Midsize Companies, Mammoth Results

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CRM is hot among midsize companies--CRM success among them is even hotter. We embarked on a mission to find outstanding examples of recent CRM results in the midmarket. From a financial services firm to a software provider to a retailer of fine collectibles, the following 10 companies all share one trait: a superior CRM experience boasting remarkable results. Read on to discover these companies' CRM success strategies, the challenges they tackled, and how they were able to effectively strengthen their businesses. Growth in a Down Economy In 2002, a turbulent time when most firms were downsizing and investment revenues were in a third year of decline, FSC Securities was maintaining strong profitability and avoiding cutbacks in its workforce. The company credits its success to a CRM initiative. FSC, a financial services support organization, helps independent financial service professionals enhance their clients' financial security and assure collective profitability. To secure its own competitive status, the company sought a solution that would increase the efficiency of both its service and support. FSC chose Onyx Software to do that, deploying the system to 140 internal users and 2,000 financial representatives who use the system externally through a customer portal. "The securities industry has probably suffered more than most in the past few years," says Helen Prater, COO of FSC. "FSC has continued to thrive, realizing positive growth for the past three years. Our CRM solution is at the heart of this success, because it has enabled us to provide superior service to our representatives, while helping lower our support costs." The company has had more than just satisfactory results, having experienced a 200 percent growth in customers using online self-service (75 percent are repeat Web customers), a reduced headcount in service and operations, and reduced telecom costs. FSC's CRM success was also marked by a 10 percent profit for 2002, no layoffs, and the capacity to identify both top producers and problem customers. The Bottom Line
FSC Securities Corp.
  • 10 percent profit for 2002
  • 200 percent growth in customers using online self-service
  • Gained the ability to pinpoint both top producers and problem customers Real-Time Customer Data Increases Productivity JLG Industries may be a global leader in the manufacturing of mobile aerial work platforms, but a recent slowdown in its growth signaled a need to consolidate the multiple methods of communication that were convoluting its sales process. JLG realized that using a common tool for its sales team would be essential to help boost sales processes, to provide a single view of customers and prospects for sales and customer service, and to provide insight into the sales pipeline for executive management. The company wanted to integrate sales with its existing marketing and customer care systems, but avoid expensive consulting resources. JLG remedied the situation by deploying Salesforce.com in its sales, marketing, and customer service departments. "Our sales management team was the biggest factor," says Scott Milligan, director of sales process development, who was pleased with Salesforce.com's ability to create a single view of customer data. "The information can be accessed on demand, rather than through a push-pull situation where documents can quickly become outdated." With its capacity to provide real-time data, the solution helped JLG achieve significant time-savings in situations where different versions of Excel spreadsheets had been passed around before being rolled into one complete report. "We've consolidated information to a single source of opportunity," Milligan says. Consequently, sales reps have been more productive and internal costs have been reduced. Since JLG is now able to access a single view of the customer, the speed of sales processes has significantly increased, and more current opportunity information has sparked improvements within its manufacturing operations. The Bottom Line JLG Industries
  • Access to real-time data boosts sales productivity
  • Single view of the customer via a centralized platform
  • Improvements in manufacturing operations Streamlining Saves $3.4 Million Every company wants to grow, but for United Asset Coverage (UAC) growing more than 4,300 percent within five years presented special challenges. UAC is a provider of integrated telecommunications and data-networking maintenance services with more than 2,000 employees. Its explosive growth placed a burden on its information systems, which consisted primarily of several homegrown applications running independently. Customer service and sales reps found it difficult to readily call up customer account information, and often it required several days to solve customer inquiries. Reps also faced problems generating invoices with the equipment-level detail that customers requested. Consequently, employees were manually processing nearly 40 percent of the outgoing invoices. After turning to Oracle E-Business Suite, UAC is now able to resolve the dilemmas facing its service, billing, contracts, and call center departments. Service reps can first check the system when equipment needs repair to see if the contract covers it. Additionally, UAC can gather valuable cost and reliability data with each machine fixed. "Our call center could not answer billing questions, because we were on separate legacy systems and only finance had access to that information," says Jack Murray, director of CRM implementation at UAC. "That meant more reps taking more time to research the answer and then get back to the client. Now, it's done quickly, in one call, and production of invoices went from over a week to two days." UAC's success is further reflected in its achievement of a 205 percent first-year ROI, recovering $3.4 million annually in savings and revenue retention. The company was also able to save $300,000 through more efficient collection of overdue bills, $900,000 by improved in-house customer service operations, and $1.6 million in improved contract and repair process management. The Bottom Line United Asset Coverage
  • 205 percent first-year ROI
  • $3.4 million recovered annually in savings and revenue
  • Production of invoices reduced from one week to two days
  • Billing questions now answered in one call The Benefits of Bridging the Communication Gap RS Software, a global IT solutions and service provider based in India, had made a name for itself in the industry for its management of legacy applications and mainframe resources. What it hadn't done, however, was prevent the time and communication gaps between documentation provided by its sales reps and invoices sent to its clients. As the company expanded to include operations in Europe and the United States, reports being sent via email were sometimes taking up to three days to process. This resulted in expenditures being checked only after the fact to see if the budget had been exceeded. The company wanted a real-time, Web-accessible method that would enable staffers to check the status of reports and customer accounts at any time. RS Software called on NetSuite to resolve its problematic decision-making and account reconciliation issues. NetSuite's integration between front- and back-office applications enabled RS Software to thoroughly monitor its budget, and a real-time dashboard made quicker report-based decisions possible for managers. "NetSuite offers more robust functionality, because it includes advanced features like order management and expense settlement of the sales team," says Rajil Vohra, general manager of U.S. sales at RS Software. "This has helped us to shorten our payment cycle, thus improving our working capital gap considerably." Other benefits include a savings of more than $200,000 by maintaining set spending limits, the ability to stay within budget, and a savings two hours a week per rep in reporting time. The Bottom Line RS Software
  • $200,000 total savings
  • Two-hour cut in reporting time per week for managers and sales reps
  • Managers can make real-time, report-based decisions
  • Gained the ability to easily stay within budget Time-Savings Boosts Profits In an industry driven by a constant, heated battle for market share, EMI Industries elected to streamline customer communication to gain a competitive advantage. So EMI, a manufacturer and distributor of point-of-sale and food-service equipment for the food retailing industry, built a Web site offering customers 24/7 online ordering and order status verification. Unfortunately, the company could not provide its customers with complete visibility into the production process. Because the Web channel was not integrated with phone communication channels, and customer data was stored in multiple, disparate applications, it was difficult for salespeople, engineers, and customers to cross-check the status of custom projects. Keeping projects on schedule also posed a problem, as EMI's existing applications were not providing adequate workflow functionality. To overcome these barriers EMI implemented Siebel eBusiness Applications. This allowed EMI to successfully track online service requests, verify service-level agreements, and guarantee response times. "Having a single repository that makes all information available to our engineers, salespeople, field service representatives, customers, and partners is a huge benefit to EMI," says David Hahmann, an EMI vice president. Improved sales and marketing effectiveness was marked by a 25 percent time savings in delivery verification, a 90 percent time savings in resolving accounts receivable inquiries, and a sales cycle shortened by nine days. Further benefits included a reduction of EMI's engineering process from 10 steps to two, a 75 percent first call--resolution rate (up from 20 to 30 percent), as well as a 15 to 30 percent time-savings for managing opportunities. Due to a boost in forecast accuracy, EMI also experienced a 10 percent reduction of both overtime and inventory. The boom isn't expected to end anytime soon; based on initial 2002 profits of more than $450,000, EMI stands to gain nearly $2 million annually if performance continues at current levels. The Bottom Line EMI Industries
  • 25 percent time-savings in verifying delivery information
  • 90 percent time-savings in resolving accounts-receivable inquiries
  • 75 percent first call--resolution rate
  • 10 percent reduction of overtime and inventory Happy Reps Equal Revenue Gains With a perpetual cycle of growth and maturation, Quill Corp.'s existing sales processes were in dire need of an upgrade. A B2B direct marketer of office products, furniture, and technology supplies, the company realized that its current system was functioning more as a rudimentary note-taking program than as a means to automate and improve business processes. What was necessary to strengthen sales, according to sales manager Lori Wilson, was a tool that would free her team to spend more time selling and managing customer relationships. Wilson wanted a system that would be easy to comprehend and adapt, because her team's responsibilities alternate between targeting prospects and customer development. "Sometimes it's difficult for sales reps to switch from acquisition to development and back to acquisition," Wilson says. Quill implemented Salesnet, and now reps can create custom reports, add fields to forms, and identify leads by zone--a pivotal feature in Quill's sales process. "It was easy for us to train [reps], because it made sense," Wilson says. "It's a simple enough system for anyone to handle, and what has been successful for us is getting that 100 percent compliance." That compliance percentage has paid off: Quill has experienced 30 percent revenue growth since implementing Salesnet in September 2002, 10 percent month-over-month revenue growth, and a 100 percent satisfaction rate within its sales organization. With all employees now able to follow the same best practices, sales forecasting requires less speculation, and the executive team can realize more accurate pipeline visibility. The Bottom Line Quill Corp.
  • 30 percent revenue growth
  • 10 percent month-over-month revenue growth
  • 100 percent satisfaction rate within the sales organization
  • Increased visibility into the sales pipeline
  • Improved sales forecasting Linking Sales and Service Builds Leads and Cuts Losses Toronto-based financial service company AGF needed transforming. The company operates in a maturing market, where seizing market share from competitors is fundamental to growth. AGF chose to eliminate its siloed sales model, which focused primarily on products and accounts, and to concentrate on a single customer: the financial advisor. To do this AGF had to create a holistic view of its customers. Getting that single view was a particular challenge, because in AGF's previous CRM system financial advisors often appeared to AGF staff as more than one company. "Multiple investors can have multiple accounts," says Stephen Elioff, vice president and CRM program director at AGF. "We needed to change that point of view from account to advisor level to give employees the bigger picture to deal with the customer holistically." The company called on PeopleSoft and BearingPoint to help drive this transformation, implementing the applications within AGF's call center and client administration groups in September 2002. In effect, call center agents can now acquire potential sales leads and forward them to sales reps for further action. And because call center agents and sales reps can access customer retention information at an individual level, relationship managers are able to prevent mutual fund redemption. The solution has also helped AGF reduce mailing costs by 2 to 3 percent, as well as helped eliminate customer frustration over receiving multiple copies of mailings. Additionally, the capacity to offer online issue solutions to call center reps has reduced the number of training days from 27 to 25. AGF is so pleased with the initial results that it plans to expand its CRM initiative and implementation with PeopleSoft's sales and marketing modules beginning this month. The Bottom Line AGF
  • Mailing costs reduced by 2 to 3 percent
  • Reduced the number of training days for call center reps from 27 to 25
  • Sales leads now can be captured in the call center
  • Prevention of mutual fund redemption Synchronizing Sales and Service Delivers 234 Percent ROI When enterprise telecommunications software provider iQ NetSolutions found itself growing to more than 400 customers, it also found itself in need of a CRM solution that could integrate sales and service activities, improve sales forecasting and pipeline activities, and be accessed remotely. The rapid pace of business in the telecom industry also meant it was essential for the CRM solution to be deployed quickly. iQ NetSolutions called on Surebridge for assistance, and within a month, was able to implement a hosted Microsoft CRM solution that required little customization to meet the company's needs. "[It] not only enhances our ability to run our business more cost effectively and efficiently, but allows us to better service our customers," says Greg Pisano, director of marketing and product management for iQ NetSolutions. The benefits of the system include a reduction of sales meetings from hours to 30 minutes, because everyone can now access live data rather than just their own; a 234 percent ROI within five months; and an improvement in the success of channel partners. These have all allowed for a greater commitment to customer service needs, according to Pisano, because he and his salespeople have more time to pursue new accounts and serve existing customers. The system has also enabled team members to be more proactive and do preventive work. "As a result, we are a more flexible and responsive company," Pisano says. The Bottom Line iQ NetSolutions
  • 234 percent ROI within five months
  • Reduced lengthy sales meetings to 30 minutes
  • Gained time to pursue new accounts and serve existing customers Finding the Right Solution Smooths Integration Code 3 Collectibles is a retailer of detailed, limited-edition, precision models of fire and rescue equipment. With 130 employees in five countries, CIO John Meyer, however, was himself in need of rescue when he was facing the fire of customizing a CRM solution that would integrate with existing back-office systems. Meyer wanted to implement more reporting and analysis tools, as well as scale up to a much larger user base with a customized, internally maintained system that could process orders from the company Web site. So in March 2002, Code 3 switched vendors and implemented SalesLogix, integrated with Platinum for Windows (PFW) by Best Software, to link its sales, finance, and shipping departments. Now, SalesLogix, PFW, and Code 3's shipping software works synchronically. When an order is shipped data flows automatically through the systems. This enables stock to be checked, bar code stickers printed, and shipping confirmation sent to customers via an email that includes tracking information. The automation has reduced shipping time from five days to just over 48 hours, reflecting a 60 percent time- savings. Additionally, it now requires just one step instead of eight to process orders, translating to stronger customer service. Remote users worldwide can more easily and reliably systematize data, and customization is smoother with SalesLogix's integration with Web site standard tools. "I am very happy with SalesLogix," Meyer says. "In fact, [I'm] rolling it out to more than 100 more users via the Web client." The Bottom Line Code 3 Collectibles
  • Shipping time reduced from five days to 48 hours
  • One-step order processing
  • Easy systematization of data by remote users worldwide Hosting Reduces Costs 60 Percent A nationwide technology training and hotline provider for the real estate industry, Matthew Ferrara Seminars (MFS) supplies training to senior management and top agents. Its Tech Hotline is regarded as the industry's first all-topics technical support service for realtor associations and companies. As it grew in popularity to serve more than 500,000 callers in the real estate industry, MFS realized the necessity for CRM software that would improve the Tech Hotline's customer service. With its ability to comprehensively capture customer data and organize it into a useable form, Soffront's online solution seemed to best fit MFS's needs. The company implemented Soffront in March 2003 in both the service and sales departments. One of the primary reasons MFS turned to Soffront was to save money by using a Web-based solution. "We have contracts with many different companies," says Jon Henlin, helpdesk manager at MFS. "We have an enormous database. If we had to run the application locally, we would need to have very high capacity machines on each agent's desk." By contrast, Soffront's thin-client, browser-run application has helped MFS reduce hardware and maintenance costs by 60 percent. It has also saved Henlin one full day of work per week by streamlining his entire process and providing a real-time view of customer relationships; he has a more complete view of how each customer service call is handled, tracking it from start to finish. Moreover, MFS can provide trend analysis to every customer, giving each the opportunity to make suggested changes based on feedback. The Bottom Line Matthew Ferrara Seminars
  • Hardware and maintenance costs reduced by 60 percent
  • The helpdesk manager saves one full day of work per week
  • Gained a real-time view of customer information
  • Trend analysis provided to every customer Contact editorial intern Emmy Favilla at efavilla@destinationCRM.com
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