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April - 2009 - issue > Company Spotlight
Talisma Enhancing Customer Relationships
Jaya Smitha Menon
Sunday, April 5, 2009
“The market is just right to create opportunities to innovate and try out new things,” says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, Managing Director, Talisma (Asia Pacific). It is critical for organizations to focus extra hard on retaining their existing customers by continuously adding value to them. As companies realize that there is no better competitive advantage than customer loyalty, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) becomes important. Customer care is directly linked to the reputation and future prospects of any business. CRM is the name of the game today with the global market poised to be $2-3 billion by 2010. Of this, the Indian market accounts for $200-300 million, and Talisma, with its comprehensive suite of CRM products and solutions is focused on making use of this opportunity and grabbing a juicy share of this growing market.

Talisma was incorporated in the year 2000. Using its own experience in customer service to understand the pain areas of customers, Talisma conceptualized an enterprise level CRM solution. Today, Talisma is a wholly owned subsidiary of Campus Management Corp. With development activities focused out of India, Talisma uses centers in the U.S. and India to serve a myriad of industries including ITeS-BPO, telecommunications, distribution, education, BFSI, government, healthcare, technology, hospitality, manufacturing, media, retail, service, transportation, and utilities.

Product Offering and Technology
CRM solutions and tools help companies gain and retain clients through the implementation of e-business technologies for increasing business revenues. Though the market is filled with a slew of products that allows organizations to manage customer interactions, the challenge lies in managing customer relationships and identifying the return on investment (RoI). To calculate RoI, enterprises need to build organizational intelligence, customer intelligence, and supplier intelligence that in turn provides a holistic 360-degree view of customers, suppliers, and organizations. It is with this concept in mind that Talisma has built its CRM suite.

Talisma provides true Customer Lifecycle Management across sales, service, and marketing functions, and enables organizations to quickly, effectively, and accurately communicate with customers at any time. Organizations have the means to accelerate and sustain growth by creating personalized experiences. Talisma CRM supports contact management and tracks customer activities, while enforcing business strategy with technology. It not only performs consistently by sharing a unified view of the customer, but also helps personalizing new and ongoing customer interactions to cost-effectively acquire, nurture, and retain good customers

The company also provides vertical solutions that have been built after understanding the requirements of that specific industry vertical. This ensures that in addition to understanding the business model of the relevant vertical, Talisma’s CRM capabilities can be further leveraged to help enhance customer satisfaction through self-service, assisted service, and proactive service offerings. Customers can choose the communication channel they prefer whether it is modern channels (like Portal, Self-Service, SMS, or Chat), or traditional channels (like Email, Phone, Face-to-face interactions, Letters, etc.). Talisma allows flexible deployment models allowing customers to choose between hosted (or SaaS) and onsite deployments.

However, to build such a unified framework needs a sturdy platform and a solid architecture, which can provide scalability, reliability and flexibility. The core Talisma CRM platform, built on Microsoft technologies, ensures that the CRM product is scalable as per the client’s requirements. Whether the client has five agents or 5000, the product can easily be scaled as required. The company has also built a custom oriented framework, which helps the product to be easily configured into defined business verticals with minimal customization. From a reliability stand point as well, the product is built robustly to ensure least mean time to failures. This is especially important to a SaaS customer because his business will be severely affected in case of unavoidable downtimes. As a company policy, Talisma ensures a solution that is easily available, affordable, and can be easily integrated with existing applications.

According to Mruthyunjayappa this focus on building a robust core technology has helped garner around 1500 customers across the world. In India alone this includes 14 top mutual fund companies, 11 top Indian wealth management companies, 8 top Indian banks, and other top companies in insurance, retail, entertainment, engineering, BPO, travel, FMCG, and so on. "We have been using Talisma CRM system integrated with the knowledgebase for the past two years in Sutherland for various processes in the next generation projects. After having evaluated multiple products in the market, we felt Talisma was the best fit for our requirements. Talisma's solutions are extremely user-friendly, easily configurable and cost effective. The productivity and efficiency of my team has tremendously increased using Talisma. We feel proud to have chosen such an invaluable tool for our operations. Not to forget the approachability of the resources within Talisma. Anyone within Talisma can be reached 24/7. The resources are highly skilled and more pro-active to a situation," says Sandeep Vaid - Director, Sutherland Global Services

Fostering Innovation & Productive Work Culture
Innovation is the lifeblood of any product company and Talisma is no exception. In its endeavor to continuously innovate, the company has filed for five patents and a dozen more are ready for filing. The key to innovation lies in identifying market needs and figuring out a solution to address it, says Mruthyunjayappa. At Talisma, it has always been emphasized that all teams especially technology and the marketing teams work hand in hand to identifying these needs.

Recently, the team developed a new solution, which it calls ‘Citizen Relationship Management’. The idea behind this was derived by observing the rift in the communication between the government and citizens. The solution that is mainly based on the writs of ‘Right to Information’, allows the government to manage queries, grievance, and complaints from the public. When a citizen files a query regarding any information from the government, a time tracking tool gets activated. As the time to response gets delayed the priority of the query rises and moves up the value chain to higher authorities. The solution ensures that the government’s response to the public is quick and efficient. At the citizen’s end a citizen portal allows public to check on the status of the query and also details of the government officer who is tending to it. “The idea is to provide a strong channel of communication between the government and public and try to solve any problem at the grass root level,” explains Raj.

This freedom to innovate and the pride of the “Made in India” stamp has also set the foundation for the happy work culture within the company. With over 250 people at the India center, the management has placed various best practices to encourage young talent. One such practice is filing the patent in the name of the person who developed a particular concept and bestowing rewards on him. This encourages the engineers to work harder and drives a nurturing environment.

Road Ahead
Over the years, the CRM market has matured especially in India and opened up new windows of opportunity in many sectors. Once seen as a necessity in customer driven businesses, public service sectors such as education and hospitals have now opened their arms and are embracing CRM to enhance their visibility among the public. While educational institutes are actively engaging CRM for student acquisition, student retention and alumni management; hospitals are looking at reaching out to the patients and make them regular customers by offering a varied range of services such as general health checkups, dental services, and more. The key is to identify a prospective, engage him and then turn him into long-term customers. To make the most of the widening market, the company has already developed a Student Information System, which is an ERP solution that caters to the needs of the education vertical. Currently deployed in the U.S., it will hit the Indian markets soon.

With its constant effort to lead and set trends in the CRM space, Talisma is set on the journey of tremendous growth in the coming years. Currently servicing over 105 active customers only in India from various verticals that include majors like Maruti, L&T, HDFC, Metlife, Fidelity, Manipal, IndusInd Bank, Hindustan Unilever, and Ma Foi; Talisma recently landed a huge project with a Dubai based company Amaal, one of the largest driving schools in the Middle East and banking major Axis, which is currently undergoing a major expansion. The company has been growing by 24 percent year on year and has more than doubled its revenue and strength since the last year. It is now in the process of opening a second development center in Bangalore that would house the R&D activities in the space of ERP.

Talisma has more than doubled in size and revenue this past year and looks to keep the momentum going with its innovation based approach.

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