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Saab Cars USA rolled out its enterprisewide CRM solution and strategy, dubbed TouchPoint, beginning in January 2002. Saab is using TouchPoint to improve customer service efforts, as well as to support customers and dealers. The initiative focuses on the customer interaction center, marketing, lead management, and data quality.
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Saab car owners have a reputation for being some of the most loyal in the industry. Why, then, would executives at Saab Cars USA feel the need to create a 360-degree view of customers and prospects? Two words: sales and service. Saab Cars USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Saab Automobile AB (owned by General Motors), imports and distributes Saab automobiles. Its approximately 220 U.S. dealers sold about 38,000 new cars in 2002; the goal is to sell more than 45,000 cars in 2003. "Our CRM initiatives will play a big role in helping us get there," says Robert Henry, manager, eCommerce and CRM solutions of Saab Cars USA, in Norcross, GA. Saab Cars USA rolled out its enterprisewide CRM solution and strategy, dubbed TouchPoint, beginning in January 2002. Saab is using TouchPoint to improve customer service efforts, as well as to support customers and dealers. The initiative focuses on the customer interaction center, marketing, lead management, and data quality. Prior to TouchPoint Saab Cars USA had about five systems in place, but they weren't integrated. "One thing we wanted to do was have a consolidated view of existing customers. We didn't have a system or solution in place that tracked our customers," Henry says. "We had to go outside to purchase our own customer names." Creating a 360-degree view of its customers would allow Saab to use more sophisticated, multistage marketing campaigns, to improve the efficiency and functionality of the call center, and to share data across the organization. "The homegrown system we had worked fairly well for what we needed it to do, but wasn't enterprisewide," Henry says. "Data stayed in there and couldn't be used in other parts of the organization." First Gear: Buy-In Many CRM project leaders struggle to convince upper management of the value of CRM, but Henry and then--Director of CRM Dan David (now vice president of parts and service; currently Patrik Riese is director of CRM) had no problem convincing top brass to buy in. The trick was convincing them to go with Siebel to serve a company that has a staff of only 143. "Executive buy-in is critical, especially for solutions of this magnitude. Siebel isn't cheap and integration costs aren't either," Henry says. "It's a big commitment to do enterprise CRM--and a big expense."
Henry and David put together a comprehensive business case and delivered presentations to then-President Dan Chasins (Debra Kelly-Ennis, from GM's Oldsmobile division, is now president), CFO Ken Adams, and Vice President of Marketing Hans Krondahl. Fortunately, parent company GM had standardized on Siebel 6.3, "which helped our argument," Henry says. "Plus, the implementation was part of a global CRM initiative." One of the key selling points was the marketing initiative, for two reasons: 1) Saab had no way to track leads faxed to its dealers; 2) it had to buy its own customer names from Polk to conduct marketing campaigns. Using Siebel to define and run direct marketing activities in-house would save money, even though Saab would still purchase some data from Polk. "Marketing is where significant ROI comes in," Henry says. Once the executives were on board it was time to get the users--contact center agents and dealers--to buy in, too. Saab used both software and instructor-led training for its agents (who are actually employed by EDS), and over a two-month period before the launch sent out about five newsletters that described the new solution, discussed the differences between it and the previous system, and explained the more important role agents would be playing by being at the core of the customer database. "The system was significantly more robust than what they had been using. You have to know what you're doing or you can get lost," Henry says. "But right from the beginning everything went surprisingly smooth." Call center manager Dick Rommich agrees. "The agents have adapted extremely well to the Siebel system," he says. "And we have several people who have gone above and beyond to identify issues and offer solutions to various challenges in the system." The dealers, however, were a different story. Saab piloted with 40 dealers in January through July 2002, but waited for a full rollout, because instructor-led training wasn't necessary and the e-learning course the CRM project team put together for the dealers wasn't ready until July. By October 90 percent of the dealers had completed the training and had started receiving leads through TouchPoint. Although the training went smoothly, the uptake wasn't immediate. "When we went live in July we did a campaign to win a PDA: If you signed up, in August we would distribute leads; the first ten to use the system would win a PDA. We got about eighty-five dealers," Henry says. So the CRM team ran another campaign. The company had received about 40,000 leads for the new 9-3 sports sedan. "We said, 'This is how we'll be distributing the new leads,'" Henry says. Saab also offered a $50 American Express gift card to any dealer who completed the training and then received a password to the system. Those who did were entered into a raffle for two round-trip plane tickets. All but 20 small dealers signed on. Second Gear: Ramping Up the Contact Center The cornerstone of TouchPoint is Saab Cars USA's customer interaction center (CIC). The first phase of the TouchPoint began in January 2002 with the CIC, customer service, lead management, and dealer component of the solution. Saab implemented Siebel eAutomotive 6.3 in its CIC, and gave each of its dealers Siebel eDealer for lead management. "The central application for dealing with customers is the call center application. That is the most up-to-date customer data. So it was the best place to start," Henry says. "For marketing to work properly you need data quality. That's a huge factor." Saab previously had a customer assistance center and an outsourced lead generation center. "With Siebel we were able to bring this in-house in the CIC. So agents are cross-trained and are part of Saab," Henry says. "The lead generation partners were answering phones for thirty or forty other vendors, so they didn't have much brand understanding. Now that it's in-house, people are more excited about the brand." Saab Cars USA has about 45 employees in the CIC: five agents for lead management, about 30 for service--the rest are managers. Not surprisingly, customer satisfaction is important to Saab. And TouchPoint is already generating results in that area. "We've seen customer satisfaction ratings going up already, from 69 percent to 75 percent," Henry says. "Siebel is only one part of why that's gone up. We have some excellent employees and managers." Call monitoring software from Witness Systems that Saab began using in January "has had as much influence on the success of our center as Siebel has," Henry says. "Agents love it. They were nervous at first, but are getting used to it. Before, managers would use a tape recorder to listen in on calls. It's a significant addition to our center." Although Witness itself was "pretty much a turnkey solution," Saab had to make adjustments to its Avaya switch at a significant cost, in the tens of thousands, Henry says. The cost was worth the return. Managers can now monitor such things as voice and movement around the system. "Through listening and watching, managers could tell how well agents are using the Siebel system," he says. "It's been tremendous." Saab also wants to improve communication with its customers, so it uses Siebel's email management system. Email comes into Siebel, creates a contact record, and agents can respond thru Siebel. Saab previously used KANA, which Henry says was excellent. "Our main reason for moving to Siebel was to have all customer contacts in one location," he says. "It was just one part of collecting all this information." As far as communicating with dealers, any lead generation activities go through Siebel. Even if dealers are not on eDealer, they will receive an email about any lead. All leads go to the fulfillment center, and Saab tracks and uses that information for marketing. Once Saab sends the leads electronically, the goal is to have the dealers update the system with follow-up information. "We'd like to know when they make the initial contact and if a test drive was taken, because if they test drive they're more likely to buy--then the final disposition: Did they buy the car? If not, why not?" Henry says. The response from dealers so far is not as high as the marketing team would like it to be, so Saab is getting its field sales force more involved. "The dealers are not updating the system enough, so we're working diligently on getting them to." TouchPoint generates bimonthly reports that list dealers, leads, and follow-up rates. District managers then use that information to discuss the status of leads with dealers in their territories. Part of the problem was a miscommunication about the types of leads dealers were receiving. "Back in October we were sending out leads, but they were not all hot leads," Henry says. "We communicated this to the dealers, but not well enough. We hoped the dealers would treat [these somewhat interested customers] differently. But the dealers approached them in more of a hard sell approach, which pissed off customers. We've worked since then to improve the quality of the leads. It adds to the costs, but by leveraging the lead management tool we call people to verify their interest, then pass on to dealers only leads that would be valuable in their eyes." According to Henry, the ability to qualify leads has been another advantage of pulling the lead management team in-house. The team also has the time to call customers and dealers to follow up on leads. "Maximizing their time is a cost savings for us," Henry says. Third Gear: It's All About The Data In May 2002 Saab Cars USA implemented Firstlogic ACE data quality software. "For our first phase back in January, we implemented the Siebel connector for Firstlogic. It checks, validates, and standardizes data as is comes in, in real time." This is important, Henry says, because as Saab increases the number of lead sources and data integration points, it needs to eliminate duplicates at the point of entry. Cost was a significant factor in choosing Firstlogic, Henry says. "For our money it's doing what we need it to do. We can go in and weigh the different values on different fields, for example, how important is last name, zip code, etc.? Depending on the weight of each is the result," he says. "The ability to match data is very complex. We have a good solution in place." Using Firstlogic Saab was able to reduce its database size by 50,000 records. The company currently has 300,000 customer records in its database, with another 500,000 prospect names contained in the system. The next phase was implementing Siebel Marketing. Saab's marketing team uses the consolidated data from Firstlogic in conjunction with the Siebel campaign management software to automate and run highly targeted, multistage marketing campaigns. One basic program that Saab has put in place is an outbound telemarketing campaign to new owners to verify their contact information and ask about their satisfaction with their car. Agents update the customer's record with information from the call. Saab now also has a long term--lease loyalty campaign in place. Depending on such selection criteria as whether customers are 12, nine, six, or three months away from the end of their lease, the system creates a mail file that sends information to fulfillment, which sends the appropriate materials to each customer. The system also creates a campaign record so agents can see which customers were contacted, what the contact was, and if the customer responded (e.g., redeemed a certificate or called in). Cruising Speed It's too early in the initiative to give specific ROI numbers, Henry says. But Saab Cars USA has seen its share of positive results so far. "The biggest impact has been to consolidate all our customer and prospect data into one place where it is accessible to multiple parts of the organization, and all the benefits that brings," says Director of CRM Patrik Riese. It's the first time in Saab's history that it has had a consolidated database. According to Henry, there are still some data quality issues, but without an employee dedicated to data quality, this is not unexpected. "I don't know if you ever have clean data, but it's more pronounced now, because we have the marketing tools in place," he says. Saab expects to see cost savings, especially in marketing. "We will use our data to do better and more effective targeted marketing to maintain and improve our customer relationships," Riese says. "Learning from campaigns to see if what you're doing is adding value or just adding cost will be a great benefit," Henry adds. "That's where you see the improved efficiency and costs savings." Sending leads electronically is one significant improvement. "Once we receive feedback consistently, that will help us make the proper marketing decisions," Henry says. "Dealers are on the frontlines. If they give us feedback we could refine campaigns to bring in better-qualified and meaningful prospects." The CIC is benefiting, too. In time Saab will be able to reduce head count with the efficiency of the Siebel system. Although Saab doesn't have specific efficiency improvement numbers, as a result of using Witness "soft ROI is significant," Henry says. Even the realization of being recorded has affected the behavior of the agents. Customer satisfaction ratings have increased from 69 percent to 75 percent, and Saab expects that this will translate into increased sales. "That our customer satisfaction rating is high speaks well of our [CIC] managers, that they train and manage agents well." And it speaks well of the entire CRM project team that Saab hit its deadlines and budget. "We did factor in that through improved loyalty we would increase sales," Henry says. "We'll see those result after we see the learning from marketing. That will come in time as we improve." Saab Cars USA's CRM initiative came in on time and under budget. And that was just the beginning. Saab has also:
  • Created a 360-degree view of customers, because all customer data is in one, centralized location
  • Increased customer satisfaction ratings from 69 percent to 75 percent
  • Deleted 50,000 duplicate customer records
  • Reduced costs significantly, because it no longer has to buy its own customer names
  • Upgraded from faxing leads to sending them via email
  • Improved in-house CIC agents' efficiency and enthusiasm; they are more excited about the brand than outsourced agents were Contact Editor Ginger Conlon at gconlon@destinationCRM.com
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