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CRM Case Studies

Written by Londy Bracale

Colorado Technical University

IT600-0803A-01: Information Technology Management

Professor Russell P. Mickler

Phase 2 Discussion Board 1

July 22, 2008

 

CRM Case Studies

 

Investing in information technologies, (IT) can provide a company the necessary tools needed for competitive advantage; improve efficiency, and the speed and accuracy of important company functions. However, the infrastructure will determine the effectiveness of an IT solution. This white paper will focus on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and three case studies of which SaveWithUS can gain insight for this strategy. This document will also examine the infrastructure of enterprise applications used in a distributed or centralized environment and address the problems, benefits, and ideas the case studies reveal for implementing a CRM application. There is much to learn by studying and researching what other organizations have done to improve business processes, speed, accuracy, and the overall customer experience (Mickler, 2008).

A company life cycle, at birth, does not have a rich resource pool to invest in the ideal IT infrastructure. In most cases, new company’s have servers that house applications for microcomputers to run applications through the various departments. This structure increases as the company grows which in turn demand on multiple applications to run simultaneously in multiple departments. This distributing model becomes very complex, expensive, disorganized, financially draining, and an administrative nightmare. In a distributed environment, there is no consistency, and multiple departments are making decisions on applications which can create duplication, dual entry, decrease data errors, increased license expense, and lack of control. Over time, the distributed environment develops an application portfolio that is expensive and difficult to maintain. This represents the amount of applications, licenses, vendors, and support agreements that need to be managed. In order for data to flow freely throughout the organization the development of an interface must be used to bridge information from one system to another to allow information to be shared. A centralized environment, one location, offers control, eliminates redundancy, control costs, reduce vendors, reduce application licenses costs, simplified information sharing, on an expandable system that is designed to support company growth at a lesser cost. Another option for SaveWithUS can be the use of SAAS/Subscription Based Licensing and access applications via the internet. The subscription is a service used through the web with no installation on local machines. This option frees up resources and eliminates the need for staffed IT management. Information technology planning is important in the overall spend. A company will have a larger capital expense with a centralized solution and less administrative time verses a distributed approach. These decisions are important when considering applications such as CRM where access for this important information should be shared company wide for maximum effectiveness (Mickler, 2008).

Many customers have stated that Allied Signal, which is now Honeywell, is hard to do business with and this stems from massive customer service issues. Allied has no way to share information with other business units for sales opportunities, status of maintenance requests, and lack of information on what products customers had purchased for their aircraft. The sales department had no way of tracking who was making sales calls to key contacts at large customers’ facility. Customers are migrating to the lower cost competition which poses serious threat to Allied (Levinson, 2002).

Allied Signal executives decided to implement a customer relationship management tool developed by Siebel Systems Incorporated. The organization has learned in order to be effective; the infrastructure should change and abandon their home-grown applications. In addition, behavioral changes should take place in many levels of the corporation not just customer services. After several failed attempts using small software companies and not being Y2K compliant, Allied Signal decided on Siebel to fulfill the centralized requirement for their customer relationship management (CRM) tool. The company also needed a firm large enough to implement a web-enabled application to integrate it with its enterprise resource planning system (ERPS). The new centralized system now enables one common information system that can be used by sales reps, customer services, field service engineers, product-line personnel, and response agents across all business units. The new system enabled employees to see what products their customers purchased, status of service, and identify new sales opportunities. In this scenario, everybody wins and the customer feels they have been serviced better, and new product sales are customer centered and the company can increase revenue. To increase the customer experience, a reorganized customer service team will service accounts and customers. One customer service rep will be assigned to an account to simplify customer communication and providing one point of contact regardless of product or service, and will coordinate service requests, and sales calls. This was not a canned approach to CRM. Each business unit and job function has been studied to maximize a complete CRM integration into business process needs for optimum customer service. The implementation of a CRM tool has a capital expense and the return on investment should be measured to determine what make sense for the organization.

SaveWithUS should have a sound understanding of how each business unit, department, and specific employee jobs function. It is natural for people to resist change and it is important they understand how this positively affects their job role. The purpose of information technology is to provide a structure and process for collecting information in one location and making it available to all the people who need it (Levinson, 2002). Part of the roll-out strategy should incorporate training, transition process, new program strengths, and how the new tools and processes can improve workflow and demonstrate how these tools fit into their personal business processes. Buy-in from top management needs to support the roll out of the establishment of new processes and tools. Promotion and support should come from.  

Rapid sales growth is what most company’s dream about. Without adequate customer service to support the demand increase, dissatisfaction can proliferate, sales can be lost, and reputation can be damaged. MyFamily.com could not answer the influx of email with out raising labor costs. The company would have to hire 15 customer service people just to keep up with demand (Rosencrance, 2003).

MyFamily.com decided to deploy a web based solution, an eService center, which is a self-serve tool that customers can access for immediate answers 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Since many customer inquires are repetitive, this online CRM tool allows customer service issues to be handled with out the need for live assistance which reduces labor costs. Customers can find answers to common questions through technology that automates searching by retrieving relevant information and bringing it to the top of the search. The provider, RightNow, offers online CRM tools that company’s can use to manage and automate customer service issues integrating the web, email, chat, and telephone. In addition, the online service offers reporting tools that measure customer satisfaction (Rosencrance, 2003).

SaveWithUS will have many customers with similar issues or questions that can be addressed with an automated system such as the one RightNow offers. Customers would rather have information immediately rather than wait for an email response, or call and explain the question only to be redirected, put back on hold and start over again. The more a company knows about a customers buying habits, preferences, likes and dislikes, the more probable the right products and services can be matched up for a sale. SaveWithUS should consider using CRM tools for a marketing advantage, increase effectiveness, and position. Marketing effectiveness can greatly improve along with the customers experience by proactively communicating with customers at the right time.

DecisionOne jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon when downsizing IT was a common practice to cut labor costs and improve a company’s IT strategy. DescisionOne had a goal to launch a CRM tool in 45 days and would have to decide which applications would run inside the company’s datacenter. Using a subscription based application offers the quick deployment needed for the 45 day goal. However, there are still challenges to overcome. Not every organization is the same and there is no boxed product that can be purchased off the shelf to satisfy all needs, for all organizations, all the time. Some applications will need to be modified by an application service provider (ASP) in order to suite the business rules of an organization. As these subscribers become more sophisticated and demand more customization, the restrictions of altering the code have increased. Some organizations now should consider the long term affects of a program with limited or increasing restrictions on flexibility. Salsforce.com has recognized the dilemma and their opportunity. They have launched a customizable application called sforce.com where the customer can control the data types and the publisher still owns the code (Hall, 2003).

It is important to remember the key difference between licensed software and subscription based applications when evaluating options. Licensed based software offers flexibility for customization, system integration is more seamless, and there is increased control of applications on local servers, however, it takes more time to deploy. A subscription based service offers rapid deployment, has limited customization and control of data location and privacy (Hall, 2003). 

It is important for SaveWithUS to have a clear vision, goals, and strategic plan going forward. Information technology should play a large part in the strategic plan, understanding exactly what the goals and objectives are and how IT fits into the overall strategy. Using the information provided as a basis for questions to ask for decision making and further research.

 

References:

 

Hall, M (2003). CRM to go. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from Computerworld Web site: http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/crm/story/0,10801,88107,00.html

Levinson, M. (2002). CRM cast study: cleared for take off. Retrieved July 21, 2008, from Computerworld Web site: http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/crm/story/0,10801,69898,00.html

Mickler, R. (2008). Chat posting.  Colorado Springs, CO: CTU Online. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from CTU Online, Virtual Campus, IT600-0803A-01: Information Technology Management website: https://campus.ctuonline.edu/mainfrme.aspx

Rosencrance, L. (2003). CRM with a family touch. Retrieved July 21, 2008, from Computerworld Web site: http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/crm/story/0,10801,80014,00.html

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