by June 18, 2001 0 comments

Customer satisfaction is the primary focus of most businesses today. The rapid growth in technology has also increased customer expectations in terms of product quality and service. In the past, the only point-of-contact for companies with their customers were sales personnel. Today, however, more channels are available–sales people, service personnel, call centers, e-mail, cellphones, fax, and the Internet. While each of these units can function independently, the challenge faced by most companies today is how to integrate these various modes of communication. For example, a customer who uses the Internet to place an online order will expect the call-center staff to know his order details when he contacts the call center for order verification. 

This is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system steps in. It helps companies in setting up a frontline information system for sharing information about the customers across all interface units. eCRM is nothing but CRM’s electronic counterpart. It doesn’t replace the traditional channels of communication–phone or fax. It’s a more personalized and interactive form of communication and synchronizes communications across both electronic as well as traditional channels. 

A typical CRM application integrates and co-ordinates multiple business functions such as sales, marketing, support/service and the multiple channels of communication with the customer, such as, face-to-face, call center, or the Internet. The applications that should ideally comprise an eCRM solution can be summarized as follows.

Customer analytical software: It helps in predicting and interpreting customer behavior. A customer-analytical software should integrate with customer-communication software so that the information collected can be used effectively. 

Data mining software: It looks for hidden patterns in a group of data. Such software helps in building predictive models that can be used to identify customer behavior. 

Campaign management software: This type of application makes use of a data warehouse, where information from different channels is collected together, to plan and execute different campaigns. 

Business simulation: This is used in conjunction with campaign management software and helps in comparing planned costs and projections with actual results.

Real-time decision engine: It helps in coordinating and synchronizing communication across various customer touch points. 

The CRM application market is full of various products from different vendors–typically four categories of solutions are available–Integrated application suite, integrated application bundle, integrated best-of-breed solution, and best of cluster. 

An integrated application suite is a set of applications that employ a common architecture and use a common logical database. An integrated application bundle is a set of interfaced applications from a single vendor containing more than one technical architecture or more than one logical database. An interfaced best-of-breed solution is a set of applications from multiple vendors, which are interfaced to work together. An enterprise selects a solution depending on its individual needs. However, the drawback of such an application suite is that at times, individual applications may not be interfaced properly together. Best-of-cluster is similar to best-of-breed except that the best are chosen from the cluster and are interfaced together. 

Now, let’s take a look at Talisma’s integrated eCRM suite. It integrates the eService, eSales, and eMarketing modules together. 

Talisma eService suite 

This helps in improving companies’ customer service and support processes. It aims to give timely service to its customers. It claims to integrate both conventional and electronic channels and offers customer service through e-mail, telephone, fax, chat, Web self-help, and Web forms. Its key features include: a record of all the communications with customers and tracks inquiries across different communication channels; lets you compose replies using tools that include canned and rapid responses; AutoCategorization, AutoPrioritization, and Auto Esca- lation helps in identifying and automatically routing customers based on service levels and priorities. For example, the administrator can automatically assign customers’ inquires to the appropriate person based on criteria like knowledge, language, or availability.

Talisma eMarketing suite 

This module helps in planning effective marketing campaigns. You can use it to create a graphical workflow of your marketing campaigns and send personalized mailers to your customers. Its key features are: it lets you segment your customers with information in the Talisma database; create and manage mailing lists and see what mailers you have sent and to whom; analysis tool for looking at the response rates and costs of each campaign; integrates with e-sales and e-service suite; links to external data sources; you can also use conditional rules for managing mailing lists. For example, let’s say the subject of an e-mail contains ‘Unsubscribe’ than it would automatically remove it from the mailing list. 

Talisma eSales suite

This helps in managing and tracking your sales activities. It integrates with Microsoft Outlook so that sales people can use Outlook itself to view account information, manage and schedule tasks. It can: route communications by territories, products; let you record lead status and retrieve information at each stage of the sales cycle; organize corporate customers into account hierarchies; integrate with other databases; let you define workflow diagrams for sales cycle; AutoCategorization, AutoPrioritization, and AutoEscalation to route customer interactions with the right sales personnel or sales team based on a certain criteria; supports creation of personal workspaces; lets you generate reports and integrates with the e-Marketing and eService suite. 

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