By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Lenny Kravitz’s Lenny:
Today for your shot of java we have an interview with Talisma’s Brad Birnbaum, promoted this past March from Vice President of Product Development to Chief Technology Officer:
FC: Why did Talisma decide proactive service made sense now?
BB: Our decision to add proactive service and sales to our company’s focus was the next logical strategic move for Talisma. We’ve offered proactive service capabilities to our customers in the past, but with CIM 8.0 we enhanced those capabilities and added new features to enable agents to not only improve support but to take advantage of sales opportunities. The main reason why we’ve done this is because of significant customer interest.
For example, proactive support is an agent sending a notification to a customer before the power is scheduled to go out. Proactive sales is an agent sending a customer a personalized product offer while monitoring the customer’s shopping behavior.
FC: What are some of the benefits Talisma CIM 8.0 offers?
BB: They basically center around the expanded proactive capabilities, and the two new channels added to the CIM Suite, Talisma Campaign, and Talisma VoIP. Talisma Proactive Chat is an add-on to Talisma Chat that increases the average sales expenditure by prompting Web site visitors to chat based on pre-defined settings, such as entering or existing a Web page, length of time on Web page, or agent initiated.
Talisma Proactive VoIP is an add-on to Talisma VoIP that increases the average sale expenditure by prompting Web site visitors to engage in a conversation via Voice over Internet Protocol based the same predefined settings that Talisma Proactive Chat uses.
And there’s Talisma Answer, an add-on to Talisma E-mail that reduces e-mail response costs by automatically responding to or suggesting responses to customer e-mails. There are others, those are just examples.
FC: When’s the right time in the CRM selection process to start looking for software tools?
BB: Well, as you know we’re not a CRM vendor, but a vendor of Customer Interaction Management. The right time for businesses to start looking for CIM tools is when they realize their interactions with their customers need to be managed in order to provide an exceptional customer experience.
Talisma firmly believes that any business that interacts with its customers need some form of CIM. Many people use a CIM product as a standalone, and many others use it with CRM, but the key point to remember is that everyone interacts with customers.
FC: What verticals do you think Talisma CIM 8.0 works best in?
BB: We don’t segment our products by vertical. However, the Talisma CIM suite has been successful in such verticals as High Technology, with Dell, Microsoft and Pitney Bowes, and in Financial Services with Boeing Employees Credit Union, Bank of America and Citibank, in Retail with Saks Fifth Avenue, See’s Candies and eBay, as well as Media/Telecom, Travel/Hospitality and Government/Utilities, such as the U.S. Department of State.
FC: What’s the best music to listen to at work?
BB: I have a pretty diverse music taste, and don’t have much time to listen to music at work, but when I do it usually ranges from classic rock to top 20.
FC: What are the two or three considerations you think companies should pay particular attention to when selecting a CIM vendor?
BB: A few key considerations would be the Total Cost of Ownership, as well as the Enterprisability, which refers to the ability to scale to high volumes of interactions in a deployment that can sustain 99.5 percent uptime, as well as the CIM suite’s ability to integrate with third party systems.
Also, think about feature-rich applications, such as ease of administration, workflow, and knowledge management, key considerations from an applications standpoint. Companies should really only consider products that offer a robust agent desktop experience.
FC: Is Talisma VoIP more like Skype or like a click-to-call product, and can you go into some detail differentiating the two?
BB: Our product is more like click-to-call. It provides the customer with the ability to connect to an agent from their PC using a microphone and speakers or a headset. The agent using Talisma Agent Desktop can then handle the call using their computer or it can be routed through a PBX and handled on a regular phone.
So the customer does not choose who answers the call. We also have the ability to share a browser session at the same time as we are speaking through VoIP. Another difference between products like Skype and Talisma VoIP is that agents can escalate a chat session to a VoIP session.
FC: Who are your users and what’s your market focus?
BB: Our users and market focus encompasses organizations that want to improve the overall customer experience by making the most out of their customer interactions with the use of CIM. Our market focus is non-vertical specific, and is geared to the B2C high-tech minded organizations that are dealing with a high volume of interactions, and are a business buyer not IT.
BB: For companies looking for a CIM tool, it needs to offer low total cost of ownership, be easy to set up, and provide the organization with scale and robust functionality.
FC: What features do your customers say they appreciate the most?
BB: Generally, what we hear is operational efficiency and cost reduction, and how the product improves the customer experience and satisfaction. Others say they like the revenue increase from online transactions and via the contact center, as you can imagine, as well as the ease of deployment and use and the ability to integrate with the enterprise
FC: Okay, back to the CRM and CIM difference: What are the two or three mistakes you see companies making when selecting CRM tools?
BB: The biggest mistake for companies selecting a CRM tool is not selecting CIM to help manage customer interactions. And for those selecting a CIM tool that don’t have a CRM product, the biggest mistake is not integrating the CIM product with other back office systems.
FC: What are the next moves for Talisma?
BB: Besides continuing our record breaking customer and revenue growth, we’re currently in the process of developing our next generation product line in CIM 9.0 which will focus on improved enterprisability, including integration to 3rd party systems.
We also of course are planning a host of new features and functionalities to help organizations of all sizes.
In early August Talisma announced a partnership with Bucher & Suter to provide a product integrating Talisma’s CIM suite with Cisco ICM using Bucher & Suter’s Darondo multi-channel application link product.
The integration, company officials say, allows Talisma interaction routing and reporting to be done within Cisco ICM.