AT&T Wireless CRM installation hits snag

AT&T Wireless Services says it's still rebounding from a glitch caused by the rollout of a customer relationship management software system in the US that prevented customers from activating their phone service.

A company spokesman Tuesday confirmed that an unspecified number of new or upgrading customers attempting to turn on their GSM/GPRS services experienced significant delays, alerting the company that there was a problem with the CRM system. The problems first began showing up on Nov. 1. Typically a phone service is activated in minutes, but some customers are still in the backlog list, he said.

"We continue to work through issues associated with the software," the spokesman said. "We made tremendous progress in clearing the matter up. There's a good chance folks walking in to activate their GSM service will be able to do it in pretty much normal intervals."

The company declined to explain what caused the problems. "We're not engaging in any postmortems," the spokesman said. "We're not going to say what caused it."

While the spokesman wouldn't offer specific details on either implementation partners or the CRM vendor involved, AT&T Wireless publicly announced in 2001 that it would standardize its customer-facing operation around Siebel Systems software. The spokesman refused to comment on Siebel.

"We agreed not to discuss our partners or suppliers. It's not the issue. This is our responsibility. It doesn't matter who developed it," he said.

However, he described the CRM software as improving productivity by enabling store representatives and others in the company to access "much more robust information about our customers." He added, "It's very, very good. But sometimes what happens in a big cutover, it doesn't perform in the way that you hoped it would. That isn't an excuse."

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