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October 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 5
High Priority

Around the Industry, Innovation Abounds

By Rich Tehrani
Group Publisher, Technology Marketing Corp.

There are so many new trends taking place in the call center and CRM markets – and so many of them are worth sharing.

Mobility

Perhaps the one with the most human interest is Salesgenie – I am sure you have seen the company’s ads on TV where they offer you leads to help you sell more effectively. Now the company has a mobile site, which lets you access your leads (even your 100 free leads) via a mobile Web browser, which will work very well with a device that has a resolution of 320X240 or better. This news shows you just how seriously companies are taking mobile devices these days and moreover shows the trend towards using mobile devices as laptop replacements.

Green/Offshoring Replacement

While many companies are being forced to reduce costs, most do not want to offshore as they want to keep jobs in the U.S. In addition, there is a drive at many organizations to go green. In order to achieve all of these goals simultaneously, you can work with West Corporation — the 800 pound gorilla in the contact center outsourcing market and take advantage of their West At Home solution, which uses high-quality home agents. What sorts of savings are we talking about here? With the average home agent round-trip commute equaling 30 miles, for 300 agents, the total yearly reduction in vehicle miles traveled is an astounding 3,285,000 miles, or a 2,793,258 pound yearly reduction in air pollution!

New U.S. Call Center Openings

The U.S. is seeing call centers replace lost jobs. Call centers are responsible for at least three million jobs and counting and some of the more recent openings are from AT&T who has opened centers in Detroit and North Carolina and more recently, SIPRelay, who opened a call center in Utah. The company offers a free service that enables deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, located anywhere in the country, to quickly and easily communicate with hearing phone users from any PC or mobile device.




Hosted/Mashups
Here is another double-trend. Broadsoft — a leading application server company providing solutions allowing service providers to provide hosted IP communications solutions has seen its platform used by C3IP, a reseller to combine Broadsoft’s Broadworks CRM platform in a mashup with ACT! by Sage Software. The solution allows ACT! users to have seamless access to integrated VoIP/CRM solutions. In addition, this solution allows service providers to provide hosted CRM/IP communications solutions allowing a company to take advantage of the best of the hosted and CRM worlds.

The Millennial Generation

The Economist Intelligence Unit and Genesys have released a new global survey that indicates most companies are struggling with how to adapt their businesses to serve a new wave of consumers from the Millennial Generation.

This survey examined how consumers born between 1982 and 2001 will impact the customer experience. Researchers asked C-level and senior executives from around the world how they are creating a customer experience to attract and retain Millennials.

It is no surprise that companies need to examine not only what they should offer to this demographic, but how they should offer it. Will contact centers be relevant to these consumers or will they prefer the Web site and self-service channels? One wonders in fact if this generation will expect contact center agents to communicate with them via Twitter or their pages on Facebook or other social networking sites.

The study found a chasm in companies who are debating heavily whether to invest more in catering to aging baby boomers versus next-generation consumers. In fact, 42 percent reported that they should tilt toward younger customers, while 39 percent would shift toward baby boomers and generation X. The decision on which way to lean can have a significant impact on the communication channels that the company will place the most focus. Of course one expects the product mix of individual companies to play a part. I would imagine companies selling laxatives and snowboards may be looking at Web 2.0 technologies from different perspectives.

Most companies participating in the study, or 54 percent, have not yet set their strategies or marketing for Millennials even though they overwhelmingly agree that such steps are needed. As many as 75 percent of companies said that Millennials will impact their organizations as consumers in the next three years, indicating the need for evaluation of internal strategies.

Many of these companies have also indicated that they have a sophisticated understanding of what it would take to adapt to the changing market, but are not ready to change their customer engagement model by leveraging social networks, peer marketing, better online support, text messaging and blogging.

The problem with lagging behind in these channels is that these companies could easily miss out on important revenue opportunities. While certain traditional communication methods are enough to meet the basic needs, today’s young consumer is generally not content to simply call a call center agent to ask a question.

This consumer wants real-time information they can access themselves. An important key here, however is that this consumer still wants help to be available if they need it. Considering the growth in this market, companies will find themselves losing ground if they do not leverage technologies that this growing demographic is using to make purchases, view ads, share information, make decisions, etc.

This report highlights the urgent need for businesses to invest in new modes of customer communication and to tailor their approaches to match customer preferences. If these companies fail to do so, they will miss out on significant opportunities.

– Rich Tehrani is TMC's (News - Alert) Group Publisher.

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