CRM in Action: Understanding Customers' Various Buying Roles

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Challenge: National Instruments, a provider of virtual instrumentation, frequently conducts sales with individuals who have relationships with several organizations. For example, a professor who orders for a university may also be an influencer as board member at another customer organization. So tracking interactions with each of its 25,000-plus customer companies in more than 80 countries was difficult but essential. The company needed a way to understand the buying behaviors of these customers and their complex relationships. Solution: National Instruments remedied the situation by implementing the Oracle E-Business Suite 11i. The suite's CRM application offers a single source of customer information. National Instruments now has the ability to track campaigns and responses to determine which campaigns are generating the most profit. The company also can analyze marketing promotions to track the roots of individual opportunities, and then categorize these opportunities to uncover which marketing activities drive the most revenue for different product lines. "The way that we managed campaigns was via spreadsheet, so we had no link from transactions and leads to the campaigns that drove those leads and data," says Lisa Glenn, analyst manager for sales and marketing at National Instruments. "We use the data quality management tool to link our Web data to our back end, so we gained a ton of efficiency from a data entry perspective. We are able to automate the tools...so now a data person doesn't have to touch a record if they are linked [to the system]."
Benefits: This 360-degree view has delivered more accurate customer data visibility, enabling National Instruments to know which customers buy for or influence the purchases at which multiple organizations. Training time for customer service reps has been cut by 75 percent (from six weeks to two weeks). Furthermore, reps can now access repair information to instantly provide customers with a status report on their repair order, instead of having to search through many different departments for status information. The system also has eliminated costly customizations for calculating shipping charges, improved quote-to-order efficiency, and increased sales opportunities due to an expanded focus of service reps' responsibilities.
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