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Xerox invests in CRM for call centres

Xerox is investing in two new customer relationship management (CRM) applications as part of its effort to boost sales after two years of big losses.

The business equipment manufacturer plans to install Siebel call centre and channel management software that it expects to deliver a return on investment six to 12 months after the roll-out is finished in early 2003.

The CRM project is a key piece of Xerox's initiative to regain market share following losses of $293m (£205m) last year and $384m (£268.7m) during 2000, said Mary Donato, vice-president of the company's TeleWeb sales unit. That operation has been planning for the roll-out since May to "make sure we don't make the same mistakes other companies have," she said.

The Siebel call centre software should let TeleWeb's 800 online and telephone sales workers in North America access customer data from back-end systems rapidly, Donato said. The roll-out is scheduled to start in April with a pilot installation that has about 150 users. If all goes well, Xerox will expand the applications to 13 other call centres this year.

Xerox will use Siebel's eChannel management application to collaborate with its network of more than 3,000 dealers and resellers; and give them access to lists of frequently asked questions, customer service templates and other tools.

Integration Challenges
The call centre software will replace home-grown Windows-based systems, but TeleWeb will continue to rely on some existing applications.

Creating the integration hooks needed to tie the Siebel software to back-end systems and the data warehouse is likely to be the toughest part of the project, said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting. Such integration efforts are expensive, time-consuming and easy to botch, Greenbaum said.

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