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Technology Highlights
November 2000

Keep Your Customers Connected: Four Customer Interaction Solutions

00CCSed.gif (3861 bytes) e-point 5: eCRM Support For The Customer Lifecycle
Increasingly savvy e-customers are beginning to embrace the latest technologies, including personal digital assistants and other WAP-enabled wireless devices. Point Information Systems, Inc. recognizes that customers prefer (and respond better to) e-commerce sites that allow them to use their preferred mode of communication for information, sales and services. Besides personalization, Point believes that an eCRM solution must be built on a solid technical foundation, offer an integrated channel strategy, increase brand equity and facilitate both speed to market and support a global reach. As a consequence, Point unveiled e-point 5, the next generation of its "channel-independent" eCRM product. Designed to allow companies to deploy a single eCRM product and provide dedicated solutions for contact center, direct sales, self-service and partner channels, e-point 5 can enable companies to integrate and optimize these channels for customer satisfaction and retention. Based on open standards (such as XML, COM and CORBA), e-point supports all customer interaction channels, and the solution's components reside on top of a central CRM Hub. Built around Point's multi-client, n-tier architecture, it is a multichannel platform that co-hosts CRM applications and business functionality and is meant to enable CRM strategies that optimize interactions, help to build better relationships and manage, analyze and increase the value of new e-customers. e-point also provides dedicated consoles for customization, administration and management. e-point Connectors are designed to seamlessly link the core e-point suite with back-end systems (e.g., ERP and legacy systems), Web collaboration, e-mail response management, consumer data and other desktop/office applications. The e-Point Contact Center leverages Point's eCRM architecture to bring core marketing, sales and service functionality to multimedia customer interaction. The suite also includes a self-service channel for customers; a Partner Portal that provides channel partners an independent and interactive window on corporate CRM for sharing customer information, marketing collateral and intelligence materials, etc.; and e-point Mobile, a solution providing CRM functionality to field-based personnel using laptops and wireless devices.
No. 529, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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00CCSed.gif (3861 bytes) Vertical's Integrated CRM Solutions For The Small Office/Business

As you have either read in these pages or experienced firsthand, the physically complex, hardware-heavy technology that required significant investment of capital and resources put many elements of customer resource management beyond the reach of most small- to medium-size businesses. Vertical Networks makes and sells the InstantOffice Integrated Communications Platform (ICP), a standards-based platform that combines voice and data functionality along with support for third-party applications. The InstantOffice system interoperates with a range of legacy devices and systems and, since it is geared for smaller businesses and branch offices, it is designed to deliver integrated voice/data networking that is easier to manage and has a lower cost of ownership than traditional communications infrastructures. Working in partnership with Interactive Intelligence, Inc., Vertical's InstantOffice ICP was integrated with contact center applications from Interactive Intelligence to provide a comprehensive customer contact solution called InstantOffice Contact Center (IOCC). The intent is to provide smaller businesses with broad functionality, such as ACD, skills-based routing, multimedia queuing, IVR, Web capabilities, digital phone support and reporting features. IOCC includes a multimedia solution for automating strategic call center operations, leveraging the voice, data and application capabilities of the ICP. The product also integrates with back-office applications using standard APIs such as ODBC.

Vertical also offers InstantOffice Call Routing and Queuing (CRQ), which the company said is designed for smaller offices that require intelligent internal call routing but do not need the full IOCC solution. InstantOffice CRQ is designed for rapid deployment on the InstantOffice ICP and is intended to handle the rising call loads of smaller inbound call centers. Even with limited IT experience, smaller businesses can customize, monitor and manage this solution for optimizing service levels and staff productivity. Since the InstantOffice platform is modular in concept, customers can choose to tailor a solution to their existing infrastructure (selecting specific modules to complement their existing investment in legacy equipment) and migrate to other InstantOffice functionality as the need arises.
No. 530, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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Editors' Choice Awards Mid-Market Communications Solution From Shoreline

Shoreline Communications Inc. has identified what it believes are three major concerns of mid-market enterprises: a single voice platform that will grow with the business; improved ability to manage customer relationships; and simplicity, flexibility and control of the system. Its response to these issues is Release 2.2 of the Shoreline IP Communication System and its vCare 1.0 software environment of business productivity applications. Besides increasing the support capability for up to 5,000 users, the new release provides improved performance of voice communications across Wide Area Networks (WANs) and now supports the G.729 voice compression protocol, which reduces the size of voice packets traveling across the WAN. Shoreline customers can now distribute voice services (such as voice mail and automated attendant) across the network and place them closer to large user groups. This reduces WAN bandwidth usage by enabling users to retrieve voice mail messages locally and gives users the flexibility to support a distributed server architecture. The new system also includes support of a PC-based "softphone," providing inexpensive voice network access for local and remote users. Shoreline's IP Voice Communications System is based on its Distributed Internet Voice Architecture (DIVA) software, a standards-based architecture that leverages ShoreGear IP voice switches to distribute voice communications intelligence throughout the network. Release 2.2 can support 5,000 users by leveraging Shoreline's SoftSwitch technology, intelligent directory services software that links users across multiple voice domains in the enterprise. The solution can be managed as a single, integrated system. vCare 1.0 is a converged IP infrastructure supporting multiple customer care architectures, such as distributed customer care with nondedicated agents, distributed agent-based call center environments and distributed voice and integrated CRM. It is location-independent for simplified, single management of multisite communications. vCare's voice-enabled, distributed CRM and virtual customer care features queuing, IVR, routing and screen pop and integrates with third-party distributed call center applications.
No. 531, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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Editors' Choice Awards Cisco E-Mail Manager Version 4.0

With the ability to rapidly access information, select and buy goods and services through the Internet, e-customers are not willing to wait very long for responses to their queries from online businesses. One challenge facing e-businesses is dealing with increasing volumes of e-mail in a multimedia, interactive environment while trying to reduce the time of generating (and increase the efficacy of) a response. Cisco Systems, Inc.'s E-Mail Manager is a comprehensive, enterprise-class solution for managing high volumes of customer inquiries submitted to a company mailbox or Web site. Based on customizable business rules, it is designed to accelerate the response process by directing messages to the right agent or support team, categorizing and prioritizing messages, suggesting relevant response templates or sending automated replies. A browser-based interface provides agents with the productivity tools and knowledge resources for providing fast, accurate and personalized responses to customers. E-Mail Manager gives managers automated service level management, real-time and historical reporting and bulk management tools they need to ensure that service standards are met, to gain valuable insight into customer needs and to generate new revenue opportunities.

Version 4.0's enhancements include new flexible productivity and management tools and new platform support. Flexible productivity tools enable integration of E-Mail Manager with an existing customer relationship management (CRM) system. They are intended to provide a more personalized experience for the customer and increase levels of efficiency in the customer operation. Version 4.0 also features an API for consultant integrators to immediately begin integrating E-Mail Manager with various CRM systems and other external data sources. New case management tools for agents to reassign or escalate inquiries are also featured. Management tools include configurable, time-based and load-based thresholds for personal and group e-mail queues and provide the ability to define detailed workflow for messages and queues that hit queue-specific thresholds. Automated actions can include pager notification and escalation or spillover to other queues. Other new management features include additional rules-based processing that can be performed on each message to qualitatively define actions based on categories, mailbox, priority, etc. Real-time monitoring screens provide information on current agent activity and performance, including the average handling time of a message response. Based on a platform-independent, Web-based architecture, Cisco E-Mail Manager now supports Sun Solaris, Windows 2000 and expanded support for version 4.0 of Windows NT.
No. 532, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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