Is Customer Service A Lesser Priority Now?



In an increasingly customer-centered world, you might think that incumbents in making call-center CRM products would be spared longer sales cycles and the effects of a slipping economy. Wrong. Aspect Communications Corp. is laying off 160 employees--6% of its workforce.

The company says it's confident in its direction and customer demand. But it says customer buy decisions are slowing. The moves will result in a one-time $4 million to $6 million charge against first-quarter results.

Aspect's product packages, which it claims are used by 74% of the top 50 U.S. companies, transform traditional call centers into facilities that can also handle E-mail, live chat, fax and, phone call-backs.

"I'm surprised, given the huge emphasis on gaining, retaining, and cross-selling customers, that companies that specialize in these areas could be affected by changes in the economy,'' says Daniel Briere, CEO of consulting firm TeleChoice. "And it perplexes me that companies would slow spending and boost evaluation periods of products that are critical to their future success. Let's hope that firms aren't putting customer-centric IT buying on the back burner.''

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