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HRM Boilers Puts CRM on the Front Burner
Joining the rapidly growing ranks of SMEs who are turning to CRM technology to transform the efficiency of their marketing processes and improve customer communications, HRM Boilers has implemented SYSPRO CRM from McGuffie Brunton.
Every company, irrespective of size, is involved in customer relationship management (CRM). But some firms manage this process far better than others. With the increasing availability of CRM technology now geared to the needs of a much wider range of organisations, and no longer a tool just for the 'big boys', there are fewer excuses for poor performance in this area.
In particular, while very small operations may still get away with retaining key customer data in the minds of their staff and passing this information verbally across a small office, larger businesses can not afford to work this way. They need to have their increasingly complex and diverse information on customers accessible and visible across the business.
HRM Boilers Ltd is one SME that has recently addressed this key business requirement. Its solution for radically improving customer relationship performance has been to implement the SYSPRO CRM module from integrated business systems provider, McGuffie Brunton.
Out of Focus
A typical SME business, HRM Boilers, located in Attleborough, employs 23 people and has a turnover of 3m. The company develops and manufactures award winning oil fired boilers for the domestic market, which it sells to householders, individual installers and major builders merchants.
As with many smaller manufacturers, HRM Boilers has tended to focus on its product design and production processes. This has resulted in the company being able to offer a range of leading products, such as its through-the-wall, Wallstar boiler and the new Weybourne range of floor standing boilers. The latter are made-to-order and are individually built to a very high quality.
In addition, investment in an integrated SYSPRO 6.0 ERP system, covering finance and manufacturing, has enabled the management to establish effective control over the product delivery aspect of the business.
Until recently, the company was not always able to make the most of these advantages because of the lack of an effective approach to the critical function of marketing and customer relationships. Not only were a range of activities (including marketing, sales, customer contacts, long term contracts, warranty and service) controlled independently, but all this customer information was stored either in one of six different databases, or manually filed in cabinets.
As Andrew Hounsfield, HRM Boiler's Managing Director explains, "What customer information we had was all in different places, and there was no easy way for people to look at, or even know about, data that was being retained by others. Add to this the small business reality that many of our customer facing roles were undertaken on a part time basis by the senior management team, and it is not hard to imagine that we were finding it extremely difficult to maintain effective communications with existing and potential customers."
For instance, responding to any enquiry from an existing customer, be it warranty, service or even a new order, the process could be extremely time consuming and frustrating when all the information on previous customer dealings was scattered across the business. Similarly, follow-up marketing with potential customers was completely hit and miss. If the company's trade adverts generated leads, these would be in the form of pre-addressed response labels. They had no easy way of recording these addresses. So, once the initial requested literature was sent out, there was no mechanism in place to follow this up, or even to establish if the contact resulted in a sale.
"We were spending a considerable amount of the sales and marketing budget on advertising in trade magazines, with some leads costing up to 100 a time. Yet, with no way to track these leads, we were effectively throwing this money down the drain," states Hounsfield.
The Right Solution
Recognising that the time and effort being put in by HRM's management was being wasted, together with the direct financial cost and the fact that its overall approach was having a negative impact on customer relationships, the company's management team accepted that a change was needed. As a result, the decision was taken to invest in a technology solution.
The company investigated a number of the CRM systems that have been developed with SMEs in mind. While functionality, integration and the implementation process were factors in the selection process - all issues which research has shown are vital to enabling a CRM investment to deliver on its promise- the key criteria for HRM Boilers was ease of use.
As Hounsfield reports, "We recognised that for a CRM system to be deployed in our organization, where users, because of their other work commitments, would only be using the system for relatively short and irregular bursts of activity, it had to be extremely easy to use. This was the main reason behind our selection of the SYSPRO CRM module."
Now implemented and integrated with the company's ERP system, the CRM module contains various applications within a single, comprehensive package. The module systematically monitors and records all customer correspondence, status, vendor relationships, marketing campaigns, service issues, product returns, warranty, repair histories and quote and sales order information. It provides HRM Boiler's management team with ease of access to a wealth of customer information and lets them track and manage all contact with both existing and potential customers and suppliers. Furthermore, it allows them to undertake comprehensive analysis of activities and relationships.
For example the CRM system is used by the company to manage the long-term sales contracts and deals that the company has with various merchants. It is also used to manage breakdown and warranty issues. Now, with single point access to all the necessary information - rather than hunting through databases and filing cabinets - managers can respond to all customer enquiries far more rapidly and effectively.
"The system has already radically enhanced customer visibility, and is enabling us to improve the service we offer, by making effective communication possible," says Hounsfield.
Efficient and Professional
However, the most obvious benefits to date of the CRM implementation are in terms of transforming the company's marketing process. In terms of response, once leads have been generated, not only can the company now quickly record the customer request and link this with any previous correspondence, but the system automatically posts an activity e-mail to the relevant person, who can now follow the lead up in a more professional manner. Also the business has put in place a process for the longer-term management of any lead, whether it is for a consumer, installer or merchant, which involves five contacts over the course of a year.
In addition, SYSPRO CRM has also had a noticeable impact on reducing wasted effort. According to Hounsfield, "We can record who has been sent what and can thus avoid the problem of constantly sending the same people the same information. As we tend to send out quite a few DVDs, this duplication was quite expensive in terms of effort and cost."
The biggest change for HRM Boilers has been in the overall management and analysis of its marketing effort. The company has now established separate 'campaigns' for all telephone leads, website leads, exhibition leads and for its ongoing programme of regional mail shots. Similarly, every advert is regarded as a new campaign.
This approach not only enables the company to easily initiate, manage and track the progress of each activity, but also rapidly assess and produce a report on its effectiveness.
As an example, setting up a regional mail shot only requires the user to select the type of customer and region; the system automatically produces a letter aimed at all those potential customers in the database. Even sending out Christmas cards, which was always a big effort, is now the relatively simple task it should be. Equally, the company is able to easily, and accurately, judge from response levels, types of lead, and conversion of those leads into purchases, which adverts and magazines work best for them.
"By replacing what was previously undertaken on an ad hoc basis, with structured procedures and easy analysis we can now determine the success of any advert or campaign. This means we can better manage our marketing budget and, just as importantly, focus our limited marketing department in a far more effective way," claims Hounsfield.
He concludes, "By employing SYSPRO CRM we are now more productive and effective in this crucial business area of customer communications. What is more, we have not had to increase our staff and workload. Without the right technology in place, we would have needed two extra staff, which is a far more costly and completely unviable option for a business of our size."