Hosted e-CRM effort features boosted services

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CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM) vendor eSupportNow is rolling out a hosted eCRM program called eSP, which will let companies equip their e-commerce sites with eSN's live chat, email, VOIP (voice over IP), and search technologies.

With eSP, customers can use their own staff to provide customer service support, and eSP's customer service teams for additional support. eSP also will offer companies the opportunity to completely outsource their customer service initiatives, according to Chris Selland, the Boston-based company's marketing vice president.

eSupportNow offers customers two CRM application options: an ASP (application service provider) model, which provides hosting services, and outsourcing, which provides hosting as well as customer sales representatives for the client -- setting itself apart in the market, Selland said. Additionally, some customers opt for a hybrid support model of both ASP and outsourcing, he said.

"For customers who are fully committed to doing a better job of Web support with their own people, that's an opportunity for us to be a pure-play ASP. But we also have the type of customer who has pretty complex operations and wants some eSupportNow [solutions] with chat or self-service help; they're looking for a hybrid of services," Selland said. "That is the greatest opportunity for us."

"We've taken the infrastructure used for our outsourcing and said we'll make that available to you as well," Selland said.

Four clients already have implemented eSP, including women's apparel retailer J.Jill.com, boats.com, and online gift currency provider Flooz.com, which is based in New York City.

"They provide all the tech support, so that's one less thing we worry about here," said Rhea Abramson, Flooz.com's director of customer care. "We are a new technology and we have a lot on our plate, so it's nice to know that when something's not working we can just pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, this is not working, please fix it.'"

The hosted eCRM solution -- which includes an integrated agent desktop, telephone/CTI, e-mail, Web chat, VOIP, self-service, customer requested call back, advanced reporting and analysis, CRM, and case management -- includes technologies from Kana Communications, Quintus, and Cognos, Selland said.

"The market is crowded, but eSupportNow is a little different because they're taking best-of-breed applications, preintegrating those, and selling it all in an ASP model or adding [support] people on top of that," said Sheryl Kingstone, program manager for CRM strategies at The Yankee Group, in Boston.

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