Answering the CRM call
18 Oct 2012: As its name suggests CallPro CRM focuses heavily on phone support for telesales and telemarketing, making it a great choice for those with the phone as the mainstay of their business, says James Lawson, but with full CRM functionality the package is also a solid all-rounder .
Today’s midmarket CRM suites are jacks of all trades, providing sales, service and marketing support for a handful or hundreds of users. CallPro CRM majors on phone support for telesales and telemarketing, but brings full CRM functionality to the party too. How does it match up to the rest of the market?
With its text-heavy screens, CallPro’s old-fashioned interface holds few surprises. The main options are accessed via a menu bar, with easy-to-follow icons and tabs used to access specific functions in different screens.
Conforming to today’s best practice, all screens are individually configurable with custom views and database access permission settings that can be tailored to each user’s needs. With customers in 35 countries, CallPro offers localised versions in any language except Arabic and, handily for field sales staff, you can access it via mobiles or tablets.
The underlying MySQL database has separate areas for B2B and B2C data. So not only are the B2B records placed in a proper enterprise-subsidiary-branch-contacts hierarchy, but by linking the right contact page layout to the data’s location, it’s possible to work with both data types simultaneously.
Each licensee gets their own database instance, improving security, while their data is hosted in the correct geographical location to satisfy data protection requirements; UK customer data will be hosted within the EU for example.
In the data management side, it’s simple to import data or pull out lists, with standard CSV-style importing, auto-field mapping and the ability to create as many new, user-defined fields as you could wish for. There’s no OLE-style direct database connectivity but XML linking and a full API for more involved integration work more than make up for it. There’s also a basic deduplication capability.
CallPro was originally developed for call centre use and its big differentiator is the extra call-related functionality it offers over “general purpose” CRM packages like MS Dynamics or salesforce which would need extra paid-for apps to try to match it. With VOIP and TAPI integration, the application can dial via various phone systems (including Skype), but doesn’t work with predictive diallers, instead offering progressive or preview dialling. This is a deliberate choice by the vendors and also reflects CallPro’s largely B2B intended market.
Within the software, agents can work their way through individually-customised call lists, with contact details and campaign-specific scripts to hand. They can forward individual appointment bookings to a customer’s calendar or email predefined contacts to automatically add a booking to their calendars – all extended by integration with Google Calendar (and via that to mobiles, MS Outlook and other platforms).
The “wrap up” pane handily combines the fields required post-call, such as call-back date, notes and alert settings, helping users move onto their next call as quickly as possible. By automating email alerts, call-back dates and the like, this simple function alone could greatly increase agent productivity – the vendors claim higher overall telemarketing performance compared to “standard CRM packages”.
It’s possible to build telephone surveys with some sophistication, using the branching option to select the next question from a number of possible ones based on the previous answer. You can also build and host web forms for online data entry (or any type of web page you like), the content from which can be piped directly into the specified area of the database. For manual data entry in a call centre environment, Capscan rapid addressing is a pre-integrated option.
Campaign management functionality covers email or phone campaigns or a mixture of the two. Planning tools are rudimentary but perfectly adequate, as the simple filtering for target list selection: “give me everyone that hasn’t ordered in the last six months”.
The application really scores in its ability to trigger email or phone campaigns from events like a web form submission, call wrap-up or email clickthrough, and so can handle fairly complex automated workflows.
For example, you can build a three-step campaign that generates a list from email clickthroughs, schedules those records for callbacks after a two-day delay and then emails anyone that can’t be contacted by phone. This rule-based workflow planning can also be applied to other actions, such as routing web form-derived leads to a specific individual.
CallPro would benefit from graphical planning tools to help put these multi-stage, multi-channel campaigns together. The current all-text, tabular approach makes campaign set-up tough and it’s hard to see at a glance what the workflow is doing. Apparently this is a development option at the moment.
The email tool itself does a decent job with a selection of editable templates and ticks many of the standard boxes like spam scoring. However, there’s no way to preview how an email will look on a selection of devices and browsers, essential with today’s plethora of platforms, though it would be possible to check how the HTML displays using an external service.
There’s an HTML editor that, similar to Word, allows mail-merge-style personalisation for emails and can also be used to generate documents for print. Despite its multi-step capability and workflow integration with the rest of the application, the email module still struggles in comparison with entry-level packages like MailChimp.
Reporting consists of pivot tables plus some simple pie and bar charts. A selection of canned reports comes as standard, as well as a report writer which lets users report on any fields in the database.
Again, the phone is this package’s strong suit and as such, the software offers plenty of ways to monitor sales performance and agent-related data such as call length, number of calls by agent and day, call status, time and so on. As is standard today, you can configure your log-in page to give a dashboard set of KPIs.
There are pre-built integrations available for a number of applications, including the QuickBooks and Xero accounting packages. CallPro licensees also get free access to salesforce. Close integration with the CRM market leader means it’s possible to move data back and forward between the two packages, using CallPro for telemarketing and salesforce for everything else. The company is currently building a link to MS Dynamics CRM with the same workflow in mind.
Still on the phone
CallPro CRM’s excellent phone features combined with decent CRM abilities make it a strong performer. Move out of the call centre however and it begins to look rather ordinary when compared to the market leaders and their wide range of (often pricey) options that can extend their reach and application.
CallPro has the sales and marketing fundamentals – contacts, appointment setting, email – but other areas like opportunity and pipeline management, lead scoring, web analytics integration or specific support for field sales are minimal or absent.
With CRM vendors in the SME to midmarket space now offering a range of bundles based on the same application, making sure you get what you need in the way of relevant functionality for the price you pay is essential.
CallPro users pay £45 ($65) for the full version, very competitive with salesforce’s steep Enterprise edition pricing ($125) – but $20 more than the online edition of MS Dynamics which offers more in the way of general sales and marketing ability.
But if the phone is the mainstay of your organisation’s B2B sales and marketing strategy, then CallPro’s contact centre pedigree makes it tough to beat. n
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