Live text chat, Web callback and Web call through are all hot customer relationship
management (CRM) technologies right now. Add this functionality to your Web site and your
customers can simply click to connect to your call center. You're making it easier than
ever for customers to interact with your company, and that's great for customer relations.
But before you simplify your customers' ability to make high-cost contact with your
agents, shore up your self-service solutions. Web self-service is your frontline for
solving customer problems and answering queries before that contact is escalated to a live
Why Self-Service; Why Now?
As more of your customers move online to gather information and shop, youll
need to provide media-appropriate support.
AMR Research, Inc. released a report entitled Customer Relationship Software Report,
1998-2003. The report notes that The convergence of two trends, the move to
e-commerce and the consolidation of all customer interactions into a contact center, with
its self-sales and self-service functionality and advanced call center technology, will
quickly become the dominant market segment in the CRM space. AMR is right on the
money so take advantage of this burgeoning market and put a self-service solution
to work for you.
As a starting point, Ive highlighted three companies that offer Web self-service
solutions to give you an idea of whats available on the market. Of course, many
other companies offer products in this market segment and you can find them in the C@LL CENTER Solutions online Buyers Guide.
IBMs Turnkey Solution
As you might guess, IBM can offer
you a turnkey online CRM solution. The companys aptly named Web Self-Service
solution comprises products from the WebSphere line, among others. To start, IBM suggests
the following: The WebSphere Studio lets you develop Web applications quickly and easily,
using the systems you already have in place. The WebSphere Application Server is a Java
servlet-based Web application server that helps you deploy and manage your Web apps,
regardless of their magnitude. IBMs Domino Application Server facilitates the rapid
delivery of collaborative Web apps that integrate your enterprise systems with business
processes to improve your CRM. Finally, IBMs DB2 Universal Database, a Web-enabled,
object relational database, will provide a foundation for storing and managing critical
information for your Web self-service applications.
WebAdvisor Gets Customers Where They Need To Go
IBMs Web Self-Service solution is an example of a comprehensive Web self-service
solution. If youre looking for something less intimidating, without sacrificing
critical functionality, consider ServiceSofts
WebAdvisor. WebAdvisor is just one module of the companys eCenter customer service
WebAdvisor aims to recreate the experience of working with an expert agent. Using a
series of context-sensitive questions and clarifications, the software guides customers to
information they need to answer their own questions. WebAdvisor also works on the agent
side, where it can walk agents through problem resolution for a customer query.
Blaze Takes CRM A Step Further
Blaze Software, formerly Neuron Data, is a
company youll be hearing more about in the future. Blazes flagship product
Blaze Advisor is positioned to become an attractive option in e-commerce Web self-service.
Blaze looks at e-commerce self-service holistically its product deals with the
entire shopping process, not just the part when a customer seeks support. For example,
Blaze Advisor (dubbed a personalization engine by the company) will allow you
to customize your e-commerce service from step one. When a repeat customer hits your site,
for example, Blaze can help you alert that customer that an item theyve purchased
before is now on sale. Blaze is replicating the way a good agent can steer customers to a
purchase based on their history with the company.
Preference For Self-Service
Still doubting whether a self-service solution is a good fit for you? Think of
all the times you choose self-service options in your daily routine: Pumping your own gas
and paying with a charge card at the pump is just one example. We often elect to help
ourselves before we ask for assistance, and thats the ability you give your
customers when you implement Web self-service solutions. Once this type of solution is in
place, youll spend less money on support and your customers will be happier.
Thats truly ultimate CRM.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.