Putting the customer at the center of the organization can be a difficult proposition for product-centric organizations, and the automotive industry is one of the most product-centric there is.
That's what makes BMW Canada Inc.'s effort to become a customer-centric organization so difficult. Two years ago, BMW decided its worldwide CRM platform would run on technology from San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel Systems Inc.
In conjunction with that effort is a project to treat every BMW customer as if each one were the only customer, said Kelly Lam, CRM manager for BMW Canada. It's required some changes beyond just consolidating technology.
"CRM is really owned by the business," Lam said. "Last year we shifted the [CRM] department from IT and processes to sales and marketing. It was a key change because it really showed the change of CRM within the organization. It's not just sitting on some server somewhere." @15259
Lam and his team now answer to the marketing department.
BMW Canada is essentially serving as the test case for the global automaker's move toward Siebel. The Toronto-based division is running Siebel Automotive Call Center 7.5.3, Analytics 7.7, and events and marketing applications, Lam said. BMW Canada is the first to launch all the modules together and integrate them with marketing.
The starting point has been the call center operations. BMW Canada had several centers handling different business processes, ranging from financing to automotive
"We looked at why a customer [would] get handled differently in financial services than another department," Lam said. "We wanted to provide the same experience across those touch points."
BMW Canada has maintained the same back-end system while making Siebel the master customer database. Vehicle information and financials are run on a Hyperion data warehouse. Previously, BMW Canada had been running its CRM on a GoldMine system from Pleasanton, Calif.-based FrontRange Solutions Inc.
"We've had huge results," Lam said. "From a data quality standpoint, we've had a huge increase in the accuracy of data. We see it in marketing just from the reduction in returned direct mail."
In the past, customer service would sometimes have little idea what the latest marketing campaign was. Now with the click of a button on the customer record they can see the actual campaign material. Additionally, a simple address change used to be a multi-step process for customers. The new system allows customers to make those changes with one call.
The new system has allowed BMW Canada to bring some of its marketing back in-house, and the company will next shift its attention to the dealer community.
While BMW has made a major commitment to Siebel just as the company is being acquired by Oracle, Lam remains confident Oracle will support the product.
"There's always uncertainty," he said. "We feel a lot more comfortable by the fact that Oracle is giving its own customers the opportunity to upgrade to Siebel."