CMC NewsByte: Touchstone Launches CRM Express for Small Businesses

24 May 2005:
Touchstone Launches CRM Express for Small Businesses

Touchstone, the largest Microsoft Business Solutions partner in the UK, has launched CRM Express – a customer relationship management (CRM) solution for small businesses, based on Microsoft Business Solutions CRM , with packages starting from as little as £5,800 and including software, implementation services, Microsoft software assurance, helpdesk support and user training.

CRM Express will offer all of the functionality in Microsoft CRM’s standard offering, according to Touchstone’s Sales Director Steve Sydee. "Designed to meet the growing market demand for fast, easy, and affordable CRM solutions, CRM Express enables customers to start with a small project to address key requirements, roll out quickly, and grow the system as their needs change over time."

Find out more:

17 May 2005:
Outsourcing attracts increasing investment by delivering proven benefits

The latest market information from PMP Research finds that UK companies are planning to increase their spending on IT outsourcing, with access to specialist skills and the desire to focus on their core business emerging as the key drivers for investment.

More than half (56%) of those organisations polled say they plan to spend more on outsourcing over the next two years, while nearly a third (31%) reckon their outsourcing investment will remain at the same level as now. Only 11% indicate they will be cutting investment.

For many companies, outsourcing accounts for a large slice of their total IT budget, with 28% putting between 10% and 25% of budget into outsourcing and 13% pledging between 25% and 50% of their annual spend to third-party providers.

The research uncovered some significant deals, with 11% of respondents reckoning to plough more than £10 million into a typical outsourcing contract. On the whole, though, contracts are more modest with 19% estimating a typical contract at between £50,000 and £100,000 and 13% investing less than £50,000.

Respondents were asked to rank their reasons to consider outsourcing, using a scale of 1 to 5. Aggregated scores identify the need to gain access to specialist IT skills (4.10) and the desire to be free to focus on the core business (4.01) as their main aims.

Enthusiasm for outsourcing is marked, with 87% of respondents claiming they would be prepared to sign up for an outsourcing contract again, given their experiences so far. Improved service levels and reduced risk emerge as their twin goals.

Overall, companies are pleased with how their outsourcing contracts perform in practice. Most (80%) use Service Level Agreements as a way of monitoring contract performance, and 17% of the sample maintain that their SLAs are actually being exceeded, while the majority (36%) report their SLAs are being met exactly as required.

10 May 2005:
Barclays - First high street bank to provide advanced online customer service

Barclays Bank today announced that it has implemented Transversal's Metafaq eCustomer Service solution to enhance its customer online banking experience and reduce the 100,000 monthly calls to its helpdesk. Barclays is the first high street bank to recognise the competitive advantage of giving customers immediate and accurate online answers to questions without them having to ring or email a contact centre.

Transversal's online help solution allows Barclays customers to ask questions in their own words and receive real, meaningful, answers on any subject from credit card offers to information about how the company credit scores. It also enables Barclays to respond quickly to customer needs by using the questions to identify issues that are important to them, allowing it to tailor financial products or improve web content.

To improve customer service and to decrease helpdesk call volumes Barclays needed to introduce an advanced eCustomer service tool. Following evaluation of four providers, it chose Transversal due to its ease of use and simple integration. After a successful trial, the bank has now signed an ongoing contract.

3 May 2005:
Mobile phones set to change the rules of customer loyalty

Mobile Life 1, a new independent research report, has highlighted the key role that mobile phones will play in next generation consumer loyalty programmes. The report suggests that over 50 per cent of UK consumers are fed up with loyalty card clutter, feel that loyalty programmes should be about more than just redeeming points, and are looking for retailers to reward their loyalty with real customer service innovation.

The research outlines how UK consumers currently use their mobiles, identifies their attitudes towards new developments such as 3G, and outlines the key next generation applications that they want to use on their mobiles.

The report also examines customer loyalty from the consumer perspective, focusing on how existing UK supermarket loyalty programmes do little to instil real and lasting loyalty. Loyalty schemes rank 14th among the reasons why customers choose a supermarket, and that 30 per cent of consumers leave their loyalty cards at home. The report also clearly identifies the powerful relationship that exists between the consumer and their mobile phone - over 90 per cent of the UK population under 44 carry a mobile phone - and looks at new ways that mobile can change the rules of retailing.

"With increasing competition, proliferating channels and increased consumer sophistication, it's becoming more and more expensive for organisations to acquire customers and then hold on to them. Our research confirms what consumers already know, that existing loyalty programmes really aren't working, and the report should provide the UK's major retail organisations with a wake-up call," commented Impaq Group's UK Managing Director, Matt Studholme.

"We suggest that mobile phones will be a key part of loyalty programmes going forward, and we're certain that Tier One retailers will be quick to examine how they can integrate the technology into their loyalty offer. Mobile's acknowledged cost advantages also mean that Tier Two and Tier Three retailers will now be able to develop and run their own loyalty schemes which were previously too expensive," he continued.

3 May 2005:
Contact centre specialist becomes first firm in the world to achieve ISO accreditation online

Outsourcing specialist Direct Response Limited has become the first company in the world to achieve a new industry approved online ISO 9001 quality accreditation. The company, a rapidly growing specialist in voice, data and contact centre services, was able to cut out all the red tape normally associated with such an accreditation.

To find out more about Direct Response please visit its website on

25 Apr 2005:
smartFOCUS grows US presence through new US office

smartFOCUS Group plc recently expanded its US presence through the creation of a US division 'smartFOCUS Inc', a new US office based in Stamford, Connecticut and the recruitment of Will Condon, VP Business Development & Technical Consultancy. Will’s responsibilities include providing technical support and consultancy on the smartFOCUS Intelligent Marketing software solutions to the growing number of smartFOCUS Marketing Service Partners in North America including AC Nielsen, BeNOW, Datamentors, Astech Intermedia, Blitz Database Marketing and CCG.

"We have increased our investment in North America to support the growing list of partners benefiting from our Intelligent Marketing software," Jonothon Butters, Director of Business Development, smartFOCUS Inc said. "This is demonstrated through the recruitment of high calibre people like Will Condon and the opening of our new office. As our Marketing Service partner base continues to grow our investment in new people to support this success will increase."

Visit the smartFOCUS Group website

22 Apr 2005:
NetSuite: putting the 'Customer' in CRM

Netsuite have annouced that their Netsuite CRM+ will be officially launched on Thursday 2 May. The new product features order management, incentive management, partner management, website hosting and analytics. Netsuite claim it is, "a unique application and is the first hosted offering to go beyond the simple prospect-centric view to a customer-centric view to manage initial and on-going relationships over the phone, in person, or on the Web. The release is packed with features not found in other systems giving small and mid-sized businesses the edge over their competitors."

The product has been built around the principle that customer purchases are the cornerstone of a relationship, and for businesses, are the most important pieces of customer information.

For more information visit

31 Mar 2005:
Richard Forsyth takes over as Chairman at Sophron

Richard Forsyth, founder and editor of CRM-Forum (now the CMC) has taken over as Chairman at Sophron partners following the annoucement of a restructure of the leadership team. Richard says, "The opportunity to help take Sophron to the next stage of its development is tremendously exciting. Sophron has an excellent client list and fantastic people. I believe that we are in a very strong position to capitalise on market growth and help lead the industry in new directions."

Other changes at Sophron include:

  • Richard Heygate, formerly Chief Executive of Sophron, takes over as Chief Executive of Sophron’s new dedicated consulting business, Sophron Consulting Services, which is focused on helping clients develop service based customer strategies.
  • Steve Collins, formerly Managing Director becomes Chief Executive.
  • John Ginn and Tony Reynolds join the main board with responsibilities for Marketing and Operations respectively.
  • Kevin Collins accepts the position of Sales Director.

29 Mar 2005:
O2 ramp up efforts to provide fully accessible web services

Web accessibility for the disabled, the elderly and mobile workers is high on O2’s agenda as it partners with Segala M Test (Segala) to provide a web accessibility accreditation scheme.

Segala will now be responsible for validating O2’s entire web based supplier products against the WAI* ‘AA’ guidelines by providing a branded logo which acts as a seal of approval for O2. Segala is also providing ongoing advice for the UK’s market leader in mobile web products on mobile device accessibility.

"There are 10 million disabled people in the UK with an annual spending power of £50 billion," explains Paul Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Segala M Test. "O2 can extend its reach by providing a more accessible website which offers an improved user experience. To help them achieve this, we will work with all of O2’s third parties and developers, enabling them to hand O2 fully tested and certified products which will speed up the process and add value to their own portfolio."

24 Mar 2005:
Mobile Users defect over poor call-centre service

A quarter of young people have switched mobile service provider as a result of bad call centre customer service, a survey of over 2,000 UK mobile users has found. The survey, conducted for software provider Corizon by pollsters YouGov, also found that the situation was almost as severe across the broader population.

Briefly, the key findings are:

  • A quarter of young people (aged 18-29) have changed mobile phone provider as a result of poor customer service from their call centre

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people have changed mobile phone provider as a result of poor customer service from their call centre

  • 40% of people are less than satisfied with the level of customer service they receive

  • Almost a third of people (31%) are kept on the line for more than ten minutes while an agent deals with their enquiry

The five major customer pain-points were, as identified by respondents:

  1. Having to repeat a query to more than one agent (41%)
  2. Being kept on hold too long (32%)
  3. Being asked for same details again and again (29%)
  4. The agent lacked the necessary knowledge to deal with my query (27%)
  5. It took a long time to deal with my query (26%)

David Davies of software provider Corizon, who commissioned the survey commented, "The call centre is effectively the front door to the mobile service provider and is often the only contact the mobile user has with the operator's brand. Poor customer service can have a dramatic effect on customer loyalty and churn.

16 Mar 2005:
NetFlex: Netsuite's most customisable application

On 17 March NetSuite launches NetFlex - a customisation tool in terms of capabilities, integration and overall in truly serving the customisation needs of its customers.

14 Mar 2005:
Consumers missing out on the maximum benefits available from chip & PIN cards

According to Detica, the specialist IT consultancy, companies must do more to offer consumers the type of benefits available from the new chip & PIN cards being rolled out.

Detica states that there is much untapped potential in the new cards which extends further than fraud prevention. Customer loyalty schemes, travel ticket options, pre-pay electronic purses etc are all services which could benefit customers but as yet have not been introduced.

David Porter, Head of Security and Risk at Detica says, "The chip in the new cards is a microcomputer with the ability to store and process data, and is not being used to its full capacity at present. In addition, the card could hold records such as contact details and emergency medical information or even serve as a personal organiser with diary and telephone book options."

Organisations need to start thinking about the business benefits and researching the market so that they are ready to grab the opportunity when it arises.

Related reading:

  • Loyalty Cards: Disguised Discount or Loyalty Builder?
  • Twelve simple steps to Customer Loyalty

    14 Mar 2005:
    Verint recognised for outstanding execution and customer satisfaction

    Industry analyst DMG Consulting has named Verint Systems Inc the market leader in its newly published 2005 Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report. Verint has been recognised for outstanding execution and customer satisfaction throughout 2004 and DMG believe that Verint have an in-depth understanding of how to sell to and satisfy clients.

    Verint's latest product ULTRA™ allows organisations of all sizes to cost effectively capture every customer interaction and extract the actionable intelligence contained within these transactions. Easy access to customer data through ULTRA’s Web-based desktop portal enables enterprises to use what they learn from customer contacts to optimise their processes, increase productivity, comply with risk management requirements and improve service to their customers.

    9 Mar 2005:
    The race for corporate social responsibility credibility hots up

    The UK’s 100 most ethical companies are being officially revealed today by The Ethical Company Organisation (ECO). The ECO independently certifies companies in relation to several key areas including Animals, People and the Environment.

    The latest Companies invited to apply for certification include: Aga Raeburn, Alliance & Leicester, Asics, Bahlsen, Belling, CafédirectCafedirect, Casio, Chelsea Building Society, CIS Environ Trust, Co-Op Bank, Dell Computers, Dellungo, Derbyshire Building Society, Dyson, Ecotricity, Ecover, Green & Blacks, Lowe Alpine, Percol, Pure, Royal & Sun Alliance, The Body Shop, Triodos Bank and Viridian.

    Mike Dinsdale, CSR Director Brother UK Ltd, said of the accreditation scheme, "As a global business, we were very pleased to gain ECO accreditation status to demonstrate a real point of difference over our competitors. To have this fact independently endorsed by The Ethical Company Organisation is very useful for consumers wanting to make the best ethical shopping choices."

    Read more about Corporate Social Responsibility and the impact on customers:

    Find out more about The ECO -

    7 Mar 2005:
    "CRM - Making the Choice for Customer Service" from eGovTV

    Whether you are already implementing CRM systems or yet to take the first steps, this programme will help identify key issues for CRM success and realising more effective customer relationships and more efficient operations.

    The programme's case study and panel discussion provide you the first hand experience, advice and guidance from local authority practitioners and representatives from the ODPM, the CRM National Programme, the IDeA and selected suppliers.

    To apply for your copy of this Video CD programme, please click here to register on eGovTV (free of charge).

    3 Mar 2005:
    Services companies switch to NetSuite from

    In conjunction with the introduction of NetCRM-Services Edition, designed to meet the specific needs of services-based businesses, Netsuite announced that some companies have have switched to Netsuite solutions from

    NetSuite offers a migration program for companies that want to standardise on NetSuite from Find out more at

    28 Feb 2005:
    FrontRange Solutions wins "Best CRM Solution, EMEA" award for GoldMine

    At this year's event, GoldMine from FrontRange was voted the "Best CRM Solution, EMEA" in the Members Choice Award category. These unique awards are voted for by users - there are no judges and no panels. Users vote for their favorite solution providers on a national, regional and global basis.

    “We’re delighted to have received this prestigious award, which recognizes our commitment to customers and partners, as well as the ongoing development in the GoldMine product,” said Greg Anderson, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the GoldMine business unit at FrontRange Solutions.

    Find out more about FrontRange -

    24 Feb 2005:
    Call Centre Innovation award finalists announced

    BSkyB, HBOS, Prudential, AOL, EDF Energy, South Gloucestershire County Council, RIAS, AXA, Royal & SunAlliance, The City of Liverpool, Kirklees, Access Glasgow and have all been named as finalists in this year's Innovation of the Year Awards, to be presented at Call Centre Planning 2005 on April 21-22 at Aston Villa, Birmingham.

    These 13 finalists have demonstated good practice and significant improvements in call centre practices.

    The Innovation of the Year Awards are oranised and presented by the Professional Planning Forum -

    23 Feb 2005:
    Ventura wins quality accreditation award

    The leading authority on customer contact management, Customer Operations Performance Centre Inc (COPC), has awarded Ventura the COPC-2000 standard quality accreditation.

    As one of the UK's biggest call centre outsourcers, Ventura aims to set the industry standard for performance and service. The COPC-2000 status identifies Ventura as provider of excellent customer service, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

    The accreditation is part of Ventura's continuous development programme and currently incorporates three clients and 1000 call centre seats.

    COPC website:

    22 Feb 2005:
    Contact Centres - Top ten issues for 2005

    According to Witness Systems, there are 10 key areas of focus that contact centres will be concerned with in 2005. Witness report that having sorted out the issue of offshore outsourcing, organisations are now looking at improving the quality of their services regardless of where the call centre agent may be based.

    Briefly, the top ten issues to look out for this year are:

    1. Evolving from quantitative to qualitative measurement within the contact centre
    2. Moving toward improved first call resolution
    3. Implementing focused coaching for agents evolving from service positions to more sales-oriented roles
    4. Enabling a shift towards greater agent retention
    5. Building a structured coaching culture
    6. Addressing the root cause of calls coming into the contact centre
    7. Improving the overall customer experience
    8. Supporting key compliance challenges
    9. Providing management with greater visibility of real time customer issues
    10. Maximising the performance of offshore operations
      (SOURCE: Witness Systems

    21 Feb 2005:
    Marketing professionals admit to email misinformation submissions!

    StoneShot Ltd recently surveyed attendees to this year's Technology for Marketing event at London's Olympia. Amazingly, the survey of 100 of the UK's leading marketers showed that over half (58%) personally admitted to giving incorrect email details to other businesses. This especially included requests for email addresses online, for events and other such registrations. 8% of respondents in this marketing arena said they would not give their email address if they thought it was just going to be used for sales and marketing purposes! Only 34% of respondents said they'd happily give the correct details to other organisations.

    Individuals with limited time in their working day will not surrender their email addresses unless they believe the offering is truly relevant to them. StoneShot recommend therefore not simply building your email marketing lists in terms of numbers but in ensuring that you offer a high quality service and make your communications as relevant and targeted as possible.

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