Siebel Systems Inc. is expected to announce this week that it is deepening the ties between its integrated hosted contact center and CRM service offerings, though the latest integration may still fall short of customer needs for a unified solution.
While Siebel has fulfilled much of the product integration road map it announced when it acquired hosted contact center service provider Ineto Services Inc. in January of last year, the company still has not delivered on its vision of fully integrated data between call center and customer relationship management applications. This weeks announcement will likely not change that equation.
Siebel officials declined to comment in advance, but sources close to the company indicate the latest enhancements to the service include support for VOIP (voice over IP), which will allow calls to be routed from Siebel Contact OnDemand to home-based call center agents using VOIP connections; and new analytics for reporting on call center performance. The goal is to integrate that with tracking of customer service effectiveness through other channels.
Calvin Dennis, president of Crossroads Customer Solutions LP, a Mansfield, Texas, company that provides outsourced call center services to customers using Siebel Contact Center and CRM OnDemand, said hes generally satisfied with how much integration Siebel has provided for Contact Center and CRM OnDemand so far but is still looking for a unified data store that would link specific CRM issues with customer interactions in the call center.
"I think itll be really nifty when I can pull up a file and say, You want proof? Heres 562 billing records, and heres the phone record. The phone call to resolve every billing error averaged 15 minutes," said Dennis. "Its intuitive to do that now, but [having] all that information in one data store [is] what Im most excited about.
"[Previously] you were given a stack of reports for the phone record and a stack of reports for the CRM record, but to link up the phone record with the CRM record was pretty tricky," Dennis said.
Siebel is the only provider of hosted CRM services to offer its own integrated hosted call center. Salesforce.com Inc., RightNow Technologies Inc. and NetSuite Inc. all rely on integration partnerships with software developers or service providers.
"Hosted call centers havent really caught on," said Marc Benioff, CEO of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com. "We have taken a partner approach versus [building our own]."
Benioff said Salesforce. coms priorities remain customization and integration rather than entering the hosted call center business.
Dennis—who was an Ineto customer before Siebel, of San Mateo, Calif., bought the company last year—said he sees more promise with Siebel. "I would think Siebel would be better able to deliver on what Im most excited about—the fact that we can have a truly integrated look at our data that links individual phone calls with CRM data," he said. "If youre partnering with a third party, I would think it would be harder to integrate that data."