The 2009 Elite - ISS Belgium Sweeps Up Sales

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At facility management company ISS, there's a long tradition of cleaning things up. Founded more than 100 years ago as a security firm, the Copenhagen-based company eventually expanded into cleaning (as well as  catering, landscaping, and office support), and now has 300,000 employees across 42 countries.

For one of those countries, though, internal CRM systems were a mess.With revenue declining and untold  opportunities mishandled, the Belgium division of ISS decided to clean up its act, replacing an SAP CRM system with Microsoft Dynamics CRM in January 2009. (ISS still uses SAP for its back-office operations, and integrates the financials and contract data into Microsoft.)

The first goal was to reduce the time it took to create and update sales opportunities, says Bart Hermans, ISS Belgium's CRM manager. With the old system, he recalls, users were spending 30 minutes on what amounted to a simple task, and had to access logs from the enterprise resource planning system for a customer's contract and financial data. System errors were all too frequent, requiring tech support's intervention and eating up valuable time. Today,with Dynamics, the 120 CRM users can complete the same task in about a minute.

That's time the sales representatives are now able to spend on actual sales activities, which have risen 15 percent. Those expanded activities, Hermans says, include more client visits-which inherently boost customer satisfaction. ISS sales reps used to make about two or three client visits in a workday, he says. Now, with more time in their schedules, reps can make about four visits a day.

Even better, sales reps are now able to get out of each other's way. "We have an image of being fully integrated, but in practice we weren't," Hermans says. "Our sales force was running around shooting at one another." The shooting metaphor lent itself to the military phrase ISS borrowed to describe employees stepping on each other's toes: "friendly fire." The cleaning department, for example, might have received a complaint from a frustrated customer, but the catering department-unaware of the circumstances-might pitch that same customer before the complaint is resolved. That translates into a blown opportunity for the rep, and an additional frustration for the customer. Microsoft Dynamics now bridges the gaps between departments to show what sales actions are taking place, preventing that "friendly fire." ISS regularly surveys its customers to gauge satisfaction, and recent scores show 85 percent of customers satisfied-up from 60 percent prior to the January implementation.

Improved satisfaction could also be due to improved handling of customer complaints, which often fell victim to a messy feedback-filing system in the pre-Dynamics days. "We would see a complaint and it was already too late [to act upon it],"Hermans says. "The customer was already gone."Now complaints are visible to all employees.

"We know in advance that we need to renegotiate, which was previously not always the case."

Increased visibility aids salespeople in several ways. First, the system automatically identifies contracts that are about to expire. "We know in advance that we need to renegotiate, which was previously not always the case," Hermans says. "A lot of contracts were in the database in SAP, but they were just sitting there. People at ISS didn't always know to take action." Proactively reaching out to soon-to-lapse customers significantly boosted the company's retention rate, from 60 percent to 90 percent.

Dynamics also helps staffers follow up with clients who are nowhere near expiration, with automated workflows and notifications to contact a client about, say, satisfaction levels or potential cross-selling opportunities.

In fact, Hermans says, cross-selling quickly emerged as a major benefit. ISS, he says, has a 60 percent market share in Belgium's cleaning business; the catering side of the company, though, can only claim about 6 percent or 7 percent of its market. "We're already in contact with a lot of companies for cleaning," he says, "but if we can let the person who's doing the cleaning introduce the catering, that's terrific."

Real Results: ISS Belgium

  • Reduced time spent on administrative tasks by 15 percent.
  • Upped sales activities by 15 percent.
  • Increased average number of client visits from 2.5 per day to 4.1 per day.
  • Improved customer satisfaction scores from 60 percent to 85 percent.
  • Boosted customer-retention rate by 30 percentage points.
  • Increased user adoption ninefold.
  • Expanded overall market share from 41 percent to 46 percent.

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