Knowing your customers and delivering a very personalized experience to each and every individual is no longer a differentiator for companies; it's become essential. But despite being cognizant of this requirement, many organizations are still struggling to establish a robust CRM strategy that allows them to tailor experiences to individual customers.
The Redglaze Group was facing this hurdle across all of its eight companies that offer services to the construction industry. The organization's business leaders recognized that not only was it imperative for each individual company to have a clear view of customers and the multiple projects underway, but the distinct systems needed to work together and share information, allowing the entire organization to be more agile, especially on projects that required multi-company collaboration.
An outdated CRM system was leading to multiple inefficiencies, explains Craig Hammond, Redglaze's marketing and technology development manager. One of the main problems lay with the system's inflexibility to add fields as additions became necessary. Often, entering new data required deleting the previous information, which could be troublesome when looking back at the project. This is especially true in the construction industry where projects undergo numerous changes over their lifetime. For example, Hammond notes, apart from the name and location of the building, other key fields of information like the architect, building manager, and contractor could change throughout the duration of a project. Since updating these fields proved impossible, often previous contacts were simply deleted and important data, lost.
As a result, Redglaze had to limit the number of people allowed to enter data or add fields in order to avoid incurring multiple changes that could compromise the integrity of the system. "Every minute request [to add fields] was scrutinized since it would have enormous impact on how the data was reported later," he explains.
Project managers understood the problem of data loss, and in fact Hammond says some would take it upon themselves to add old data in the notes section. But this was neither efficient nor a companywide practice. "The data was really inconsistent," notes Sean Pinegar, a software engineer with the company.
Data problems led to wasted time since project managers had to schedule different meetings to look over the projects before taking certain decisions, for example determine who to invoice for a particular stage of the project.
Aware about the need for changes, in January 2013 Redglaze Groupworked withSugarCRM to adopt its CRM solution, Sugar, across its eight companies with one of the main aims being the creation of a data-sharing platform to provide up-to-date and comprehensive project-specific information. After bringing together the disparate data, one important change was providing the flexibility to add fields to accommodate new data without compromising its integrity or lead to reporting problems. Hammond notes that the flexibility and ease-of-use of the system is allowing Redglaze to provide a wealth of additional information that can be leveraged when working on a particular project. For example, who was the initial point of contact or who was involved in various stages of the project. Further, because the system is user-friendly, there has been an uptake in both the inputting of data as well as report creation.
Another benefit is the provision of more data to use when making future decisions, for example provide accurate time frames for different projects. "Data is extraordinarily valuable but becomes worthless when it's not organized in a way that allows us to capitalize on trends," Hammond stresses.
Apart from benefitting from the positive impact of increased efficiency, interactions with customers have also improved following the implementation of the solution. Since Redglaze staff has access to a more robust information system that's updated in real time, interactions are more engaging and effective, allowing for clients to get the information they require quickly.
The new system has been widely adopted across Redglaze Group, with almost three-quarters of staff relying on the information to do their jobs. Access to the right data is also contributing to a team's nearly 30 percent efficiency rating, especially since there's no need for multiple meetings to review individual projects. Further, as Pinegar points out, the system's ease of use means that project managers can prepare their own reports, removing the need for a position dedicated solely to that role. As Hammond notes, the organization has gotten used to the flexibility and efficiency provided by the new system. "Our tongue-in-cheek comment is always that Sugar has led to higher expectations," he says.