Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

SAP: Offering CRM Relevance Over All Customer Touch Points

January 17, 2008

Late last year, SAPintroduced the next evolution of its SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), a component of the SAP Business Suite. I recently got a chance to talk about it withMike de la Cruz, senior vice president of CRM Applications Solution Management for SAP.
RT: Can you elaborate on how using Web 2.0 interfaces increases usability? What benefits does this bring to the call center?
MdlC: Web 2.0 interfaces are more interactive, dynamic and configurable, providing more visual feedback the user and improved ease-of-use. This allows contact center agents to focus more on the customer problem they are trying to solve, and less on navigating through multiple application screens to find the right information or function.  SAP CRM 2007 brings a state-of-the-art Web 2.0 interface and revolutionary ease-of-use to the call center, bringing these benefits to the contact center agent and the customer.
RT: Can you explain a little about SAP Real-Time Offer Management and what processes it is improving?
MdlC: Real Time Offer Management (RTOM) helps improve customer loyalty and satisfaction by helping agents make more relevant offers based on the customer’s status, history, profile and context. The system leverages advanced optimization and arbitration analytics—taking into account all relevant customer information—to help agents cross sell and up sell or create follow up actions by making real time recommendations.
RT: What is different about next-generation solutions like SAP CRM 2007 and the earlier generations of CRM? What problems have been overcome?
MdlC: Effectively managing customer relationships is challenging as every customer situation is unique.  To be effective, organizations must strive to achieve more consistent, relevant interactions across all channels and touch points.  SAP CRM uniquely allows organizations to make the most of every customer interaction across the entire customer life cycle by ensuring that each interaction is consistent and relevant, with real-time information about the complete history, context value and profitability of each customer.  This is only possible if the CRM solution is fully integrated with back-end systems, providing this complete view of the customer.  In the past, this sort of seamlessly integrated solution was difficult to achieve.  SAP delivers this solution, today.
RT: What’s the ideal size contact center to benefit from this new solution?
MdlC: Contact centers of all sizes can benefit from SAP CRM.  It is important to choose a solution that can grow as your company grows, and that can deliver immediate benefits and enable you to achieve long-term strategic goals.  SAP CRM is uniquely able to span this range of needs. 
RT: What drove the development of the new features being announced? Requests from customers?
MdlC: Yes. It’s always been SAP’s practice to work closely with its customers to refine and improve our products. SAP CRM 2007 was no exception. Customers were telling us that the current solution was rather challenging to use and we wanted to simplify this experience. SAP CRM 2007 is about making CRM simple and powerful to provide differentiation, innovation and agility to business users. The ultimate goal is to enable companies to empower employees, gain customer insights and drive growth.
RT: How, exactly, does the solution improve the communications with field-based staff and experts in any location?
MdlC: By using SAP Business Communications Management (BCM) together with SAP CRM, organizations can integrate multichannel communications with their customer-facing business processes.  This enables, for example, companies to track the presence and status of all relevant personnel, whether in the office or in the field, and engage them into customer interactions, including phone calls, as needed and appropriate.  Having a foundation in place for communication-enabled business processes allows these sorts of scenarios to be supported.  SAP BCM provides this foundation.
RT: Can you give an example of a company that is using SAP CRM 2007 and how they’ve managed to improve their processes?
MdlC: Intel—the world leader in silicon innovation—develops technologies, products, and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Today, Intel supplies the computing and communications industries with chips, boards, systems, and software building blocks that are the "ingredients" of computers, servers, and networking and communications products. These products are used by industry members to create advanced computing and communications systems.
Intel wanted to simplify their existing environment by eliminating 25 percent of legacy applications and automate and streamline marketing processes to help move the company away from the creation of siloed, transaction-based marketing campaigns. They wanted a solution that would help them take a more collaborative approach to campaign development, planning and execution, by leveraging the insights of customers and partners. Intel and SAP joined forced to create a solution to achieve this goal. This new functionality—called marketing development funds (MDF)—is now baked in among the new features of SAP CRM 2007.
With SAP CRM Intel now has an integrated, enterprise based solution to help enhance online claims entry, accruals and compliance tracking by linking claims and payout processes with the company’s ERP back-end system with accounts payable. Additionally, Intel can leverage SAP CRM’s underlying master data architecture to help monitor and steer marketing campaigns and increase proficiency across four domains—partner management, marketing management, funds management and claims management.
With the new solution, Intel expects to increase customer face time by 20 percent, improve customer and partner relationships and reduce costs by 15 percent year over year.
RT: Thank you for your time.
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC. In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended VoIP event, Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.