Rumors of failed implementations have created a cloud over the industry, but that cloud has a thick silver lining. Hundreds of companies are basking in the sunny glow of successful CRM, and that number is on a steady incline. CRM magazine waded through a flood of nominations and a pool of research to find the best current examples of how organizations are using CRM to boost sales, improve marketing, elevate service, and reduce costs. Five companies stood out for their thorough or unique approaches. Here are their stories:
Company: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSFL)
Vendors: Aspect Communications Corp., Connextion.net, Siebel Systems
Goals: Re-create online the in-person experience of meeting and talking with an agent
Allow customers to reach BCBSFL by the channel of their choice
Generate leads and sales
Health insurance organization BCBSFL has created a comprehensive e-business solution that has improved the sales, marketing, and customer service processes. The organization has systems that offer sales support both for customers and agents, claims status and billing information, and information specific to the needs of its doctor and hospital customers. "We're looking at [CRM] from our customers' perspective," says Al Pratico, director of BCBSFL's direct sales division. "It's a different way of focusing CRM efforts that broaden the scope."
BCBSFL offers numerous sales channels, including agents, direct mail, telesales, and the Web. Customers can easily move among channels to complete a purchase. For example, if a customer begins to fill out an application online, she can complete it there, save it there for later, print it to complete and mail in, or have it sent electronically to an agent or a telesales rep to whom she can speak later to complete it.
To accomplish this, Connextions custom built its service on Siebel's platform to ensure tight integration with both Siebel and Aspect, Pratico says. "We want customer to choose how they wish to buy," he says. In fact, the overall CRM system is designed to facilitate customer--agent/CSR interaction and to provide flexibility and simplicity to the customer experience.
BCBSFL also conducts what it calls CQI, or continuous quality improvement. One way it does this is via a Web site survey that queries users about their online experience. Responses are considered when planning site upgrades.
Although BCBSFL does the bulk of its business via agents and direct mail, its CRM system is heavily Web-focused not just to please current customers, but also to prepare for future customers. "Most of our business is coming from the under 65 market," Pratico says. "But the younger the age group, the higher the propensity to buy online. We built the site because as these younger groups age, we'll get that business."
Through May 2002, 9.6 percent of site visitors have made an online purchase of health insurance
Online sales (with no human intervention) is 15 percent of total sales
The close ratio for online sales is 85 percent
To help customers complete applications, telesales reps are now using the online sales process, which is cleaner than what they were using
Company: United Methodist Communications (UMCom), the communications agency for the United Methodist Church
Vendors: StayinFront Inc., Microsoft's Great Plains
Goals: Consolidate databases to allow customers and customer service agent to access all relevant information from one place
Improve both customer support and the overall customer experience
No organization wants is customers frustrated by having to visit 15 Web sites to purchase five products, nor its agents just as frustrated by having to search 13 databases to find one piece of information. That was the situation UMCom sought to avoid when it implemented StayinFront's Visual Elk and Panorama. The commonality of the suites and their relatively easy integration with the Microsoft products in place at UMCom have been integral to the many benefits the system has created, says Chris Smith, UMCom's IT director.
UMCom handles TV, radio, and video programming, nearly 40 Web sites (not all are e-commerce sites), a news services, and a telephone information line called InfoServ. Thirteen data systems support these many services. UMCom now has a single point of entry to those disparate systems. As a result UMCom marketers can sort and retrieve specific data without the assistance of IT. They can run their own reports and set up views that, for example, combine churches by size of parish with a certain amount of sales, Smith says. Using this data and available customer data (available by church, zip code, phone number, etc.) UMCom can not only improve its target marketing and market analysis, but can find how to best contact its members whether for donations or in emergencies. According to Sherri Theil, UMCom's deputy director, UMCom now has a better knowledge of customers and their purchasing trends.
Agents who work on the InfoServ line can now use one query point to search all 13 databases to retrieve whatever information a church member may need--even something like the current location of the pastor who presided over a marriage 10 years ago.
The new consistency of the databases has helped manage magazine subscriptions as well. For example, employees no longer have to photocopy a change of address form and mail it to the circulation department. Now, one electronic file is sent. The currency of the information will help drive new subscriptions, Smith says.
The plan was to service UMCom's
1 million magazine subscribers, conference attendees, etc. The system now serves all of United Methodist Church's 10 million members worldwide
The old database allowed for duplicate records. The new system avoids that
Service reps can get postsales information on any order from a single point no matter how the order was placed
A Google-like search engine now searches all of UMCom's Web sites, so in most instances customers can find what they need from one place
Company: Avnet Computer Marketing (Avnet CM)
Vendor: SalesLogix (Best Software, CRM Division)
Goals: Create a single customer database, accessible by everyone in the organization
Transform sales reps' account information into an asset for the company
Recognizing that sales and marketing control what Dave Stuttard calls the "superset of data," Avnet CM's vice president of application solutions and his team used a bit of quid pro quo to gain unlimited access to that data. To convince salespeople, for example, that it is in their best interest to enter customer information into the SalesLogix database, Avnet CM gave them in return access to such back-office data as sales, credit, and service history. "At the push of a button salespeople can view sales by week, month, year over year," says Greg Stoner, Avnet CM's director of CRM architecture. The data was available before SalesLogix, but it would have taken hours or days to access it from the mainframe, Stoner says.
That base of account information and the 360-degree view of the customer that SalesLogix and its integration with Avnet CM's homegrown EPR system creates, has let to significant gains for Avnet CM. The marketing staff has improved email distribution, direct mail, market analysis, campaign generation, and its lead management efforts to the sales team and to VARs, Stuttard says. Salespeople's access to back-office information allows them to better track leads and quotes, generate quotes faster, configure products, create opportunities and forecast, and track order status and billing, invoice, and sales history. They also can track past sales calls by product and by company. The service team can access customer history to see customers' authorization levels, track call time, call progress, and resolution--for billing and for updating Avnet CM's knowledge base.
"Having built the central data repository, we can build systems on top of it," Stuttard says. "We will be able to let customers see their own data; we can go into areas we never would have dreamed of. The benefits are huge."
20 percent time savings for one sales team, who can find information without having to track down coworkers
Automated sales reporting saves 23 hours per week per for the one business unit of 9 people
$2 million in annual contracts to provide support for a manufacturer
Salespeople can track both customer sales history and the profitability of each order
Company: Hard Rock Café
Vendor: E.piphany Inc.
Goals: Better understand and interact with loyal customers
Refine customer segmentation
Increase wallet share
Support customer loyalty programs
It can be difficult if not impossible to build relationships with customers if you do not know who they are. "Before CRM we knew customer were coming, but didn't know where they were coming from, and didn't know much about them," says Kelly Maddern, senior director of IT and online for restaurant chain Hard Rock Café. That has changed. Hard Rock now collects, centralizes, and analyzes guest information for purchase history and patterns, then uses that information to drive customers back into the cafés and to Hard Rock's Web site to further increase revenues, she says.
One tool Hard Rock uses to drive loyalty and sales is an online survey. Each receipt has a number that a customer types in to begin the survey. Customers then give feedback on their dining experience. Negative feedback is handled immediately. Customers are given an incentive like a discount toward a future purchase for completing the survey, which drives them back to the café; Hard Rock uses the transaction data gathered from the survey for marketing.
Hard Rock's efforts are paying off, especially among members of it All-Access and Pin Collectors clubs. Since implementing E.piphany the cafés have experienced a increase in the numbers of overall visits; All-Access members are visiting four times more than Hard Rock's typical customers and Pin Club members are visiting eight times more than the typical customers. And online loyalty programs are driving spikes in sales that coincide with email mailings.
Improved customer service effectiveness by 85 percent
Email response times prior to E.piphany were a week to 10 days; response time is now about 24 hours
Single view of customers by integrating all customer information into one database
Average 34 percent click-through rate on monthly newsletters
Members account for an average 75 percent of online sales immediately following email campaigns; Web sales increase by an average 500 percent the week of each email campaign
Company: Textron Fastening Systems
Goals: Improve the collection and management of customer information
Gain more visibility into pipeline
Ensure enterprise "memory"
Streamline opportunity management
Picture this: Salespeople spend an hour a week updating an Excel spreadsheet with sales information, then email it to their managers. The managers edit the information and email it to their managers, and so on up to the executive management team, which then has week-old market information. That was the process manufacturer Textron used before it signed on with Salesforce.com.
Today through the use of Salesforce.com's application there is one entry point for data and executives have real-time access to that data, says Dennis Hanna, Textron's sales director. Equally as important as this real-time access is Textron's improved "memory." In the past when a salesperson left the company all the account information went with him. Today salespeople maintain their account information in Salesforce.com. A few clicks in the program allows manager to transfer that data to whomever takes over the accounts, Hanna says.
Textron is using CRM in unexpected ways as well. "We use Salesforce.com to reinforce concepts and ideas," Hanna says. "As we're trying to determine the effectiveness of a program, we'll use Salesforce.com as a central reporting tool." In one case, for example, Textron was using a homegrown quote tracking system, but it did not offer feedback as to why an opportunity may have been lost. Now Textron can analyze those opportunities in Salesforce.com to uncover what might help close the sale.
The executive management team has easy access to all key data, including new opportunities and sales forecasts
Streamlined lead tracking process
Increased visibility in the sales pipeline, which allows for better analysis of opportunities
Improved the computer literacy of the organization