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Technology Highlights
June 2001

A Mixed Bag For Mid-Year

2001 Editors' Choice Awards

The Little Man Who Isn't There: NeuroServer 3.0 vReps
As costs escalate for handling live calls and e-mail, Internet-based self-service options for cybershoppers are attracting more notice from companies desirous of stemming cost overflows while not short-changing their customers. NativeMinds Inc. unveiled NeuroServer 3.0, the latest release of its software suite for creating virtual online customer service representatives, or "vReps." These virtual agents help to enhance customer service, increase sales and deflect costly phone calls and e-mail messages by automatically answering high-volume questions online.

Instead of just returning a list of search results, NeuroServer 3.0 enables virtual service agents to gauge customers' questions based on question type, tone and customer history, and answer precisely with accurate, personalized replies. These capabilities enable vReps to handle relatively complex questions such as, "What is my insurance policy coverage" or "How can I open a checking account?" The product can respond to customers with text, Web pages, transaction data or a transfer to live assisted service via telephone or e-mail.

New features include the ability for vReps to suggest other conversation topics related to customers' initial lines of questioning and extensive customer intelligence capabilities that allow businesses to analyze vRep conversation data. The reporting capabilities track vRep usage metrics and capture customer information including conversation topic popularity, duration and percentage of repeat customers. Companies can also measure vRep response accuracy as well as statistics on when questions need to be escalated to higher-level customer service channels. Intended for meeting the demands of high-traffic Web sites, the solution's performance delivery has doubled over the previous release. A new component, NeuroServer 3.0 Enterprise Application Platform, allows virtual representatives to manage thousands of simultaneous conversations across multiple servers and maintain continuous conversation threads in the event of unforeseen hardware failures.

Since NeuroServer integrates with leading CRM systems and employs an advanced search technology, vReps can draw on information stored in a variety of databases, order tracking, CRM and e-commerce systems, and respond to research-type questions that require broader responses (as in the form of multiple Web pages). vReps can manage and field a large percentage of customer inquiries in order to free up live agents to handle higher-level service tasks. NeuroServer 3.0 is a complete on-premise development and serving environment that allows companies to easily develop their own self-service initiatives and maintain complete control of their proprietary corporate data.

2001 Editors' Choice Awards

Financial Service Solutions From Motive 
Financial services represent one of the strongest growth sectors of Internet-based commerce. According to information gathered by Jupiter Research, the number of U.S. households managing their finances online will triple over the next four years. While businesses will most certainly increase their use of Web-based financial applications, many barriers still exist to providing consistent, problem-free experiences to users, both business and commercial, conducting online transactions. As Mike Maples, vice president of corporate products for Motive Communications, Inc., put it, "Customer service will increasingly be what differentiates financial institutions and defines success for online products. The trick for financial institutions is to re-focus their online service processes on making customers productive and successful, without significantly scaling up their service centers."

As part of its Olympus Vertical Solutions product line, Motive has released a set of industry-specific solutions that address the growing number of service and technical challenges faced by financial institutions serving online customers and employees. Developed for banks, brokerages and insurance companies, Motive's Financial Services solutions deliver personalized service experiences with built-in, high-touch service for customer applications and front-line employee applications, resulting in an increased usage of applications and reduction in service costs. Motive offers five solutions that comprise an online service platform with prepackaged components and industry best practices specifically for financial services. The solutions are geared for closing the adoption gap by building customer service directly into the application. There is a full array of one-button access points to self-service, assisted-service from a live expert, alerting and technical support capabilities to answer customers' questions or solve problems. Each solution is designed specifically for strategic user segments: Online Banker for retail and wholesale banking applications; Online Investor for retail brokerage applications; Independent Advisor/Agent for PC- and Web-based financial management applications; Company Broker/Agent for PC- and Web-based business applications used by revenue-producing front-line employees; and IT Help Desk for desktop support of a company's knowledge workers. Customer Service Assistants, intelligent, out-of-the-box templates and programs, automate various service tasks; providing assistance with registration, completing transactions, getting professional assistance, accessing technical support etc. Additional solutions for specific financial services environments will be announced throughout 2001.

2001 Editors' Choice Awards

Talisma Introduces SFA Suite
Talisma Corporation recently presented its new Talisma Sales Suite, engineered for ease of use by employing automatic data capture and analytics capabilities and by focusing on lifting the burden of data input from the sales force. Pradeep Singh, Talisma's founder and CEO, said, "Most traditional CRM and SFA software is not really designed with the day-to-day functioning of a sales organization in mind. It's often complicated, hard to learn and requires salespeople to enter customer information manually in order to build the corporate database." Consequently, "...(the) Sales Suite makes use of technology that sales forces already...use on a daily basis, and it automatically captures customer data from that technology so sales staff can spend time selling instead of entering information."

The Talisma Sales Suite offers in-depth functionality, including order, opportunity and pipeline tracking and management capabilities that can be used alone or integrated with other sales support technology already implemented. Fully integrated with Talisma's Marketing and Service Suites, the Sales Suite gives the sales force an organization-wide customer view, allowing them to tailor interactions to the specific needs of each prospect, to close sales more quickly and effectively and to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities. It can automatically capture data from routine daily sales interactions and its integration with Microsoft Outlook through the Talisma Offline Client, or user interface. The Offline Client is intended for salespeople comfortable using Microsoft Outlook who do not want to learn another software program. It enables sales staff in the field to remotely create, edit and view interactions with customers, opportunities, corporate accounts or contacts. These interactions are automatically captured and synchronized with the solution to become part of customer or account profiles in the corporate database, allowing both remote and onsite sales staff to have real-time information that can be leveraged to build relationships and increase sales.

Included are powerful analytics and customizable, in-depth reporting functionality to help sales managers analyze the sales pipeline, measure sales performance, track revenue, develop sales forecasts and projections and improve sales process efficiencies. Designed for rapid deployment and training, salespeople can begin using the product immediately with minimal disruption of their day-to-day work, and companies can realize a more rapid return-on-investment and accrue immediate business benefits. Talisma also offers Wireless Client, which gives mobile users remote access to Talisma's sales and service tools via any WAP-enabled device, including cell phones and PDAs.

2001 Editors' Choice Awards

Keeping It Together: I'm InTouch
Simply speaking, unified messaging provides the convergence of voice, text and images in combination for enhanced messaging capabilities. Initially marketed primarily to large enterprises, unified messaging has found wider, more rapid acceptance in markets such as small to medium enterprises, SOHOs and organizations with mobile workforces. Not surprisingly, these continue as the major growth segments in the industry, especially with the Internet platform and the surge in wireless communications.

01 Communique Laboratory Inc. integrates multiple message types into one convenient interface intended to provide end users with simplified communications management and remote wired/wireless personal control over their messaging. Recognizing that people use different devices to communicate and that no single device can serve all of their communications needs, the company recently launched I'm InTouch, a "de-centralized" unified communications solution that permits remote access and control over messages, contact records, software configuration and management, etc. Using any Web browser, phone or wireless Internet device, a user can log into his or her PC to access a personal communications center over the Internet. I'm InTouch allows users to remotely perform a variety of tasks, including: check for new voice, fax and e-mail messages; search for any contact information in your phonebook; send e-mail from your existing e-mail address on your PC; monitor your home/office using live video streaming technology; and change the I'm InTouch configuration on your PC. 01 Communique has plans for additional functionality, including wireless synchronization and collaboration, peer-to-peer networking, hard drive access and instant messaging. The product, offered on a monthly subscription basis, installs on a PC and stores all inbound and outbound e-mail, faxes and voice messages on a personal communications center. All messages can be searched and sorted in one operation with the I'm InTouch interface. Contact and log data stays on your PC, not on a server in the public domain. The product protects all interactions with a PC by employing password and user name protection to prevent hacking and denial-of-service attacks. Restrictions on the remote capabilities of a PC can be added to prevent accidental or deliberate system corruption. Access to the communications center will not allow any access to the underlying computer system where the product resides. 01 Communique also announced the availability of I'm InTouch Service Provider Edition geared for telcos, cellcos and service providers.

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