Four-way CRM shootout
We fire up the top hosted CRM solutions from RightNow, NetSuite, Salesnet, and Salesforce.com and put them through their paces
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Creating data sets for my reports was somewhat tedious and would benefit from wizards to improve accessibility. Complex filters, however, can be built based on a variety of criteria and data from across the CRM database for valuable insight into pipelines and operations. RightNow’s integrated product catalog and basic multicurrency support also help manage tasks such as quote generation.
When it comes to customer service, RightNow is inspired, providing a dependable console for managing inbound queues and customer inquiries. Self-service features allow customers to log in and check trouble tickets, browse the knowledge base, and chat with support agents. They can also subscribe to e-mail notifications on relevant support issues.
RightNow offers effective CTI (computer-telephony integration) support with pop-ups and scripting options that guide sales reps through calls. Tools such as Offer Advisor showed me rules-based, real-time upsell opportunities that could help support staff top off the sales coffers.
The outbound marketing tools are also superb. Using the graphical editor, I constructed my campaigns and interaction schedules, along with triggers that fully automated the process of executing my marketing campaign and response follow-ups. I liked how easy it was to build and test list segmentations and communication templates that can be drafted without using an external word-processing app. Campaign response data offered good analysis with tracking and analytics, such as ROI and cost per lead.
A notable downside to this product, however, is its limited capability of integrating with back-end systems. Without Web services support or an extensive API, the integration options for RightNow users are dismal. Furthermore, the lack of an offline client or more comprehensive Outlook integration hurts RightNow’s prospective usefulness with mobile sales teams.
Nonetheless, the SFA module represents a step in the right direction for those who want to boost sales revenue through automation and efficiency. For companies focused on bolstering customer service and marketing requirements in multichannel scenarios, RightNow is worth a serious look.
NetSuite 10 differentiates itself from the hosted CRM pack by incorporating ERP-like functionality, bundling tightly integrated accounting, banking, vendor management, and inventory tracking capabilities. HR functions, such as payroll and expense reporting, are also included. For smaller businesses, NetSuite provides a fairly complete suite of hosted front- and back-office solutions, ensuring that companywide dependencies and interactions are managed collectively.
The interface is slick and accessible -- impressive from a browser-based offering. Each navigation tab is outfitted with DHTML drop-down menus that allow access to any subscreen. It was refreshing to jump directly to a specific report, setup screen, or activity list paging through multiple screens.