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The 2003 CRM Elite
*Winners were selected from among companies that either nominated themselves or were nominated by their vendors.
For the rest of the September 2003 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Enterprise Suite CRM: Canada Post

With nearly $4 billion in revenues to grow from and about 10 million square kilometers to cover, Canada Post can't rest on past success. Accordingly, Cal Hart, vice president of product management and business transformation, takes his company's Can$100 million business process reinvention very seriously. "Don't confuse us with the U.S. Postal Service--we have been profitable every year [since 1982]," he says. To keep the trend rolling, Hart and Canada Post decided on a radical realignment based on process rather than function, and rebuilt the lion's share of technical operations around SAP software.

"Five years ago a lot of the things we're doing [now] weren't even on the drawing board," Hart says. The company's five contact centers had no integration or Internet connectivity. First-call resolution was a dismal 8 percent. By vastly improving customer self-service Web capabilities and putting up-to-the-minute tracking information for individual mail containers at an agent's fingertips, first-call resolution has skyrocketed to 86 percent.

The improved visibility into the state of the mail has spillover benefits not only for Canada Post, but also for its business customers' satisfaction. For example, Canada Post's business customer can realize better execution of marketing campaigns designed to follow a mailing with a same-day telesales call. "Before, the best we could tell you [regarding advertising mail] was that we would deliver in the next ten to twelve days," Hart says. "Now we can tell you we will be delivering the mail in the next six hours."

In the past contracts with its more than 140,000 major business customers were handled with little more than a handshake. Now, Canada Post uses complete contract performance metrics and a much more rigid method of ensuring all business customers are on standard service terms, a change that has reduced the number of noncompliant contracts to just a few dozen.

The sales process itself has been seriously overhauled, with most in-person sales calls eliminated in favor of a larger telesales effort, which Hart says reduced the cost of a sales interaction more than 95 percent, and also allowed a 20 percent staff reduction while still growing business.

The gains in organization and efficiency made it possible for Canada Post to roll out a special fuel surcharge related to oil price changes in one week, instead of the six months it took in the early 1990s. All told, Canada Post credits the mySAP CRM system with a Can$25 million return by improving the order-to-cash process, and looks to gain Can$134 million per year in total benefits from the reorganization. But Hart will never rest. "There's not a piece of [our] business not under some form of threat," he says, "whether it's electronic substitution, a kid with running shoes, or UPS and FedEx."

Canada Post Gets Results

  • 1,000 percent improvement in first-call resolution
  • 95 percent reduction in sales costs
  • Greater precision (from days to hours) in mail delivery-time estimates
  • Reduced from months to days the time it takes to implement rate changes and fees

    Mid-market Suite CRM: ACME Truck Line

    Mike Coatney, president of ACME Truck Line, admits up front that his business is not rocket science. "Trucking is a pretty simple concept," he says. What isn't so simple are the relationships between his sales staff, the more than 1,300 independently owned trucks in the ACME fleet, and the multiple work sites for 6,000-plus trucking customers transporting everything from a palette load to a machine part for a massive electrical generator.

    Coatney wanted his sales staff to be able to share information and handle leads more efficiently than voicemail and a prayer, so he commissioned ACCPAC's professional services group to build a Web-based CRM solution that could provide complete activity tracking and lead sharing (through an accessible-anywhere browser interface), while integrating with the mainframe back end that handles the truck dispatches, accounting, billing, and collections.

    ACCPAC's experience with AS/400 back-end integration knocked the customization and configuration portion of the project down to under a month, and ACME's new CRM system went live in April 2002. To keep each salesperson close to the information for his 200 assigned customers, ACME invested in Audiovox Thera wireless PDAs, which provide access to the complete ACCPAC application anywhere cellular data service is available.

    Aside from improvements in customer awareness and planning, the biggest change for ACME has been the newfound ability to turn first-time customers into long-term relationships. Companies often call trucking companies like ACME when an emergency arises and they need goods moved from point A to point B promptly, and either do not have a regular carrier or can't get service from their preferred provider in time. In the past ACME had no formal process for following up on these highly qualified leads. "Those were leads falling through the cracks," Coatney says. "We know they need us, because they have already called us." Now, new customers automatically generate a follow-up action for the appropriate regional sales representative, and ACME has captured repeat business from more than a quarter of them as a result. Overall the ACCPAC system has quadrupled the number of leads ACME sales personnel have at their disposal every month.

    ACME spent less than $200,000 for software and installation, and invested what Coatney considers a modest amount in the two dozen PDAs and associated monthly wireless service. He credits the improvements in process and communication with revitalizing his sales operation. "We've done a lot of software implementations in the past five years--workflow, document imaging, a couple of new things for AS/400--and this is the best thing we've done," he says. "This front office is going to make us a better company."

    ACME Truck Line Gets Results

  • Integrated dispatch and billing information with sales information
  • Created a conversion process that has captured repeat business from more than 25 percent of new customers
  • Quadrupled lead generation

    Customer Service: MyFamily.com

    As the number of subscribers to MyFamily.com climbed into the hundreds of thousands, managing costs while meeting customer expectations became a serious challenge for the company. Jared Richards, director of call center operations, had already taken some steps to control costs for its support operation, including ending telephone support for non--sales related matters. But as contact volume from MyFamily.com and its network of related family- and genealogy-oriented sites continued to rise, more substantial steps became necessary. With anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 email inquiries per day, service levels were falling below the stated goal of a 24-hour turnaround.

    "We were at fifteen [full-time equivalents], and if we had the same [contact] rates, within a few months we had a plan to get that group up to twenty-four FTEs," Richards says. "Still, we were not answering emails within twenty-four hours--it was more like forty-eight--and therefore customer satisfaction was decreasing." Even 300 preformatted responses to common questions weren't enough to speed answers to customers.

    Richards wanted a way to answer more customer questions before they reached the inbox queue. So he turned to RightNow Technologies to help deploy a better self-service interface for common inquiries, launching a project in February 2002. It took less than a week to migrate the existing form replies and design a front end that made it easier for customers to get a rapid response to a query. Once customers were automatically shown answers to their questions based on a keyword search, the drop off in email entering the queue was considerable, falling two thirds in the first month. That let Richards decrease the size of the support staff dramatically, reallocating 10 agents to the large and profitable outbound sales and inbound sales/saves portions of the MyFamily.com contact center.

    "Instead of taking forty-eight hours to respond to email, the average email is now responded to in less than twelve hours," even though the support group only operates 66 hours per week, Richards says. In reducing rather than growing the size of the support operation, Richards estimates a more than 250 percent return on the investment in RightNow.

    To keep pace with the ongoing growth in the user base, Richards has slowly added agents to the support group, which now stands at seven people. With RightNow's help, they provide rapid support to a customer population that now tops one million paid subscribers. Meanwhile, the support group continues to reevaluate keyword matches on a daily basis, and now has more than 400 answers in the RightNow database. "Instead of growing at a rapid rate, we only have to add a rep every three to four months," Richards says. "If we had kept up the original plan, we would be at well over thirty reps."

    MyFamily.com Gets Results

  • Reduced email response times more than 400 percent, to fewer than 12 hours
  • Reduced the number of full-time equivalents, and avoided 15-plus new hires
  • Reallocated 10 agents to the profitable sales operation
  • Garnered a more than 250 percent return on investment


    SFA: Verifications Inc.

    When Brad Carlson became vice president of sales for Verifications Inc. last year, one of his first steps was to convert his staff from using Outlook, ACT!, and Excel to one all-inclusive CRM solution: Salesnet. Verifications provides employment screening for more than 2,000 clients, including 40 of the Fortune 100 companies. To stay ahead of its competition the company responds to clients within one hour. It needs a robust CRM program that can handle everything from remote synchronization to sales forecasting. "Salesnet was up and running after a week," Carlson says. "It's so easy to run that we don't even need our IT department to maintain it."

    Any lead that comes into the office is automatically populated into Salesnet and emailed to the appropriate person's inbox, where it is handled within the hour. Once the scope of the project is determined, the outside or inside sales team becomes involved. In addition, Verifications uses Salesnet for internal communications, to send mass emails, and to easily access all corporate forms.

    Carlson can see at a glance every deal that's in progress, what stage it's at, and the probability of closing those sales. Because of the simplified process the sales team can manage four times as many deals as it could before Salesnet. "My staff used to juggle between fifty and sixty deals," Carlson says. "Now they juggle 200 plus. Some can manage 300 active deals. It's remarkable."

    This improved deal management has led to a revenue increase of 60 percent, and Carlson says the company is well on track to more than double last year's business.

    Now that his team has honed its skills, Carlson is able to branch out in new directions and further drive sales by customizing the company's offerings. "We added a marketing alliance process. Now if a client has [additional] needs, we address it in Salesnet, so the appropriate people know what's happening."

    In all, he is pleased with how easy the sales process has become, and that everyone can remain accountable at all times. "[CRM] was a great investment that's worked out excessively well," Carlson says.

    Verifications Gets Results

  • Reduced IT costs, because IT no longer needs to help the sales staff synchronize its ACT! databases, and does not have to dedicate any staff to maintain Salesnet
  • Realized a revenue increase of 60 percent since deploying Salesnet in July 2002
  • Increased the number of deals salespeople can handle by four times
  • Standardized all forms, communication pieces, and customer information

    Channel Management/PRM:UPMC Health Plan

    The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan had no real sales process in place when it started looking for something to replace its homegrown Access database, according to Joe Agazzio, manager of commercial and Medicare sales for UPMC, which works with a broker network to identify and sell health benefits products to employers. So the company hired a consultant to help create a plan to reduce overall costs while increasing sales effectiveness and revenue. The plan included implementing CRM software. "We chose Onyx, because we felt the company was concerned about its clients," Agazzio says.

    UPMC started its PRM initiative by building a database and tracking the sales cycle from prospect to sale or refusal. Next, UPMC implemented the Onyx Broker Portal solution, so its brokers can choose plan types, manage subbrokers, and enroll members quickly and easily. Brokers get instant rate quotes instead of having to wait the three or four days that it used to take. Because they can order enrollment kits online, the brokerage houses no longer need to store UPMC material; even better, their clients always get up-to-date information.

    This efficiency has paid off. The group enrollment form (GEF) that used to take 20 minutes is done automatically. Mistakes and discrepancies are brought to light right away, saving time and trouble. "In July 800 groups became effective," Agazzio says. "We would've had to fill out 800 GEFs. Typically there'd be mistakes on about half of them, so this is a huge savings."

    In October 2001 UPMC had 600 members in its Medicare plan; today there are 14,000. Agazzio credits Onyx as responsible for at least half of this success because, thanks to its tracking ability, no opportunities passed to brokers have slipped through the cracks. In the past leads disappeared all the time.

    Using Onyx enabled Agazzio to do more than improve channel relationships and sales. With PRM processes firmly in place, Agazzio addressed other aspects of the Medicare business, such as handling the direct mail campaigns that were previously outsourced, at a savings of $110,000 for the year. "If I look at the first mailing I did nine weeks ago, I can see how many responded, what status they are at, and how many I sold--by zip, by county, or by street."

    He also was able to cut his data entry staff in half, saving about $90,000, and cut his administrative staff by two people, saving another $60,000. His inside sales reps have gone from handling 200 cases a month to 500 or 600. And he can't even guess how much time and stress have been saved. "We might not have eliminated a lot of staff," Agazzio says, "but now they can focus on building relationships and making sure clients get what they need in a timely manner."

    UPMC Gets Results

  • Boosted the membership in the Medicare business by 1,000 percent in nine months
  • Improved relationships with its broker community due to faster, more personalized service
  • Increased the processing speed of group enrollments by 75 percent
  • Reduced administrative employees in the small-group business by 50 percent
  • Cut the quote time from days to minutes
  • Doubled the number of cases sales reps handle per month

    Analytics: LexisNexis

    Last summer LexisNexis' direct marketing efforts were in disarray. Thousands of campaigns totaling more than 10 million pieces of mail were being handled by an outside company, customers received multiple copies of the same mailing, and the database was overrun with bad addresses. To overhaul its direct mail process LexisNexis brought the management of its mailing lists in house and turned to its long-term CRM provider SAS to cut costs and improve efficiency. SAS helped the marketing department to capture and integrate five different data sources into one data warehouse, as well as to maintain data quality.

    Today the marketing team can set rules to correct inconsistent data, eliminate and consolidate duplicate data, and verify and correct addresses. By studying the successful campaigns the team can base future mailings on methods that work, and develop more effective campaigns. Andrew Carraher, manager of marketing systems, appreciates the level of detail he gleans from the campaigns. "When we farmed out that work, we lost that information," he says. Now he can easily identify the successes, build off them, and continue to see higher returns.

    With a clean database customers no longer receive duplicate mailings, and returned mail has been reduced to about 1 percent. When an envelope is returned, the system verifies data against the postal service and edits the record.

    LexisNexis will save about a million dollars a year. "We don't mail as many pieces as we did in the past," Carraher says, "and we handle it internally, which costs less."

    Plans include redesigning the database so that other departments can use it. "We are now using the data for more than direct mail," says Lisa Allemang, director of marketing systems and initiatives. "It's valuable to the sales team as well as other marketing divisions. The built-in functionality answers more questions than we initially intended."

    Allemang says the database is one of the most wonderful things she's ever worked with. "It's a tremendous source of data for marketing, for sales, for everyone."

    LexisNexis Gets Results

  • Slashed mail expenses by
    $1 million per year
  • Reduced the number of duplicate, redundant, and
    erroneous mailings
  • Decreased the amount of returned mail (from incorrect addresses) to 1 percent
  • Improved the monitoring and tracking of campaign results to develop even more effective campaigns

    Good Advice
    CRM Elite executives offer tips on achieving CRM success:

  • Not all CRM implementations require years of planning and implementation to reap significant benefits.
  • Deal directly with the CRM vendor, not just one of its contractors. By dealing with the vendors themselves, you get a better understanding of what the product can do.
  • Nothing is more important than the quality of the data.
  • Listen to your sales team and understand what it needs.
  • Be prepared. Do all your process flows before you get involved in implementation. Process improvements should accompany--and in many situations precede--changes in CRM technology.
  • Understand exactly what you want your CRM to do
    and go in with a map so you're not thinking of things on the fly.
  • Customer self-service can provide tremendous cost savings and service level improvements, often in a very short time frame.
  • Improving awareness of customer needs throughout the sales organization can create new and timelier selling opportunities.
  • Make certain users are trained well in advance of the
    go-live date.
  • The CRM system is only as good as how you work it. You can spend a million dollars, but if you don't have buy-in, you'll throw that money away. You need to have dedicated people working it and understanding it every day.

    Jason Compton is a freelance journalist based in Evanston, IL. Contributing editor Ellen Ullman is based in New York.

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