Xchange seeks to fill void in CRM software

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Xchange Inc. last week released a significant new form of customer relationship management software, which it says allows marketers to identify customer interactions across call centers, Web sites, e-mail and sales calls in real-time.

Named Xchange 7, the software is among the first to be able to spot when, for example, a customer has been to a Web site to place an order but aborts that effort and telephones a call center instead.

Xchange 7 can alert a call center representative that the customer from the Web site was interested in a particular product or service just seconds earlier. The software also suggests, based on prespecified business rules, the action the representative should take. Xchange 7 works in the reverse case, too, if the customer leaves a call center to go onto the Web site.

"Xchange is trying to fill an important void," said John Fontanella, senior analyst with AMR Research Inc. Existing CRM software vendors are primarily focused on aggregating information about customers for internal use by marketers, he said. In b-to-b environments, it is increasingly important for CRM systems to use real-time techniques to isolate individual users and act outwardly upon the information they provide, he said. That’s what Xchange 7 tackles, Fontanella said.

Timing is everything

Real-time is a key to that level of personalized interaction, said Wayne Townsend, senior VP-solutions for Xchange. While Xchange has delivered real-time analysis and action capabilities on a limited basis for almost a year, Xchange 7 is the first version to offer a full array of more than 700 different reports that can be used to modify marketing campaigns and other interactions on the fly.

"When channels are not talking to each other, and there is no focus on real-time measurement, you can still have successful interactions, but they may not be very profitable," Townsend said. "We’re trying to get to reaching customers with a series of interactions that are more profitable because they are coordinated."

Today, Xchange specializes in CRM software for retailers, financial services and telecommunications companies. By midyear, it plans to release software specially designed for insurance companies, dot-com enterprises and e-commerce units of major brick-and-mortar companies.

That’s good news for Tim Franzen, VP-marketing information and decision support at Harris Bank, which can use the software to manage not only retail and b-to-b Internet ad campaigns but also marketing efforts at physical locations and call centers. Having run two campaigns under Xchange already, Harris Bank is considering installing the new software throughout its 30 lines of business, representing $161 billion in assets.

"Their proposed ability to deliver the customer relationship in a seamless manner throughout various channels takes their product from a campaign management tool toward a contact management tool for marketing campaigns," Franzen said.

Xchange 7 is a component-based software, so there’s no set cost. However, marketers seeking just the

e-messaging piece of its software can buy for as little as $10,000. The full suite can escalate to more than $1 million, depending on the intricacies of the implementation. Xchange runs on operating system and database software from such vendors as Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp.

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