Coreco Imaging had six offices in two countries -- and one big problem with customer service.
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Surveys showed that Coreco's customers, OEMs in the semiconductor, electronics and pharmaceutical industries, were less than thrilled with the level of customer service that they were receiving from the Montreal-based machine vision electronics manufacturer.
The underlying issue: disparate databases of sales and customer service information, complicated by the need to provide data synchronization to both mobile workers and Coreco's offices in Canada and North America.
"The project was to find a complete CRM package," said Laura Farnham, inside sales manager. "[We needed] something that was easy to use, something [on which] we could have mobile users that could easily obtain information, sync with no problem, so that when we call have constant, up-to-date information."
The vendor decision
Initially, Farnham said, she reviewed five CRM vendors: Pivotal, SalesLogix, Frontrange, ACT and Epicor.
"I felt [Frontrange's] GoldMine [software] wasn't a full CRM package," said Farnham. "ACT -- same thing, just mainly a contact database. So when I moved to the final three, [they were Epicor's] Clientele, Saleslogix and Pivotal."
Farnham then assembled a group of top management from the departments that would be using and implementing the new CRM system -- representatives from marketing, IT, sales, operations and customer service -- and invited the finalists to come in and do presentations for the team.
In the end, Farnham said, "[Epicor's] Clientele won everybody's vote."
Clientele offered integrated sales and customer service data, one-touch reporting features for fast information about leads, and data synchronization between Coreco's offices and headquarters, as well as between employees in the field. In addition, Farnham liked the fact that the Windows NT-based tool offered support for Microsoft Access, her "favorite program in the world."
Farnham and the team were particularly impressed with Clientele's ease-of-use. "We pretty much could use [Clientele] out of the box," she said. Both Pivotal and Saleslogix would have required a great deal of customization, according to Farnham.
Coreco made only a few customizations to Clientele. The first, the addition of two tables, was done at implementation. The other customizations involved adding fields to forms or making existing fields searchable. With the exception of adding the tables, Farnham was able to make customizations herself.
"I didn't have to be an IT manager to make the changes," said Farnham. "I was easily able to go into the global functions, add a few SQL statements that I needed to add and everything was up and running."
In addition, Farnham said the price was "a lot more reasonable for growth. You didn't have a price differentiation -- at least, not at the time that we took it -- between a mobile license and a network license."
A rocky start
The initial implementation cost between $13,000 and $14,000, but probably wound up costing Coreco no more than $7,000, said Farnham, thanks to a credit received in response to a problem with the consultant who came to assist in the implementation.
"He was here for two weeks," said Farnham, "And at the end of the two weeks, we did not have a usable Clientele."
The problem came to a head with the integration of Coreco's sales and customer service databases. The customer service database, an earlier version of Clientele, hadn't been used in five years; the sales database, a product called SIMiN by Colburn Software Development, was current, but contained only information on prospects. The plan was to combine both databases into the new Clientele so that all information was inclusive and updated for both sales and customer service.
"What we wanted him to do was take the SIMiN database in first since that was current information, then bring in the Clientele stuff and any duplicates that he would find, he was to knock out the Clientele one, because that was the older database," said Farnham. "He did the exact opposite."
As a result, all the current records from the SIMiN database were inaccessible from the new Clientele.
Farnham contacted Epicor's director of professional services and received a credit toward a week of the consultant's time and guidance in re-implementing Clientele. The whole process took about a month.
"Whenever I ran into stumbling blocks with trying to do the implementation ourselves, he would walk me through it," Farnham said. "He was awesome ... walking us through, telling us not to worry, he'd take care of it. And he did."
In the end, subtracting the credits and adding the licensing fees, the whole project cost about $20,000.
Today between 25 and 30 Coreco staffers are using the software.
Coreco saw ROI "almost immediately," said Farnham, who gauged returns by the reduction in complaints received about customer service.
Best of all, Farnham said, is how much easier Clientele has made her job.
"I send out [a report] every month to the VP of sales and marketing and the VP of North American sales on how many leads we've generated in a month, and it's a touch of the button."
Farnham says entering a lead into Clientele "takes minutes" and the sales force can constantly see its information, helping them prepare for account visits without being blindsided.
Coreco is currently looking into moving to Clientele 8.0, a .NET-based tool that offers support for Web Services. If all goes as planned Coreco will integrate 8.0 with its new business system from Mapics. Once that's done employees will be able to view prospect and customer information they have now, as well as orders, history and other related data, over the Web and on their desktops.
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