Talisma attempts to rev CRM engine
Power and features are there, but interface and lack of integration support holds back Talisma 6.0
In my tests, Talisma did well across all channels and provided a good repository for capturing customer histories and for tracking interactions. Every detail of your customer relationship, from e-mail to live Web chat and initial lead to purchases and complaints, becomes accessible for later reference. The admin granularity of control is good, with regard to Talisma’s feature set; unfortunately, the ease-of-use and ability to administrate effectively is hampered by the separate, poorly integrated interface.
A key benefit of CRM tools rests in automating tasks and workflow processes, and here, Talisma shines.
The rules interface is a solid means of defining actions and triggers that can build up condition-based process flows across a variety of channels, from incoming e-mail processing to outbound marketing campaigns. The latter also includes a nice tool that graphically defines the flow of campaigns and charts the steps and actions with decision-based routing.
The analytics engine, although customizable and prepopulated with a number of useful reports, offers little more than a gateway to Excel. Talisma does provide access security, and the ability to schedule recurring reports is beneficial in gauging the ongoing effectiveness of your customer relationship efforts.
The chat engine performed well, with an easy-to-digest work space that displays user statistics, including the Web page from which a chat was launched and the name and e-mail of the visitor when identifiable. Other features, such as canned responses and the capacity to push links to users, will improve agents’ productivity and accuracy. I found the co-browse feature solid and the power to launch a proactive chat session with online customers particularly helpful for building rapport in a traditionally passive environment.
The missing linkage
Talisma suffered a bit of a setback with regard to its knowledge base. Recent M&A activity from third-party provider Primus Knowledge Solutions introduced some competitive overlap, sparking Talisma to develop its own knowledge base solution.
Talisma, however, was not able to make the new version of its knowledge base available for this review. The knowledge base integrates into other components such as Chat to allow reps to search for information. I suggest examining the level of integration and support available in the final release.
I was also disappointed by the lack of XML and Web services support for extending Talisma to and integrating it with other systems, although Talisma indicated that it can custom build adaptors and that SOA (service-oriented architecture) support is on the radar for 2005.
In all, I found Talisma to have the engine of a Maserati but the frame of a Pacer: It performed well but was incapable of managing the muscle with style. If you need a CRM engine and aren’t afraid to customize, bringing Talisma in-house is the best way to tap the power lurking under the hood.