CRM Entrepreneurs Ease Interoffice Networking

Social networking software and Web-based tools have proliferated in the past few years. These networks operate by creating a tree of contacts beginning with the user, followed by the friends and associates to whom she or he extends an invitation, the friends to whm they extend an invitation, and so on. The contacts are then linked in varying degrees and can act as an introduction of sorts.

Interface Software of Chicago has taken this concept into the service industry, with what it labels its “relationship intelligence” software, InterAction. For its success with the law firm Duane Morris, inPhiladelphia, the company earned recognition as a “CRM WizKid” in Beagle Research Group’s inaugural awards for entrepreneurial CRM companies.

More Efficient Selling

“What happens in a large law firm is you’re always looking to sell yourservices,” Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research and a CRM Buyer columnist, said.

“Large law firms get a lot of work from big corporations. Big corporationsbuy services from people they know or people whose reputations stand out forthem. The problem [for the law firms] is identifying who that is and gettingthem on the team that’s pitching the business.”

InterAction solves that problem by creating a contact network within a serviceorganization. Then, if a salesperson is trying to get in the door at a newcompany, she or he can check within his or her organization to see who has a contactthere and enlist the coworker’s help.

The software also collects a databaseof knowledge and a history of engagements, deals and other contacts with theclient. This allows coworkers to be called upon to help solve a clientproblem.

Creating Safeguards

There are challenges beyond the technical aspects of aggregating contacts.”Because they sell their time, attorneys were not eager to share theircontact information,” Pombriant said. “Interface had to develop methods andbest practices to make sure all the information is safeguarded.”

Interface was one of 11 WizKids chosen by Beagle for CRM innovation by smallcompanies. Pombriant said four trends emerged as his firm sifted throughthrough the entries and named winners.

CRM Trends

Nine of 11 of the WizKids offered hosted, Web-based solutions, a developmenthe said “can’t get more significant.” With hosted CRM, companies don’t have toinstall software behind their firewalls or deal with administering theproduct.

The other trends Beagle noted were that many new applications focus onservice instead of sales, marketing and service; many solutions focus on newand interesting ways to capture customer feedback; and companies arebecoming more concerned not just with customer satisfaction, but with thenext step: customer loyalty.

The difference between the two is that acustomer might be satisfied with a product purchased, but not with the companyitself, or at least not enough to buy other products from the company.

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