Talisma upgrades CRM suite

Talisma Corp. has upgraded its namesake software for the increasingly competitive CRM (customer relationship management) market, adding “co-browsing” capabilities, user-defined interface customization features and the ability to handle a greater number of concurrent users, according to company officials in New York last week at CeBIT America.

Talisma Customer Interaction Suite 6.0, launched Wednesday at the show, like earlier versions consists of modules including Talisma Chat, Talisma Analytics, Talisma E-mail Response, Talisma Phone, Talisma Self-service, and Talisma Campaign.

Though big software companies have jumped into the CRM market over the last few years, Talisma tends to be used to augment, rather than compete with products from major ERP (enterprise resource planning) companies like Oracle Corp. and SAP AG, according to Daniel Sears, Talisma’s director of product management and alliances.

“We’re really focused on multi-channel customer interaction, while software from the large ERP companies are transaction-based,” he said. “They can tell you when a customer ordered a book, but can they tell you how many times, or when, a customer called you or e-mailed you or talked with a service representative, and bring all that information together?”

Talisma competes more directly with smaller CRM players such as RightNow Technologies Inc., Sears said, though he added that Siebel Systems Inc. also goes after some of the same accounts.

Talisma is designed to let call centers, for example, interact with customers via the Web, over the phone, or through e-mail. “We capture data from interactions over all these media, and let people see this thread of interaction whenever they come into contact with a customer.”

Talisma offers an SDK (software development kit) with a library of open APIs (application programming interfaces) to allow transaction data to be transferred from ERP programs.

New features added to the Talisma suite include the ability for a user in a service centre to “co-browse” the Web with a customer, Sears said. To do this, the service operator uses a Web-based instant messaging program to enter into a real-time chat with a customer and take control of the person’s browser in order to help, for example, fill out a form on a Web page. There are safeguards put in place for the customer, so that the service operator cannot see credit card information or place unwanted orders.

The Talisma interface can also be customized for individual users so that, for example, relevant functions of ERP applications can be controlled from within the Talisma interface, Sears said. The customization can de done via point-and-click software wizards by non-technical staff, he said.

Structural enhancements to the program now let it support 2,000 concurrent users, up from 750 in earlier versions, Sears said. Talisma also announced a 10-day deployment QuickStart program for users that need to get up and running quickly.

Talisma pricing varies depending on configuration and implementation services required. For small and medium-size businesses, base pricing for Talisma ASP, the hosted version of the software, is US$200 per seat per month, while base pricing for the licensed version for deployment at the user’s premises, Talisma OnSite, is priced at US$100,000 for 20 seats. For large companies, the ASP price remains $200 per month while the OnSite version sells for US$4,000 per seat. This pricing does not include enterprise services such as remote administration.

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