CRM: Customer Success | Call Center

CRM – Customer Success & Call Center – This particular Domain is broken into two distinct categories – reflecting the evolution of how Service Providers are viewing the concept of customer service.

The first component is focused on the concept of inbound Call Center customer service. This has is an established proven approach to handling high volume, in bound customer service inquiries from customers.

Historically, the service provider industry has witnessed a number of successes, and unfortunately legions of failures in implementing this model. We all have vivid memories of that great tech support person we talk to, or that interminable wait we had before speaking with someone we could not understand.

More recently, the second component of customer service has evolved, which we call Customer Success. Where Call Center approaches are inbound and reactive, Customer Success approaches are outbound and pro-active. If a customer notices they have a problem and call a service provider to tell them about it, that is a classic Call Center Scenario. If a service provider is monitoring customer success and notices something that may negatively impact the customer and they pro-actively reach out to that customer, then that is a Customer Success Scenario. Typically, there is a service provider agent who is working with the customer to resolve a problem or an opportunity, with the difference being point of origin, and responsiveness of the service provider. Let’s look at each in detail.

The CRM – Call Center domain is focused on the concept of a call center, or a similar group of employees that are responsible for managing customers. This could be a large inbound call center that is fielding calls for new service creation, or existing service maintenance.

Alternatively, it could be a small group of outbound callers who are reaching out to prospective customers to buy a product or service.

In the B2C service provider space, this domain is often a central component for new customer creation, and for ongoing customer care. Success or failure in this domain has a dramatic impact on the overall customer experience. Companies that have the appropriate people, process, and technology in this domain typically become market leaders with high customer satisfaction, low churn, and high upsell/cross-sell rates. Companies that fall short in this domain are subject to scathing ridicule in social media, and often find themselves struggling to acquire or retain key customers. Key indicators in this area include net new customers, customer satisfaction (CSAT or NPS), first call resolution (FCR), average handle time (AHT), and customer churn.

In the B2B service provider space, this domain is typically used by a small number of resources that are responsible for customer care, including basic maintenance of customer and services, bill inquiry, logging trouble tickets, and supporting simple adds and changes. Typically, the primary customer acquisition is managed by Sales resources (reps and sales engineers (SE)), who are working in the CRM/Sales Force Automation domain.

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is perhaps the most consistently misused term in our industry. The ‘Customer Relationship’ that is being managed by a software category is an exceedingly broad term that must be narrowed in order to make sure we are comparing similar software. ATG breaks CRM into four distinct categories, based on the channel that is being used to manage the customer relationship. The categories are:

Salesforce Automation - SFA

The tools used by Sales teams to manage sales people, prospects, and opportunities.

Customer Success | Call Center

The tools used by Customer Service agents (historically in a Call Center environment) to manage customers.

Customer-Initiated Interactions

The tools used by a service provider’s customers to manage their own services or accounts.

Partner Relationship Mgmt.

Tools used by a service provider’s Partner to manage customers.

Customer Success/Call Center Components

Customer Success Call Center

Customer Creation

Customer Creation is the process of creating a new customer within the company. This is a critical process that often invokes several other domains including Provisioning/Inventory (for qualification and inventory), Configure Price Quote (to set up complex services and pricing), and Contract/Order Management (to ensure business policies are enforced).

The key to this process is providing an exceptional customer experience while obtaining the information necessary to ensure the product or service will be effectively provisioned (or fulfilled) and that billing will be effective and occur in a timely manner. ‘Garbage in – garbage out’ is in full force. If the customer is created with incorrect data, the downstream processes will be negatively impacted.

Customer Maintenance

Customer Maintenance is a process unique to the Service Provider space.

Companies in this space typically keep careful track of Company Lifecycle Duration (typically the number of months or years that a customer retains their service) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU – which tracks the dollars that are spent per month with the company). Companies that are able to keep their customers longer and raise the average revenue per month over time, typically become leaders in their space.

Customer Maintenance includes a broad set of process service modifications including up-sell/cross-sell, suspension, and disconnect/cancel. Customer Maintenance is closely related to the sub-domain Customer Service, which handles important though not service-impacting customer requests.

Order Entry

Order Entry is the process for creating a new service for a customer. Often this is the first and only service for a customer though in B2B it is very common for customers to have multiple services, each requiring effective order entry to capture the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

Order entry can be direct with a customer or it can be a ‘swivel chair’ exercise where the employee is entering the order from a previously generated quote or contract without direct interaction with the customer.

In the former example, it is important to capture the information in an efficient manner that provides a positive customer experience while gathering all the appropriate data at one time. In the latter example, the focus is on quality and completeness. The customer is not waiting on the line, but relying on the information being complete and correct to ensure accurate provisioning and billing of the service.


The Up-Sell/Cross-Sell process is the central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), which is an essential growth metric for most service providers.

Up-selling is the process of selling more of a particular service. For example, increasing internet speed from 6 MB for $25/mo to 18mb for $45/mo would be an example of a typical up-sell.

Cross-sell is the process of purchasing a separate product or service from what they had originally. For example, if the customer originally had internet service then expanded their purchase to include phone and cable.

The combination of up-sell and cross-sell is primary methods from driving more revenue within an existing customer base. Another common phrase is ‘wallet share’. Many service providers have a goal of increasing the wallet share from their customer base, which is often done through up-sell/cross-sell measures. The concept of ‘bundling’ or ‘packaging’ is a method for accelerating up-sell/cross-sell.

Up-sell/cross-sell can be done at time of customer creation, or over the course of the life of the customer. In the context of a call center, many agents are compensated specifically for up-sell/cross-sell as they perform their typical customer care. “Thank you for you updating your credit card information, did you happen to notice that we have expanded our internet offerings in your neighborhood and are offering a special 3-month free during the summer?”

Customer Service

Call Center Customer Service is typically done via inbound calls or chat sessions. Typical customer service requests include bill inquiry, trouble ticket management, simple disputes and adjustments, changing contact information, and technical support.

Case management is a key sub-domain of Customer Service. It is a broad term that can included Issue Management, Trouble Ticket Management, Exception/Approval Management, and Dispute Management. It is simply a mechanism for creating, managing, and completing requests initiated by, or on behalf of, a customer.

Case management allows cases to be captured, distributed to the necessary individual(s) or team(s) for resolution, while providing visibility of ongoing status. There is typically a strong audit trail to document what was done, when, and by whom.

Effective case management provides an excellent opportunity to take a potential negative with a customer and turn it into a positive.

The evolution from reactive Customer Service to proactive Customer Success is one of the most profound changes that is impacting the service provider industry at this time.

Another core component of modern Customer Service environment is Knowledge Management. CRM and Knowledge Management were once considered entirely different disciplines, with the two sharing little but perhaps the same data warehouse hardware and a vague understanding that both efforts were meant to improve business efficiency and customer satisfaction. It has become clear, however, that the two disciplines were really working toward the same goal, and that to deliver continuous improvement to business clients, they would have to start speaking the same language.

Thus CRM, KM, and data search-and-retrieval solutions are converging – out of necessity and out of customer demand.

KM focuses largely on finding the right solution to a problem that requires detailed insight, be it locating the right expert at the right time, or ensuring that the solution to a complex problem can be written once but reused many times. It is not difficult to understand why that capability is of great interest to CRM strategists. Industry estimates suggest that upwards of three quarters of variable support costs come from the time and energy put into the resolution of customer support inquiries, rather than routing and post-call management.

Better KM/CRM integration can help companies navigate complex support problems more easily. Many manufacturers, such as computer companies, sell a single product that may incorporate dozens or even hundreds of other components. Being able to cross-reference the entire collected library for technical support and conflict resolution can make the difference between first-call resolution and a lingering headache.

Finally, as described in the Customer Maintenance sub-domain, Customer Success is emerging as a key enabler of differentiation for forward thinking Service Providers. The evolution from reactive Customer Service to proactive Customer Success is one of the most profound changes that is impacting the service provider industry at this time.

Payments & Adjustments

Call center agents are often in a position to manage inbound requests for payment or to handle disputes that may lead to credit adjustments to the customer’s balance. For payments, this could be receipt of ‘one-off’ payments, changing the method of payment (i.e., from credit card to check), or simply updating credit card information.

Adjustments are changes to the customer’s accounts receivable, or balance. Adjustments that are in the customer’s favor, end up being a ‘credit’ to the a/r, hence are called credit adjustments, or simply ‘credits’. Credit memo is another term that is used.

An adjustment that is made which is not in the customer’s favor and adds to their balance, is called a debit adjustment. Although rare, it can be used to correct erroneous bills or to handle other things – a penalty for not sending a set-top box back, for example. Some service providers have a concept of a ‘dispute,’ which is simply a higher order object that opens a case which will be investigated but could lead to a credit adjustment.

Detailed: People | Process | Technology

As might be expected, the Customer Success and Customer Service organizations are the torch-bearers for the Customer Success/Call Center domain. Nearly all things related to the customer pass across their collective desks.

But there are other areas involved as well. The Sales, Product, and Finance-Billing groups make key contributions on an on-going basis, and the I.T. organization, as is true with every domain in the ecosystem, lends a hand when called upon.


Customer SuccessCustomer ServiceSalesProductFinance-BillingIT

ATG maintains a set of 75 key business processes to support management of Customers and Revenue for Service Providers. Thirty of these processes originate, or are impacted by, the Customer Success/Call Center functions. Below are the key processes that are touched in Customer Success/Call Center, categorized by the Organizational Unit that owns the process:


Customer Success Organization

New Customer Onboarding – the process of creating a customer account, properly provisioning products and/or services, and communicating welcoming messages.

Customer Usage Monitoring – tracking and recording customer resource usage throughout a billing period and life cycle.

Retention/Churn Monitoring – the process of monitoring and anticipating customer turnover.

Social Network Monitoring – a way to track social media traffic and information and gather the “Voice of the Customer.”

NPS/CSAT Monitoring – process of tracking, reporting and following up on customer satisfaction metrics.

Customer Service Organization

Up-Sell Processing: Ongoing – the primary method for increasing Average Revenue per User (ARPU), and is the process of moving a customer to a better product or service at some point during their relationship with your company.

Cross-Sell Processing: Ongoing – the primary method for increasing Average Revenue per User (ARPU), and is the process of moving a customer to a similar product or service at some point during their relationship with your company.

Case Management Processing – a key aspect of customer service used for creating, managing, and completing requests from the customer.

Customer Inquiry – the process of routing customer questions & concerns to the right solution and tracking the outcome.

Knowledge Management – the ability of a business to identify, create, and distribute information quickly across their customer base and the entire organization.

Renewal Processing – methods used to renew a customers services, may be manual or automated.

Order Entry –  creating a new service for a customer, including capturing the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

Sales Organization

Quote: Product Configuration – configuration of feature and attributes of products and services prior to a sale.

Quote: Product and Service Pricing – configuration of product and service pricing available through the quoting tool.

Quote: Product and Service Discount – configuration of product and service discounts based on certain criteria (e.g., volume discounts, geography).

Up-Sell Processing: Initial Order – selling a customer a separate, better product or service from what they had originally expressed interest in during the needs assessment.

Cross-Sell Processing: Initial Order – selling a customer a separate product or service from what they had originally expressed interest in during the needs assessment.

Product Organization

New Product Introduction Process – configuring attributes and introducing new products or services to the product catalog.

New Product Monetization Process – the configuration of pricing for a new product or service.

Bundled Product Introduction Process – the configuration and introduction of grouped products and services to the product catalog.

Promotion and Discount Process – the configuration of promotions and discounts to new or current products and services.

Finance-Billing Organization

Credit Card Processing – methods to receive credit card payments including authorization, payment gateway, processing, interchange, and credit card success.

Payment Processing – the steps taken to process different payment methods from customers and applying the payment to the corresponding account.

Dispute & Adjustment Processing – settling disputes/adjustments regarding customer payments or account – often involves recording a debit or credit to a customer account.

I.T. Organization

Maintenance and Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem – processes around ensuring that all touch points and connections within the ecosystem are optimized to their fullest potential.

Vendor Management of Monetization Ecosystem – oversight and communication duties of ecosystem software components and their vendors, including management of vendor road map and change logs and general relationship nurturing.

Monitoring & Testing of Vendor Functional Releases – as ecosystem components release updates and patches, each is checked and tested to confirm all systems are working together as required by the business’ requirements.

Cross-Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components – process for training organizational resources on the appropriate software systems.

Security Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem – process for maintaining and controlling access and permissions to ecosystem components.

Data Stewardship Across Monetization Ecosystem – process of assigning ownership and sources of truth for data within the organization.

All Organizations

Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (Extraction, Load, Report, Dashboard) – movement of data between domains to create single source of truth for reporting and dash boarding.

The CRM: Customer Success/Call Center domain is the cornerstone of customer experience. This domain handholds the customer throughout their entire lifecycle with a company, from a salesperson’s first interaction with them via Knowledge Management functions, through the buying process to service delivery and case management. From a post-sale customer perspective, everything pivots from this domain – Customer Success/Call Center organizations that perform at a high degree are more likely to have larger customer lifetime values and much longer customer lifecycles.

There are two different software platforms for this domain, with the obvious delineation. Both Customer Success and Call Center software is available in the following formats:

  • Multi-Tenant Cloud
  • Single-Tenant Cloud
  • Native Platform
  • On-Premise Software

Key Vendor Alert
The CRM – Customer Success/Call Center domain consists of two types of software platforms – Customer Success and Call Center. The vendor summaries below are segregated by software platform.

Key Customer Success Vendors


Founded: 2012
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Bluenose is a software firm that specializes in SaaS-based Customer Success applications. These applications offer integrations with SalesForce that allow businesses to maintain a “360-Degree Account View” of their customers. Bluenose’s main product focuses on retaining and engaging customers by deploying several key features:

• Early Warning System
• Retention Playbooks
• Account-Based Reports
• Intelligent Marketing Campaigns
• Actionable Queries

In addition to its features, Bluenose’s application aims to protect client-sensitive data by maintaining several third-party security certifications from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), SalesForce, and Amazon Web Services.

Bluenose makes a point of exclusively targeting SaaS-based companies. The majority of their customers work within the high-tech, education, online-security, marketing, data analytics, and application development industries.

Replicon – time tracking and billing software company
Kissmetrics – data-driven marketing optimization company
Extole – referral marketing company
Appcelerator – mobile application development company
eCompliance – safety management software company


Founded: 2009
HQ: Redwood City, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Gainsight , based in the technology hub of Redwood City, produces a Customer Success application that integrates with SalesForce to provide companies with a complete view of current customers. Gainsight’s application works to retain customers throughout the customer lifecycle by providing functionality in several key areas:

• Sponsor Tracking
• Success Communication
• Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys
• Customer Health Scorecards
• Usage Data Integration
• Triggered Lifecycle Rules
• Engagement Analytics

In addition to its main application, Gainsight provides customers with professional consulting services to support application installation and integration. These Customer Success teams support the planning, organization, and strategic development pieces of the installation process.

Gainsight focuses on targeting enterprise companies that are SaaS-based or have SaaS as a major component of their business. These companies often operate within the consulting, high-tech, marketing, data analytics, and document management industries.

HP – global information technology and software company
Apttus – Configure, Price, Quote software company
Box – secure online document management company
Adobe – multinational computer software company
DocuSign – secure electronic signature technology company

Service Source

Founded: 1999
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

ServiceSource provides B2B companies with expert, technology-enabled solutions and best-practice processes proven to grow and retain revenue from existing customers. With a holistic approach to the entire revenue lifecycle, ServiceSource solutions help companies drive customer adoption, expansion and renewal. In order to drive revenue growth and customer success, ServiceSource provides:

• Managed Services
• Cloud applications
• Best-practice process

ServiceSource brings to market more than 15 years of exclusive focus on customer success and revenue growth, global deployments across 40 languages and 150 countries, and a powerful, purpose-built Revenue Lifecycle Management technology platform.

ServiceSource serves clients primarily in the technology sector, marketing its sales professionals in tandem with its software offerings.

Pitney Bowes Software – commerce product/solutions for customer information management
RedHat – provider of enterprise-level open-source software products
Blackboard – provider of innovative technologies and solutions for education
Concur – travel and expenses management services for businesses
Adobe – global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions


Founded: 2010
HQ: San Mateo, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Totango is the market leader in customer success management. They produce software that aids businesses in taking a data-driven approach to reducing churn, driving customer adoption and advocacy, and maximizing lifetime revenue. Totango monitors customer behavior – along with data from CRM, billing, and various enterprise systems – to generate insight on customer health and engagement. Totango’s Customer Success Intelligence System includes the following solutions:

• Adaptive Health Model
• Early Warning System
• Customer Health Console
• Active Monitoring
• ROI Metrics

Totango typically targets new and growing high-tech companies, which need to focus on retaining and gaining new customers while delivering recurring value throughout all customer interactions.

Optimizely – provides customer experience optimization software
Zendesk – provides a cloud-based customer service platform
Zoho – provides solutions for sales and marketing, support and collaboration, finance, and recruitment needs
BrightTALK – provides webinar and video solutions to a variety of industries
Jobvite – provides a comprehensive and analytics-driven recruiting platform

Key Call Center Vendors

Salesforce Service Cloud

Founded: 1999
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Salesforce Service Cloud is a customer service software that provides customer support solutions. This software allows the user to deliver 24/7 customer service support in the cloud, personalize customer care, provide customer support on numerous channels, and utilize intelligent and predictive customer service support. Salesforce Service Cloud contains the following features:

Lightning Console – customer information in one console
Knowledge management system for both employees and customers to access
Live Agent – live chat software
Social customer service tools
SOS – live in-app video chat
Service Wave Analytics – brings Wave to Salesforce data
Service Cloud Communities – customer self-service portals
Omni-channel presence and routing

Salesforce Service Cloud tends to target large, multinational companies typically needing Call Center Management Solutions, particularly for customer support and self-service and case management.

Coca Cola Germany – nonalcoholic beverage corporation and manufacturer, retailer, and marketer
Philips – diversified technology company focused in the areas of electronics, healthcare and lighting
Aldo – corporate chain of shoe and accessory stores
American Red Cross – organization providing emergency assistance, disaster relief, and education in the U.S.
American Express – American financial services corporation


Founded: 1998
HQ: San Mateo, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

NetSuite specializes in SaaS business management, especially CRM, ERP and Ecommerce. Some of the company’s core competencies include:

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – a method of managing a company’s exchanges with customers, both current and future.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
– a way for companies to collect, store, and manage data surrounding business activities.

Ecommerce – digital shopping for B2C and B2B businesses

NetSuite’s target market is midsize to enterprise businesses. They have a wide range of customers, from a professional sports team to manufacturers of electronic products.

GoPro – producer of cameras used in action sports
Oakland Athletics – American professional baseball team
Igloo – specializes in the manufacture of ice chests
Epec Engineered Technologies – manufacturer and designer of custom electronic products

Oracle Siebel

Founded: 1977
HQ: Redwood Shores, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Oracle Siebel is a robust CRM software solution, available to companies in both on premise and on demand (cloud) formats. While Siebel helps businesses generate more sales and pull in more revenue through customer experience management, the software provides further value through integration with Oracle’s full suite of IT solutions. Some standout features of Oracle Siebel are:

Sales and Marketing Management – heighten sales efficiency by optimizing the sales pipeline for success.
Customer Order Management – create and manage customer accounts, and map relating products and orders efficiently.
Customer Relationship Management – cut costs and increase customer satisfaction through the effective management and analysis of customer, product, and market information.

Oracle Siebel’s target market tends toward industry leaders and enterprise companies. Oracle tailors CRM designs aimed at specific industries such as the telecommunication, financial, high technology, and logistics industries.

Intuit – Financial software developer

Ferrovial – Infrastructure and service operations leader in Spain

National Instruments – Virtual instrumentation software developer

National Oilwell Varco – drilling manufacturers and consultants


Founded: 1982
HQ: Chesterfield, MO
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Amdocs is the market-leader in customer experience software solutions and services for the world’s largest communications, entertainment and media service providers. Amdocs solutions, including BSS, OSS, network control and optimization, coupled with processional and managed services, have accelerated business value for their customers by:

  • Streamlining complex operating environments
  • Reducing costs
  • Speeding time to market for new products and services

Amdocs has more than 24,000 employees serving customers in over 90 countries. Listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, Amdocs had revenue of $3.6 billion in fiscal 2014.

Amdocs tends to target companies within the telecommunications, cable, and satellite industries.

Sprint – provider of wireless plans, cell phones, and accessories

Sensis – cross-cultural advertising agency with digital at its core

Pelephone – telecommunications company based in Israel

Cablevision – cable television company with systems serving areas surrounding New York

Astro – direct broadcast satellite pay TV service based in Malaysia


Founded: 2002
HQ: New York, NY
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Infor Customer Experience is a cloud-based software solution, which accelerates customer engagement, drives profitability and delivers an enriched customer experience. This CRM offering includes an integrated user interface through embedded Microsoft Outlook toolbars. With an emphasis on sales cycle management and opportunity development, this solution helps companies maximize profitability on potential leads and speed up sales cycles. Some other key features of Infor CRM are:

  • Advanced Marketing Campaign Management
  • Customer Service Management
  • In depth reporting and analytics

Infor CRM pairs its easy integration with Microsoft Outlook and Gmail to provide exceptional mobile and tablet functionality, as well as support, to help drive user productivity.

Infor tends to target SMBs within specific industries and niche micro-verticals such as equipment, manufacturing, healthcare, distribution, and public sector industries. Infor leverages its flexible software to customize and tailor a CRM solution in order to meet industry specific needs.

Quality Solutions Inc. – facilities Management Company

Big River Communications – commercial phone service Communications Company

Watlow – climate control manufacturer

Equifax – consumer credit reporting agency

Noble Systems Corporation – contact center technology service provider


Founded: 1996
HQ: Pleasanton, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Zoho CRM specializes within the sales cycle. This software helps all corporate players from sales reps to CEO’s generate, grow, and manage leads, opportunities, and accounts. A distinct focus on intuitive user interface and customer-engagement software integration helps users feel at home during the customer acquisition process.

  • Lead Management – generate, distribute, qualify, and convert leads while drawing from relevant analytics and reports
  • Integration – connect with leads, opportunities, and current customers through integrated social media platforms, web adds, and professional communication applications

Zoho targets small and medium sized companies, and they look to capitalize on market expansion in this space. Zoho also looks to expand revenues in the East Asia market, specifically, India.

Ingram Micro – Electronics company and information technology distributor
T3 Direct – Direct telemarketing company
Cleartrip – Travel management company
NIIT – Indian Multinational learning management and training delivery solutions provider
Pepperstone Financial – provides for brokerage financial services

Sugar CRM

Founded: 2004
HQ: Cupertino, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Sugar CRM provides open source software as a service for CRM solutions. The company’s leading product is Sugar UX, which provides an intuitive and consistent user experience to streamline CRM.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – a method of managing a company’s exchanges with customers, both current and future.

Sugar CRM targets a diverse range of companies, however this company mostly supplies functionality to small and midsize businesses.

BancVue – provider of banking products that help local banks and credit unions succeed
Hilco Global – provider of international financial services
Program Productions – producer of highly specific live events
Redglaze Group – provider of products and services to the construction industry
TengoInternet – leader among North American high speed wireless internet solution companies in the outdoor hospitality industry
VetAdvisor – provider of holistic, veteran-centric care



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