Managing eCustomer Relationships
Extending Customer Relationship Management to the Internet
ã 2000 by PeopleSoft, Inc.
All rights reserved. Published 2000.
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Introduction While you were addressing the issues of Y2K, the next generation of enterprise computing became the standard. It is called eBusiness— and the demand for this technology is everywhere. This new paradigm operates on the Internet, leverages diverse technologies, creates new business challenges and opportunities, delivers information on a Web browser, and services a new market— the eCustomer. Your company requires integrated functionality right now. On the front-end, customer service and sales want to automate sales force, call center, and customer service operations. On the back-end, you’re managing alternatives for integrating enterprise backbone applications for Internet deployment.
To quickly adapt, you’re looking to make solid software decisions based on detailed product research, references, ease of upgrade, track record, implementation time, and the relationship going forward. You need proven best-of-breed solutions as you position your business processes and systems to succeed in the virtual Internet economy. The Company with the Most Customers Wins For established companies, the old business model of measuring success by the number of sales or customer transactions is growing tired. Making the numbers is no longer enough. Now the focus for winning companies is building and effectively managing customer relationships— using integrated systems designed to meet those goals.
For emerging companies, new business models that support rapid growth require scalable eBusiness solutions. Because eBusiness breaks all the rules, established companies need to create new business rules and re-invent themselves as virtual corporations to capitalize on the eCustomer using customer relationship management. Reengineering a business frequently involves reducing business processes down to the most basic activities, focusing on what the company does best— it’s core business. To succeed at eBusiness, many companies have aggressively re-invented their business processes with a new value chain: customer needs, integrated channels, products, flexible processes, and outsource/in-house parsing of competencies. Joint ventures, partnerships, and outsourcing agreements allow the virtual corporation to adapt quickly to market changes and provide services, consulting, and resources.
These decentralized, partner-oriented cultures reduce fixed overhead and maximize return on their highest value-added assets. Virtual project teams form to address new challenges and dissolve when the deliverable is met, reducing go-to-market time by executing strategies faster. Virtual work environments enhanced by Web access empower employees to do a lot more with less. eBusiness technology attracts the eCustomer with its optimized usability, easy access, and quick response. So it comes down to this— the virtual corporation with the best eCustomer relationships wins.
Understanding the eCustomer
The heart of any eBusiness strategy must begin with the customer— a company’s most valuable asset. Managing that relationship requires both insights into the behavior and expectations of the eCustomer and the tools that serve them. Who is the eCustomer? The eCustomer is the empowered customer who wants anytime, anywhere access and immediate service through whatever medium they choose. They want tailored, relevant information— regardless of the communication channel— that they can pick and choose from multiple sources and display on a single page. eCustomer success factors include a consistent experience across all access methods, a customer relationship management system that empowers the self-sufficient customer, and an architecture that unifies all customer information in a common customer data model. This requires integrating the Web with customer relationship management systems. For companies with call centers, that means providing Web access to customers. For businesses with eCommerce solutions, that means transforming traditional call center functions into customer contact centers to accommodate these new eCustomers and empowering them with self-service technology to become satisfied, selfsufficient users. Empower Users with the Right Self-Service Technology Web technology enables a company to offer more than just convenient access to its eCustomers— adding a bi-directional flow of information that creates customer dialogue. Self-service Web applications take this further by allowing customers to transact issues and receive immediate responses. The benefits of self-service Web capability to a company are many. These applications are easy to install, customize and maintain, and operate using open industry standards like Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and Extensible Markup Language (XML). However, the most significant benefit is the enabling of personalized, one-to-one marketing utilizing role-based interfaces and providing a historical record of the transactions in the relationship. Through a friendly, familiar browser interface, end users get access to information related to their job function or role, when they want it, without costly training or setup time. Over time, as the relationship turns the self-service eCustomer into a selfsufficient customer, companies reap the benefits. Migrating eCustomers to self-sufficiency reduces costly interactions with call centers, increases user satisfaction and efficiency, and creates maximum flexibility for the relationship. Migrating your employees to a self-service help desk application provides similar benefits. To optimize the user experience of empowerment, you need a well-designed technology framework to extend customer service, help desk, and front office capabilities to the Web. Design a Scalable Technology Framework A number of factors come into play when designing a technology framework that addresses customer needs today and anticipates them tomorrow. Since software can be customized to do virtually anything, saying that your software can do something is not sufficient. What does it do today? How difficult is it to do? Can the adaptation withstand the rigors of mission-critical applications? Does it scale to meet the peak traffic demands of Web users? How easily can it integrate with legacy database systems? Can it expand to accommodate new technologies? Having a framework on which to build a customer relationship management system is a requirement, but not enough. Enabling other vendors and integrators to easily customize the system to the specific needs of customers is an important goal. In order for a technology framework to be a viable platform for growth, it must meet the company’s functional needs and provide industry standard tools and interfaces for expansion. The rush to do business over the Internet has only intensified technology challenges for many companies. Some eBusiness applications evolved out of the company’s Web strategy, not their enterprise strategy— and least of all their customer service strategy. With the vast majority of a company’s data residing in enterprise systems, this need to share enterprise data with eCustomers has made companies scramble to manage customer relationships on the Web. This instant Internet reaction can create a quick fix but also spawns long-term problems. Time to market is fast, but disparate company initiatives are not always integrated, usability can be suspect, and the exposure risks of mission critical attributes such as security, scalability, and reliability grow over time. In a Web environment, your systems need to cope with a different usage pattern than client/server. In a call center client/server environment, there are thousands of users, but the usage profile is fairly predictable. Customer service representatives log in at the start of their shift and remain logged in working the system until their shift ends. Web usage is different. You may have many more users hitting your systems, but only for short periods of time. You need a proven framework to support the Web-based call center environment.
Recipe for Success Leading Internet technology exhibits consistent design elements focusing on the human interface and open architecture. Successful implementations depend on user acceptance, ability to customize and personalize business processes, and future ease of maintenance. Specific Web strategy factors to consider include: · Ease of Use— Training costs and learning curves for users are minimized by an easy-to-use, intuitive interface. Screens, page design, layout, usability and navigation reflect human factors design principles. Easy integration to Web-based public information sources and services (such as directions, finders, mapping services, and search engines) enriches the user experience. · Pure Browser Client— With only a Web browser on the client side, performance is fast, software is simple to maintain on the server, and training is nearly eliminated. · Personalization— Each application acts as a portal to its counterpart application in the suite. Users control the sections, order, and content of their home page— avoiding information overload and assuring user acceptance and productivity. · Cross-browser Support— To reach the largest number of potential users, the applications should support Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers on Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX client platforms. · Fast Deployment— Each Web application provides complete functionality needed to support the target user— out-of-the-box. Web-based architecture makes it possible to provide quicker remote access for users compared to other access methods such as mobile laptop clients. · Ease of Customization— Applications can be customized and extended using an object-based development environment— extended by best-of-breed Web tools such as Microsoft Visual InterDev— which leverages widely available skill sets. · Lower Maintenance and Cost of Ownership— The data-driven nature of the product facilitates a server-centric Web application architecture supporting a browser-only, zeroinstall client interface, with no large ActiveX or applet downloads required at run time for data access and session management. This requires lower IT staffing and infrastructure. eCRM Revolution: Extending CRM to the Web The Vantive Enterprise is an integrated CRM software suite that leverages the Internet to increase sales, marketing, customer support, field service, help desk and Web service effectiveness. Vantive empowers companies to manage customer relationships through any channel of interaction— the Web, phone, e-mail, fax, or directly through sales and service representatives. The Vantive solution empowers companies to know, win, and keep their customers— driving revenues, increasing customer loyalty, and giving enterprise companies a 360-degree view of the eCustomer. PeopleSoft Delivers eBusiness Applications for the eCustomer The Vantive solution from PeopleSoft optimizes customer relationship management by offering Windows functionality for high performance, large-scale enterprise use and Internet applications for end-user access through a Web browser. Vantive’s best-of-breed applications can be used in standalone mode, create a robust enterprise-wide customer information system when implemented as the Vantive Enterprise, or provide a 360-degree solution when integrated with back office and legacy systems using powerful tools including Vantive Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Taking the Vantive Enterprise to the Web met several design goals: addressing the multiple service channel needs of the eCustomer, creating self-service Web applications using a thin client, and migrating users to self-sufficiency. · Customer requirements— focusing on end user needs and usability— streamline Vantive Enterprise applications to the functionality required by eCustomers. · A pure browser client provides lower total cost of ownership. · Tight integration with Vantive Enterprise applications reduces training needs. · Seamless integration with other Vantive Enterprise applications boosts user self-sufficiency. · Platform independent technologies, including client-side DHTML and server-side Java Server Page (JSP), provide a flexible environment, easy customization, and maximum scalability. · Use of standard Web development tools reduces development learning curves. · Style sheets allow global customization of look and feel. · Using the applications as templates allows for customization with the Vantive Object Studio tool set. The Vantive solution empowers employees and eCustomers with best-of-breed technology to raise support, sales, field service, and help desk productivity. Vantive eBusiness Applications for the Internet Today, the Web browser is the medium for universal access. Since 1995, Vantive has supported customized Web solutions through toolkits such as VanWeb and the Vantive Business Object Interfaces. Using these tools, Vantive customers have built flexible, robust eBusiness solutions to support their business needs. Building on the success of the Web toolkits, the Vantive eBusiness applications— each focused on a specific user role— enable pure-browser access to the customer relationship management functionality of the Vantive Enterprise for a wide range of deployments: · Vantive eSales¾ Provides sales reps, sales managers, and channel partners with opportunity management and other sales productivity tools using a pure Web browser interface to the Vantive Sales application. · Vantive eService¾ Empowers users to access the Vantive application over the Internet to find resolutions and product information, submit cases, and check status. Customers can access this application from anywhere using nothing but a standard browser. · Vantive eHelpDesk¾ Enables employees to review problem status and asset information, search for product information and query existing resolutions for known problems, all via the Internet. · Vantive eFieldService¾ Enables field service technicians to receive and review assignments, verify service level agreements and update service orders from anywhere that they have access to the Internet. Vantive eBusiness applications for CRM are designed to allow users— both inside and outside the enterprise— to access business-critical information from anywhere and at any time through the Web. No other major vendor delivers the same breadth of online customer relationship management with integration between the Web channel and existing channels for service, support and sales. While some vendors offer point solutions, Vantive delivers eBusiness CRM applications that are tightly integrated with the Vantive Enterprise and existing customer channels— such as call center, email, fax, face-to-face selling, business partners— to deliver a consistent 360-degree view of the customer. Unlike standalone Web products with limited functionality, each Vantive browser application is feature-rich and acts as a portal to further leverage the power of the Vantive Enterprise.
Architecture Built for the Web
The Vantive database establishes a single customer file and presents a unified data model for the Enterprise. The critical application server manages traffic between the Vantive database and clients, provides unified workflow and security, and enables integration with essential other components in the Enterprise, including legacy systems and eCommerce applications. Support for standard development environments and development technologies such as Java and COM/DCOM make it easy to integrate and expand the Vantive application. The Vantive clients establish a user interface and provide a consistent user environment, regardless of the specific application. Thin clients are possible because data access occurs at the application server. This thin-client architecture also enables an easy transition to a browser-based client. Scalability is essential if applications are to be deployed on the Web. Because of the flexible application server, we have established the highest benchmarks in the industry and continue to enhance our system to accommodate the high-traffic demands of the Web. Our adoption of Java, COM/DCOM, ActiveX, and DHTML technologies demonstrates our commitment to providing the best tools for our customers and consulting partners— regardless of their platform. Best-of-Breed Applications The Vantive Enterprise application suite offers unparalleled functionality in all the customerfacing application areas, including Sales, Marketing, Support, Service, Help Desk, and Quality. Our applications provide users with the best possible feature set and have been recognized as world class solutions by industry trade journals. In addition, the benefit of using these applications together is substantial. Sharing customer data, tracking problems across the organization, feeding marketing information to the sales organization in real time, all result from the integration of data gathered from different customer interactions. Integration with Back Office and Legacy Applications Integration of customer relationship management with an enterprise backbone provides a complete view of the customer, focuses on the total relationships built on individual transactions, and lowers the total cost of ownership. Vantive’s open, flexible architecture enables fast integration to thirdparty, legacy and back-office applications. Our API supports Java, COM/DCOM, and technologies such as ActiveX— ensuring fast and cost-effective integration. For out-of-box connectivity from the front-office to the back-office, Vantive’s Quick Connect solution reduces the uncertainty and cost of integrating back-office solutions to CRM. Vantive Enterprise integrates with leading back-office systems, such as PeopleSoft®, Oracle®, and SAP®— offering customers unprecedented ease-of-use and maximum flexibility with pre-packaged integration processes. Return on Your Investment To compete in today’s economy, organizations must simultaneously trim expenses through enterprise automation and capitalize on revenue-boosting opportunities with customer relationship management systems. Companies spend millions building their brand and even more to acquire customers. Vantive helps each company realize an immediate return on the software investment by profitably managing the interactions the company has with its customers. The result is a more efficient internal organization that has a 360-degree view of eCustomer relationships. And when you add a mechanism for self-sufficiency that allows customers to help themselves wherever and whenever they desire, your return on investment looks better every day. Contact your PeopleSoft or Vantive representative for more information.