CRM (customer relationship management) is an information industry term for methodologies, software and usually Internet capabilities to manage customer relationships in an organized way. The use of CRM enables organizations to provide customers with precise product information or promotional mailings targeted to their specific needs and interests. (See the resource listing at the end of this article for detailed information about CRM.)
Forward-thinking businesses worldwide are using CRM to improve competitive advantage and drive global business interactions. Lotus business users can integrate both Notes and Domino with CRM software as a platform to manage and optimize relationships with their customers, partners, suppliers and employees.
"Lotus has many of the right tools for success in the CRM market, particularly for customer interaction and community building, such as chat/instant messaging, data conferencing, discussion threads, teamware and Web forms," says Matt Cain, Vice President, Web and Collaboration strategies at Meta Group, a Stamford, Conn.-based consultancy. "The company, however, has not been particularly aggressive in the market and is in danger of being an after-thought in the CRM space."
"As a toolkit vendor, Lotus has had a lot of success relying on our partners to bring great solutions to the marketplace. That is a layer of innovation that is really valued by us. At the same time, we are promoting the next generation of applications to meet the CRM needs of our customers for synchronous communication (chat), private workspaces and discussion forums," says Arthur Fontaine, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Lotus Development Corp.
Lotus Business and Alliance Partners offer a range of Web- based CRM solutions that interface with Domino and Lotus to meet the e-business needs of companies across markets. The areas where Lotus customers have applied these solutions include the manufacturing, retail, financial, pharmaceutical and service industries for a variety of applications.
Help desk/customer support and sales automation are especially well suited to CRM because both demand high customer satisfaction and responsiveness to customer needs, including the ability to escalate priorities and respond promptly to crisis situations. Integration of CRM applications with Lotus Notes and/or Domino can strengthen the supply chain and provide a more efficient way to streamline customer support, including enabling customers to help themselves on a 24x7 basis. Described below are some of the many offerings from Lotus Business Partners for the help desk/customer support environment. Next week we'll take a look at sales automation.
c.Support from GWI Software provides features to support incident, asset, change control, survey, knowledge and SLA management for ERP/Enterprise resource planning and enhanced customer relationship management. c.Support's end user tools allow companies to provide 24x7support to customers via an Intranet or the Internet. c.Support is targeted across industry segments and includes features such as knowledge management, contact and complaints tracking, activity management, customer self-support and help desk.
United System Solutions' SystemCare 5.0, a Help Desk/Customer Service application for Lotus Notes, provides help desk/support center tools and infrastructure tools. This app allows desk managers and technicians to support internal and/or external customers. Features include a report library; call tracking system; automatic assignment, notification and escalation procedures. SystemCare integrates with the Notes name/address book and is compatible with Notes R4.6 and R5.0. Targeted vertical industry segments include state, local, and municipal government, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial services, manufacturing and hi-tech. This product also addresses cross-industry CRM requirements.
ProjecTrak Help Desk from Eden Communications, Inc. is a Lotus Notes and Intranet software help desk application specifically designed for IT call management. It supports both internal and external customer help desks, and features request tracking, reporting capabilities, and the ability to perform extensive statistical analysis of call patterns. Features include Service Request generation; routing and tracking, escalation and technician dispatch. It provides performance statistics by technician, problem type, caller, month and day. Reporting can be provided by ticket, caller, status, problem type, technician, priority, date and Service Contracts Asset Management. ProjecTrak Help Desk can store a database of technicians, callers and documentation; support a posting forum; and a customer satisfaction survey. ProjecTrak targets supply chain and customer relationship management for quality management, complaints tracking, customer service and help desk applications.
For details on these or other CRM case studies, visit:
Here are some other CRM resources:
A TechTarget Community, this Web portal features CRM-specific
news, features, resources and tips.
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marketing technology and practices on the World Wide Web.
Next week, part two of this two-part series will cover CRM
and sales force automation with Domino and Notes.
Jacobs is director of The Jacobs Group, a Massachusetts- based communication company.