"Customer-facing applications do not talk across touch points," says Rob Singer, vice president of CRM application provider YellowBrick's West Coast operations. YellowBrick's Visitant Platform integrates a company's existing customer touch point applications to present a single customer profile in real time, according to Patrick Smith, vice president of product management.
Forrester analyst Eric Schmitt, says YellowBrick also is helping to link the touch points in the back office. "I think YellowBrick is an early example of what will become a new category of software--I call it customer contact services," Schmitt says. He says an example is when a customer orders on a site, but later cancels the order on the phone. If the customer service rep says she can't see the order, that customer is forced to cancel it on the Web site. This synchronization of touch-points is a problem in the industry.
Applications that do not communicate across touch points create problems for the customer, marketer and IT department, according to Singer, because the customer experience will become disjointed, the rules of customer engagement for the marketer are decentralized and the IT staff doesn't get a 360-degree view of the customer. "That can be frustrating to the customer," Singer says.
YellowBrick created a solution that integrates customer applications. The solution provides instant content delivery at any touch point, enables those touch points to share real-time information and provides a 360-degree view of the customer. Visitant also offers returns data to the server for long-term learning.
Smith says when companies approach YellowBrick to inquire about the Visitant solution, often their call centers and Web sites are not on the same platform. "We've combined data in the organization with real behavior in real time, leaving access to these customer touch points. We're allowing those best-of-breed tools to work with the database you're in," Smith says.
Sheryl Kingstone, program manager at the Yankee Group, says YellowBrick is "extremely" unique in the industry in how it's achieving this multisolution. "What they're doing is being the glue to achieve this multi-vision," Kingstone says. "A lot of vendors say they have multichannel, but no one has a complete set of products. What YellowBrick is trying to do is increase the time to market. It is different, and if they can execute it on their vision, it will be really cool."
Gary Blau, director of global information strategy at London-based PowerChannel, is in the process of deploying Visitant at the television/ Internet portal company. He says PowerChannel looked at about 50 other vendors and decided YellowBrick delivers the most truly integrated channel and an option to build a warehouse.
"It is at the core of our business model," Blau says. "Other companies are not able to deliver targeted banner advertising and no one is able to deliver e-mail in this integrated manner."