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Cisco/Microsoft CRM integration now a reality

31st Aug 2004
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Cisco is attempting to integrate Cisco IP Communications technology with Microsoft’s CRM offerings using the Cisco CRM Communications Connector.

The Cisco CRM Communications Connector, which was developed with the support of Microsoft, will be available to small and mid-sized businesses through either Cisco or Microsoft partners that target the SME market. Aimed at businesses with as few as 20 employees, it scales to support businesses with as many as 1,000 employees.

Cisco says that this is the first IP Communications application to receive certification from Microsoft and claims that its features rival those found in enterprise-class call centre software.

The purpose of the Communications Connector is to let SMEs improve customer service and reduce operational costs by tying today's crop of affordable IP telephony products with the granular customer-specific information collected by CRM software.

Because the Cisco system is IP-based, the employee answering the call can be based anywhere, including remote locations or home-working. With the Communications Connector, Cisco IP Communications and Microsoft CRM are integrated on the desktop with no additional hardware required.

Each call received through the Cisco IP Communications system triggers a screen pop that contains the customer's account information and contact history. The system also opens a screen when either click-to-dial or manually dialed outbound calls are placed.

It tracks the duration of a call and other information such the number dialed. It also creates a new record when a new customer (or potential customer) calls the business. The Cisco Call Manager Express software resides on a Cisco Access Router that sites between the Microsoft CRM server and IP-based telephony system.

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