Interface Software Expands Its CRM Functionality

Event Summary

Early this year, TEC reviewed InterAction CRM software from Interface Software for its data quality features, which play an important role in customer retention. While our previous review indicated a lack of new CRM features, Interface Software is now striking back with additional modules to meet specific professional service automation (PSA) vertical needs.

InterAction 5 was developed to provide additional functionality to further enhance collaborative project engagement that links project stake holders to the work being performed. Other collaborative and case management issues that law firms use to leverage contacts and expertise around the case and the customer, and opportunities for management to predict future revenues are also notable enhancements. InterAction 5 encompasses the market requirements for broader customer resource management (CRM) and social networking functionality. As such the software fits well with the overall culture and workflow practices of PSA and law firms. Professionals can keep their favorite Outlook Interface Software running while taking advantage of extra CRM functionality of InterAction 5.

InterAction CRM helps professionals not only to centralize their data into a single data repository to create better relationship building, but it also helps to improve the revenue generation capabilities of professionals. Interface Software's new add-on modules were released early in the second quarter of 2004 and are sold separately.

Product Definition and Market Impact

The biggest obstacle using CRM in a professional services work environment, like that of law firms, is to expect dramatic process change in a professional, hectic workflow. The majority of law firms, however, need to consolidate their client's data and to establish a better control over future incomes. This is exactly where InterAction CRM has been focusing for more than a decade. InterAction 5 provides professionals a 360-degree view of their client's contacts, states of relationship, related matters, and engagements.

InterAction Engagements is designed to help professionals from financial and consulting management services to build a consensus around an engagement where people, expertise, companies, and relationships are collected and matched to their requirements. Past experiences can also be accessible for future reference through a searchable knowledgebase. Users can either perform engagement type searches or access an advanced search template with more search granularity. The Engagements module follows the same path as Interface Software's existing CRM application emphasizing relationship intelligence. As such, the module helps manage an engagement project by capturing all the contacts associated with the engagement and their roles.

InterAction Matters has been specially designed for law firms. Its basic functionality is very similar to the one for InterAction Engagements which relates people, expertise, and companies. The principal difference lays in the terminologies used around matters, witnesses, judges, and opposing counsel.

Both modules have included an e-mail distribution list manager that streamlines the project communications task and reduces the risk of errors and miscommunications.

InterAction Opportunities provides an expected feature from any CRM specifically a sales force automation tool. Opportunities main objective is to help professionals track and manage prospects, manage referrals, investment analysts, acquisition candidates and competition, as well as to predict future revenues. The incumbent professional or his associates may have access to individual opportunity details and add necessary actions. Like other opportunity managers, InterAction 5 offers a graphical representation of the engagement funnel combined to a multistage sales approach.

Interface Software combines CRM and social networking under the same application. The end user may navigate between its traditional Outlook screen and InterAction web-screen with ease. Integration is a success since all contact information is synchronized between both systems.

Strategy and User Recommendations

Interface Software has positioned its solution for a niche industry largely known as traditionalist and conservative. However in today's competitive environment, even lawyers must perform economically and be customer-centric. InterAction is designed to help professionals to move beyond traditional social networking and to structure and streamline their sales and marketing processes. The main objective of many CRM applications is to enable end users to act promptly on business opportunities by providing them with valuable historical information about the customer. InterAction goes beyond a traditional horizontal CRM package. Interface Software delivers a system corresponding to the professional's workflow thus minimizing the need for customization. The advantage of a vertical application like InterAction 5 could be seen in a lower cost of ownership driven from a lower implementation and customization and a higher rate of adoption. Relationships, privacy, information sharing, and referrals are some of the requirements of professional service firms. InterAction delivers a system that encompasses those requirements. With the new add-on modules, InterAction reinforces its commitment to a broader CRM functionality yet remains close to its customer's work environment.

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