GroupLink Provides an Appliance Option for CRM

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-05-31 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GroupLink Inc.'s GroupLink collaborative Customer Engagement eSuite provides an appliance-based option for companies that want to run a Web-based CRM application in-house.

GroupLink Inc.s GroupLink collaborative Customer Engagement eSuite provides an appliance-based option for companies that want to run a Web-based CRM application in-house. eWEEK Labs tests show that GroupLink is an excellent customer support tool, although its focus on referrals in the sales component makes it seem like a niche application.

Version 1.0 of GroupLink, priced at $700 per user for an enterprise license for 500 or more users and shipping since mid-April, did a good job in our tests of managing sales force and customer satisfaction data—with a wrinkle: The key component of the application is the use of internal referrals to create leads and increase sales, as opposed to a more traditional focus on managing leads and opportunities.

The referral component, called eReferrals, connects the customer service and sales management components with a compensation engine so that customer support staff can help drive leads.

eReferrals does a good job of tracking and managing leads, regardless of who generates them. This might not fit with a companys established sales methodology, but it could be a useful tool in industries where sales and customer service roles mesh but individual sales expertise is limited to particular offerings, such as banking and financial services.

Contacts are managed in a three-pane screen with search, customers and individual customer data arranged across the browser window. Unlike many Web-based CRM (customer relationship management) applications, GroupLink opens new windows when working with customer data, giving users the ability to work on multiple tasks simultaneously.

As with all CRM applications, getting the most out of GroupLink will require considerable customization. From a platform perspective, companies have some good options for integrating the application with other parts of their infrastructure.

The Linux version we tested stores data in two databases: A PostgreSQL database drives the eReferrals and contact management data, and a MySQL AB database manages help desk and customer satisfaction data. A version of the application that runs on Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 supports Microsofts SQL Server 2000. Users can access the application from either Internet Explorer or Netscape. GroupLink supports LDAP and integrates with Novell Inc.s eDirectory.

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