Serving customers through the net

The five finalists in the "Excellence in e-commerce: business to consumer" category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards encompass one of New Zealand's biggest companies, two smaller enterprises and two government bodies.

The five finalists in the “Excellence in e-commerce: business to consumer” category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards encompass one of New Zealand’s biggest companies, two smaller enterprises and two government bodies.

They all have one thing in common, however; they have shown strong commitment to serving clients and customers via internet-based applications.

Telecom’s entry is the company’s online self-service channel. Aimed mainly at customers, but also of use to resellers, the media, investors and those looking for a job with Telecom, the site includes tools and calculators to let current and potential customers accurately select the best services for their situation.

Another feature, Your Telecom, allows Telecom customers to check accounts online and find out the number of free minutes left on their mobile phone accounts.

The revamped site went live in August 2001 after extensive consultation with users, including focus groups.

Financial services site, liquid, earned a place among the finalists by providing a site that offers more than 200 products spanning the investment, insurance and wills/estate planning fields.

A subsidiary of AMP, liquid offers products from that company among others but there is no attempt to influence viewers into choosing one product over another. It was developed in partnership with the other providers with a view to creating a financial services portal that brought together information and interactive tools.

Users don’t have to download PDF files and the interactive features can be used to call up quotes from different providers, enabling the buyer to make comparisons side by side.

If you’re going to buy toys for your kids online, you want to know what they look like and know they’ll be there when you pull out your credit card.

Finalist Out To Play, a toy e-tailer, provides parents, grandparents and others with a wide selection of toys. Previous customers get a monthly newsletter advising of new products and special deals.

Out to Play, a family-owned business, is an example of how the internet can provide a business opportunity where there wasn’t one before — it originally started out as a mail order business, but when the owners realised catalogue mail-outs and advertising were significant costs in such an operation the net became a far superior option.

The TAB has been around ever since the government of the day that founded it decided controlled, legalised betting was better than private bookmakers operating willy-nilly.

However, just because it’s been around a while doesn’t mean it’s not making full use of the internet: its site has earned a place in the finals.

More than 300 races and 200 sports betting options can be accessed through the site and other features include live race commentaries and text messaging of data related to users’ bets or choices, such as what races a certain horse or jockey are participating in.

For those who wanted a wager on the Super 12 but didn’t want to put down any money, the TAB offered v-bet, using virtual money, with prizes for those who “won” the most money.

The fifth finalist in is Virtually thr, the Auckland Regional Council’s mobile application-based programme to encourage Aucklanders to use public transport.

Virtually thr makes bus and train timetable and route information available over cellphones using WAP and integrates a vast array of information from different transport operators as well as all the Auckland region’s roads and public transport stops.

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