Priceclick.com's vice president and co-founder David Balassiano sums up his enthusiasm for ServiceEngine.com's new TrackMail technology in two words: "I'm hooked." He adds, jokingly, "My wife wants to leave me because I'm up in the middle of the night answering my customers' requests."
ServiceEngine.com replaces e-mail with a system that manages customers' online inquiries. Geared toward small and midsize businesses, the company's TrackMail technology ensures the delivery of every online message and enables consumers and businesses to track the exact status of any message at any time, according to the company. "With TrackMail, nothing can get lost or deleted," says ServiceEngine.com's CEO Jared D. Schulman. "If my company has all of its personal e-mail addresses on its Web site, how would I, as your partner, know that you weren't deleting every other e-mail? I wouldn't."
The ability to keep track of every incoming message was an important feature for Balassiano. "ServiceEngine is an incredible thing--I know and see exactly how my employees are answering their questions. Employees have the ability to delete e-mails without anyone knowing, and that's what was happening from time to time. If you couldn't answer the question, you deleted it," he says. "The requests customers make with ServiceEngine are like a message board. I know who's working and who's not. I can evaluate my employees' performance based on their answers as opposed to in the past when they used e-mail."
PriceClick.com, a Yahoo! store merchant that helps companies build retail businesses online, had been using TrackMail for approximately one month at the time this article was written and had already seen a vast improvement in its customer satisfaction ratings. Customers are able to rate responses to their inquiries, allowing companies to focus on areas that need improvement. The system also attempts to assist employees by anticipating responses: When an inquiry comes into a company's TrackMail box, the system will examine the content of the incoming message and try to push the correct answer to the employee. After reviewing the answer, the employee can decide whether or not to send it.
Brian Bingham, senior analyst for IDC, has yet to see a solution like this on the market. "E-mail and e-mail management is not a new thing to CRM," he says. "It's the angle at which ServiceEngine is approaching it that is quite nouveau and innovative. This is something that's browser-based and doesn't require the launching of an e-mail application." Bingham feels that one of the more important features is the use of feedback loops. If an interaction is given the worst possible rating, the customer is prompted to complete a more detailed explanation as to why she rated the experience so poorly. The interaction will remain open until this issue is addressed. "You're forced to have a complete interaction," he explains, "and I think that data's very important for companies moving forward." Bingham sees ServiceEngine.com as a useful solution for vertical markets, such as healthcare and financial institutions that are particularly sensitive to online correspondences.
And with the click of a button, ServiceEngine provides managers with instant reports that answer questions such as how many inquiries did the company receive last week? Are our customer satisfaction rates improving? Which employees are answering inquiries well and which ones need assistance? "Many executives feel anxious because they're walking into meetings without any meaningful reports on what their Web customer service looks like," says Schulman. "With these reports, they'll be able to understand at a glance how their business is doing."
What impressed Joyce Graff, GartnerGroup vice president and research director for electronic mail, is ServiceEngine's implementation program. "You can put it up quickly," she says. "If you were going to implement this on your own premises, it would take a pretty substantial effort to do it, and it would cost quite a lot of money up front to buy the computers and install the software. [ServiceEngine] is taking that pain out of it for you."
Getting CRM at the ATM
First introduced in the 1960s, ATM machines have become a bank's service extension to customers. Most recently, advertising on ATMs has created a flurry of campaigns and technology aimed at the machines' potential for growth in the market. Companies such as Oracle and Compaq are testing the ATM waters. The British art film, "The Full Monty" even appeared in the early stages of ATM advertising. ATM clients can choose from couponing or printed offers, loop screens and video toppers. But few offer CRM in their packages.
J.J. Manning, CEO of CashPoint, a private ATM communications firm in Seattle, Wash., says his company provides the ability to recognize ATM customers with the swipe of a card, and to select appropriate advertising per customer. "We're able to give highly targeted messages to a broad-based community," Manning says.
What started six years ago as advertising printed on the backs of ATM receipts has evolved into the first available CRM application for ATM advertisers. Launched last December, Manning says CashPoint Select enables advertisers to target individual consumers in certain regions of the country, and by their social characteristics. CashPoint Select is powered by Claritas' PRIZM segmentation system, which defines neighborhoods in the United states by demographic and behavioral distinction. PRIZM contains 62 clusters across 15 social groups.
When CashPoint installs its system, which it places adjacent to the ATM machine, the bank gives the company a complete listing of encrypted debit/credit card numbers, as well as the matching ZIP codes. CashPoint runs that information against the Select program, and PRIZM classifies it. When a bank customer uses the machine, the appropriate PRIZM classification is automatically retrieved and the correct content is displayed while the customer waits for her transaction. If an advertiser determines that a customer uses the ATM at a golf course a couple times a week, the ATM screen will show advertisements for golf lessons, or a special on golf balls.
Advertisers create the content of their campaigns, then enter the CashPoint Web site to schedule them. They choose the region or states, decide which days of the week they want to run ads, who should see their ads, and what type of product description they want to run, whether it's animation, full video or static screen. "The advertisers can track redemption. We provide audited reports, " Manning says. "We're able to tell Paramount that we delivered their message 100 percent to the desired party on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."
"That type of targeted message is the Holy Grail of business," says Ann All, editor of ATMmarketplace. "Everyone is looking at doing that more. I feel this is the way the industry is moving. CRM is where ATM advertising is going--it's the cutting edge of advertising."
PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS
Veritas Software has hired Gary Bloom as president and CEO. Bloom joins Veritas from Oracle where he served as executive vice president. Bloom will also join the Veritas board of directors. At Oracle, Bloom assumed control of core database business and led the execution of the company's Internet and e-business vision. Bloom also led Oracle's marketing, support and alliance organizations and was responsible for mergers and acquisitions, global information, technology and the Oracle Venture Fund.
Paul Becker has been named president of Quaero msi, Quaero's marketing, consulting and systems integration group. Prior to joining Quaero, Becker served as vice president of Naviant Marketing Solutions where he was responsible for professional services and research and product development. Before working at Naviant, Becker worked at MRJ Technology Solutions and General Electric.
Dendrite International, a provider of sales and marketing solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, has appointed Marc Kustoff to senior vice president and chief technology officer. Kustoff's role is to shape Dendrite's technology vision and provide a link between pharmaceutical companies' sales representatives and their key customer audiences. Prior to joining Dendrite, Kustoff served as vice president, information systems, at Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical in Morris Plains, N.J. There he played a role in directing the company's IT strategies. He also has held management positions at Corning Life Sciences and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer.
Godfrey Sullivan has been named CEO of Promptu, a marketing and sales delivery solutions company. Most recently, Sullivan worked as the executive vice president of the Discreet division of Autodesk. Discreet specializes in delivering film special effects, broadcast graphics and editing and 3D animation software. Prior to Autodesk, Sullivan spent 11 years with Apple Computer, most recently as vice president, business marketing.
Neteos, a Web-based CRM applications developer, has hired Bill Varga as vice president of worldwide sales. Varga will work with Neteos president and CEO Mike Chuli to further develop direct and indirect sales channels in North America and begin the company's expansion into the European marketplace. Prior to Neteos, Varga served as vice president at Interact Commerce. Before that he worked as vice president of worldwide marketing at Infinium, an ERP software company.
Nykamp Consulting Group, a provider of CRM and database marketing services, has appointed Meg Goodman vice president, marketing. Goodman will be responsible for furthering the firm's marketing strategies and tactics. She will also oversee new business development, public relations efforts, and the development and management of product and service offerings. Before joining Nykamp, Goodman served as vice president/group account director for Rapp Collins in Chicago. She was also the founding partner with Performance Consulting Group. In addition, Goodman has held senior marketing positions with May & Speh (Axciom), and VARCO (R.R. Donnelley Direct).
Web-based sales management solutions company Salesnet, has elected Jim Dickie to its board of advisors. Dickie is a managing partner for Insight Technology Group, a research firm that analyzes how companies are reinventing the way they market, sell to and service customers. Dickie brings more than 25 years of marketing management and sales experience to the Salesnet Advisory Board. He will provide sales force automation and CRM expertise to the organization.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
Hewlett-Packard has agreed to acquire Bluestone Software, a provider of Internet software platforms, tools and technologies for B2B, B2C and mobile Internet transactions. The acquisition will expand HP's Internet software portfolio by adding Bluestone's J2EE and XML application servers and tools. Bluestone's software will become the integrating platform for HP's current software offerings, and will serve as the core of HP's next-generation offerings.
Genesys Conferencing, a teleconferencing company, has agreed to acquire Vialog, a provider of teleconferencing and messaging services. The integration will generate strong savings after refinancing the debt of Vialog. Genesys expects its new position to reinforce its ability to win worldwide contracts with Fortune 2500 companies. Genesys also plans to apply for listing on the Nasdaq stock market.
PARTNERSHIPS & ALLIANCES
Servicesoft, a provider of e-service customer support solutions, has aligned with EDS, a provider of e-business and IT services. EDS clients will receive Servicesoft 2001, a suite of customer service solutions that combines agent assisted service, customer self-service, e-mail management and live interaction via the Internet. EDS clients can now combine EDS's consulting, implementation and operations with Servicesoft 2001 to increase customer retention.
YellowBrick, a provider of customer experience management software, and Microstrategy, a provider of e-business software, will recommend each other's products to current and potential customers to help clients leverage customer data. The Microstrategy seven business intelligence platform can integrate with YellowBrick's Visitant, allowing clients to connect all of a company's existing customer touch point applications. The agreement will enable clients to present a single customer profile in real time.
Symix Systems, developer of market e-business software and services, announced it will change its name to Frontstep. The name change signifies the company's new business model, as well as its new products and services based on a network-centric, collaborative model. The company is offering new methods of software delivery and pricing and has also signed on more than 10 e-business partners to resell the Frontstep E-business Suite.
Siebel plans to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific region by implementing an expansion plan, which includes opening regional offices and partnerships there. The application software provider plans to open offices in Malaysia, Thailand and India within a year. Offices in the Philippines and Indonesia are planned to open the following year. The staff count in South Asia will also increase from seven to 70 in a year. Siebel will appoint several resellers in that region to focus on banking, finance, telecommunications and manufacturing.
Pivotal, a provider of XML-based demand chain networks, has opened a research and development center in Toronto, Canada. The center will complement Pivotal's global development centers in Vancouver and Atlanta, and its eBusiness Center of Excellence in Europe. The center will contribute to the development of Pivotal's demand chain network solutions for enterprises worldwide.
Davox, a developer of customer contact software and support, has opened a new branch office in Japan through its subsidiary, Davox Japan. The new office will help Davox serve its expanding Japanese customer base, which includes such companies as NTT Telemarketing, Nihon and Teleco Media.
GlobeNetix, a net strategy company that offers B2B Internet franchising solutions, has launched a financing program aimed at high-level sales professionals. Called Jumpstart, the program provides financing for the $25,000 initial franchise fee. To qualify, a prospect must have a strong background in professional or Internet selling. She must also be committed to the franchise business and live within one of the target markets. GlobeNetix will offer one franchise per every 20,000 businesses in each market.
Unica, a provider of analytical CRM and marketing automation solutions, has implemented the Unica Alliance Program. The program is targeted toward system integrators and providers of marketing services, complementary software solutions and enabling technologies. The program will promote flexibility and openness between vendors to deliver CRM solutions. Unica partners will be able to take advantage of increased business opportunities with both new and existing customers. Unica also will support partners through planning sessions, joint marketing strategies, sales enablement programs and field support programs.