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EDS turns up volume on customer service

The professional services giant unveils a suite of services aimed at the growing CRM market to help its clients with customer relationship strategy and planning.

    Professional services giant Electronic Data Systems is making customer service a top priority for its clients.

    The Plano, Texas-based company today unveiled a suite of services aimed at the growing customer relationship management (CRM) software market. CRM software automates and manages a company's sales force, marketing efforts and customer service needs.

    As part of the suite, which offers businesses help with CRM software implementations and the development of customer relationship strategy and planning, EDS trumpeted a list of new partners that develop CRM software. The partners include market leader Siebel Systems, ServiceWare Technologies, Lucent Technologies spin-off Avaya, Servicesoft, McHugh, NCR and Retek, the company said today.

    The suite of services will also help clients with customer management, such as tracking and analysis of individual customer behavior, fulfillment and distribution services, payment/billing processes and managing direct and immediate communications channels such as email and customer inquiries.

    Through its management consulting subsidiary, A.T. Kearney, EDS will also help businesses with customer assessments and developing a CRM strategy to fit their business model.

    The market for CRM software is on a serious growth path. Many research outfits have set huge sales forecasts for CRM, which is being driven by the growing importance for stellar customer service among companies, especially for young online businesses that need to successfully manage several forms of customer interaction to sustain repeat visits.

    Though EDS has provided CRM services for years, this is the first time the company has packaged a complete suite of consulting, integration and software implementation dedicated to CRM.

    A number of technology providers, including software behemoths Oracle and SAP, and networking companies Cisco Systems and Lucent, have also made efforts to capitalize on the market by either sealing partnerships with CRM software makers or developing products in-house.

    Other services giants including EDS rivals IBM Global Services, Computer Sciences and Ernst & Young continue to make strides in the lucrative market.

    IBM, for one, has linked arms with several CRM software companies including Siebel and upstart Kana Communications to gain an early footing in the field. Under the agreements, the companies will integrate their software with IBM's hardware, middleware and services and jointly market and sell the combined products.