Your company has decided to use SAP CRM 7.0 for your customer service and/or sales operations. Now you need to decide whether you should use the Interaction Center (IC) or the Service Professional / Sales Professional roles – or perhaps a combination of IC and non-IC roles. This blog will help you understand the difference between the Interaction Center and other CRM WebClient business roles, and give you some criteria to use when deciding which user interface (UI) option is best suited to your organization’s requirements.
A History Lesson of Interaction Center (IC) WebClient
“Things were so much simpler in the old days.” This is a common refrain of grandparents, farmers, and IT folks alike – with perhaps varying elements of truth, cliché, and sentimentalism mixed in. Certainly we all like to remember the past as being more simple and more straight forward – or at the very least, as presenting fewer options. However, as technology advances and users of technology become more sophisticated and more empowered, new options continue to emerge. SAP CRM is no exception to this rule. In the past, back in the days of CRM 5.0 and earlier releases, the Interaction Center was the only SAP CRM functionality available via the WebClient framework. If SAP CRM customers wanted to take advantage a state-of-the-art, CTI-enabled Web browser interface for their customer service and/or sales processes, the IC WebClient was the only real choice.* Note: Sales and Service functionality was technically also available via the SAP CRM People-Centric User Interface (PC-UI); however the PC-UI framework lacked basic computer telephony integration (CTI) and multi-channel support, access to back-end ERP business processes, or the ability to integrate Web pages and/or Web-based applications – all of which was provided via the IC WebClient.
Thus, in the past it was a fairly easy decision whether to use the Interaction Center. If a company wanted to provide its call center users with a cutting-edge Web browser-based product they chose the IC WebClient (rather than the older SAP GUI based IC WinClient product). Similarly, even companies who weren’t even running actual call centers would sometimes implement the IC WebClient in order to provide their service reps or salespeople with a “Web portal” that could be used to access CRM content, back-end ERP transactions, and external Web-based application (e.g., stand-alone billing or inventory management systems). Some companies even deployed IC WebClient just to give their salespeople and service reps access to email and computer telephony integration (CTI) within SAP CRM. These users didn’t necessarily ever take advantage of many of the “call center” specific features of the IC WebClient such as Interactive Scripting, Broadcast Messaging, Web chat editor, and so on.
Introducing CRM WebClient
Whether by design or accident, the IC WebClient had become the defacto user interface for companies using SAP CRM who needed to provide employees with a Web-based CRM front-end that could integrate with ERP transactions, Web-based applications, and third-party Web applications and CTI systems. However, the world as we know it suddenly changed with the introduction of the CRM WebClient – a powerful new SAP CRM user interface that extended the IC WebClient framework beyond the “call center” to other CRM Online users including Marketing, Sales and Service professionals..
First introduced with CRM 2006s (CRM 5.1 and CRM 5.2), and then later further refined with CRM 2007 (CRM 6.0) and CRM 7.0, the CRM WebClient delivers various different business roles aimed at a variety of CRM users. These business roles fall into two categories: IC WebClient roles and CRM WebClient roles. From a technical perspective this differentiation is controlled in the IMG configuration activity Define Business Roles via the setting Profile Type for which companies may select either IC WebClient Business Role or CRM WebClient Business role (note: there is a third option for CRM on Demand Business Role, but that’s another story). See Figure 1.
The major difference between IC WebClient roles and CRM WebClient roles is that the IC roles use the traditional IC screen layout with each transaction or screen carefully designed so that all the fields and information fit on a single screen with minimal need for any scrollbars. The CRM WebClient roles on the other hand use a “tiled” layout that contains various tiles known as “assignment blocks” with each assignment block stacked on top of the other, usually resulting in the need for a vertical scrollbar.
While vertical scrolling is acceptable non-IC users like Marketing, Sales, or Service professionals, companies generally want to avoid extensive scrolling in a “call center” world where each superfluous mouse-clicks increases the average handling time of the call and hence also adds additional costs (as 60% of call center costs are tied directly to agent salaries). Thus two different UI paradigms are provided with the CRM WebClient – an IC paradigm where all fields fit neatly into a single screen and a non-IC “tiled” layout that relies on vertical scrolling.
Who Should Consider Moving from Interaction Center to CRM WebClient?
Previously, before the introduction of the CRM WebClient, companies using the IC WebClient for their call center operations only had to worry about which IC WebClient profile to select; should they use the default IC Profile or one of the other IC profiles tailored for the helpdesk, marketing, service, B2B sales, B2C sales, etc. However, with the advent of the SAP CRM WebClient, companies using the Interaction Center not only have to choose which “flavor” of the IC to use, but now they can also choose whether to use the Interaction Center at all – or whether to instead use a non-IC specific CRM WebClient business roles such as Sales Professional or Service Professional.
To make the decision even trickier, with CRM 7.0, SAP introduced the ability to integrate a slim, low-profile version of the IC communication toolbar into other business roles like Sales Professional and Service Professional – effectively providing CTI capabilities to business roles outside the Interaction Center Although the slim version of the communication toolbar doesn’t have the full capabilities of the regular communication toolbar (such as scratchpad, alerts, etc.) the slim version fits nicely at the top of the screen of the non-IC business roles without taking up much screen real-estate.
Companies who were previously leveraging the IC WebClient for their non “call center” users will naturally want to at least look at the new CRM Marketing, Sales, and Service Professional roles to evaluate whether it might make sense to migrate some or all of their non “call center” users over from the new CRM WebClient business roles. This is especially the case for companies who are implementing SAP CRM 7.0 with the option to imbed the slim communication in non-IC business roles. Companies who previously deployed IC WebClient for their service reps and salespeople now have the option of moving to the standard Sales Professional or Service Professional business roles available with CRM WebClient. For example, several SAP customers who previously had some users working with IC for processing leads, opportunities, and sales orders have switched those users over to the Marketing Professional and Sales Professional business role. Similarly, companies who had some users mainly conducting account and contact management have switched those user over to the CRM WebClient Service Professional role.
Who Should Stay with Interaction Center (IC) Business Roles?
Any company who is running an call center or contact center should – quite obviously – continue to stay with the Interaction Center. Similarly companies whose employees need access to IC specific functionality (e.g., Web Chat, E-Mail Response Management, Interactive Scripting, Broadcast Messaging, Agent Inbox, etc.,) should stay with the Interaction Center – even if the users are not actual “call center” employees or if the company is not running an actual “call center”. For example, many companies have dedicated customer service or customer support organizations who take telephone calls or emails from customers. Even though these employees don’t sit in a call center and might only take calls periodically or sporadically, they still need access to professional “call center” tools like those provided in the SAP CRM Interaction Center.
While it is possible to integrate almost any non-IC screen or transaction into the Interaction Center, the converse is unfortunately not also true. That is, most IC specific screens and functionality cannot be decoupled from the Interaction Center and therefore are not available outside the Interaction Center in non-IC business roles. This is due to the fact that much of the source code used in the Interaction Center was designed specifically for use inside the Interaction Center and is tightly coupled with the IC Framework. The following is a partial list of a few select IC features and capabilities that can only be accessed from IC specific business roles. This list is by no means complete or exhaustive:
- Agent Inbox
- Interactive Scripting
- Broadcast Messaging
- E-Mail Response Management System (ERMS)
- Intent-Driven Interaction (IDI)
- Web chat Editor
- Knowledge Search
- Solution Auto-Suggest
- Scratch Pad
- Agent Workmode