Teletech hopes to launch CRM-from-a-far

Call centre Teletech NZ is hoping to convince a US company spun off from its parent company to base a data centre for 'hosted' CRM applications here.

Call centre Teletech NZ is hoping to convince a US company spun off from its parent company to base a data centre for "hosted" CRM applications here.

Enhansiv, which began with some of Teletech’s assets and another small company, expects to place at least one remote data centre in each region, perhaps even in every country where Teletech is. Such a centre in this country would create dozens of job opportunities.

Teletech managing director Alex Broughton says local conditions such as new cable capacity, telecommunications infrastructure and the right skill base are reasons to build such a hosting centre for Enhansiv here. “We are hoping to reverse the trend of call centres and banks to Australia by having the data centre here and squirting services back out to Asia and Australia,” Broughton says.

Broughton is also hoping the strong local ties of the technology vice president for Enhansiv, John Smiley – who helped set the local arm up in 1997 – will win favour. Smiley is visiting each region collecting business cases for the plan and expects to roll out it out in the second half of this year. A core team of at least 12 will staff each data centre with a wide network of call centre or CRM agents working remotely from home or elsewhere. Enhansiv plans for these workers to join a global distributed model, able to deal with queries for other countries and taking advantage of time differences.

“Hosted” CRM is when call centre functions and other CRM services are made available to companies wanting to outsource without the need for a physical centre. Agents use the internet and redirected calls on the telephone network to access a hosted CRM platform. The idea is companies can start with a few services and scale up “without putting in hardware, infrastructure or software packages”, and get rid of issues like reliability and redundancy, Smiley says.

Enhansiv launched in October with its first US client Canon ITS. Its platform includes voice and email as well as real-time chat, co-browsing, automated self service using natural language engines from Nuance and Speechworks or touchtone services, and it uses a “push” model for information access based on rules for agents. Training manuals are also online for agents, who, using the internet, will be able to check off information or authority with company heads of departments.

Smiley says Enhansiv, which is built on Java, uses a thin-client model but will move to a total-browser based model soon.

In the local market, Enhansiv will launch with agents using the internet for email and the local telephone but in its “second generation” will move to using voice over IP.

It is undecided whether Enhansiv will be wholly operated and owned, in a joint venture with Teletech or launch with a partner.

But Enhansiv – which says it has talked to Teletech’s clients and other potential clients - plans to use Teletech’s sales forces to sell its products.

One local CRM specialist says local companies will want to see a local, proven example before joining such as scheme. Pivotal country manager Helen Robinson points out companies may be worried about the quality levels of agents not dedicated or on site.

But Robinson says the benefits to the call centre outsourcing provider themselves are obvious - lower overheads and less installations in each call centre.

Teletech Holdings reported revenues for the year ended December 31 of $US885 million and net income of $US73.8 million.

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