Software Lets GTE Customers Pick Contact Methods

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GTE Telecommunications Services Inc. is giving its customers a larger role in determining how it contacts them through the use of software that manages messaging in a host of mediums.

GTE TSI, Tampa, FL, provides wireless carriers with services such as fraud detection or the resolution of roaming charges out of a wireless carrier's area. The company had been working with a variety of vendors to communicate information about its products and services to customers through pagers, fax, e-mail and other forms of communications.

In a program that began in November and was enhanced this spring, the company began using CRM System 3.0 software, from Diffusion, Mountain View, CA, to manage messaging.

"These are communications that we've always had with our customers, but while before we were doing it though a variety of methods using several different vendors, now we are doing it through a network customers can control," said Heather Diaz, director of enterprise technology for GTE TSI.

Using the Web-based system, GTE TSI can create profiles pertaining to its clients and the type of contact they want to receive. In an addition to the program launched this spring, GTE TSI's customers have been given access to their own accounts to modify how they receive information. Through the enhanced program, which GTE TSI calls Delivery Expressway, customers can go to the program's Web site and change the medium through which they receive information, type in start and stop dates for receiving information if they will be away or make other modifications.

"You don't get what you don't want," said Richard Schwartz, founder, chairman and chief technical officer of Diffusion. "We allow our customer to create their own profile of what they want."

While GTE TSI has mainly used the system to transmit messages through pagers, e-mail and fax, it can also send messages over the telephone, and in some cases through palm pilots and network printers, Schwartz said. Outbound contacts made by the system in any medium are stored in the client's file to enable the company to improve inbound communications with customers.

"The message we deliver might sometimes ask a question, or drive a customer to provide a response by visiting the Web site or calling in," Schwartz said. "The system is closed loop in that when it communicates with a customer, that goes into the systemso that the next time the customer communicates with a live agent, that prior contact is visible on the agent's screen. It has become part of the record."

GTE TSI expects that empowering customers to structure how they receive information will enhance its relationship with customers. In addition, the structure has simplified the flow of information to customers, Diaz said.

"It's important to deliver product information and maintain contact with customers to keep them informed," Diaz said.

GTE TSI expects to have 2,000 customers using the system when it's fully up and running.

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