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February 2002

Rich Tehrani Old Pluvius


February. Charles Baudelaire referred to it in his poem Spleen from Les Fleur du Mal as, Old Pluvius, month of rains, in peevish mood pours from his urn chill winters sodden gloom. Sure, in February, the daylight is short (besides, I live in Connecticut, not Paris, and February means snow, not rains), but as opposed to sodden gloom, to me February has meant we have spent January catching up from the long Christmas/New Years break and the attendant reflection on the old year and the resolutions of the new, and are now ready to get back to business in earnest.

For me, February also means another information-packed issue of Customer Inter@ction Solutions. This month, Im especially excited about the Communications Solutions section, which makes its debut in this issue of Customer Inter@ction Solutions. As the influence and functions of contact centers (through CRM, collaboration and e-commerce) spread throughout the enterprise, this new section will allow us to expand our scope of coverage to keep up with the changes. As Chris Donner reports in Mission-Critical Call Centers, the feature article in Communications Solutions, with IP networks, multimedia, e-commerce and m-commerce, we see the inevitable displacement, or at least challenge, of the traditional PBX/PBX-adjunct solution. Chris seeks out the opinions of Jon Shapiro, CEO of Alliance Systems, Greg Colaluca, vice president of services of e-talk and Roger Iannetta, product manager, DC Networks Division, at APC, to explore how capacity, uptime, service/ upgrade assurances, application availability, costs and power control stack up with industrial computers versus off-the-shelf PCs. If you are truly interested in keeping your contact center up and running 24/7, I urge you to read Chris article. As well as providing articles, the Communications Solutionssection will bring you the latest news on communications convergence technologies and provide guides to providers in this space.

February is also the month for us to honor the winners our annual MVP Quality Awards. The companies represented here have submitted impressive documentation of the quality procedures they practice in their contact centers, and we are proud to provide them to you as bastions of quality. And while Im speaking of quality, the Call Center/CRM Management Scope section features two articles, the first by Pamela Trickey and Penny Reynolds of The Call Center School, and the second by Frank Nigro of WorldCom, that address one of the most crucial determining factors in providing quality online service: your agents. Both articles focus on training and equipping your agents for success online, which in this tight economy should be at the top of every companys priorities list. Also on the topic of quality, Dara Mirsky, vice president of Online Content and Development here at TMC, addresses the quality of online customer service she experienced over the recent holiday season.

Beyond the element of quality, there are many factors that go into maintaining your customer base. In the Customer Relationship Management section, Quaero Corporations Naras Eechambadi examines the basics and then goes beyond the basics to teach you how to keep your customers coming back for more in Keeping Your Existing Customers Loyal."

Anne Morrison of American Management Systems Corporate Technology Group takes on an architectural metaphor to describe the multichannel CRM environment of todays contact center, with a focus on building the foundation and then making your structure weatherproof in Multichannel Customer Contact Centers: The House That Customers Built."

Every month we bring you the providers of key technologies in our How To Buy Products & Services section. Up this month are providers of speech technologies, whose products and services are gaining increasing acceptance among the public because in the past few years they have become very reliable. And, for companies that deploy speech technologies, they have found they can provide better, more consistent service, 24/7 while also lowering operating costs. Other monthly features include the reviews of our TMC Labs engineers (this month, products by Yub and ObjectWorld), Technology Highlights and, of course, the latest product news.

So, pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy this months issue of Customer Inter@ction Solutions, which will be sure to get your mind off Februarys rains or snows while providing critical information to help you keep your company snug against the cold winds of these chill economic times.


Rich Tehrani
Group Publisher, Group Editor-in-Chief

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