ASPs Turn to Customer Relationship Management

SAN FRANCISCO (04/06/2000) - At the eCRM show taking place in the shadow of Internet World here this week, CRM (customer relationship management) is emerging as the latest area of business to be taken on by ASPs (application service providers).

Several companies introduced hosted services that use the Internet to help businesses manage their relationships with customers across sales, marketing and support divisions. Other companies have retooled existing software offerings to make them available in a hosted form.

"The point of all these tools is to take a large corporation and make it look like a mom and pop store," said Blaine Ballard, a systems manager in the customer services division of regional carrier U.S. West Inc., who was at the show looking at new CRM software from Xchange Inc.

CRM software allows businesses to offer customers an improved, more personal level of service, which in turn helps retain customer loyalty and maximize a company's profitability, Ballard said.

Using a hosted CRM service helps businesses save money because it frees them from the capital costs of installing hardware and software in-house and providing technical support for it, said Nathan Malone, a business analyst with Ineto Inc., an Austin, Texas company that provides hosted communications services for businesses. He was at the show checking out a hosted CRM service from Neteos Inc.

Hosted services also leave smaller companies free to focus on their core competences, and provide them with greater flexibility to switch to a different provider if a better CRM solution comes along, Malone said.

The following are just a few of the products and services announced at eCRM this week.

-- Startup company Neteos launched a hosted CRM service called eRMNow. The service is designed to offer both traditional employee-side CRM functions, as well as direct interaction with customers and partners over the Web, officials here said.

Features include a proprietary Neteos technology that allows the company to quickly customize its service to match the "look and feel" of its customer's Web site, according to Dave McNamara, vice president of sales and marketing with Burlington, Massachusetts-based Neteos.

ERMNow expects its product to do well among companies with revenue of between US$10 million and $350 million. "Smaller companies could probably get away with using ACT or Goldmine," McNamara said. The service is offered at a per-seat monthly subscription fee ranging from $50 to $150 depending on the breadth of the service suite, the company said in a statement.

Neteos, in Burlington, Massachusetts, is at +1-781-270-7900, and

-- Xchange (formerly Exchange Applications Inc.) launched a packaged CRM suite called Xchange 4.0 which will be offered as both a software and hosted solution. Officials here claimed the product is the first to include all the essential elements of CRM -- campaign management, analytics, e-mail marketing and Web personalization. The hosted service for Xchange 4.0 starts at $3,000 per month for a basic e-mail component, while the complete suite on CD is priced at $250,000, Xchange officials said.

Xchange, in Boston, Massachusetts, is at +1-617-737-2244, and

-- Quiq Inc. announced its formation as an ASP who will offer hosted CRM services, primarily for Internet destination sites and companies with a strong Web presence. The firm said its service allows customers to create Internet communities by offering forums for exchanging questions and answers, collaborative knowledge management, self-service customer support and discussion boards.

Quiq, in San Mateo, California, is at +1-650-655-4777, and on the Web at

-- Touchtone Corp. announced the release of Wintouch eCRM, which it described as a Java-based product that large businesses or ASPs can use for customer care, SFA (sales force automation) and marketing automation applications.

Touchtone makes software for IBM Corp.'s AS/400. Pricing and shipping details weren't immediately available.

Touchtone is based in Costa Mesa, California, and can be reached at +1-714-755-2810 and on the Web at

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