based on
data about transactions they complete. Users can also identify the
contacts that are driving sales, the representatives who are best able to
meet the expectations of customers and can even help segment customers and
prospects according to the value they bring to the business.
The Best Tools Available
For small to medium-sized businesses looking to
provide tools for sales, marketing and support automation, Best Software has released
SalesLogix 6.0. Tim Fargo, SalesLogix general manager, said that version
6.0 brings breakthrough levels of architectural enhancements to the
popular sales automation software through strong advocacy of integration
(with applications built using Visual Basic, Visual Studio .NET, or any
other development environment that supports industry-standard Microsoft
ADO data access), by having moved security and synchronization to the data
provider layer, by providing the ability to configure advanced features in
the change engine, by providing high levels of productivity for sales
managers through reducing the number of clicks needed to do important
tasks, through integration of the Web client with Microsoft Outlook and
through strong access to support portals. In all, there are more than 200
new feature and architectural enhancements in SalesLogix 6.0. Among the
enhancements are: A Sales Client User Interface that allows users to
manage multiple addresses within account and contact records; tighter
integration with Microsoft Office; mail merge improvements; an AutoSync
feature for mobile employees; enhanced Web client functionality; and an
improved Support WebTicket that has an integrated knowledge base with
keyword highlighting and automatic creation of FAQs, a customer
self-service portal with two-way communication, the addition of activities
and attachments to tickets by both employees and customers, and employee
visibility to defects, RMAs and ticket changes.
With the profusion of messages spurred
by e-mail, sales people are finding it to be more and more difficult to
cut through the clutter and get their messages across to potential buyers.
To combat this situation, Conjoin
created Field.First, an application designed to allow sales personnel to
quickly create personalized messages and track responses. Bill Kantor,
vice president of sales and marketing at Conjoin, led me through a product
tour, and Field.First is both easy to use and effective. Consisting of
five parts, it allows the building of a personalized Web site and e-mail
that can be used to present a more targeted message to potential clients.
The Presentation Builder allows users to quickly find and insert the most
relevant data to present to clients. The Briefing Center provides
Briefing Rooms through which sales personnel can share account-related
documents, best practices and account strategy via discussion forums, and
evolve proposals and other required deliverables. Using the Customer
WebSite Builder, sales personnel can create personalized Web sites for
their customers that contain materials specific to the customers needs.
The system automatically delivers the URL and passcode to customers and
alerts the sales person whenever the customer visits the site. Using the
Content Manager, the sales person can sort all available marketing content
in accordance with specific parameters. A built-in taxonomy sorts
documents and old material is automatically removed and archived through
the Content Lifecycle Management feature. My Field.First presents sales
personnel with a personalized page that summarizes new content and
materials relevant to their business focus.
The One Network
Nortel Networks has unveiled
its new enterprise strategy, One Network. World of Choice, which,
according to Vicki Marvich, director, customer contact and voice portal
solutions at Nortel, is a vision that is about more than just technology,
as it is a way of examining business processes as well. Marvich said
Nortel starts by defining a model of how the company works by examining
- What is the companys customer strategy?
- What is the companys utilization of customer knowledge?
- Where is the company from a technology standpoint?
- What is the companys measurement of success?
By defining how the company works,
Nortel can then offer solutions that will provide optimum success. Marvich
said Nortel also groups companies into categories based on how they deal
with their customers. The categories they divide companies into as far as
their customer relationships are: Siloed (customer information is
isolated), linked (have some customer segmentation), integrated
(personalized) and engaged (deliver information to the customer). To
provide the best service and operate optimally, companies need to engage
their customers, partners and suppliers. According to research by Nortel,
85 percent of companies today are in the siloed and linked categories,
which means there is a lot of work to be done by businesses to realize
companies in their completion of this goal, Nortel also released three new
products: CallPilot Release 2.0, Succession CSE 1000 Release 2.0 and
BayStack 460-24-PWR Power over Ethernet Switch. Call Pilot, a unified
messaging platform, now provides more than 40 new features and
capabilities, among them Symposium Call Center Server integration, a new
mobility bundle, and fully functional Web browser interfaces. Succession
CSE 1000 is a fully distributed IP-PBX solution designed to allow
customers to maximize their WAN and LAN environments by converging voice
and data while optimizing business-critical applications and features.
BayStack 460-24T-PWR is a resilient, secure, stackable switch that
provides power over Ethernet capabilities to IEEE P802.3af-compliant
devices such as IP phones, wireless access points and net cameras.
To aid companies in providing more
effective speech applications, speechvantage
has released its OLIVE (On-line Interactive Voice Exchange) Suite.
According to Chetan Patel, CEO of speechvantage, speechvantage was formed
to provide solutions for and in cooperation with GMACs Mortgage Hub, so
it is natural that they are launching vertical-specific, packaged
solutions for financial services. Other verticals they will target include
retail, pharmaceuticals, health care and clinical trials.
Included in the OLIVE Suite are: The
OLIVE Voice-Activated Outlook & Lotus Notes, which reads and replies
to e-mail messages over any phone and adds unified messaging to desktops
so that voice messages can be sent as e-mail notifications; the OLIVE
Speech-Enabled Auto Attendant, which acts as an automated receptionist
that can answer calls 24/7/365; the OLIVE Voice-Activated Emergency
Contact List, which eliminates the need to search for telephone numbers
and update critical contact lists; the OLIVE Passworks
Speech-Enabled Password Reset System, which is a speech security solution
that enables individuals to automatically unlock or reset passwords on
WinNT/2000 log on accounts by utilizing voice biometric verification
technologies; and The OLIVE Voice-Activated Dialing System, which
eliminates the need for users to create and update extension lists.
Tracking Online Shoppers
Since it is the holiday season, and I try to avoid the mall by
shopping online, one tool I wish would be found on more Web sites is S.L.I. Systems Learning Search.
According to Shaun Ryan, S.L.I Systems CEO, Learning Search is a search
service that keeps track of what people search for, how often they search,
and measures relevance on the site. It also measures behavior, the time
people are on a site and how they search the results returned by the
search engine. This is not only a helpful tool for consumer sites, but
could prove a boon to help desk/customer support providers as well.
Learning Search logs every search and click on search results visitors
make to a Web site that uses Learning Search. This data is then processed
(on a daily basis) to improve search results. Learning Search is a meta
searcher, so it is able to search many different sources simultaneously
and combine the results from the sources. It also has the ability to
include pictures in the search results and other graphics and links, such
as a buy button beside products. As Learning Search was initially
developed for NBCi, Learning Search is extremely scalable. For example, at
NBCi it processed more than one million search requests daily. Each search
request searched through an index of more than two million sites.
For small to
mid-market companies looking to find a multimedia contact center solution,
New Zealand-based Zeacom is moving
into the U.S. market with its Q-Master product. Zeacom was founded in 1994
and, according to Zeacoms president and CEO Miles Valentine, the
company built the call control component of Q-Master first, then the
routing component before moving on to the other modules of Q-Master.
Zeacom first licensed its technology to NEC in Australia in 1996, and has
alliances with Cisco, Avaya and NEC, among others. Valentine said Zeacoms
market is second-tier financial services companies, health care providers
and help desk applications, and that Zeacom is focused on selling
installations of 100 seats and below.
provides multimedia skills-based routing and handling capabilities for
e-mail, fax, Web chat and callback, using the same engine as the telephony
component. The various components of Q-Master include: Q-Control, which
routing, reporting, administration and multimedia queuing; Q-Announce, which handles calls in
queue, announcements and has an auto-attendant; Q-Desktop, which provides
CTI capabilities, contact database and real-time call statistics;
Q-Callback, an option for providing callbacks to callers on hold; Q-Outdial, which provides dedicated
outbound or blended inbound/outbound calling campaign management; Q-Web
Callback, which allows Internet users to request a callback from a Web
site; Q-Email, which queues e-mail requests using skills-based routing to
deliver the e-mail to the most appropriate agent; Q-Web Chat, which
provides text chat capabilities; and Q-IVR, which allows companies to
design customized interactive voice response applications. Zeacom also
provides Chorus, a product Valentine described as voice mail on
steroids, which integrates
with Outlook and Lotus calendars and provides user profiles, caller
profiles and desktop call control.
I hope you get all of your shopping done
in time, have a happy holiday and find something under your tree that will
help relieve your contact center headaches.
The author may be contacted at email@example.com.