"These people are going to take the CRM message back to their organizations and pass on the good word."
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A dozen marketing and IT directors from Churchill Downs' various tracks converged on corporate headquarters in Louisville, KY, marking the first time they had gathered in one location to discuss the CRM initiative. The event was the firm's two-day CRM summit, during which John Buschman, CRM solutions architect, asked the burning question on the attendees' minds: Is CRM for real?
He answered by clicking through a live demonstration of E.piphany (6.5) to the delight of those in the conference room. "They knew the team was wooing them," says Atique Shah, Churchill Downs' vice president of CRM and technology solutions. "And for them to see the power of the application firsthand was a big, big thing."
The CRM team also presented demonstrations of other new CRM technology, including the Web content-management system, the email marketing system, and mrInterview, a survey application from SPSS, which the company will use to gauge customer satisfaction.
The summit also laid the groundwork for the CRM initiative's execution, which Shah and his team are developing with their field counterparts on a track-by-track basis. "The summit was geared to our CRM evangelists," Shah says. "These people are going to take the CRM message back to their organizations and pass on the good word."
Shah staged a similar summit during a previous CRM implementation for the National Basketball Association (NBA). "What we saw there was that one team takes the lead," he says. "That one team embraces CRM by using all or most of the capabilities. When it starts generating results, the other teams take notice. The question here is, which track is going to be the first to break away from the pack?"
All of the information presented at the summit--the scope and purpose of the new strategy, technology, and processes, and the implementation timeline and deliverable dates--has since been moved to an intranet site, where it is regularly updated. In addition, Shah hosts 15-minute teleconferences every two weeks to keep the CRM practitioners in the field updated on the project's progress, and to answer questions that they have.
Recent calls have focused on execution plans, which will lay out how each track will deliver CRM ROI. A key component of each plan is figuring out how to leverage the information the new system is producing to attract more valuable customers and to increase the value of existing customers.
One way the tracks will use the data is converting Experienced Evans to Smarty Steves. The names represent two of the nine customer tiers that the CRM team's exhaustive analyses have identified. Smarty Steves represent an elite customer group. The task is, how can each track use the information in the new CRM system to pull its unique service and customer satisfaction levers to create or attract more Smarty Steves?
The CRM information will also be used to improve customer satisfaction and customer value in other segments. Seldom Sally, for example, only visits the track three times a year, and enjoys the social aspects of horse racing; how can the tracks boost Sally's enjoyment?
The CRM team will be focused on helping its operations colleagues answer those sorts of questions in the coming month--helping each track to find its own unique way of delivering ROI.
Easygoing Eric (Krell), a freelance journalist based in Austin, TX, hopes to become Experienced Evan one day soon
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