AT&T, Hewlett-Packard Hook Up In Marketing Alliance

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As part of its ongoing effort to create a consistent communication message with customers through its Multimedia Call Center Solutions group, AT&T has formed a strategic marketing alliance with Hewlett-Packard Co.

As part of the partnership, which was forged following an initial test at an AT&T Solutions center in St. Louis, each company will peddle each others services and goods as a turnkey call center solutions package that marries Hewlett-Packard's Smart Contact solution with AT&T's call center services. In the past AT&T's clients specified their own software applications for premises-based programs and worked with AT&T Solutions to determine the best application for network-based programs.

Although customers will still be able to specify their software requirements for premise-based programs, the partnership provides AT&T with marketing power to offer the software as an integrated package with AT&T services for either premise- or network-based programs.

"What we have done is built up a strong customer premise solution," said Robert Alley, strategic planning manager of the Electronic Business Software Division of Smart Contact Program for Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA. "We are seeing a real need to extend that across network call centers. We can take the best of customer care, which is heavily centered around our organization, and marry it with a strong base of virtual call centers."

Specifically, the package option enhances customer satisfaction by providing agents with historical caller-specific data; increases agent productivity by matching customers to agents in real time; and tracks and monitors customer interaction across multiple communications media, including telephone, Internet and e-mail. Additionally, the partnership sharply cuts cycle time for creating client-specific software needs. "Previously, the implementation of computer and telephony applications had to be hard-coded and used to take a long time," Alley said. "We looked at that code and the application and now provide a simple integration process."

"We are integrating the technologies on call centers and working with Hewlett-Packard to move call centers to the next generation," said Deborah Ingram, managing partner, AT&T's Multimedia Call Center Solutions.

AT&T's strengths have lied in intelligent call routing and the collection of caller-provided information such as account numbers. Now, customer data will appear in a screen-pop in real time once an inbound or outbound call is made. The screen pop provides the reason for the call as well as interaction-specific information.

"For a particular campaign, for instance, we will be able to profile an ideal customer and look at buying patterns. The system will prompt an agent with various options," Ingram said.

The speed of information generation is also freeing up agents to spend time selling. "Before, based on information input an agent may go back to a database that would push out a customer account number," Alley said. "It would have to go through all the mundane database retrieval but that all goes away."

"The time savings is directed back into productivity gains and cost reduction in terms of communication," Alley said. "What we are finding is that reduced dead time can be turned into revenue generating capabilities."

"Although it will get back to customer specification requirements, this will allow us to tie into customer relationship management," said Brian Bischoff, general manager, alliance marketing. "We can tie in with campaign management effectively because it is very expensive for companies to get a hold of live paying customers."

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