The Week in Review: October 10, 2003

SAS Institute has acquired Marketmax, a provider of advanced retail planning and merchandise intelligence software. The deal is part of SAS's plan to offer a comprehensive suite to meet the analytic, planning-forecasting, and optimization needs of retailers today, according to the company. Lumen Research Associates reports a sharp industry-wide drop in customer service representatives' performance. The Lumen Agent Index (LAI) dropped to 55.7 percent in the second quarter of 2003, from 64.7 percent in the first quarter. The nine-point drop indicates dissatisfaction with an agent's authority to resolve problems as the primary culprit, according to Lumen. The LAI is a composite score of three customer-service measures, "professionalism," knowledge," and "authority." These indicators evaluate the "people" part, or human aspect, of the American customer-service system. A recent report by the Forum Corp., a market research firm, says it has found the top-three skills customer service representatives must have to build customer loyalty, increase sales, and lower customer acquisition costs. The three skills are: the ability to solve problems quickly, cross-selling abilities, and quality assurance abilities. Helping to promote hosted CRM internationally,
NetSuite (formerly NetLedger) Thursday announced the U.K. availability of its business applications, Oracle Small Business Suite and its mid-market counterpart, NetSuite. Deals of the week... Inktel Direct has announced that it has been selected to provide inbound contact-center services for Business Matchmaking, a national initiative developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and HP to help small businesses across the country compete for outsourcing contracts from government agencies and large corporations. LumenVox announced that ATA Retail Services has selected LumenVox's Speech Driven Information System for its new automated merchandise ordering and shipment system, servicing more than 800 field-merchandising personnel. Executive changes... TeleSpectrum, a provider of multichannel customer contact management solutions, has announced that Michael Shrader has joined the company as president and CEO. Prior to joining TeleSpectrum Shrader was senior vice president at Capital One. Research firm Current Analysis has named Barry Gilbert executive vice president of operations and content for North America. Gilbert comes to Current Analysis from Bowne Global Solutions, where he was its managing vice president of consulting. Connextions, a fulfillment, customer interaction, and eBusiness services outsourcer, this week announced the promotion of Omar Quddus to senior vice president, client practice.
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