Getting critical information in the hands of customers and reps faster is a key contributor to our sales growth.
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Master Lock has a broad base of customers worldwide, including schools, hardware stores, home centers, discounters, and industrial distributors. In addition, a significant piece of our business is made-to-order, which brings with it added complexities and drop-shipment demands. To continue growing and satisfying the increasing customer demands for higher speed and quality of information, we've made an investment in CRM.
When did you first implement CRM?
We launched our first CRM application in May 2001, an order-tracking tool built on Oracle's Portal product. After that we implemented Oracle's iStore, to allow customers to request product information and buy products online.
What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
We needed the power to handle a high volume of transactions effectively, and the flexibility to customize to meet the unique needs of our broad customer base. We also required a fully integrated product that would utilize our existing investment in data maintenance for customers, items, pricing, and promotions.
What were the key challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
We found a high percentage of our customers still using dial-up services, and some that had not yet decided to offer Web access to their employees. Training and basic "browser comfort levels" were also drags on early adoption.
Today we're seeing a lot of these barriers melt away, as broadband is becoming more common in businesses and people are much more comfortable going online to use such tools.
How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
We formed a senior strategy team [with] Jim Johnson, director, information services; Marti Gahlman, director, e-solutions; and Mark Gams, director, logistics. This team defined an e-business strategy aligned with our overall business and systems plan.
Before building and implementing any of our current CRM applications, we conducted a thorough analysis of the processes that were supporting our customers. That allowed us to quantify the manual costs of those activities and build the case with the executive team for ROI. From the user perspective, we've had to prove the value of these tools--which meant they had to deliver information that was just as accurate--through a simple interface, in a timelier manner.
What were the main rewards and results of using CRM?
The easiest thing to quantify has been the hard cost savings achieved through the 11 percent reduction of in-bound calls to customer service. Cost avoidance is also a hard benefit: We've been able to grow our business without adding additional resources into our call center. Simple inquiries about product information, keying options, order status, and price quotes are steadily migrating to the online applications. In the category of soft results, I'd list sales growth and the EZTDB factor--making it Easier To Do Business with Master Lock. Getting critical information in the hands of customers and reps faster is a key contributor to our sales growth.
What are your next steps?
We will be adopting UCCnet standards using Oracle's new Advanced Product Catalog as the data repository for all item attributes. The process of organizing all of these disparate data elements will pay huge dividends, beyond just compliance with customer needs. It will streamline our product development process and offer huge process improvements throughout sales, marketing, and product engineering. We also are assessing customer self-service functions for accounts receivable and assisted selling using a product configurator.
Don't get too far ahead of your customers in introducing CRM technologies--changing human behavior is tough, and takes time. Recognize that customers, staff, and your sales organization may be struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change. New applications are best served up in small, measured doses, rather than asking these [constituents] to drink the whole bottle at once.
Don't proceed with any new application unless you have strong support at the highest levels.
Measure the results and be sure that everyone understands the benefits, as they are sometimes deeply imbedded in existing processes.