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Servion: Lack of CRM Integration with Contact Centers Hurts
[February 05, 2009]

Servion: Lack of CRM Integration with Contact Centers Hurts

Senior Contributing Editor
While CRM solutions have and continue to evolve, there remain several key issues affecting their deployment. One of the most critical is a lack of complete integration with contact centers, which may be harming their ability to grow revenues and cut expenses.

Chris Mills, General Manager of the Americas of CIM Specialist Servion, reports that while many large firms have CRM solutions that differentiate customers for their value to their enterprises few have applied this level of differentiation at the contact center level.

Too many firms are still treating all customers the same when they contact these companies, regardless of their existing and future worth.
While most are using CRM systems to provide and store information about their customers, he said that most are not using CRM to offer a differentiated customer experience. This is where Servion believes CRM combined with CIM can provide real-time, differentiated customer experiences at the moment of truth.
In response, leading edge companies are deploying specialized middleware, productized as customer interaction management that combines voice, e-mail, chat routing, and CTI (News - Alert) screen pops to agents. CIM systems sit between the routers and the CRM systems. Cicero, eGain, Jacada, nGenera, Servion, and Talisma are among the CIM providers.
Yet CIM by and large appears to be getting short shrift, believes Mills. Not all firms make that connection between CIM and CRM. When he and his colleagues mention CIM in their conversations with clients, they often see blank stares back. CIM, he said, is stuck at the CIO level, which sees it as an implementation nightmare as well as competition for limited resources with other projects.
“If you don’t see the connection between CRM and CIM, contact centers will continue to be a cost play for companies: lower levels of service being delivered, higher volumes of self-service,” Mills points out. “The net results are missed opportunities to not only increase revenues, but also reduce expenses by investing in CIM solutions towards a CIM strategy.”
The answer may be for the higher-profile routing solutions firms like Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel, the ones that get the entrees into the C-suites, to enter the CIM market. Alternatively these firms should partner with pure-play CIM vendors for instant credibility and bring them into their meetings.
“There are not enough CIM vendors at the C-level to get their foot in the door,” explains Mills. “By partnering with other companies they may get heard, just as the CRM suppliers have done.”
Servion’s CIM focus is reflected in its revamped business model, branding, and services, which have moved overtly away from the traditional CIO organization that focuses on the infrastructure, and more towards the CRM community and the C-suite.
These C-level discussions have uncovered that most know their contact centers to be “that place” with large HR costs and recurring technology expense items. Discussing the centers in terms of valuable, high volume customer interactions and “moment of truth” consequences increases the value of “router solutions” and transforms them into CIM solutions.
Servion’s goal is to help customers see that one piece is the data, while the other piece is what they can do with the data, and it is the integration of the two that allows them to manage customer interactions to produce specific business results. 
The results so far have been promising. In the last quarter alone, three Fortune 500s have engaged Servion to help them with their CRM implementation to ensure that the CRM solution fully supported customer interaction, not just customer data collection.  
“We are now reaching into executive offices not as a technology firm but as a CRM company, “says Mills. “We’ve needed to align ourselves with CRM at a higher business-centric level, whereas before with CIOs it was cost-centric.”

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Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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