Why CRM? About two years ago we realized we needed a forward-looking view of our customers and potential prospects. The only data we had was from accounts receivable, but that only provided us with transaction history. We had many lead generation techniques with advertising, marketing, and our call center, but no way to manage it. Most of our customer information was scattered throughout the company on about 50 different desktop computers. Our salespeople even had their own mailing lists.
The straw that broke the camel's back for evaluating a CRM system was the departure of two of Altman's top sales people. When they left, they took their Rolodex of contacts with them. Also, we had a complex sales channel--our products are sold to customers via dealers, sales reps, distributors, OEMs, and even house accounts. We had no centralized system to keep all this information organized.
How did the implementation unfold? We were looking for a solution with a quick implementation time. During the spring of 2004 we began evaluating other CRM systems. We didn't have an in-house IT department, nor did we want one. The entire implementation had to be simple and completed entirely in-house. In the end we decided to go with Exact Software's e-Synergy for all those reasons plus, we were already using Exact's ERP solution, Macola Progression, since 1995.
The implementation was great. We started it in May 2004. In less than two weeks we had the entire contact center up and running on e-Synergy. We set the software up right out of the box.
How did you get everybody on board? We phased the rollout, starting with our call center, which handles inbound customer inquiries. We started with one person in the call center and monitored her for a week to see how things went. Once she was off and running, we expanded e-Synergy to the rest of the call center. Next was the sales force, followed by operations, marketing, and finance. It's now a company-wide solution.
This was a cultural change, not just a technological one. Before we would roll out e-Synergy to a new department we would make sure the end-users understood what was in it for them. We would offer them little pieces and say I've got something good for you.
What have been the main rewards? We now have a single customer database to manage leads, customers, prospects, everything. That was nonexistent before e-Synergy. Since the salespeople now have an integrated system with the call center and marketing, they have all the previous contact information with the customer, whether it was a compliment, recommendation, a note from accounts receivable, etc. They can go to the customers and apologize for a problem or congratulate them on a recent order or purchase.
We also use e-Synergy to power the product section of our Web site. That way, when prices or product descriptions are changed in the system, they are automatically reflected on the site. Finally, we use e-Synergy's reporting capabilities to create dashboards that support decision-making. A great example is our top-10 customer complaints. When we found the majority of calls in the morning were customers looking for tracking numbers, we automated the process of sending out those numbers to solve the problem.