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Make Payment Processing GO
A payment-processing leader learns the benefits of back-end integration.
For the rest of the July 2005 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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What does a vendor of customer service products do when it runs into customer service issues of its own? That was the dilemma facing GO Software, a provider of payment-processing software, which recently became a division of VeriFone. The company's growth had outstripped the CRM system's capacity, and there was zero integration with customer support and financial services. The company wasn't providing the "customer delight" that is its motto and mantra. "We used ACT! for Lotus Notes as our CRM solution, along with [Microsoft Business Solutions] Great Plains for financial services," says David Plaspohl, manager of IT operations for what is now VeriFone Payment Processing Software. Because operations weren't integrated, the company faced serious issues with its database of 150,000 customers, hordes of unsold prospects, and other contacts: ACT! was becoming more and more unreliable. "The system started taking an hour break once a week, and I couldn't repair it," Plaspohl says. The company's lack of integration frustrated customers and ate up representatives' time. "Sales reps had to enter customer data in two separate places, or the service agents wouldn't have a record of it," Plaspohl says. "When a customer knows they have a service contract but the agent can't find it, that's a rotten way to start a dialogue." Resolving the problem meant calling or walking over to the sales agent to check the order details. Customer hold times reached nine minutes. Manual order entry processes were another problem. Total time to establish a new account averaged 20 minutes, with another 20 minutes of processing time for each order. The company adds 5,000 new accounts and takes 15,000 orders a year--that's more than 6,500 hours wasted. "Fixing the CRM system became an IT project," Plaspohl says, "which is almost always a bad idea." This admission from the IT manager rings true--technical personnel usually aren't intimately familiar with the needs of sales, marketing, and service. "We started automating a number of processes using Soffront, but our VP of sales realized those processes were bad to begin with." Back to square one.
VeriFone's integration project needed a new direction. The company selected Customer Effective, a Microsoft Certified Partner in Greenville, South Carolina, for help automating the business processes using Microsoft CRM 1.2, realizing Great Plains would integrate more easily with it, was highly customizable, and included SQL Server 2000 database support. Other integration puzzle pieces included Microsoft Office Access 2003; Microsoft Exchange Server 2003; Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 collaboration client; and Scribe Insight, a migration tool to import the old data. "The new back end gave us our first-ever automated serial number and invoice number system, as well as reseller tracking," Plaspohl says. "Previously, we didn't know what our resellers had sold until customers called for support." Another new aspect is developer support tracking. According to Plaspohl, "Our products aren't always sold as stand-alone solutions; developer support lets us monitor how users integrate our products, so we can help fix mistakes and provision other customers quicker." Plaspohl also notes that sales reps have slashed order entry and account setup times from 20 minutes to five with Microsoft CRM. That's a 75 percent reduction, equal to the work of four full-time salespeople. Those sickeningly high hold times have been reduced to just 90 seconds. Within five months the integration project was complete and the benefits began to show. Projecting the costs over a three-year period, the result was staggering. "We realized a 592 percent ROI," Plaspohl says. If that doesn't impress, consider that the payback period for that ROI was just two months. By the end of the year, VeriFone's payment-processing software division had saved $2.5 million through reduced costs and increased productivity. The Payoff By integrating Microsoft CRM with Great Plains, VeriFone has:
  • solved a serious system reliability problem;
  • reduced order and account entry times by 75 percent;
  • cut customer hold time to an average of 90 seconds, down from 9 minutes;
  • improved channel communications with resellers and integrators; and
  • achieved 592 percent ROI as a result of reduced costs and increased productivity.
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