LinkedIn’s CRM experts group is hosting an active discussion about what are the top three CRM systems. Along with the blatant promotion of certain well-known products, you can’t fail to notice that the term means different things to people, and that systems gathered under this acronym may cover a range of capabilities. A closer examination of the discussion shows that a majority of discussion participants associate CRM with sales force automation, fewer with customer service and the fewest with marketing. Dovetail Software belongs in the second group, positioning itself as specializing in “support and service software.”
At its core, customer service is about addressing customers’ issues – complaints, technical and other queries and requests for information. Simple cases can often be resolved quickly (such as the balance of an account), but more complex issues (such as a malfunctioning PC) take more time, involve more people and require pulling together more information. In these cases it is common practice to open a case ticket and to use it to track the case through to resolution. Dovetail Support Suite covers the case management process from end to end, with reporting and analysis tools to monitor how well the process is performing and workflow to ensure activities are carried out when they are supposed to be.
The product allows users to design and create “forms” for different types of cases and then create rules and workflow to manage each case from start to close. Cases can also spawn subcases, so multiple actions can be kicked off as the result of a master case being raised. The ability to create subcases, rules and workflow brings Dovetail case management close to being process management, in that users can create a process map that defines the activities to be carried out in sequence, suggest what to do if activities aren’t completed on schedule, and kick off other actions. For example, if a field on a technical support request isn’t completed, the software can raise an alert and workflow item to ensure a supervisor investigates what is causing the delay. Cases can be linked with knowledge management records or other sources of information, such as the customer’s latest bill, so that people collaborating on resolving the case can easily see related information.
Cases can be managed and viewed though different communication channels, including a self-service portal where users can track the progress of their own cases. The suite also provides the ability to track cases using a smartphone or tablet device. Its comprehensive reporting suite shows users how well case management is performing.
Dovetail Support Suite is built on Microsoft’s .Net platform, so it is easy to integrate with other applications, scalable, reliable and customizable to individual user requirements. Customers also can choose whether to have an on-premises or cloud-based implementation.
Several of the Dovetail team previously worked for Clarify, and the company has built some special capabilities and services to help companies that use Clarify migrate their systems and data into Dovetail. This serves as a reminder that in the early days of CRM a number of vendors offered specialized case management products, including Clarify. Most of these have fallen by the wayside, and Dovetail has stepped into the void to optimize the case management process. Currently it is mostly being used to manage customer-related cases, but Dovetail has expanded its coverage to offer companies the opportunity to manage HR processes as well.
Companies need to manage customer service more rigorously to match customer expectations. I will be tracking Dovetail’s progress, so if you want to track new and similar developments, please come and collaborate with us.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director