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Sure the organization has lots of information on its clients. Trouble is, some of that information is stored in the sales department another chunk lives over in support services and still another piece is in accounting. Finding out who has whatand spreading it around so that everyone is reading off the same page can get complicated, and those types of complications can decrease productivity, increase inefficiency and, ultimately, cost your company customers.

Epicor's Clientele CRM suite seeks to abolish those types of complications by setting up a system to gather, organize, track and share critical information across all parts of the organization.

The suite works off Microsoft technology and consists of a series of six modules that can be added on as needed as the organization grows and changes.

Modular Model
The Customer Support module gives users immediate access to all types of customer information, from the types of products they own to past conversations they've had with company employees. The module's AnswerBook feature offers an online directory of frequently asked questions so reps can answer support questions quickly and accurately.

The Sales and Marketing component is a contact, lead, opportunity and account management tool that also tracks marketing campaigns and supports structured sales methodologies. Clientele can also automate business workflow through its Conductor module, which can schedule tasks, process inbound e-mail and launch applications, as well as perform functions such as database monitoring, call escalation and sales forecasting.

Other modules are handy for road warriors who need to access or change client information from remote sites. Clientele's Connector allows remote users to synchronize their data with a centralized database, while ClienteleNet is a standards-based Web application that gives field and service reps, customers and partners access to company information. The Multimedia Encyclopedia System feature delivers up-to-date electronic information to the laptop or workstation, rather than through bulky binders stored in the office.

Sharing Data
Indianapolis-based DataShare, a network consulting, design, installation and support services company, has been using Clientele's Customer Support module since August of 1997. The system automates all DataShare's customer phone calls and e-mails. It has also integrated back-office functionality, such as accounting, with front-office functions of sales and customer service, allowing the customer service, engineering, sales and accounting departments a more unified look at each customer.

DataShare Support Center Manager Carla Cobb says Clientele has been a boon for the 8-year-old and rapidly growing network consulting firm especially in the area of technical support.

Clientele Architecture

  • Runs on Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows NT desktops, using the organization's existing networks and servers.
  • Modular implementation allows organizations to add applications as needed.
  • Features Internet-enabled applications and Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word integration.

Before Clientele, DataShare had a team of six engineers who kept close tabs on their individual accounts. The engineers would keep careful, handwritten notes on their accounts in a series of notebooks, and, since they always returned to the same sites, they would usually keep the notebooks in their possession.

This was fine, Cobb says, until DataShare began to grow. "We got more engineers," she says, "and if someone new went to a job site where he hadn't been before, he was in the dark. He had no idea what was done before or the type of project on site because that information was written in a notebook that was in the possession of the original engineer. We had people going on calls who didn't even know what type of hardware was there. There was a major breakdown in communication as we started to grow."

DataShare knew it had to create some way for the engineers to document information and then communicate it to each other without storing it in a file cabinet back in the office. Clientele filled that need.

The software's modular nature is what appealed to DataShare, Cobb says.

"We were a much smaller company at that time," she says, "but I knew we had the potential for growth. We had to lay the groundwork in order to grow, and what I liked about Clientele was that I could buy the support module first, and then as we grew and our needs changed, we could bring on additional modules and features. I didn't have to buy the whole bus at the very beginning."

Cobb also says Clientele is a flexible program that she has enhanced and modified for DataShare's needs with some code changes.

"I met with the engineers early on and asked them a lot of questions about what they wanted the system to do for them and what would make their jobs easier," Cobb says. "I tried to get their buy-in from the beginning and then implemented some changes to the code before we introduced the product. That was very important."

Since implementing Clientele, DataShare has experienced increased engineer productivity, improved communication and improved client documentation, Cobb says. Customer service has also improved, as customers now receive faster and more accurate responses to their network needs.

"I recognized early on this product would never be complete," says Cobb. "As we grow, we're going to expand our service level and we're going to need to add some things onto Clientele. So far, I haven't reached an end to its possibilities."

Product: Clientele
Vendor: Epicor Software Corporation, Irvine, Calif.
Problem: In order to provide top-notch customer service, all levels of the organization need to access accurate, up-to-the-minute client information from the same database.
Solution: Epicor's Clientele offers an integrated Customer Relationship Management solution that allows everyone in the organization from development to marketing to support to track and share client information. Price: Pricing depends on configuration.
Contact Info: (503) 612-2600;

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