ABOUT THE VENDOR
Talisma Corporation is a provider of interaction-centric CRM solutions for service, sales, and marketing. Whether hosted or installed, modular Talisma eCRM products and services are intended to be easy to deploy, extend, integrate, and scale. Headquartered in Seattle, Talisma has more than 500 employees with offices in India, Europe, Asia, and 15 cities across the U.S. The company has a list of more than 400 customers.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
The mission of the Arthritis Foundation is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases. The Arthritis Foundation currently provides more than $20 million in grants to more than 300 researchers to help find a cure, prevention, or better treatment for arthritis, and has 150 chapters and service points nationwide to provide community-based programs and to raise funds.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
The Talisma eCRM Suite is developed from one, integrated code base. Talisma eCRM Suite can be quickly configured to meet immediate requirements and evolve over time to meet the complex and ever-changing needs of today's challenging business climate. Talisma's CRM solutions integrate all communication channels across multiple touch points including phone, e-mail, Web self-help, Web forms, chat, VoIP, fax, wireless, and in-person meetings.
As its Arthritis Answer service grew in popularity,
SearchCRM: Why did your company decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
McIntyre: We were using a homegrown program before. We added the ability to e-mail questions a few years ago through our Web site and we were also seeing an increase in the number of calls we were getting. Looking at our projections for growth and our PR department's success at sending people to our Web site and 800 number, we knew we had to automate some of our processes. We needed to become more efficient, be able to track our interactions with customers, offer canned responses, and spend more time answering the most difficult questions we received.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a CRM vendor?
McIntyre: We wanted an established vendor who we could grow with. We wanted a company that offered stellar customer support and of course budget was an issue.
SearchCRM: What made you choose Talisma?
McIntyre: They met the requirements as outlined in our RFP. Their product was also among the most intuitive we saw. We also needed a solution that could meet multiple business needs--reporting, e-mail marketing campaigns, Web interactivity like chat, self-help and collaborative browsing. Our final selection does.
SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the technology evaluation?
McIntyre: Cutting through the chaff. Once you decide what you want you realize there a lot of vendors out there that say they can deliver it. It took some time to figure out which companies actually could.
SearchCRM: How did you overcome that challenge?
McIntyre: By ignoring the slick marketing and actually digging into the products during live demos. We created a very thorough RFP and only invited in those that fit our specifications.
SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the implementation?
McIntyre: Organizing a seamless integration while working with several vendors. The company that does our Web development as well as the one that created the organization's overall customer relationship database had to be considered and consulted.
SearchCRM: What training issues did you have?
McIntyre: We set up a perfect training model, but it didn't quite work out as planned. We had two weeks of on-site training, then a break and then another week of on-site help. The plan was for us to learn how to use the software and play with it while the trainers were gone and then use the final week to go over whatever needed more clarity, but because some of our pieces weren't fully integrated due to hardware and integration issues, we ended up having someone come back on site later to finish up.
SearchCRM: How does this solution help you better serve your customers?
McIntyre: It allows us to serve more people more quickly than before. We can also do a better job of knowing our customers and serving them in a more integrated way.
SearchCRM: When do you expect to see ROI?
McIntyre: We expect to see it in the next few years. We have already seen a return in our investment in terms of staff being able to import some of their expertise into our knowledge base, freeing them up to do more. It has also helped us to reduce our reliance on temps at peak periods.
SearchCRM: What advice would you give to other companies just beginning a CRM project?
McIntyre: Assess your organization's CRM needs from a global perspective. While Arthritis Answers is the department that uses our software on a daily basis, others can benefit from some of its components. We had a cross-departmental team review our final selections and I would advise others to do the same.
Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in November 2001