Happy customers?

The June 15, 2009 issue of CIO magazine (page 15 or online) featured an article on “Bagging Customer Loyalty.”  Quick summary: A supermarket chain is changing their customer loyalty program from collecting data that they can then analyze for customer buying habits to collecting data that customers can then use to make better purchases.  As the CIO of the supermarket stated, “If it exists today, we aren’t thinking big enough.”

What we hear is that businesses want more than just the normal, commodity technology.  They want solutions that are customized and can fit their business to 1)increase customer loyalty 2)increase revenues and 3)decreases expenses (Gartner’s “Meeting the Challenge: The 2009 CIO Agenda” supports these priorities).

NEC has always worked with customers to deliver solutions that can be easily implemented for simple business problems, but also has a services and applications development group that works with customers to design and deliver applications that provide a deeper impact on the business.

For example, NEC recently worked with the City of Philadelphia to create a customized IVR application that helped to reduce call center costs while improving customer service.  Other examples can be found on NEC’s website.

More choices: Good or Too Much

A recent article in InformationWeek (June 8, 2009 issue, page 30) highlighted what Coca-Cola is doing with RFID-based soda dispensers to give customers more choices.  To summarize, Coca-Cola has created a new Freestyle drink dispensers which will give customers up to 30 cartridges of flavors to add to their drink.  Now they can have a Peach Sprite or Grape Coke.  They will also be adding RFID chips to the dispensers which will then send back data to their HQ.  They are hoping this will help in both managing the amount of drink purchased by restaurants and businesses as well as increase interest in new flavors of soda from Coca-Cola.

So what does this have to do with communication you ask? When I read the article I immediately asked, “Will consumers ever get to the point where there are too many choices?”  Even today, we have so many communication choices – phone (desk, mobile, softphone), text (SMS/IM), email, video (desktop, room, telepresence) and more.  With all these choices, most people tend to go back to a preferred method of communication after they have tried several others.  Just like we have a favorite beverage we drink, even with the multiple choices out there.

As people choose their preferred communication method, the goal is to then make is easy and simple to communicate.  At the heart of NEC’s UNIVERGE360 model is giving people the choice of device (deskphone, mobile, etc) with a preferred communication method (IM, video, email) over any transport layer (IP, wireless, WAN).

The Garlands of Barrington Creates Revenue Stream using NEC Software Based Communications

Luxury retirement community in Illinois utilizes NEC’s UNIVERGE® Sphericall to connect residents with hospitality and medical staff, as well as the outside world

Sphericall provides the residents with a gateway to all services at The Garlands, from medical assistance to booking reservations, accessing amenities and high-end services. Customer service throughout the retirement community is dependent on The Garlands resident’s ability to effortlessly schedule appointments and stay connected to their family and friends. With the support of authorized NEC dealer NE Communications, The Garlands provides residential phone service and voicemail to its customers and is able to bill for communications services as part of its overall monthly invoice.

Residents at The Garlands use Sphericall to access a multitude of activities, such as theme parties, fitness and spa, games, crafting or computer classes and book club. Member services including valet parking and concierge assistance as well as dog walking, dry cleaning and help carrying in groceries also are available. From independent living residences, to skilled nursing and dementia care facilities, the communications solution connects employees and residents. Additionally, Sphericall provides service to the 12 hospitality suites reserved for the residents’ friends and family and the healthcare facility staff have portable phones so nurses can receive calls and maintain contact with their patients when away.

“Providing a comfortable and secure environment with excellent residential services and benefits is a top priority at The Garlands. The Sphericall solution exceeds our expectations. It has and will continue to grow with us, easily expanding to help protect our technology investment,” said Bruce Berlin, executive director, The Garlands of Barrington. “We believe NEC’s software-based solution and NE Communications’ service provide efficiency for our employees by eliminating the need to coordinate with multiple vendors to maintain individual phone systems for residents. From a business perspective, the solution has given us the ability to generate revenue from communications rather than treating it as a liability.”

“The Garlands is a prime example of the power of Sphericall in a hospitality setting,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president and general manager, National Channel for NEC Unified Solutions. “With this solution, The Garlands cannot only provide excellent customer service but can also create a regular revenue source by running its own communications business.”

In March, NEC launched UNIVERGE Sphericall for Hospitality, a 100-percent software-based solution built on the Sphericall enterprise softswitch platform and offering substantial ownership cost savings and productivity benefits. The solution allows for the integration of advanced features seldom made available in an economical and cost-effective communications solution for small- and medium-sized hotels.

More information on NEC can be found at:
www.necunified.com
www.UNIVERGE360.com
www.NECToday.com
Twitter at www.twitter.com/NEC and @NEC
Facebook fan page: NEC Unified Solutions

About NEC Unified Solutions
NEC Unified Solutions helps companies unify their business communications through innovative software, applications, development tools, and services. NEC offers a complete portfolio for unified communications, wireless, voice, data and managed services, as well as systems integration and application development. NEC Unified Solutions serves as the North American communications integration arm of global giant NEC Corporation for Fortune 1000, as well as small to mid-sized businesses in vertical markets such as hospitality, education, government, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.necunified.com.

NEC and UNIVERGE are registered trademarks of NEC Corporation.

About The Garlands of Barrington
The Garlands, located near the heart of Barrington, is a unique community for people ages 55 and older that provides residents an uncompromising lifestyle in a resort setting. The Garlands of Barrington combines elegant residences with unprecedented amenities and services. For more information, visit www.thegarlands.com.

About NEC Communications, Inc.
NEC Communications, Inc. is a complete computer network solutions provider which provides on-site computer network consultants, network engineers, network security specialists and computer technicians. NE Communications, Inc. also offers a managed services solutions, and Chicago IT Outsourcing. For more information, visit www.necommunications.com.

Amenities at the Touch of a Screen: theWit Hotel Opens with Cutting-Edge Self-Service Technology from NEC

Upscale boutique hotel in Chicago utilizes NEC’s integrated communications solutions to create a unique guest experience

IRVING, TX, June 23, 2009 — NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. (NEC), a leading communications solutions integrator, today announced that theWit Hotel, the recently opened downtown Chicago boutique hotel, is using NEC communications technology to deliver unprecedented access to luxury services and amenities for its guests.

“Technology is a cornerstone of theWit; every piece has to integrate in order to create a truly unique guest experience. NEC’s communications server and phones automate guest services, enabling our customers to enjoy the unparalleled comfort and amenities we provide while our employees can efficiently focus on high-touch services,” said Lou Carrier, chief brand officer for ECD Company / theWit Hotel. “When it comes to NEC, we feel like we have the best products on the market; what they helped us create speaks directly to our brand.”

“From the very beginning, the technology vision for theWit has been to provide guests with an experience that is second-to-none with features that are both convenient and easy to use,” said Darrin Pinkham, chief technology officer for ECD Company / theWit Hotel. “NEC has been an integral partner in helping us achieve a seamless converged and ubiquitous network for an impeccable guest experience.”

theWit, a Doubletree Hotel, opened its doors in May with 298 rooms, all dedicated to providing guests with deluxe accommodations through advanced technology. Guest rooms at theWit feature touch-screen access to a variety of services, such as valet notification, setting restaurant reservations, ordering wake-up calls, requesting towels from housekeeping, and looking up airline flight or weather information, all using easy-to-navigate applications from DOCOMO interTouch on NEC’s UNIVERGE® DT750 IP phones. Guests with a sense of humor can request wake-up calls with a message recorded by a celebrity impressionist from the Second City Chicago. Celebrity voices include President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Al Capone and Harry Caray. NEC’s UNIVERGE SV8500 enterprise-class communications server provides voice over IP (VoIP) service to both guests and hotel staff.

“Without a doubt, theWit Hotel is raising the bar in hospitality by leveraging NEC’s communication solutions to help facilitate excellent guest service and staff efficiency,” said Lou Van De Water, vice president and general manager for eastern regional sales, NEC. “theWit is a prime example of the UNIVERGE360 concept: by making guests and staff the central components of their technology decisions, they achieve outstanding results for their customers.”

Headquartered in Singapore, DOCOMO interTouch provides integrated hospitality applications and is a wholly owned subsidiary of NTT DOCOMO and a member of the UNIVERGE Solutions Partner Program, NEC’s worldwide program that gives technology providers the opportunity to fully integrate their products and applications with NEC’s UNIVERGE portfolio.

More information on NEC can be found at:

www.necunified.com
www.UNIVERGE360.com
www.NECToday.com
Twitter at www.twitter.com/NEC and @NEC
Facebook: NEC Unified Solutions

About NEC Unified Solutions
NEC Unified Solutions helps companies unify their business communications through innovative software, applications, development tools, and services. NEC offers a complete portfolio for unified communications, wireless, voice, data and managed services, as well as systems integration and application development. NEC Unified Solutions serves as the North American communications integration arm of global giant NEC Corporation for Fortune 1000, as well as small to mid-sized businesses in vertical markets such as hospitality, education, government, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.necunified.com.

NEC and UNIVERGE are registered trademarks of NEC Corporation.

About theWit Hotel
theWit Hotel is a new luxury boutique property located in the heart of Chicago’s energetic Loop theater district. TheWit is a flagship property developed by Scott Greenberg of the ECD Company and operated by the Doubletree brand of Hilton Hotels, and clients enjoy the benefits of membership in HHonors, Hilton’s reward program for loyal guests. Four-diamond service with a clever twist is the hallmark of theWit experience, and the hotel’s stylishly irreverent character is inspired by the culture and self-expression so inherent in its urban surroundings. Designed by Chicago architect Jackie Koo with interiors by Cheryl Rowley, theWit feature 298 rooms (including 60 suites); two full floors of meeting and event space; SCREEN, a state-of-the-art multimedia theater; and three dining concepts: cibbo matto, STATE AND LAKE, and a 27th-floor lounge, ROOF. The property also offers guests an opportunity for tranquility at its full-service spa (Spa@theWit) and health club. TheWit is a sleek, contemporary hotel offering a new kind of luxury hospitality experience that fuses charm and good humor with relaxation and opulence. Visit us online at www.thewithotel.com.

TORO National Support Network Improves Contact Center Performance with NEC’s UC for Business

Texas-based turf irrigation control support improves already outstanding customer satisfaction level after UNIVERGE® deployment

IRVING, TX, June 18, 2009 — NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. (NEC), a leading provider of enterprise business communications, today announced that TORO National Support Network (NSN) is now better able to remotely assist customers using NEC’s UC for Business solution, resulting in customer satisfaction levels at more than 90 percent.

TORO NSN’s call center handles troubleshooting and maintenance for customers using TORO’s turf irrigation computer systems. With the guidance and expertise of Batts Communications, an authorized NEC dealer, TORO upgraded its UNIVERGE® NEAX 2000 to the UNIVERGE SV8300 IP communications server to support its move toward an all-IP call center environment. TORO chose NEC’s UC for Business (UCB) unified communications application to enhance the NSN contact center’s performance and reporting capabilities. TORO’s UCB provides communications management, streamlines administration and allows the company to handle the real-time demands of its call center.

“The SV8300 affords us the efficiency of an IP contact center environment, while UCB provides us excellent agent productivity tools and thorough, up-to-date reporting. Since we receive up to 300 calls per day in peak season, it is very important for us to have a flexible contact center and a high-quality voice system with clear visibility into our business results,” said Dave Smith, customer service manager, TORO NSN. “The system makes managing our communications quick and easy while UCB gives us call visibility which lets us be an efficient world-class call center.”

In addition to providing advanced contact center functionality, NEC’s deployment at TORO NSN offers unified messaging, mobility and desktop telephony applications. Desktop monitoring software allows TORO NSN to easily supervise incoming calls and prioritize those that need to be addressed immediately to create an efficient call queue. The SV8300 can be fully utilized to run in a pure IP environment, which allows TORO NSN to meet its current communications needs with advanced technology, but also lays the foundation for future growth, protecting its technology investment.

“By choosing the UNIVERGE SV8300 and UCB, TORO NSN is providing its call center employees with the tools they need to make decisions and respond to customers quickly and knowledgeably,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president and general manager, National Channel for NEC. “With the help of Batts Communications and NEC, TORO now enjoys a simplified administration environment and improved reporting, which in turn has a positive impact on the company’s ability to satisfy customers.”

More information on NEC can be found at:

www.necunified.com
www.UNIVERGE360.com
www.NECToday.com
Twitter at www.twitter.com/NEC and @NEC
Facebook: NEC Unified Solutions

About NEC Unified Solutions
NEC Unified Solutions helps companies unify their business communications through innovative software, applications, development tools, and services. NEC offers a complete portfolio for unified communications, wireless, voice, data and managed services, as well as systems integration and application development. NEC Unified Solutions serves as the North American communications integration arm of global giant NEC Corporation for Fortune 1000, as well as small to mid-sized businesses in vertical markets such as hospitality, education, government, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.necunified.com.

NEC and UNIVERGE are registered trademarks of NEC Corporation.

About TORO NSN
TORO NSN provides comprehensive technical support and priority component and system replacement for its large turf irrigation control customers including superintendents and managers of private and public golf courses, municipal parks, sports complexes and facilities. TORO NSN offers fast system troubleshooting, problem-solving, remote diagnostics and friendly advice. You can count on TORO NSN. For more information, visit www.TOROnsn.com.