• November 20, 2002
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Track Customers in Real Time

After a two-month OEM partnership, SAS Institute Inc. has acquired assets of Verbind Technology for real-time customer behavior tracking capabilities. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The behavior-tracking capabilities becomes the fourth module of the SAS Interaction Management solutions, which already include statistical modeling and data mining, collaborative reporting, and rules engines. "This is very important, because it makes intelligence even more actionable," says Nelle Schantz, global strategies and program director for CRM at SAS, who worked closely on the partnership with Verbind. Analysts are noticing the significance of behavior-tracking software as multichannel activities merge within an organization. "As interactions become more multichannel, Web behavior-tracking capabilities need to be available to call center agents. This gets to channel parallelism and creates a parallel experience for customers. If a customer calls after visiting the Web site, agents must know what the customer experience was on the Web," says Liz Shahnam Roche, vice president and director of CRM at Meta Group. SAS Interaction Management enables companies to respond to changing customer behaviors and deliver relevant messages to individual customers via the most effective channel or channels. This capability enables organizations to take advantage of upsell and cross-sell opportunities, for example, or to prevent customer attrition. "The appeal of this behavior tracking is that it enables companies to interact more effectively with customers, because you are interacting at a time that's more appropriate to them--and therefore creating a more relevant interaction," Schantz says. To be clear, though, real-time does not necessarily mean instantaneous, Shahnam Roche says. "Real-time means within the time it takes a business process to execute. If it takes 10 seconds to execute, then real-time is less than 10 seconds." An example might be a call center agent's ability to call up the appropriate customer information within 10 seconds of the call. "The long term potential is interesting. SAS was already OEMing with Verbind, but ownership of the technology enables SAS to deploy it to companies in areas such as financial services that are looking to help prevent money laundering, fraud, and credit risks," says Gareth Herschel, a research director at Gartner Inc. The behavior-tracking capabilities will be available in January 2003, will be fully integrated into the SAS Interaction Management solution by the middle of next year, and will include channel adaptors to deliver information to front office systems.
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