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July 2000


Rich Tehrani

The Metamorphosis Of A Teleservices Agency


Go To Sidebar: Internet Telephony: The Most Dramatic Change In The CRM Market

I love technology...I really do. There is probably no bigger proponent of increased efficiency and productivity through effective use of technology than yours truly. As a result, I was impressed and interested when I recently learned that TeleSpectrum Worldwide, one of the largest teleservices agencies in the country, has embraced the principles of the Web, CRM, e-commerce and e-satisfaction.

If you have read my past columns, you know I have made it clear that the days of traditional call center outsourcing are numbered. The Internet continues to drive change throughout the customer interaction space and those service agencies that are late to the game will probably sink. In the April and May 2000 issues of this publication, I held a question-and-answer session with some service agency executives to discuss the future of these outsourcers in the era of the Internet. Many of these executives agreed that without change, their days as traditional call center outsourcers are numbered.

At C@LL CENTER CRM Solutions' Annual Top 50 Teleservices Awards meeting at Communications Solutions EXPO held in April in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to speak with many executives whose companies are at the pinnacle of success. Some of these executives told me their agencies are the backbone of many dot com companies, such as financial institutions or discount ticket-purchasing sites. On the flip side, other executives surprised me by telling me the principles of CRM and e-commerce do not apply to their market segment. Many more, however, said they are struggling to figure out where to take their companies in the future and are unsure how to adapt in a Web-enabled world.

So when I learned that TeleSpectrum Worldwide had begun to implement changes in its organization to cope with an evolving market that focuses on customer interactions through a variety of media, I wanted to learn more. It seems this company is further along than most of its competitors. Delving deeper into the company's strategy, I was impressed.

The story began just over a year ago when TeleSpectrum realized it needed a strong Web strategy to lead it into the future. The company decided to bring in outside consultants to help it realize its vision of becoming a world-class CRM and e-business services company.

Executives at TeleSpectrum made the decision to focus on Web-based customer care, encompassing multiple touch points and channels to manage customer interactions from the acquisition phase to the customer maintenance phase. The company put its energies into developing ChannelCare, a multichannel CRM outsourcing subsidiary that handles cradle-to-grave relationships with customers.

To further realize this vision, TeleSpectrum knew it needed to rebuild its technology infrastructure. It decided to partner with both Siebel Systems and Genesys (now a division of Alcatel), relying on these partners to help it attain the cutting edge of customer relationship management.

TeleSpectrum then went one step further in realizing complete CRM solutions by purchasing Customer Insites, Inc., an Internet satisfaction measurement company. By coupling this new acquisition with TARP, TeleSpectrum's existing customer satisfaction measurement subsidiary, TeleSpectrum created e-Satisfy, a new subsidiary that focuses on measuring multichannel customer satisfaction through e-mail, chat, voice over Internet Protocol, traditional brick-and-mortar and Web connections.

The existing part of the business, the part that those of us in the call center industry would refer to as "outbound," is now called TeleSpectrum Acquisition. Sure, acquisition means the same thing as outbound, but positioning is everything these days and "acquisition" has a better ring than "outbound."

What excites me most about TeleSpectrum is the e-Satisfy division, which was formed to focus on perpetuating great customer experiences through the use of monitoring software and techniques. The need for such a service should be evident to anyone who has ever shopped extensively on the Web. Recent studies show customer satisfaction rates on the Web can be as low as an abysmal 36 percent.

The flagship service offered by e-Satisfy is called Site Monitor, which uses online surveys to measure how consumers feel about your Web site. Surveys consist of about 8 to 10 questions and can be organized to appear at preset or random intervals on your Web site. Furthermore, the service can help you learn why some surfers become customers and others don't. The data are updated in reports that are available around-the-clock and can be compared against the customer data of competitors in the industry.

With change comes opportunity, and certainly the call center market has morphed, becoming part of a broader CRM and eCRM market closely tied to various advances in electronic customer contact. What TeleSpectrum has done makes a great deal of sense and is an example of how brick-and-mortar companies need to evolve if they expect to stay competitive. If you are a traditional outsourcer or any other company that is trying to wish away the rapid evolution of the industry, I can guarantee that you will shortly be finding it necessary to draft your resume.


Rich Tehrani
Group Publisher

[ return to the July 2000 table of contents ]

Internet Telephony: The Most Dramatic Change In The CRM Market

If you are grappling with ways to serve your customers in the age of the Web and e-commerce, you need to know how VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) communications will alter the way you manage both customer and internal interactions.

IP has rapidly transformed the future of communications. It provides a standard and open protocol for the transmission of voice, video, fax and data. This technology has dramatic implications. A great example of this technology may be seen on Web sites that allow you to connect your customers to live agents and further allow these agents to take control of a customer's browser. There is no substitute for live interaction on the Web. If you plan on being involved in any type of volume sales or service in the future, you must make use of these technologies in your organization.

The ideal place to learn about the technology behind IP-based communications is at the second-annual INTERNET TELEPHONY EXPO, which will take place October 4-6 at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. The editors of this magazine's sister publication, INTERNET TELEPHONY, and the engineers of TMC Labs have come together again and this time will present you with a cutting-edge conference program and in-formation that you will find nowhere else.

Detailed descriptions of all the sessions are beyond the scope of this column, so I will provide you with just a taste of some tracks you can't afford to miss. If you would like more in-depth information, please visit our Web site and remember, if you register by July 25th, you will save over $300. Please register early, as space is extremely limited in the Hotel Del Coronado, a world-renowned resort.

IP Telephony 101. Learning the basics is the premise of this beginner class. Get your feet wet in this exciting industry.

Voice-Enabled E-commerce: Choices And Opportunities. This is the session every reader needs to attend. By integrating contact centers and the Web, you can look forward to increased customer satisfaction, purchasing and higher profits.

Telecommuting Via IP: New Solutions, New Options. Finally, the world is your office. Struggling to keep talent? With the latest IP-based telecommuting technology, you can provide workers anywhere in the world identical functionality to what they would get in the office. Don't limit your talent pool to a 30-minute drive from your office.

IP-PBXs: A New Breed Of Enterprise Switch. Believe it or not, your legacy iron is doomed. IP-PBXs have been on the market for years and they are reliable, scalable and able to make short work of the toughest call center demands.

The Business Case For IP Telephony. We all know that IP-based communication is in our future, but perhaps key players in your company have more questions about how to benefit from this technology. Look no further than this course for your answers.

Benefit From The Productivity Gains And Economics Of Internet Telephony. This in-depth session will make your head spin with an array of options, including "call-me" and "click-to-call" applications.

The Prodigal App: Fax-Over-IP. A market worth upwards of $100 billion dollars deserves respect. Internet fax increases flexibility and allows your company to save substantial amounts of money.

Enterprise Internet Telephony Gateways: Selection And Implementation. If you are multinational, multidivisional or about to acquire or be acquired, you can use these gateways to provide enhanced services to your users and save a bundle on long-distance service in the process.

LAN-Based Telephony: One Less Wire. Learn how to increase your company's productivity when you couple this technology with the ability to provide agents Web-based call control, unified messaging, video conferencing and more.

Voice Over DSL: Broadband Nirvana Or Pipe Dream? With so many service providers competing for your voice business, have you considered DSL as a viable option? You should. Come find out why.

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