Tracy Wundrock, director of IS, Electronic Theatre Controls, discusses the challenge of implementing CRM.
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One of ETC's trademark strengths is that we continually strive to provide excellent service and support to our customers. As we grew we wanted this philosophy to remain strong within our organization--a goal that can be difficult when employees are located all over the world. We felt that putting information into the hands of our employees would empower them to act with unity of purpose and to make better decisions. We also sought to improve operational efficiencies by eliminating disparate systems, islands of data, and IT support complexities.
When did you first implement CRM?
We implemented Vantive Company and Contact Management, Support, Field Service, RMA, Quote, and some additional custom functionality in 1999. [Vantive was later acquired by PeopleSoft.]
What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
We felt it was important to find a vendor that would serve as a dependable, trustworthy, long-term business partner. We wanted a product that was robust and flexible enough to support our business processes, and that was aligned with our customer-centric philosophy.
How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
Our executives saw an opportunity to further differentiate ourselves from our competitors in terms of the service we provide to customers. They also felt there were operational efficiencies to be gained by eliminating disparate
systems and islands of data, and [by] extending our system to our business partners. Most users understood and bought in to these concepts with ease. The key was communicating the goals and following up with results.
What were the key challenges or obstacles and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge to implementing CRM was aligning our procedures with the system functionality and ensuring everyone was properly trained. We overcame these challenges in two ways: First, we utilized very small, focused project teams [that] were empowered to make decisions. Second, we viewed training as an ongoing mentoring process, not something we would accomplish with a one-time class. This got us into the system quickly and ensured its effective usage long-term.
What were the main rewards and results of using CRM?
Providing more responsive service and better information to our customers.
Achieving operational efficiencies across the sales, marketing, service, and support areas of the company.
Improving visibility of customer interactions, allowing employees to make educated decisions and continually improve.
Providing more accurate revenue forecasting internally and to our business partners.
Lowering IT costs of supporting disparate business systems.
What are your future plans?
We will have all of our Vantive functionality migrated to PeopleSoft by Q1 of 2004. Afterward we plan to incorporate the portal technologies into our external Web site. We believe this will help us provide more compelling and useful information to our customers.
Don't skimp on training the staff responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining the system.
Dedicating staff to ongoing mentoring is critical to ensuring long-term, effective usage.
Start simple and build on your installation over time.