Investing in Relationships

CRM tool's MS Outlook & Palm integration a plus when centralizing scattered data

Oak Brook, IL  February 5, 2002  Customer relationship management (CRM) provider Interface Software announced that the Chicago-based investment bank and financial advisory firm of Duff &Phelps has purchased InterAction, its CRM solution for financial and other professional services organizations.

Duff & Phelps will use InterAction to aggregate data about its customer relationships that is scattered across its four offices nationwide for business development, cross-marketing and enhanced client service purposes.

Duff & Phelps had been using another CRM package, however that system's inability to track and manage complex relationships necessitated extensive customization, the maintenance of which became unmanageable. "We had made so many changes to the software we could no longer upgrade when new releases came out," said Lee Bloom, managing director of Duff & Phelps.

Moreover, Duff & Phelps' existing CRM package could not integrate with Microsoft Outlook and the professionals' Palm devices. As a result, valuable contact and relationship information was scattered among individuals' contact managers and could not be leveraged for firm-wide advantage. "It created many problems," recalled Bloom. "Sending out mailings and holiday cards was a nightmare. The data was everywhere, and we knew that duplicates would be sent. It was an enormous waste of resources and threatened to impact our image."

By contrast, InterAction's focus on professional services organizations and functionality set the system apart. "InterAction was the only package we looked at that had the right combination of features and usability," said Bloom. "We needed a system that our high-level professionals could use without much training or ramp-up time and that could be maintained by our small [information technology] staff."

InterAction's ability to integrate seamlessly with Outlook and Palm was also decisive. Duff & Phelps' professionals will be able to continue using the applications with which they are comfortable, while at the same time contributing automatically to the centralized data repository. "Without the integration, you run the risk that professionals may not use the CRM system," said Bloom.