A Is for Adoption
Steve Diels says he gets a kick telling people about the company he’s president of: Aamcom, in Redondo Beach, Calif., provides contact center services for mostly small and midsize businesses. A contact center—in sunny California? With lots of windows and streaming sunlight? It’s almost unheard of.
“People are shocked,” Diels says, but he suggests something else makes Aamcom stand out: experience. Aamcom’s been in business since 1953—when the name stood for “All-American Medical Communications”—and although its market focus has expanded in recent years, Diels says one trait has remained constant: the company’s intent to provide clients the sturdy underbelly of customer support.
Aamcom abandoned its full corporate name about a decade ago, as it embraced nonhealthcare verticals such as automotive and insurance. In the new spin on the company’s acronym, the first “a” is for alignment with customer goals; the second is for accuracy. “M” stands for measurable results, and “com” represents compassion. As an outsourced contact center, Aamcom’s services range from inbound support to outbound sales to professional dispatching to roadside automotive help.
A few years ago, Diels and Aamcom’s management team realized that, while the software the company used on behalf of its clients was orderly, its own internal customer management system was not. “We had information in so many different places,” Diels recalls. “We recognized we needed a CRM solution.”
Already a heavy user of Microsoft products, Aamcom looked to the vendor’s contact manager, but found the solution lacked the breadth that Aamcom needed to host its contact records, generate leads, and track sales. Diels then looked at a host of other small-business solutions ranging from Microsoft Dynamics to FrontRange Solutions’ GoldMine, but found himself discouraged. “I didn’t understand why we couldn’t use some of our existing software,” he says.
Diels was all too familiar with shelfware—software purchased but never used—and wanted to be sure Aamcom avoided any such wasted investment. He had also seen past software-adoption plans go less than smoothly. “We had learned the lesson…that the cost [of the software] is only a small part of the actual cost of deployment,” he says.
In the fall of 2008, Aamcom found what it was looking for, implementing CRM technology from Avidian, software that’s deeply integrated with Microsoft Outlook. “A big reason for selecting [Avidian] was because it uses something we already use—[Microsoft] Outlook,” Diels says. After a few conference calls with the Avidian team and a few months of employee training, the Avidian Prophet solution was up and running.
Before the deployment, Aamcom had little visibility into sales performance and none into areas such as client referrals. Focusing the new system on sales management and lead generation, Aamcom’s sales have increased 16 percent since implementation.
With Avidian, the company can use its customer data more proactively—and try to make additional sales or detect potential opportunities among its existing client base. The front-line staff generates an email for client requests or comments that are then immediately imported into Prophet for follow-up by sales and management. “We did something similar before Avidian,” Diels says, “but it was easily misdirected and hidden in silos—we lacked accountability.”
A real boon to operations is the integration between Avidian and the contact center solution that agents use. Many Aamcom agents work from home, and Diels says their ability to email the Avidian system about a client issue ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.
Although automation speeds up and streamlines processes, Diels insists it’s not a panacea, and the emphasis is always on customer interactions. “It really hit me one day when I announced a new technology initiative and one of my supervisors sheepishly asked, ‘Do we still get to talk to our clients?’” Diels recalls. “Technology cannot be a replacement for service—it must enhance [it].”
Since opting to integrate Avidian Prophet CRM with Microsoft Outlook, Aamcom:
- has boosted total sales by 16 percent;
- has expanded its customer records by 20 percent;
- now has the visibility to upsell and cross-sell to existing clients; and
- is able to maintain its position as a service company that happens to have well-implemented technology.