E.piphany adds module for customer service

E.piphany Inc. is rolling out its customer service module Monday designed to further leverage its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) platform to allow companies to process a continuous customer transaction across multiple applications.

As part of the E.piphany E.6 CRM suite, the E.piphany Service 6.0 product lines include applications for both high-volume contact centers and case-based customer support environments. In addition, it provides modules for e-mail response, Web self-service, computer telephony integration, knowledge management, intelligent scripting, and real-time marketing, according to company officials.

The release is designed to address many of the problems inherent in traditional call centers, such as merely automating incoming inquiries instead of providing high-value customer communications, said Roger Siboni, CEO of E.piphany. In addition, legacy call centers have created silos of data that prohibit the sharing of customer information between systems, he said.

The new module will allow customer service agents to quickly solve service issues while at the same time boosting customer relationships through personalized service via access to enterprisewide customer data.

"A company that is looking to transform their customer service center ... is going to have in this application suite the wherewithal to effectively drive more calls away from the agent to self-service and the ability to deliver through real-time scripting either with the agent or through the Web an intelligent dialogue that lets them ... up-sell and cross-sell different products," Siboni said. "People are looking to see how they can move away from fairly expensive agent calls ... but they want to do that in a way that the customer can feel like the service is enhanced."

In addition, because it is built on E.piphany's J2EE platform, the newest module does not require adherence to a baked-in predefined view of the customer, Siboni said. That requires every instance of customer data throughout the enterprise to be rewritten or recoded against that rigid data model, he added.

"E.piphany with E.6 has delivered an open customer data model that leverages all these EAI standards and allows for open integration with all these diverse customer transaction systems," he said. "Rather than rip out those transaction data systems ... we just take those various instances of the customer and effectively co-manage the customer with those systems. We borrow customer information, run the customer transaction, and drive it back into the system. This obviates an enormous amount of back-end integration."

The new service module is a good fit for companies that are looking at contact-based service or Web self-service, said Eric Schmitt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

"E.piphany brings a nice architecture [that] doesn't necessarily assume the customer data lives in its system," he said. "It's happy to operate with customer data that is stored elsewhere."

Although the offering is well-suited to customer facing organizations such as banks, E.piphany likely will find stiff competition in verticals more concerned with billing, returns processes, and field dispatch, Schmitt said. That is because enterprise application vendors like Oracle Corp. and SAP AG are aggressively marketing to these verticals, playing on ease of integration to back-office systems. He added.

"The challenge for E.piphany is clearly it's a tough market out there right now," Schmitt said. "If I'm E.piphany, I'm focused on landing some big customers ... and then see what happens."

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