Oracle CRM On Demand Exposed -
Customer Service

Oracle CRM On Demand’s customer support functions are delivered by two modules; Service and Call Center. The Service module enables the creation and management of incidents or service tickets, including details of the service request profile, contact information, activities, and comments. The Service module also provides a knowledgebase similar to FAQs (frequently asked questions) found on many web sites. The Call Center module is completely separate and distinct from the Service module. While modularity is generally a good thing in CRM systems, the concept of managing support calls from customers separately from the support case itself seems illogical at best. For example, if using only the Service module, data from the call must be manually collected to create the case. This consumes critical time while on the phone with a customer. The Call Center module includes tools to integrate with phone systems (telephony) so that incoming calls provide a “screen pop” that includes the customer details that were retrieved from the CRM database. This functionality is a carry-over from the core Siebel CRM system that is deployed on premise and thus allows for development of tight telephony integration.

It remains to be seen whether telephony integration is viable in the SaaS CRM model. Performance is likely to be highly impacted by the distance from your call center to the Oracle SaaS data center in Austin, Texas. CRM evaluators who require telephony integration with their CRM system, we recommend a very close examination of the Oracle CRM On Demand Service and Call Center modules as there are likely significant costs to connect the “standard” phone system functionality to the myriad of phone systems available. This is particularly true when voice response systems are used to route calls prior to directing them to an agent. Between performance issues and high costs to connect the CRM to phone systems, telephony integration is a feature set that is reserved only for “big companies who are big spenders.” Also, as discussed above, be cautious of the need for Call Center as a separate component from the Service module.

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While the use of the telephone has historically been the primary method of transmission for incoming service requests, the trend is shifting toward Internet self-service systems and email ticketing. Two years ago, call centers reported that phone calls represented 70 percent of inbound service requests. They now report that phone calls are less than 40 percent of inbound requests with email representing a fast growing share of case submission. Oracle CRM On Demand offers tools to enable emails to be associated with CRM data via synchronization to popular email applications such as Notes or Outlook. This approach is dramatically different than that taken by CRM service management industry leaders like RightNow Technologies. Embracing best practices, RightNow facilitates support cases originating from emails via a centralized service that applies workflows that create and assign cases. While email is a growing channel for support incidents, self-service via web portals is growing even faster. In this model, customers can proactively manage their own support needs using searchable knowledge bases and self-creation of service requests. This approach is considered far superior to email incident creation because it can impose basic data requirements on the customer to ensure that your support personnel have the information they need to properly resolve the case. Again, RightNow leads the industry in self-service with its patented “you must ask a question before we will help you” technology. The RightNow approach creates a common and rigorous process for incident creation but unfortunately it severely limits customization so there are few options for creating a unique self-service portal. Oracle CRM On Demand has taken a less well-defined strategy by basically forcing each customer use web services to build their own portals. While this approach may provide the greatest flexibility, it also adds significant cost and time to implement.

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