PROBLEM: You want to find a way to reduce support costs while offering more flexible support to your customers.
SOLUTION: Using the Web, customers can access support information whenever they need to without the need for human interaction. PC Support.com's PC Support Center Web site provides a variety of self-support services, from software updates and virus scans to remote diagnostics, repair services and technical-support forums. The site, which can be incorporated graphically into a vendor's site, can provide remote diagnostics and repair of configuration problems, which constitute the majority of support calls. It is provided with an automated setup utility, and it performs its own servicing with automated disk maintenance, online virus scans and performance checks at user-defined intervals. Cost: Most services are free; premium services for a fee. Contact: (888) 673-1666; www.pcsupport.com
PROBLEM: How do you incorporate live or recorded video to make your Web site more compelling for your customers?
SOLUTION: Pixion's PictureTalk software enables full-motion video communication via the Internet. With PictureTalk, companies can deliver live presentations, software demonstrations, slide shows, text files or spreadsheets over the Web. The technology can be used to generate sales leads, shorten sales cycles, train customers and employees, improve customer support and reduce travel expenses. It is firewall-friendly and can be used by customers who have slow dialup Internet connections. Cost: Approximately $15,000. Contact: (925) 467-5300; www.pixion.com
Speak To Me
PROBLEM: You want to enhance the functionality of your Web site with automated voice support.
SOLUTION: With a vocabulary of more than 50,000 words and multiple language support, SpeechWorks' SpeechSite offers voice interaction for Web users. The program, which incorporates voiceprint security technology, allows callers to speak at a natural rate and to interrupt service prompts with new queries or responses. Users can customize vocabulary and grammar settings and use DialogModules, which are preassembled vocal interactions, to collect such information as a yes or no or date response. With a drag-and-drop interface, users can put together DialogModules to configure scripts without writing any code. SpeechWorks offers a rapid prototyping center where customers can develop and test applications before investing in entire systems. Cost: $50,000-$150,000 for a typical configuration. Contact: (617) 428-4444 (say "SpeechSite"); www.Speechworks.com
PROBLEM: Your sales staff is inadequately trained in the use of CRM software applications.
SOLUTION: Sherpa from Rapid Performance Systems is a Web-based software application that provides individualized, go-at-your-own pace training in Sales and Field Force Automation, Marketing Automation, Customer Service Automation, Call Center Automation and E-Commerce applications. The self-contained learning system can work through the Internet, intranets or by removable media such as CD-ROM, DVD or hard disk. More than just a learning tool, the program helps create learning goals and milestones, presents lessons in manageable chunks and is updated when required. Pricing depends on configuration. (408) 317-4671; www.gorapid.com
PROBLEM: Traveling executives need to access your organization's network while on the road.
SOLUTION: Weighing in at 10 pounds, the VoyagerIIi portable Solaris server can let anyone hit the road and still access important corporate data. The updated version offers UltraSPARC-IIi, a 360-megahertz CPU, 2 megabytes of E-cache processing power, up to 32 gigabytes removable disk capacity and a 64-bit Solaris 7 operating environment. The unit is binary compatible with Sun servers and desktops. Its 2.5-inch disks incorporate four Ultra-DMA controllers, each supporting a single Ultra-IDE disk and arranged as two removable twin packs. The price is $11,995 for the base model. (800) 734-5483; www.tadpolerdi.com
Customer Assistance in Real Time
PROBLEM: Dealing with e-commerce customers in real time would give your organization an edge in relationship management.
SOLUTION: E-commerce sites can offer real-time customer assistance to digitalme-enabled consumers through a partnership between FaceTime Communications and Novell. The partnership, which combines Novell's digitalme and directory technologies with FaceTime's business-to-business consumer communication management products, provides solutions for businesses that use instant messaging, including the integration of the FaceTime Message Exchange as a digitalme service. Pricing is $1,500 per month for three agents, and $250 per month for added agents. (888) 321-4CRC; www.novell.com
of it All
PROBLEM: You want to compile performance data into a comprehensible profile of your employees.
SOLUTION: CallCenter Technology's Prism 2.2 integrates and interprets historical as well as real-time performance information from diverse call center applications. A manager can view an office floorplan dotted with icons depicting whether agents are on the phone, on a break or at lunch. When the manager clicks on a particular workstation, a window appears giving the number of calls, average wait time and other performance ratings, which can be compared to historical data. A graphical SQL expression builder allows customization of data from any open database. A drag-and-drop interface makes building custom forms and reports easy. Managers can opt for floating panels that display key data so they can check that data as they work in other applications. Pricing depends upon configuration. (770) 517-1807; www.callcti.com
PROBLEM: Your corporate database contains plenty of contact names and phone numbers, but no e-mail addresses.
SOLUTION: EContacts-Find promises to find anywhere from 15 percent to 40 percent of your organization's "missing" e-mail addresses through a sophisticated Internet search. The software, by EContacts.com, looks for matching algorithms to seek out company domain names by using a contact's name, the company name and mailing address. When a likely address is discovered, the program sends test e-mails to verify the address. Pricing for the basic service is based on results; pricing for advanced search services begins at $3,000. (781) 449-1440; www.econtacts.com
PROBLEM: Building better relationships with customers and business partners is a priority for your eBusiness.
SOLUTION: Pivotal Corporation's eRelationship 2 establishes an all-Web platform for managing business relationships by combining Pivotal's eCommerce Server with its business portal and CRM applications. The result is a solution that allows companies to create Web sites, called Internet Relationship Hubs, which automate marketing, sales and customer service relationships. Those hubs offer employees, business partners and customers online services and one-to-one interaction, commerce transactions and a higher degree of personalization. Pricing is $1,700 per seat. (877) PIVOTAL; www.pivotal.com
Just Say the Word
PROBLEM: Your customers need assistance, and you must locate the right service agents fast.
SOLUTION: With Arial Systems' ArialVoice Browser, finding employees and routing calls to them does not require a keypad, a computer screen or a receptionist. ArialVoice is the optional voice-recognition module for ArialView, a Web-based product suite for recording and accessing pertinent agent data, such as skills and contact information. ArialView enables customers to search a database over the Web, and to locate and contact the appropriate personnel for collaborative problem solving. ArialVoice allows authorized callers to request a sales agent by name and connect to that party by speaking naturally into a telephone, eliminating the need to memorize extensions. If the employee is unavailable, callers can leave voice messages or immediately contact alternate personnel. The system integrates with existing telephony systems. Pricing starts at $100/person. Contact: (847) 573-9925; www.arialsystems.com
A Crystal Ball
PROBLEM: Without an accurate prediction of call volume, your customer interaction center could face long hold times, abandoned calls and high overstaffing costs.
SOLUTION: Blue Pumpkin Software's PrimeTime produces customer interaction center profiles outlining typical calling behavior and creates staffing schedules based on these scenarios. It also monitors actual call volume for comparison with projections. When managers install the system, they can use legacy data as well as their own intuition to set up the calling profiles. Once the profiles are created, service-level targets are set based on the desired average speed to answer or other metrics, and these parameters are used to predict the number of agents required to meet service levels for every quarter hour. Managers can use PrimeTime to construct staffing schedules, incorporating user-defined work shifts and breaks or other time away from the phone. Cost: $11,200 for one server and 20 agents. Contact: (650) 429-6300; www.blue-pumpkin.com
PROBLEM: Your service center managers need to monitor call-processing status without being tied to their desktops.
SOLUTION: Symon's NetBrites, a family of network-connected, full-matrix LED wallboards, allow critical information to be displayed prominently throughout call centers. With the aid of wallboards showing real-time information, goals such as lowering the average time on hold or reducing the number of abandoned calls can be monitored and accomplished more easily. The wallboards incorporate Ethernet TCP/IP connections and can be placed anywhere using standard network cabling. They are available in a variety of sizes and include SoundBlaster-compatible chipsets and internal speakers. They feature simple graphical user interfaces and automatic testing of cabling and link status for easy installation and support. Cost: Variable. Contact: (847) 955-0700; www.symon.com
Keep in Touch
PROBLEM: Your sales force is missing important communications- -such as office-bound e-mails, faxes and voicemails- -while on the road.
SOLUTION: OfficeDomain's MessageASAP software allows road warriors to access all types of incoming messages from anywhere in the world- -even if they're not traveling with their own laptop computer. The free software allows users to get e-mail, voice messages and fax via the Internet or by phone. Messages are received by accessing a Web page that integrates the messages in one central location that can be reached from any PC with Internet access. An upgrade, available for $49.95 per year, allows users to get voice and fax messages by using an e-mail client such as Outlook Express or Eudora. (512) 499-1560; www.officedomain.com
PROBLEM: Your business can better respond to problems when the key people in your organization are quickly alerted to crucial scenarios.
SOLUTION: KnowledgeSync 2000 allows organizations to identify data scenarios that occur within CRM applications and between multiple applications. If those events occur, the program will send notification to the proper people via e-mail, fax, page and Webcast. Developed by Vineyardsoft Corp., Knowledge Sync 2000 is an application-independent alert technology that integrates with CRM and related applications. Pricing begins at $695. (508) 696-6495; www.vineyardsoft.com
PROBLEM: Where can your organization find the know-how and the tools to make presentations more effective?
SOLUTION: Proxima's new e-commerce store, www.ePresenter.com, features presentation products, online leasing, advice and news from professionals in the business, free downloads and technical product evaluations- -in short, everything needed to build a quality, effective presentation. The site also features a service center designed to support the requirements of government, education and corporate purchasing. Pricing depends on configuration. (800) 615-1215; www.ePresenter.com
Power up the Palm
PROBLEM: Additional software could optimize the use of your sales force's palm-computing devices.
SOLUTION: Palm computers can develop text documents and spreadsheets and even read spreadsheet e-mail attachments through software programs from Cutting Edge Software. SmartDoc 2.0 allows users to read and edit Microsoft Word documents or any text-formatted file on their Palm compatible organizers. Quicksheet 4.0 uses HotSync technology to enable users to automatically synchronize spreadsheets to or from Microsoft Excel. Quicksheet can also be used with MultiMail PRO to remotely receive spreadsheets through e-mail attachments. SmartDoc is priced at $19.95; Quicksheet 4.0 is priced at $49.95. (800) 991-7360; www.cesinc.com
Digging for Leads
PROBLEM: Developing more and more detailed leads could help your sales force clinch the deal.
SOLUTION: Intarka's ProspectMiner 1.2 helps take the time and guesswork out of developing new leads. The Web-mining software scours the Web for companies that match user-specified criteria, then develops a detailed profile of the prospective clients so the sales force can initiate an informed contact. ProspectMiner uses 19 different search and directory services to identify and profile highly targeted sales prospects, including the newest companies and products. Subscription price is $40,000 for the first year. (408) 232-1000; www.intarka.com
PROBLEM: Conventional e-mail systems are too slow for conveying messages in the office workgroup setting.
SOLUTION: QuickFlash 3.0 instant messaging system conveys messages instantaneously and clears them from the desktop just as quickly to promote seamless, concise communication. The product combines familiar office tools such as sticky notes, white and blue phone message slips and white boards for ease of adaptability and use. Messages are cleared as soon as they're answered to promote an uncluttered desktop, and the latest version features voice announcement of messages- -such as calls that are holding- -with a British accent. The price is $499 for a 10-user system. (212) 696-5757; www.arm-group.com
E-Commerce Made Easier
PROBLEM: How can your organization introduce electronic commerce capabilities into its already existing Web site?
SOLUTION: Orders of Magnitude 3.0 is a suite of electronic commerce applications designed to simplify the storefront experience. The software ties all customer touch points- -the Web, call center and other sales channels- -into a synchronized platform. The latest upgrade of the OrderFusion software offers expanded buyer-dependent selling capabilities, cross-site navigation tools, "hot product" displays, customer segmentation and the ability for companies to offer complementary or multiproduct bundles. Pricing starts at $100,000. (858) 450-4800; www.orderfusion.com
Midmarked CRM Solution
PROBLEM: Finding an affordable, easy-to-use CRM solution is a priority.
SOLUTION: Front Office 2000 from GoldMine Software is a CRM product geared toward the small- to mid-sized business. The suite combines GoldMine Sales and Marketing, GoldMine Service and Support and Management Intelligence to integrate account management, sales force and marketing automation with call center software, delivering a single, centralized solution for customer-facing operations. Pricing for GoldMine Sales and Marketing begins at $495 per user; service and support licenses start at $995 per user. (310) 454-6800; www.goldminesw.com
Integrate Your Web
PROBLEM: A Web-based customer- and incident-tracking program would enhance your organization's relations with customers.
SOLUTION: TechExcel Corporation has released ServiceWISE 1.0, an integrated client/server and Internet/Intranet application that provides a variety of tracking and management services, including knowledge-base creation and searching, customer and contact management, automatic e-mail notification and sales force integration. ServiceWISE integrates all aspects of technical support, from local and remote engineers to sales people and customers, in a client/server platform that supports LAN and Web applications. Pricing begins at $1,995 for application and server software. (925) 283-8930; www.techexcel.com