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Altares D&B selects NewVoiceMedia as contact centre partner to transform experience for European customer base

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Altares D&B selects NewVoiceMedia as contact centre partner to transform experience for European customer base

NewVoiceMedia, a leading global provider of cloud contact centre and inside sales technology, announced today that Altares D&B selected its platform to create exceptional, emotive customer experiences, improving the service it provides to its European customer base.

As a global pioneer in the data economy, Altares’s mission is to enhance the data capital of its clients. Altares is an exclusive partner of Dun & Bradstreet, one of the leading international providers of B2B information in France, Benelux and Maghreb. In this capacity,Altares established itself as one of the leading partners for large, mid-caps and SMBs by offering exclusive access to its database of over 280 million companies in 220 countries.

With multiple contact centre solutions in place across the region, Altares wants to standardise its processes, alongside its implementation of a new Salesforce instance. By simultaneously implementing these solutions, Altares helps simplify and transform the services it delivers to its customers across the group.

Following an extensive market evaluation, the company selected NewVoiceMedia as a true cloud solution. Reasons for choosing NewVoiceMedia are that it operates globally and offers rich functionality in combination with Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud integrations. The NVM platform enables Altaresto create unified, consistent and integrated experiences irrespective of which channel the customer chooses. Benefiting from a single source of truth for customer data along with dynamic routing and self-service capabilities, inbound calls will be managed intelligently as well as routed to the most appropriate support consultant. The consultants will have easy access to the customer’s entire history of interactions, enabling them to offer an efficient and personalised experience.

All employees log into the same system wherever they are, when working from multiple locations, as all they need is a phone and internet connection. With greater visibility into operations, including a real-time window throughout the contact centre, the company can easily manage advisors. Call recordings and customisable reports allow the company to understand where opportunities to improve exist.

Rahim Gulamali, Customer Experience Leader at Altares, comments, “We are delighted to partner with NewVoiceMedia for its flexible, reliable technology with real-time insights into our entire business. We are committed to delivering our customers a hassle-free experience and at the same time improving performance through more effective contact centre operations. NVM is an important part of our customer-centric design”.

Chris Haggis, SVP Customer Success at NewVoiceMedia, adds, “Customer experience is a key differentiator for businesses worldwide. Brand reputation and market position can be significantly affected by an organisation’s ability to deliver customer delight. By investing in our technology and standardising its contact centre operations, Altares will be able to create exceptional, emotive customer experiences while benefiting from real-time insights into performance alongside customer satisfaction. We’re extremely pleased to be part of Altares’s future success. I look forward to seeing the company transform its services, whilst growing its customer base”.

For more information about NewVoiceMedia, visit www.newvoicemedia.com.

Salesforce, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud and others are among the trademarks of Salesforce.com, Inc.

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U.S. job growth likely regained steam in February

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U.S. job growth likely regained steam in February 1

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth likely accelerated in February as more services businesses reopened amid falling new COVID-19 cases, quickening vaccination rates and additional pandemic relief money from the government, putting the labor market recovery back on firmer footing and on course for further gains in the months ahead.

The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday will, however, also offer a reminder that as the United States enters the second year of the coronavirus pandemic the recovery remains excruciatingly slow, with millions of Americans experiencing long spells of joblessness and permanent unemployment.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday offered an optimistic view of the labor market, but cautioned a return to full employment this year was “highly unlikely.”

“We will probably see more people having gone back on payrolls,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Many will be related to service jobs, but that will not mean a rapid increase in jobs. It’s a slow progress toward eventual full recovery.”

Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 182,000 jobs last month after rising only 49,000 in January, according to a Reuters poll of economists. Payrolls declined in December for the first time in eight months.

Economists saw no impact from the mid-February deep freeze in the densely populated South as the winter storms hit after the week during which the government surveyed establishments and businesses for the employment report.

But unseasonably cold weather last month, especially in the Northeast, and production cuts at auto assembly plants because of a global semiconductor chip shortage likely shortened the average workweek.

The labor market has been slow to respond to the drop in daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, which helped fuel a boost in consumer spending in January that prompted economists to sharply upgrade their gross domestic product growth estimates for the first quarter.

Historically, employment lags GDP growth by about a quarter. But economists believe the catching up started in February, a year after the economy fell into recession at the start of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak.

A survey last week showed consumers’ perceptions of the labor market improved in February after deteriorating in January and December. In addition, a measure of manufacturing employment increased to a two-year high in February.

Though millions are unemployed, companies are struggling to find workers, which is contributing to holding back job growth. A survey on Wednesday showed employment growth in the services industry slowed last month, with businesses reporting they were “unable to fill vacant positions with qualified applicants.”

That was underscored by an NFIB survey on Thursday showing 91% of small businesses trying to hire in February reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.

WORKER SHORTAGE

This labor market dichotomy is because the pandemic is keeping some workers at home, fearful of accepting or returning to jobs that could expose them to the virus.

It has also disproportionately affected women who have been forced to drop out of the labor force to look after children as many schools remain closed for in-person learning. According to Census Bureau data, around 10 million mothers living with their own school-age children were not actively working in January, 1.4 million more than during the same month in 2020.

The Fed’s Beige Book report on Wednesday showed there are shortages of workers in both low-skill and skilled trade occupations. The vacancies are mainly in the high-growth industries that have fared well throughout the pandemic, such as information technology, engineering, construction, customer support, manufacturing, and accounting and finance.

“Jobseekers are more hesitant to pursue many of the in-demand roles that are required to be onsite, particularly in industries like manufacturing, which has seen double digit increases in job roles like assemblers and warehouse managers,” said Karen Fichuk, CEO of Randstad North America.

The virus has greatly altered the economic landscape and many of the services industry jobs lost will likely not return.

Though the unemployment rate has dropped below 10%, it has been understated by people misclassifying themselves as being “employed but absent from work.” It is expected to have held steady at 6.3% in February. Just over 4 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months in January, while 3.5 million were permanently unemployed.

Given the difficulties of retraining, structural unemployment could account for a bigger share of joblessness in the near future.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economists believe the labor market will gather steam in the spring and through summer, with vaccinations increasing daily, even though the pace of decline in COVID-19 infections has flattened recently.

A boost to hiring is also expected from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion recovery plan, which is under consideration by Congress.

“The labor force will begin a meaningful recovery in mid-2021 as extensive vaccine distribution will push toward herd immunity, reducing health concerns and allowing for a more complete recovery of some hard-hit industries,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Dan Burns and Andrea Ricci)

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Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April

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Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April 2

By Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Friday, extending gains from the previous session, after OPEC and its allies agreed not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude futures for May rose 60 cents, or 0.9%, to $67.34 a barrel at 0337 GMT, and was on track for a near 2% gain in the week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 56 cents, or 0.9%, to $64.39 per barrel.

Both contracts surged more than 4% on Thursday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, extended oil output curbs into April, with small exemptions to Russia and Kazakhstan.

“It just goes to show how much of a surprise the OPEC+ discipline is,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

“What makes the gain even more impressive is that it comes against a risk-off backdrop and a higher U.S. dollar,” he said.

Oil prices usually fall when the dollar rises as a higher greenback makes oil more expensive for buyers with other currencies.

Investors were surprised that Saudi Arabia had decided to maintain its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day through April even after oil prices rallied over the past two months.

“An array of factors coalesced to bring the parties together, but the resultant price increase will almost certainly push the parties to change their minds when they meet again on April 1, 2021,” commodity analysts at Citigroup said in a note.

“Whatever its rationale, from a pure market balancing perspective, OPEC itself has indicated that more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil will be required in the market by end-June. That need starts by mid- to late Apr’21, as refinery demand for crude starts growing before escalating through Aug’21.”

Analysts are reviewing their price forecasts to reflect the continued supply restraint by OPEC+ as well as U.S. shale producers, who are holding back spending in order to boost returns to investors.

“Oil prices could rip higher now that a tight market is likely up through the summer. WTI crude at $75 no longer seems outlandish and Brent could easily top $80 by the summer,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Wardell)

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White House says closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch

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White House says closely tracking Microsoft's emergency patch 3

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is closely tracking an emergency patch Microsoft Corp has released, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, after an unknown hacking group recently broke into organizations using a flaw in the company’s mail server software.

“We are closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch for previously unknown vulnerabilities in Exchange Server software and reports of potential compromises of U.S. think tanks and defense industrial base entities,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said on Twitter.

“We encourage network owners to patch ASAP,” he said. His tweet included a link to a notice by Microsoft of the security update. (https://bit.ly/3kLPWJQ)

Microsoft’s near-ubiquitous suite of products has been under scrutiny since the hack of SolarWinds Corp, a Texas-based software firm that served as a springboard for several intrusions across government and the private sector.

In other cases, hackers took advantage of the way customers had set up their Microsoft services to compromise their targets or dive further into affected networks.

Hackers who went after SolarWinds also breached Microsoft itself, accessing and downloading source code – including elements of Exchange, the company’s email and calendaring product.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Shri Navaratnam)

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