Epicor rolls out new .NET portal

E-business vendor Epicor Software unveiled a new customer self-service portal Monday that leverages Microsoft's .NET platform to link data obtained via the portal to Epicor's customer support application.

The first release from Epicor's Clientele Portal.NET Suite, the Clientele Self- Service Portal is designed to reduce the number of calls made to the customer support department to enable support staff to focus on more pressing problems. It leverages the Internet to reuse XML Web services from companion product Clientele Customer Support, which provides access to data while processing information according to specific business rules, according to officials from Epicor in Irvine, Calif.

"It's really significantly extensible beyond the core self-service functionality & and can function as a true portal for customers," said Greg Horton, Epicor's director of marketing for the Clientele group. "It will be possible to bring data from disparate system into the same set of displays for the users. We reused the Web service that we built for the customer supp application. We didn't write extra code to pull this information out of Clientele; we just wrote the display code."

Customers can use the Clientele Self-Service Portal to submit support calls as well as check on the status of open calls. In addition, customers can view service agreement information, returned merchandise authorizations, and can register their products directly over the Web.

The portal and customer support application are designed to work in sync, linking the information exchanged through the online self-service module to the full-scale customer support solution, so service representatives access the most recent data on customer accounts and issues. When a customer initiates a new service call through the portal, the information is automatically updated in the CRM system.

Epicor customer Leupold & Stevens, a Beaverton, Ore.-based manufacturer of hunting and shooting equipment, is leveraging the self-service portal to deliver enhanced customer service while reducing support overhead.

The convenience of self-service combined with the stability and scalability of the .NET Platform makes the self-service Portal a powerful CRM tool, said Mike Schumacher, application developer at Leopold.

The Clientele Self-Service Portal runs on the Clientele Portal Server and is available immediately as a companion product to Clientele Customer Support 8.0. Pricing for the portal server and self-service components starts at US$10,000, with enhanced portal servers available.

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