My Flat In London

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  • Why CRM? We were looking for a comprehensive way to manage our customers and our business. It has to do with the silos of an organization and being able to have a viewpoint of the customer. We're a handbag and accessories business, so we work on fairly long time frames in terms of managing customers. If we can have as much knowledge about them [as possible], it allows us to service them more effectively and in the long run make more money, because we actually know what they're buying and can look at what else might augment what they already have. It enables me to understand who that customer is, what the customer has ordered, and what the customer hasn't ordered. It's the management of sales, as well as customer service.
  • What obstacles were you encountering? Prior to NetSuite we used a homegrown system with Outlook and Act. We were constantly stumbling over our data and never quite got it right. We couldn't acquire a central view of the customer or home in on supporting our boutique base effectively and efficiently. Instead of one view, we were searching for the right data in disparate applications, all of which were siloed from one another.
  • How did you select a vendor? It was a three-month process of whether [or not] we should go with the homegrown solution. It was really focused on being able to tie our production inventory, sales, order management, and the different aspects of our business all together. We eventually settled on NetSuite.
  • How did the implementation go? There were two parts to it. The conversion of our existing data from Outlook, Access, and QuickBooks into NetSuite went extremely well. The challenge always lies in procedural issues--ensuring that a new application can work in the way your business [is] used to [working]. I'd say we were probably up and running 80 percent of it within 30 days, and now we're running full steam after 90 days.
  • What have been the main rewards? Having one entry point--having my staff be able to look off dashboards and have a unified view of our entire business from our employees' desktops--is critical. With one central location of all the data, it enables us to get savvy about how we import and manipulate data, and thus service our customers to the best of our abilities.
  • What are the next steps? What's interesting is, the fashion business isn't known for its technical sophistication, so this gives us a competitive leg up. By using NetSuite as a foundation, it will allow us to do things like electronic order taking, where you can get employees to scan in UPC codes and take orders electronically in the palm of your hand, right off the floor. It will enable us to work more in real time with both our employees and our customers. Lessons Learned
  • Break down the silos. Having an organizationwide, integrated CRM application is critical to maintaining customer service.
  • Knowing the customer means maximizing customer profitability. Seeing a customer's transactions provides better cross- and upsell opportunities.
  • Go with professional CRM vendors. Home-grown solutions can work, but more often than not a CRM application from a professional vendor can give a technical leg up on the competition.
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