• July 27, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

CIM Forum: The League of Extraordinary Service

Electronic customer interaction is still a relatively new endeavor, a fact that is reinforced with every news report, blog entry, or personal anecdote about nightmarish customer service. To advance a more satisfying state of e-commerce customer interaction, a number of companies led by Talisma, IBM, and CRM strategic advisory firm eVergance on Wednesday formed the Customer Interaction Management (CIM) Forum. Other charter members of the CIM Forum include Epson, Microsoft, Outsell, Pitney Bowes, and Sprint. The group will generate research and events in order to explore the KPIs and infrastructure behind consistent and positive customer experience, seeking to become the thought leaders in the field. An early example of this leadership and technological focus is the CIM Forum's first white paper, released along with the forum's launch, which analyzes best practices in enterprise chat. "The background round of this started from some early adopters within the industry," says Dan Vetras, president and CEO of Talisma. "Dell and Microsoft were [among] the first chat customers we had, and they've been chat customers for about four years--probably more than that. Over the years [chat and CIM have] become a real space." According to Allen Bonde, senior vice president of strategy and marketing at eVergance, the formation of the CIM Forum couldn't have come at a better time. "Streamlining service delivery via enhanced online support and new CRM v.2 models has become a key business priority. Yet many companies are unaware of the best practices and key steps to truly transform the user experience," Bonde said in a written statement. "The CIM Forum offers to provide this insight along with unique perspectives from industry leaders." The need for an industry consortium to tackle multichannel CIM is clear, says Chip Gliedman, vice president of Forrester Research. "Customer service is a differentiator, and in some markets it may be the only differentiator among competitors. On the other hand, much of the technology used in online customer interaction is relatively new, especially in B2C and presale situations. The way in which these interactions take place can have a tremendous impact on how a company is perceived, and thus how it performs." Gliedman cites as evidence his October 2005 report, "Twenty-three Best Practices for the Customer Service Center," wherein the data show that customers are likely to jump to a competitor because of a single negative customer service experience. "Companies have to deal with moving their interactions across a spectrum of different types of interaction: email, chat, click to talk, and many more. Channels are developing into a multithreaded unichannel, and executives are chartered with the responsibility for dealing with all the ramifications," Gliedman says. "The CIM Forum is the organization for those individuals. Are these the right companies to be forming such a consortium? Consumers worldwide can only hope." Related articles: Amdocs Supports CRM With an Acquisition
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