CRM Applications Make Inroads On The Internet



Oracle and front-office vendor Clarify Inc. this week willfurther extend customer-relationship management to the Web when they unveil application modules that address online support and sales.

Clarify will introduce its second version of Clarify eFrontOffice, a software suite that handles electronic interactions such as Web customer service, online marketing, and guided E-commerce selling. The new applications include Clarify Customer Portal, which stores customer information and lets customers communicate with a company via methods such as E-mail and online chat. Clarify eOrder lets customers shop online, then takes orders and manages them through fulfillment; it works in conjunction with Clarify eConfigurator, which determines customer needs and then helps configure complex products. Clarify eMerchandising lets businesses draw from customer analysis data and develop personalized marketing campaigns and product offerings.

AMR Research analyst Peggy Menconi says Clarify's new products help bring E-commerce and CRM closer. But she doubts that businesses, most of which have E-commerce initiatives under way, will rip out their existing software to replace it with software from Clarify or any other CRM vendor.

Oracle will unveil new applications, to be included in Oracle Applications Release 11i, that are designed to flesh out its E-commerce offerings. Oracle iSupport is a portal that lets customers access data such as order status, billing, and service contracts over the Net. It will also let them initiate service calls, schedule field service, and get authorization for returns. Oracle eMail Center handles both inbound and outgoing E-mail messages. When an E-mail comes in, eMail Center classifies it and routes it to the appropriate customer-service rep. The software can analyze the E-mail's content, generate an automatic response, and let representatives approve or change those responses.

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