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Siebel's new tools aimed at perfecting staff performance

The release is aimed at optimizing the way contact center agents and sales staff do their jobs.

Siebel Systems Inc. is rolling out a set of five new modules for contact centers aimed at improving cross- and up-sell opportunities, as well as monitoring employee effectiveness.

The San Mateo, Calif., company announced the availability of the Contact Center Performance Solution and Sales Performance Solution on Monday.

The applications are based on Siebel's experience with more than 3,500 CRM deployments, according to Anthony Deighton, general manager of Siebel's employee relationship management division.

"We have an understanding of what they've been doing and what's been successful," Deighton said. "We realized there's a set of requirements in how to drive change. We believe we have some software we can [offer to] help address these issues."

The modules improve contact center and sales organization performance through a number of avenues: scorecarding and analytics that provide all employees with a role-based view of relevant key performance indicators; communication and productivity tools that keep sales representatives and contact center agents current with the latest corporate strategy and processes; performance management and compensation management; training and competency management; and improved employee service capabilities, such as internal operations support and IT support.

While many of these issues are just as reliant on management and personnel issues as they are on software, Siebel believes it has provided one part of the puzzle.

"If you have a great process but no supporting software, you're doomed to fail," said Steve Apfelberg, senior director of Siebel sales. "If you have good software but bad processes, you're also doomed to fail."

The dual challenges of legislation curtailing outbound marketing and the high rate of agent turnover at contact centers demonstrate a clear need for these applications, officials said.

The performance tools allow companies to evaluate cost structures and organizational competence, communicate business goals, and provide training to minimize employee churn and measure employee performance to reward success.

The five modules are available on top of Siebel's CRM base, but they can also be purchased separately, Apfelberg said.

"In the past, our customers have gone to point solutions," Apfelberg said. "We're simply building out software to address those very issues."

With these new modules, Siebel is essentially taking its investment in employee relationship management (ERM) and applying it to CRM, said Steve Bonadio, senior program director for Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

"It's a smart strategy because to all indications their ERM has not grown to the level they envsioned," Bonadio said. "It's enabled Siebel to move more value to CRM. Tying metrics, performance and incentives into applications is a smart thing to do."

The modules take a different tack on contact center and marketing agents, seeking to increase their value rather than decrease their cost, Bonadio said.

Still, he cautioned that much of the change must come at a management level.

"What we're really coming down to is a transformation of sorts in political issues, cultural issues and process change issues," he said. "It's not going to be enough to go out and buy these products to be successful. I think Siebel understands that. Their question is will they offer the [management assistance] that their partners have traditionally offered. My understanding is they're considering ways of providing those services or enabling their partners to."

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