Resellers were given a sneak preview of Microsoft’s new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software at this year’s Customer Contact Point show in Sydney. Scheduled for release in the second half of the year, it will be targeted at the mid-market.
Contact centre reseller, Premier Technologies, had a licensed version of MS CRM at its trade show stall and was demonstrating its wares to visitors in an attempt to whet their appetites ahead of the expected September launch.
“The top end [customer contact centres] will not be buying until 2005 but mid-market people have money to spend and are looking to grow their businesses,” CEO, Fausto Marasco, said.
“Companies operating 15-20 seats have found it [CRM software] hard to justify in terms of costs but the Microsoft release will change that. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some systems but it has enough and will be affordable.”
Integrated with Crystal Reports, MS CRM works with an MS Exchange server, a Windows 2000 active directory system and an MS SQL server.
Its two key focus areas are sales automation and customer service.
Sales features include logging leads, browsing accounts, sorting products or sales literature, ordering and invoicing.
The customer service tools include helpdesk features, viewing of service level agreements and workflow processes.
Marasco said he was confident SME organisations could make CRM work where larger companies had failed, adding that the Microsoft release would open up the market.
“The mid-market wants to make a buying decision based on confidence that the vendor is here to stay,” he said.
“Microsoft will tap into the fact that people know it will get the job done and can be trusted to be around in the long-term.
“It’s a McDonald’s decision — not a gourmet meal but good for getting rid of hunger.”
Australian pricing for MS CRM is yet to be finalised but Marasco described the US price tag as “very sensible”.
He would be very surprised if there was much difference when it is launched here.