ABOUT THE VENDOR
interlinkONE, founded in 1994, is a provider of integrated Web-based customer and partner relationship management solutions for middle market high technology and financial services companies. These solutions enable fully integrated, self-administering, scalable customer and partnership relationship management through its ilinkCRM suite of products. All of interlinkONE's products are available under both traditional licensing and application service provider models.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
interlinkONE's Internet-based CRM and partner relationship management (PRM) solutions enable organizations to develop customer and partner relationships by providing each influencer with the specific information that they need when they need it. Because of their modular configuration, interlinkONE's solutions are ideally suited for mid-sized enterprises where flexibility, functionality, rapid deployment and affordability are essential.
ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
For more than 25 years, Royce & Associates, Inc. has used a disciplined value approach to manage its small- and micro-cap portfolios. The company is headquartered in New York City and has a staff of 57.
Royce funds needed a system to help them track and aggregate client data. SearchCRM spoke with Heather MacLeod, director of e-communications at Royce Funds, about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you choose interlinkONE?
MacLeod: We were solicited by a number of other vendors, but interlinkONE was already providing us with a Web-based utility on our mutual fund sales information. It was a logical outgrowth of that relationship to talk to them about whether they offered other services.
We went with interlinkONE because they had already provided us with one tool, and they were really easy to work with. They didn't have this pre-packaged, off-the-shelf solution -- instead, they said, "What is it you're trying to accomplish? We'll help you get there." They were willing to help us build this thing from the bottom up.
SearchCRM: Did the vendor evaluation present any challenges?
MacLeod: The challenge doesn't come when you're evaluating. The challenges are, can you make this product work to serve the varying needs that you have? In the financial services business, that can be fairly complicated, because we have outside relationships with transfer agents that do our fund accounting, and there are a number of different data pieces that have to be pulled in to make this thing work for an investment firm.
SearchCRM: How did the implementation go?
MacLeod: It's still going now, and it's going really well. It's going well because we contracted with interlinkONE to have someone come in and help us get this thing up and going. For three months they're here sitting with us and we're trying to decide what this thing should look like and how it should work.
SearchCRM: What is the CRM system doing for you now?
MacLeod: It's taking data that's coming in to the organization and/or the Web site about existing shareholders and prospective clients and all the people that sell our funds, and aggregating all that data in one place so we can say, "Here's where you've had contact with Royce." It's taking data from many different places and allowing the person who's serving the individual to say, "I see that you called last week and ordered literature, and that you have five million dollars with us and that your daughter's birthday is on this date." We can't do that on the fly. It's now much more transparent how we're servicing people now and how we're not, and how we can improve that.
SearchCRM: What are the benefits of the CRM system?
MacLeod: The great thing about this is that even in its non-fully functional form, it's a thousand times better than what we had before. Before, you couldn't track with any soft of efficiency. We would take data feeds, but they would get thrown into some big data file, and if you wanted the information you would have to sort through it.
SearchCRM: Seeing as how your company is technologically not in the forefront in your industry, did you find the project difficult psychologically?
MacLeod: The problem with being at the forefront, like with Fidelity, is that they're expected to provide CRM that's at the vanguard. We're a small player, and our customers' main expectation of us is to manage their money. So in some ways it's easier for us to implement these changes because there aren't a lot of expectations. I think it would be painful if the expectations were a lot higher. If we were Fidelity, people would expect to be able to e-mail us and get a live rep at the same time, for example.
SearchCRM: Have you experienced any internal resistance?
MacLeod: The greatest challenge for all of this doesn't have to do with interlinkONE and the potential for their technology, because it's pretty darn good. What it has to do with is getting people within our organization to think differently about how they do their jobs. The challenge is getting people to accept that things may be different and embracing the fact that doing things through this technology is better for them and better for our clients.
SearchCRM: How did you overcome that challenge?
MacLeod: We decided to do a soft rollout. One by one we're getting people on board. That would probably work only at a small place like Royce, not at a bigger firm where at the end of the day, they have to say, "We're no longer doing things this way. We're now doing them this way instead." Here, it's small enough where evolution can really work for us. Person by person, task by task, we're slowly replacing the old ways of doing things.
SearchCRM: When do you expect to see ROI?
MacLeod: We already are. I can't say how much we've saved, but I can tell you that we've had an incredible spark in volume and sales across the board. It's not necessarily because of this tool, but this tool is allowing us not to hire short-term temps to deal with the increased volume. Nobody's panicking and saying, "We need five more people in here." Before, this increase in workload would have been addressed with another person. Now, the technology itself helps ease that burden. The return on investment is so huge--we're paying so little for this system.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in February 2002