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Flexibility in the Cloud: Corel

Outdated and limited would be good words to describe the CRM solution software marketer Corel had at the beginning of 2010. The company had a call center product, in place for about a decade, complemented with a Web service solution. The two were not integrated, so agents had a limited view of customers' previous interactions. By switching to a cloud-based solution, Corel increased customer satisfaction by 50 percent and decreased call wait-time by 59 percent.

In business since 1989, Corel, which has 800 employees, sells a variety of software programs. While it is mainly known for its graphics packages (CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel Painter, Corel DESIGNER Technical Suite, Corel PaintShop Pro, Corel PaintShop Photo, and Corel VideoStudio), the company also markets other well-established programs, such as Corel WordPerfect Office and WinZip.

As a result, more than 100 million users (mainly consumers) rely on the vendor's products. To support its operation, the Ottawa-based software supplier has a global service staff with offices in Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, the Philippines, Poland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Eighty agents handle inquiries, the bulk centering on various technical issues.

Near the turn of the millennium, Corel installed Consona's Onyx application to handle its call center interactions, later adding Oracle's RightNow Technologies solution to handle Web communications. The interoperability between the two was limited, which hamstrung agents trying to service customers. Unresolved problems fell through the cracks, and consumers often had to repeat their personal information multiple times as they went through the service process.

In early 2010, an upgrade (at a hefty price) to a new release of the Onyx system was needed. Rather than simply make that change, Corel searched for alternatives, starting off by deciding between a cloud- or premises-based solution. "The cloud approach would cost much less upfront and provide us with more flexibility as we moved forward than a premises-based system would have," explains Margaret (Malgosia) Plucinska, senior director, global customer experience, at Corel.

Corel chose the Salesforce.com Service Cloud and Sales Cloud mainly because of its flexibility. "We could integrate Service Cloud with RightNow and Onyx, which could serve as our data warehouse," Plucinska says.

The selection raised a few red flags. Corel needed a system with multilingual capabilities, which Service Cloud did not offer. Reluctantly, Corel became a beta site for that feature, working with Salesforce.com to fine-tune those capabilities.

By the end of 2010, a pilot system was in place, and the Salesforce.com solution was fully deployed in spring 2011. Agents could now respond to customers via their preferred channel: chat, phone, Web, or social media networks. As a result, Corel increased its Net Promoter Score, reflecting customer satisfaction, by 25 points, or 50 percent. "We have the highest Net Promoter Score of any software supplier," Plucinska says.

By integrating all of the support channels around one central database, Corel could better escalate problems to agents with the most relevant skill sets. Productivity improved: The number of cases handled and closed online doubled. In addition, customers were now able to find answers to customer service questions on Corel's self-service Web site, a service portal powered by Salesforce Knowledge. By providing customers with an up-to-date view of the status of their inquiry and automating the delivery of status emails, Corel realized a 16 percent reduction in call volume and a 19 percent decrease in its call abandonment rate.

More improvements are in the works. Corel plans to deploy Sales Cloud to improve the monitoring of its sales leads. Also, Corel purchased Radian6 to build customer relationships and measure engagement through its social media channels. In March 2011, Salesforce.com acquired Radian6 and began integrating its features into Service Cloud and Sales Cloud.

Today, state-of-the-art and responsive would be appropriate adjectives to describe Corel's CRM system. "We have seen significant improvements and expect more as we exploit more of its features," says Plucinska.

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