ABOUT THE VENDOR
Synchrony Communications, Inc., a privately-held company founded in 1997, is a provider of CRM solutions for direct-to-customer and collaborative commerce enterprises.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Prestige International, a provider of multi-lingual contact center solutions, offers a suite of available services, from traditional order-taking, customer service, and acquisition programs to innovative concierge services. Prestige, originally founded in 1986 to support Japanese businesspeople, travelers, and expatriates in the U.S. with insurance and credit card support in their native tongue, now has hubs in San Francisco, Tokyo, London, and Sydney. Prestige specializes in a number of industries, including financial services, insurance, transportation, travel, direct marketing, and telecom. Established in the spring of 2000, Prestige's Global Contact Centers provide an outsourced solution to American and foreign enterprises growing their businesses globally.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
Synchrony provides activity management capabilities across an integrated communication platform (phone, fax, e-mail, chat, and self service). The solution enables clients to manage interactions and associated workflow, such as orders, warehousing and shipment, billing, order exceptions, and Web activity, as it occurs throughout the business value chain.
Synchrony's back and front office adapters tie
SearchCRM spoke with Mickey Esposito, Prestige's VP of operations, about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to look for a CRM solution?
Esposito: We were on internal, proprietary systems, and it was not providing a CRM architecture. We were also looking at upgrading our telephony and operational technology. We wanted to integrate phone, e-mail, and chat, get Web enabled, and upgrade internal technology.
SearchCRM: Why did you want to do all that?
Esposito: Well, we are a service bureau, so we're trying to provide leading-edge solutions to our clients. And quite frankly, we were looking to upgrade the service to our clients -- to be able to give them additional information about their customers and allow them to leverage these communications.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a CRM provider?
Esposito: Mainly we were looking for somebody who could grow with us, because we're rapidly growing. We also really needed to customize the solution. We don't focus on high volume transaction processing -- we're much more on the complex transaction side. So we needed a CRM vendor that was flexible enough in customizing their application to let us do things like task management, and that could really work with our workflows. We have some very unique workflows. In the industry, everybody's trying to reduce contacts -- but the very nature of the services we provide on the concierge end entails many outbound touches back to the customer.
We were also looking for a solution where we could start out hosted and then bring the technology in-house as we grew.
SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the evaluation?
Esposito: So many of the tools are so similar, it was a challenge trying to cut through the noise. We had two or three solutions in mind, and we had to figure out who was going to move along at the pace we needed.
SearchCRM: What was the most challenging part of the implementation?
Esposito: The planning process. Whenever you get into a software selection process, you're very excited, you feel like you made a great decision, you see all these possibilities of what you can do with the software. Your first inclination is to charge in and get it going. A little bit more planning time would have been better.
The other challenge was on the reporting end. Operationally, we got going very quickly, but getting some of the custom reporting out of the back end came later. We were very comfortable with how we were doing our reporting under the old system, and in trying to replicate that with the new CRM process, there were some redundancies.
SearchCRM: So did you eventually work those redundancies out?
Esposito: I would say that about 90 to 120 days down the line we were able to migrate away from some of the duplicate data entry.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for companies that are thinking of rolling out a similar project?
Esposito: Have your current processes very well documented and understood. Then outline your goals going forward. Are you trying to improve workflow? Are you looking to enhance marketing and customer information?
Also, when many people implement CRM, they're adding channels -- e-mail, chat. Typically that doesn't make the interaction easier, and many times it makes it more complex. You need to understand that your customer service reps are now managing much more information. You need to understand that although the transactions may be taking longer, the quality of the interactions may be increasing.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle and Psychology Today. Contact her at email@example.com
This was first published in June 2001