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ROI is tough to prove, even when a CRM initiative works, says Jeff Gould, CEO and research director at Peerstone Research. A recent study by the company found that although companies on the whole praised the functionality of their CRM suites, only 40 percent is confident that CRM provides positive ROI. Gould explains: "A lot of these companies either never measured ROI or were not seeking business changes that would result in increased revenues or savings." To aid government agencies in their CRM efforts, the Customer Relationship Management Association (CRMA) has created a Public Sector CRM Special Interest Group (SIG) in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area. The CRM SIG will provide federal, state, and local government managers, executives, and end users who are planning, implementing, or using government CRM/e-Government programs, with an independent, educational, thought-leadership forum.
In an effort to provide clarity among its brands, Microsoft Corp. has dropped the .NET logo from its new Windows Server 2003. The company is moving towards a branding strategy where products are marketed as ".NET Connected," rather than having .NET in the products title. "This logo approach enables partners to affiliate consistently with .NET and helps their customers identify solutions and products that support standards-based interoperability," a Microsoft spokesperson says. By the end of 2005 the CRM market will have barely recovered to 2001 levels, says independent research firm Datamonitor. The firm predicts that in the next few years many companies will be squeezed out of the ever-tightening market, but those vendors that offer more functionality in their suites, such as enterprisewide analytics, will likely survive. In addition, Datamonitor claims that vendors offering solutions for the public sector, healthcare, and financial services verticals will also fare well over the next two years. Quality call center agents, not technology, are the key to success, says Elizabeth Herrel, a vice president at Giga Information Group Inc. Her recent report, "Agents Are Contact Centers' Greatest Asset or Liability," lists six tips on how to acquire and retain quality agents. The tips are to hire quality agents; develop a career plan that is reasonable and motivational; train agents throughout their career on a regular schedule; monitor agents' performance and provide feedback; develop coaching skills in supervisors or have an independent team coach; and provide flexibility in the work schedule. Heard and Overheard Overheard at the Call Center Las Vegas 2003 Conference and Expo: "You folks are in an incredible business and the changes you make over the next couple of years are going to profoundly affect our lives." --Martha Rogers, partner and cofounder, Peppers & Rogers Group "Call centers try to cut down their average handle time, but you should tie the effects of average handle time to revenue. If you're looking at efficiency by only measuring time, you're shortchanging yourself." --Oscar Alban, principal and market consultant, Witness Systems "Imagine call center employees as a garden made up of roses, daisies, and weeds. Roses are our best employees, but they are difficult to grow....We need to challenge them. If we don't, we won't get the improvement we want. Daisies represent the majority of our center. They don't require a lot of effort. They just grow. We spend the majority of our time punishing the weeds. We need to get rid of some of them...The problem is, we have a tendency to ignore the daisies, because we tend to focus on the weeds and the roses." --Michael Tamer, president and CEO, eTalk "We want too much of new recruits. We want them to be all these things and accept $8.75 an hour, with 10 percent night differential. Instead, hire for attitude. Train for everything else." --Tim Montgomery, consultant, Incoming Calls Management Institute
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