CRM Goes Airborne

Listening to Airborne Express tell it, CRM is taking off in the parcel-carrier business. "In our market, speed and effectiveness are key to everything we do," said David Billings, senior vice president and CIO at Airborne Express. The company announced today that is has completed the first phase of a big CRM rollout, using Onyx Software products. What's the ROI deal driver? More than 700 employees in sales, marketing and other departments now have access to the latest customer data at their fingertips, through an employee portal. It's quite a technical feat, considering Airborne Express serves half a million customers, around the U.S. and in more than 200 countries, every month. In fact, Airborne Express uses the portal to distribute information from a myriad of back-end applications. The CRM system now supports a single business process across seven sales divisions. And even more is yet to come. "In the few months since we've gone live, we've already started looking at more ways to use Onyx," Billings said. Airborne Express has begun phase two of the project, which calls for expanding the software across more departments. Roughly 90 percent of Onyx customers tie the product across three or more departments, and 60 percent across five or more. "Cross-divisional deployment is an absolute must for successful CRM," says an Onyx spokesperson. "Only then can a company truly unify around its customers." Airborne Express first sought a CRM solution more than a year ago. The cutting-edge technology is viewed by many as a key differentiator, especially as the market for speedy delivery of documents and small packages tightens up. Rival FedEx, for instance, also has embarked on CRM initiatives. But the cries of CRM failures were also hitting a crescendo. During the CRM-vendor evaluations, Airborne Express wanted some assurance that the project would meet time and budget guidelines from original estimates. All of this bode well for Onyx, which claims that 78 percent of its software implementations in 25 of its largest deployments have been completed on-time, on-budget or within 15 percent of the original estimates. Airborne Express chose Onyx and began rolling out the software, which has led to today's 'go-live' announcement. Phased implementations leading to concrete ROIs is the way of CRM for 90 percent of Onyx's customers. "The phased implementation approach is ideal for us from a cost standpoint, and because it enables us to use what we've learned to make each successive implementation that much easier," Billings said. Tom Kaneshige also writes for
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