Choosing between Oracle Siebel CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Telecommunications

Choosing between Oracle Siebel CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Telecommunications

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Saturday, 07 July 2012 11:29 | Oleg Nechiporenko

Selecting the CRM-system is one of the first tasks an organization faces before the integration project begins. A simple search engine will link you to many articles that compare the most common CRM-systems, and also give tips on how to choose the best one among them. However, in most cases these articles are based on a general system information available at the vendor`s website.

This kind of analysis can not be useful for the customer who is interested to solve his specific tasks quickly and efficiently. Therefore, more and more customers go to various suppliers of CRM-systems to learn different ways of implementation and the amount of work to be done considering technical resources of a certain system. Having the analysis and an overview of the system (license cost, terms of support, availability of specialists, efficiency, etc.), the customer will be able to objectively evaluate each CRM-system regarding the nature of the future integration project.

As an example, I would like to talk about the comparative analysis of Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1.1 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 conducted for one of our clients in the telecommunications industry. The client decided to implement a CRM-system and start with a pilot project lasting for two months. The scope of the project included the following key processes of a call center automation:

  • Creating a single customer profile
  • Working with clients on phone
  • Working with clients by email
  • Marketing campaigns

The following table describes task implementation that significantly depends on the CRM-system:

Creating a single customer profile:

  • daily one-way synchronization of legal and physical entities, billing accounts, contact information, online services, physical assets between CRM and Billing.
  • on-line update of billing accounts, services and physical assets from billing
  • on-line synchronization of new clients and connected entities from billing
  • on-line update of balance history (writing-offs, payments)
  • relations history management
  • creating/updating contact
  • authorized people

To implement a single customer profile of a telecom company requires three basic conditions:

  • possibility of integration with billing (on-line, off-line)
  • industry model of customer data
  • industrial product catalogue
Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1.1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
Data model:

For this project, the main entities are: Company, Contact, Billing account, Physical Asset, Service, Payment, Address directory, Phone directory, Service Request, Interaction. Siebel eCommunications industry solution is built basing on the same entities. The vendor's documentation contains a list of fields that should be used, and their role. Regarding the standard relations between entities, the system allows you to build complex hierarchies among the owners of accounts, billing accounts and connections. This allows, for example, realizing a scenario in which the billing account belongs to the company A but the affiliated company B uses connected services.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is delivered without any pre-configured industry solutions. Of all the required entities the following are available: Company, Contact, Service Request, Action. Here the set of attributes does not consider the nature of the industry. Therefore, the missing entities are to be created, connected with standard attributes and filled with the necessary ones. The customer will also need to customize forms and visualization for the user interface. A key risk is the chance of an error when designing a data model without being aware of its features for telecommunication companies.

Integration tools:

For daily customer profile synchronization with billing it would be reasonable to use standard Siebel EIM, that operates on a data level because of a huge volume of a customer base. To set up synchronization you must perform only EIM tables mapping and billing. On-line integration can be implemented at the application level, for example through Web services, or at the data level through the procedures and views.

It is possible to get a balance history on-line even without importing writing-offs and payments from billing to CRM. Siebel CRM enables us to design a user interface that displays the payments directly from a billing database.

The only officially supported way to integrate Microsoft CRM with third systems is by means of Web services. Because of a huge volume of data to be synchronized off-line, this implementation will be slower than integration at the database level. Moreover one will have to design their own synchronization business logic.

Product catalogue:

Oracle Siebel CRM enables you to create complex telecom products including rate plans, main chargeable services, extra paid services, tools to configure their options and sets. There is also a number of built-in tools that allow us to recommend and compare products, carry out cross-sale / up-sale.

Product catalogue in Microsoft CRM is a simple list of products that make price lists. Such implementation of a product catalogue fits best for retail sales of consumer products and services. Therefore, to build a telecommunications customer profile one will have to independently develop the functionality of sophisticated products.

Working with clients on phone

  • incoming calls, transfer (consultative and blind), call hold
  • individual identification algorithms for physicians and legal entities
Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1.1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
Integration with telephony:

As we have mentioned in one of our blogs, standard Siebel Communication Layer is used for Siebel CRM integration with telephony. Moreover, Siebel CRM User Interface contains a standard communication panel for incoming and outgoing calls, transfer, Call Hold, enter the call-center queue.

Implementation of this task in the Microsoft CRM requires writing your own drivers, which will handle events of call-center; and designing user interface with SoftPhone functions.

There are also connectors produced by third parties.

Client identification:

When a new incoming call comes a standard business service Siebel CRM for the client search in the database search by phone number. The search algorithm can be modified for any task, including search on the scenario "Contact - Billing Account", "Contact - Company - Billing Account."

Client identification mechanism should be implemented in a separate Web application that will go between the telephony driver and Microsoft CRM. This application will obtain a phone number form the driver and then will go through Web services to the CRM-system to perform the search. However, this approach will increase the number of possible points of failure because of the higher complexity of the system architecture.

Working with client by email

  • receiving email, sent by customers via their own mail or website
  • incoming email and further correspondence on it should form a chain of connected interactions
  • individual identification algorithms for physicians and legal entities
  • Email queue management
Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1.1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Standard mechanism Siebel Email Response allows to send and receive mail through any mail server. The administrator can change identification settings of the sender and the chain of the previous correspondence.

Queue management requires additional implementation.

Microsoft CRM has an inbuilt mail router, which allows you to send and receive emails. But the router settings let neither the change of the sender identification algorithm nor forming correspondence chain. So you have to develop your own dll-assemblies (plug-ins). Such approach would not be an universal one as the probability of identification algorithm change will cause the necessity to modify the software, compile and connect a new plug-in.

Queue management is available in the standard functionality and allows users to view, work with, assign and return letters.

Marketing campaigns

  • outbound in "Preview" and "Predictive" modes
    - finding the target audience in BI
    - allocation of external list of clients and physicians
    - development of conversation scripts
    - Upload of the file for outbound in call-center
    - outbound results
    - call script following for a current campaign
  • emailing and collection of responses «received», «opened», «clicked on url»
Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1.1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
Outbound:

The process of a standard Siebel CRM outbound includes the following steps. BI-system forms a client base for outbound. As a result we have a file with client identifications chosen for outbound. Then the clients from the file are compared with a client base in Siebel CRM on identification (allocation). Allocation procedure requires implementation. After this procedure its participants will be involved in a marketing campaign.

A standard Siebel SmartScript is used to develop a talk scenario. Prepared scenarios are connected with a marketing campaign.

When you start a campaign, Siebel CRM forms a file that contains phone numbers of people involved in the campaign, call script identifications and then passes it to a call-center. Call-center executes an outbound automatically and if it reaches the client, it returns an incoming call to Siebel CRM and opens the call scenario that corresponds to the running campaign. An operator receives a call, follows a call scenario and as a result creates a response.

Thus allocation is the only procedure in the whole scheme that requires an implementation. The other part is a standard Siebel CRM functionality.

The same outbound in Microsoft CRM will require the implementation of the following procedures: allocation, formation and transfer of an outbound file, callback and call scenario opening. Call scenario is a standard function in Microsoft CRM.

However it is possible to run a standard outbound where will have to develop client allocation procedure. When a campaign starts Microsoft CRM will create Actions of a “Call” type. The calls will be allocated to a certain queue. Operators working with a queue will take every action and initiate a call manually (It requires an integration with a call-center, described in p.2). But here an operator will face a significant time loss as a callback is done manually.

Email:

Standard functionality of Siebel Email Marketing Server allows to receive feedbacks. By using this tool it is possible to trace that the letter is received, opened and the link in the email is used. When Siebel CRM receives one of these statuses it will automatically create a response to the campaign.

Microsoft CRM supports Email outbound but does not collect responses automatically.

We should not forget about the differences of technology platforms of various CRM-systems that do not depend on the tasks implemented. Among these differences we can name interface friendliness, possibility to set access rights, nature of development and configuration transfer.

And these issues I would like to analyze thoroughly the next time we meet…

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