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    Euroconsumers Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Deco Proteste, a member of the Euroconsumers group, who recently went live on Advantage with their first set of customers. The project involves consumer advocacy organizations in five different countries---Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Spain and Italy -- that all produce consumer report publications, but have plenty of differences.

    The goal of the project was not only to replace the existing fulfillment system with Advantage, but also to revamp and update the supporting infrastructure that integrates with Advantage. As part of the project, AdvantageCS developed a Contact Center solution with new scripting and workflow features that were specifically designed to work for the large contact center operation at Deco Proteste. Euroconsumers made a significant investment in …



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    Aller Finland Goes Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Aller Finland, who recently joined Sweden and Denmark running their operations on Advantage. The combined Aller/AdvantageCS team put in many months of hard work, and overcame the many challenges that arise when three different countries consolidate their businesses onto a single fulfillment system. Every step had to be looked at in the context of each country to ensure there were no hiccups in ongoing production operations. Coordinating resources, project plans and priorities, and processing schedules made this project more complex than the average.

    So many people worked on the project that it would be impossible to name them all. However, Levi Hyssong (project manager), Karl Davis (lead engineer), and Sunil Chawla (data conversion lead) merit recognition as the main …



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    Advantage Contact Center: Introducing Customer Service Workflows

    Some time ago, a project was begun here at ACS to consolidate various customer service views. The result is called the Advantage Contact Center.

    Contact Center introduces a new feature called Customer Service Workflows, which are guided customer service transactions. Each Advantage customer service workflow guides a customer service rep through a set of phases. The Advantage user interface can be customized based on workflow scripts, which determine the phases of the workflow, the fields available for data entry and the defaulting of transaction values. At the conclusion of the workflow, a customer note is created to log the call outcome.

    Here’s an example of one such workflow:

    A customer calls to inquire about a premium which hasn’t arrived yet.

    The first phase in the workflow …



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    Dan's Blog: Smartphones Outsmart Us

    Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing more use of their smartphones? These "mobile moments" are becoming more frequent in my life, at least. A year ago I hadn't installed my bank's app and did all my banking on my laptop. Now I do all my deposits using my smartphone and find myself checking balances there more and more. A couple of years ago I thought I'd never use Facebook on my smartphone...but I almost never use it on my laptop now. Recently my wife was writing a long email on her smartphone and I asked why she doesn't use the desktop so she can edit more efficiently? Her answer was that the desktop was upstairs.  

    I guess that's what the word "mobile" means, after all: able to move. Our mobile phones can be with us all the time. I see more participants in meetings looking at …



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    Product Bundling – A Key Marketing Strategy

    Many Advantage features are born from the minds of marketers---not only from our clients, but also from our internal experts. One simple reason is the need for publishers to stay competitive in today’s market by implementing increasingly sophisticated marketing campaigns. One area guided by marketers that has seen quite a bit of development in the last several years is product bundling (known in the Advantage software context as packages). Advantage has supported bundling for 15+ years, but today there are about 10 different flavors available. You might be thinking: isn’t a bundle just a bunch of products? What could distinguish one from the other? Consider the following three use cases:

    The customer can choose from the print version of a magazine, the digital version, or a bundle …



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    AdvantageCS Celebrates 36 Years

    Surface Changes Aplenty, Unchanged at the Core

      

    On July 1st, 2015, AdvantageCS celebrated our 36th anniversary. The company was formed in 1979 as a custom software development house by some computer science graduates of the University of Michigan who wanted to stay in Ann Arbor. The first client was a book publisher and the second was a magazine publisher, and almost before they knew it, they were publishing software specialists.

    It is said that in the technology world, the only constant is change. In 36 years, AdvantageCS has gone through four location moves, three company names, four logos, countless hardware platforms (Prime, DEC, multiple Unix flavors, 10 flavors of Windows from 3.11 up through 2012R2), and half a dozen programming languages (from Fortran and COBOL to C#). …



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    Continuity Programs in Advantage

    Did you know that Advantage offers continuity programs for your books and products? A continuity series allows customers to purchase a set of related products that are released to them sequentially over a period of time.  Continuity programs give you the opportunity to periodically remind customers of your brand; the customer gets more exposure to your content and they get to “belong” to a club.  Throw in some premiums and it’s a recipe for happy, loyal customers.

    You can set up a continuity program using the Book Club functionality or the Standing Order program.

    Here’s how Book Club works. Customers join a club (they become members) by responding to your offers to join, or you can select people and automatically add them.  Alternatively, you directly add them as part of an order (for …



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    Dan's Blog: Invite Us Over for Dinner and We'll Look at Your Leaky Faucet

       

    How many of us have ever dreamed of having a chiropractor in the family?  Or a carpenter?  Or a mechanic?  As it turns out that neither my wife nor I are any of these things, I have often mused at how nice it would be if one of our offspring would fall in love with such a person.  I can just imagine inviting the kids over for dinner and just mentioning a drippy faucet we have in a sink upstairs to the now-fed plumber and hearing those magical words, "Why don't I go and have a look?"

    Perhaps others of us wish we had a computer expert in the family.  Most of my colleagues with aging parents become the de facto helpdesk for their parents' computer issues.  When I go visit my father and watch him at his computer, I am sometimes amazed at the habits humans form which cause us to do …



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    New Feature Highlight: Call Center

    Would you be surprised to know that 62% of organizations consider the customer experience provided through call centers as a key differentiator from their competition (Deloitte - 2013 Global Contact Center Survey)? Or that nearly 80% of survey respondents feel the call center is the single largest factor involved in defining the customer service experience (Executive Report on Customer Experience)?

    There are many call center statistics pointing to a common conclusion: an organization's call center is critical to its success. Sounds simple, right? Well, if it was that easy, then you wouldn't have 86% of people willing to pay for better service and yet only 1% saying that organizations are meeting their expectations (Forbes). A good call center provides quick, expert service to …



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    Update on eCommerce Initiative: Cider

    On this blog back in February, I introduced our eCommerce platform initiative: Cider. I then presented on Cider at the annual user group conferences in New Orleans (March) and Copenhagen (April). For those needing a refresher, Cider is a feature-rich eCommerce platform that offers powerful shopping cart and self-service capabilities, a marketing portal for marketers to create and assign promotions, a flexible administration panel for customizing the look and feel of your site, and built-in support for third-party plug-ins. The platform integrates directly with the Advantage engine via a new REST API.

    So, six months later, how are things coming along? I'm happy to report that Cider is looking fantastic! We knew we were taking on a big challenge, but Team Cider is firing on all …



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