Vendors To Integrate CRM Software Into Call Centers - InformationWeek

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Vendors To Integrate CRM Software Into Call Centers

New entrants into the market for customer relationship-management software are preparing to ship offerings that integrate CRM with one of the oldest forms of customer contact: the call center.

Lucent Technologies is preparing to release its first CRM offering, CRM Central 2000. The software runs on a Windows NT server and automates the flow of customer information between back-end data repositories and systems that serve as customer contact points, including call centers, fax machines, and Web sites. The application currently supports Lucent call-center systems but will be ported to systems from Nortel and other vendors, Lucent says. The company says it will offer limited availability of CRM Central 2000 beginning this month, with general availability by year's end. The application will cost about $3,750 per 100 seats.

Meanwhile, Nuance Communications is planning to integrate its voice recognition technology with CRM systems. The vendor is unveiling two offerings this week, Nuance Customer Support Suite and Nuance Order Management Suite, which can perform CRM functions based on voice queries that businesses receive at call centers. The company says the suites will be available early next year, at a price of about $2,500 per port or seat.

As outside vendors encroach upon the market, traditional CRM vendors are working to expand and differentiate their product portfolios. For instance, SalesLogix will announce next week ePartnerSite, an extranet application that helps businesses manage customer contacts and sales initiated by their resellers and distributors. Available now, ePartnerSite starts at $2,995 per server and $495 per client, with server upgrade options ranging from $2,995 to $25,000.

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