Talisma helps track e-comm customers

Talisma Corp. this week will announce an updated version of its customer-relationship management suite that will help e-commerce ventures keep track of what customers are doing and help them when needed.

The Talisma eCRM Suite, which uses the Microsoft Corp. SQL database to create a customer interaction profile, can be used by a call center representative or sales agent with a Web browser to find a summary of customer interaction on the Web, e-mail or by phone, as well as purchase history. With a proprietary data-mining tool now integrated into eCRM Suite, Talisma users can execute more complex applications, such as determining marketing campaigns based on customer buying and contact patterns.

"We're adding salesforce automation, workflow for marketing campaigns and the analytics to what are now 17 separate applications that are part of the eCRM suite," says Mike McClure, vice president of marketing at Talisma. According to McClure, pricing for the product varies according to installation, but typically ends up costing a "few thousand per user" under a perpetual license if the software is deployed on a corporate intranet, or a few hundred dollars per month per user as a hosted application.

Talisma's eCRM is available now and includes a variety of software connectors to accept data from other applications from Remedy, BroadVision and Vignette, to name a few, so the eCRM data-mining capability could also be used to extract e-commerce reports from these vendor e-commerce applications.

Talisma eCRM can provide a variety of Web-based interactions with customers, including chat and collaborative browsing. But Lowe's Companies, a large retail store chain, uses Talisma mainly to keep up with the 3,000 to 5,000 e-mail messages it gets from customers each week.

Lowe's uses Talisma in-house at its customer care center to receive incoming e-mail and direct it to appropriate representatives there or redirect it over a VPN-based frame relay network to any of three outsourced call centers Lowe's uses around the country. Outsourcing call centers is a common practice among large retailers.

According to Lowe's director of customer care, Lenzy King, Talisma has "a sophisticated rules engine" to determine the nature of each e-mail "so we don't have to pay all these people to read each one."

"We use some autoresponse and canned responses, but we basically give the more routine e-mail to the outsourced call centers and keep the special mail requiring detailed response in-house," King says. Corporate policy is to respond to all e-mail within 5 hours.

Lowe's will deploy the new version of Talisma eCRM and plans to tests its sales automation features, but Talisma is not the only eCRM software Lowe's uses.

"For our chat tool, we don't use Talisma, we use Facetime Communications," King says. "That's because it has unique access to the AOL and Yahoo instant messaging networks, which are used a lot by our customers."

Talisma: www.talisma.com

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