Siebel to push customer education for CRM

Moving to expand customer relationship management beyond software and make it more relevant as a business process, Siebel Systems Inc. Tuesday unveiled a series of initiatives to help companies roll out software implementations more successfully and consolidate customer views in real time.

During a set of keynote addresses in Los Angeles at Siebel User Week, executives expanded on the company’s new “Chapter Two” strategy, which is intended to take the company beyond being just an applications vendor and make it more a trusted partner for customers. As newly installed CEO Mike Lawrie put it , the company wants to go beyond “technology for technology’s sake” and use it for “driving business performance.”

To that end, Siebel’s senior vice-president of services, Eileen McPartland, announced a new customer business blueprint initiative that offers customers a six-step services framework to draw on. That framework includes offering educational content such as white papers that users can access via a customizable, Web-based interface. Siebel plans to use its own experience to help customers better understand their own business and measure success using relevant industry-specific metrics when rolling out CRM, she said.

The methodology is designed to aid companies in meeting the key criteria such as gaining executive sponsorship for projects, cleansing and maintaining customer data, and ensuring end-user adoption. Using Siebel’s steps and how-to explanations, customers will have methods in place that can reduce total customer ownership and improve their CRM processes, she said.

McPartland emphasized that Siebel intends to remain a technology vendor, not a services company, and will rely on partners to aid in the customer blueprint rollout. Although Siebel in the past has offered a number of overlapping services to customers, it intends to consolidate them and make it easier for customers to access Siebel resources during an implementation.

The initiative is expected to be in pilot by early 2005, said McPartland.

Siebel officials also offered details on its announcement to create customized software packages. Relying on an integration stack from Informatica Corp., Siebel’s analytical applications will pull data from multiple sources, such as an ERP or billing system, and deliver it in real time to company employees.

Larry Barbetta, general manager of Siebel analytics, said this would “democratically” distribute information through a company. A call centre rep, for instance, might not need to run complex reports but could quickly see what sort of customer they were working with and treat them accordingly.

The customer analysis software sounded “way cool” to Debra Domeyer, chief technology officer at, an online automotive retailer that runs Siebel for its e-commerce site and to handle referral processes. The software could make it easier to deliver real-time information to manufacturers about the configurations customers are seeking when ordering cars online and help carmakers with their inventory management. It could also provide immediate analysis of sales promotions and assess variables such as the size of a discount or regional factors and aftermarket sales.

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