Study Sees Major Challenges Facing CRM Vendors Staff

Updated · Dec 21, 2000

CHICAGO–If you're seeking to invest in CRM software in the new year, a recently completed
study says you should look at the vendor's ability to integrate customer service
applications across multiple communication channels and customer touch points.

Doculabs, an independent industry analyst firm in a study on customer service
applications, says they found that many CRM providers remain challenged in
incorporating applications that facilitate servicing existing customers as well as
enhancing customer retention.

“Many of the vendors in the study focused on the transaction side of customer service,
such as capturing customer inquiries. However, only a handful offered a full-featured
knowledge base and the ability to deliver a consistent response across various channels of
customer interaction,” said Frank Meister, senior analyst for Doculabs. “Their continued
focus on treating customer service interactions as transactions will hinder organizations'
ability to develop a comprehensive 360-degree view of their customer's relationship.”

The software providers Doculabs says they evaluated included Avaya Communications, Kana
Communications, Nortel Networks, Quintus Corporation, Remedy Corporation, ServiceSoft and
Siebel Systems.

In addition to the customer service application integration issues, Doculabs also says they
have found four major challenges facing CRM vendors today:

       –Extending the access and support of applications — Customer service
       is a responsibility of all members of the value chain including resellers,
       distributors and suppliers and, as a result, it is imperative for these
       members to participate in customer service related processes supported
       by the applications.

       –Providing globalization support/offerings — With the adoption and
       legitimacy of the Internet as a viable business channel, there is
       increasing requirements on organizations to respond and deliver
       customer service beyond their traditional and physical borders.

       –Evolving to a more open standards-based architecture — This support
       will be critical for customization of the vendors' customer service
       applications and their ability to integrate with other systems, such as
       eCommerce and enterprise resource planning.

       –Integrating with eCommerce applications-Doculabs' recent sell-side
       eCommerce benchmark study completed earlier this year showed a
       tremendous movement by those vendors to incorporate customer service
       functionality around commerce; however, most CRM vendors remain
       indifferent to the eCommerce segment at this time.

“Businesses should be very concerned about a vendor's ability to meet these challenges
to best suit their customer relationship requirements,” said Bill Chambers, Doculabs'
group research director. “The capacity for a vendor to extend its customer service
offerings in these areas will directly impact — positively or negatively — their
ability to grow.”

The report resulting from the study will be available in January 2001 through the Doculabs web site.

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