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.