Salesforce.com, Genesys team on call centers

Continuing its quest to establish the software as a service model among enterprises, Salesforce.com Inc. on Wednesday announced the addition of call center functionality to its service-based CRM (customer relationship management) solution in a deal with Genesys Telecommuncations Laboratories Inc.

The partnership is designed to provide users with real-time access to unified customer data for a complete view of multichannel interactions.

As part of the deal, the companies will leverage Salesforce.com's XML architecture to enable them to combine Genesys' Suite 6 contact center functionalities with the Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition.

The deal allows an enterprise's telemarketing or customer service-focused call center to integrate any call center functionality with Salesforce.com's CRM solution, explained Kaiser Mulla-Feroze, senior manager of product strategy of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com.

"Now, you can actually keep your CTI [computer telephony integration] infrastructure in one local [area] and have your CRM solution in another area," Mulla-Feroze said. "Your call center agents can be anywhere in the world using Salesforce.com."

As a result of the integration, Salesforce.com's online CRM solution seamlessly integrates essential customer data, such as contact and account information, customer service cases, and marketing leads with the Genesys Suite 6 contact center platform.

For example, if a customer calls into a call center and enters an account number, data describing all interactions would pop up for a call center agent before the agent talks to the customer.

"Now you can increase the productivity of your call center agents & by providing them [with] these call center tools," Mulla-Feroze said.

The announcement further emphasizes the growth of the software as a service model in the CRM arena, said Cheryl Kingstone, program manager with the Yankee Group in Boston"If you really want to integrate all your channels & you need the CTI," she said. "You want to be able to escalate the call to different channels. They're going at more of that mid-enterprise market."

In related news, Salesforce.com will announce the next release of its hosted CRM offering next week with added functionality for sales, marketing, and customer service.

For sales, the company will offer an offline edition so users on the road can access critical customer data. For marketing users, Salesforce.com will roll out new campaign management features designed to allow users to link revenue back to specific campaigns, Mulla-Feroze said.

Finally, the company will add customer self-service options to its enterprise edition to give enterprise the ability to gain cost savings from reduced call center agent demand.

"This is a way to allow companies that tend to see their customer service organizations as cost centers to handle higher volumes," said Cary Fulbright, Salesforce.com senior vice president of marketing sand products. "Companies can handle higher volumes with the same level of staff."

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