For companies looking to improve their online customer relations, Matt Doyel, Reflect.com's director of customer focus, advises doing a thorough analysis of the competition, while keeping in mind what you are trying to accomplish and who will use the completed system.
Jonathan Grayson, vice president of engineering, adds that at Reflect.com, "The people who participated in addressing the problem were those who understood what the customer needed." Grayson brought together marketing experts and engineers to brainstorm the ideal solution before he and Doyel began researching existing products.
When they decided that building a CRM tool in-house would be straying too far from Reflect.com's core competencies, they began interviewing companies that had used various solutions, consultants, and, of course, vendors. They asked such questions as:
- How is the product being used? Are you using it the way we will use it, and as frequently? Do you use all the components together or separately?
- How did the implementation go? Was it installed on time and within budget?
- How do you handle ongoing maintenance and changes to the implementation?
Doyel's top priority was to find an integrated solution that supported both personalization and e-mail and was available as an outsourced service. He also looked for a company and product with a proven track record in the retail e-commerce space. "I viewed this type of experience as very different than experience with large, more traditional off-line corporate data," he says.
Reflect.com looked at products from Siebel, Personify, Broadbase/Kana, and Xchange before settling on E.piphany E.5. "E.piphany had the analysis component, the campaign-management component, and the ability to create the real-time site experience we required," Grayson says. "If we had needed the analysis only, we would have built our own system. But we needed so much more that it was too big to do ourselves."
The fact that Proctor & Gamble, Reflect.com's parent company, was already an E.piphany customer made the decision easier, but it wasn't the reason Reflect.com opted for E.piphany. In the end, Doyel and Grayson say, it was a good implementation team that led them to their decision. "There were a lot of companies out there with good solutions, but no one in place to build it," Doyel says. In fact, according to Grayson, "choosing the technology was a lot easier than choosing the integrator and developing the integration plan."
The cornerstone of E.piphany is the analytic platform, which, according to Mike Trigg, E.piphany's director of product marketing, let companies query the data mart or data warehouse to "uncover insights" about their customers so they can interact with them and serve them better.
For example, if the Reflect.com's marketing team decided to increase sales of conditioners based on the fact that a heat wave was headed for New York, it would look at the personal information on file for customers who had purchased conditioner in the past to determine the predictors of such as purchase. The marketers would then query the data mart for customers who have those predictors, but have not yet purchased conditioner. Those customers--and those customers only--could be sent e-mail about the upcoming weather and the right conditioner for their hair. Alternatively, the next time they came to the site, those customers might see a message about the humid weather headed their way and the conditioning product.
Lisa Napell Dicksteen is president of LMN Editorial, which handles writing and editing as well as marketing and public relations consulting.