*Sonic Foundry Boosts Call Centers for Overseas DM Push

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CHICAGO -- Sonic Foundry Inc. is increasing its European direct marketing efforts and is strengthening its contact center capabilities in the United States to handle the expected influx of customer contacts from overseas.


Representatives from the company's call center were at the International Call Center Management Conference here this week looking for technologies to help the company better handle the overseas customers who seek assistance through its Web sites, or who call in response to its catalogs.


Sonic Foundry, Madison, WI, is preparing to drop 50,000 catalogs in Germany Oct. 15 in its first overseas direct marketing effort.


Nancy Workman-Luter, customer relations manager at Sonic Foundry, expects a surge in Web-based contacts into her center when the catalog drops.


"I think ... German customers are going to want to use the Web, rather than pay for a call to the [United States]," she said.


Workman-Luter is looking at e-mail management tools and other options to determine how to best handle the expected influx of contacts.


The company sells software products that allow audio and video files to stream over the Internet. It offers products for both professionals, such as music recording artists, and consumers. Its catalogs, which it began shipping last year in the United States, offer both types of products.


Its consumer software products include Siren Jukebox, which helps consumers play music on their personal computers, and Acid, which lets consumers create music files on their computers.


Workman-Luter was looking for technology here that will unite the information Sonic Foundry's call center agents need to handle phone calls and Web-based contacts from customers. The call center, which employs about 25 agents, provides technical and retail sales support in addition to customer care for consumers who place catalog orders.


The center's agents can communicate in Japanese, English, French, German and Spanish. German is a priority now that the catalog is planned for that country.

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