Tough competition today means that products alone do not make the case for many suppliers. Only individualized service, tailor-made offerings, and clearly increased customer retention rates let companies pit themselves against the competition. This situation affects the markets for financial services and retail, along with energy and telecommunications suppliers in areas in which deregulation has caused the downfall of monopolies. The Internet has also exacerbated the situation because many companies now market their products globally, far beyond the borders of their traditional sales markets. And companies also face increased transparency of offerings. Customers can now compare products comfortably at home.
New strategies for customer relationship management offer a way out. As a current study by the Meta Group on the CRM market in Germany shows, many companies implement CRM tools to keep a nose ahead of the competition. “The most frequently mentioned goal is increased competitiveness (95 per cent), followed by increased customer satisfaction (93 per cent),” states the report. Before implementation, every third company had already experienced a painful situation. Some 35 per cent of companies that plan a CRM project complain of their problems with customer satisfaction.
CRM solutions from SAP and most other suppliers increase the punch of employees with direct contact to customers whether they work in sales, a call center, marketing, or a service department. In the sales area, the CRM system provides information on when the last appointment with the customer occurred and when the next is planned. After a successful sales call, the representative can create a new offer – right on the customer site – using the CRM application.
If an employee needs a specific document that a customer refers to during a conversation, things can become difficult. This situation can occur, for example, when customers complain to a call center agent about a statement amount that is too high or ask questions about an offer that they recently received. In these cases, the CRM contact person would have to open the ERP back end, the CRM system, the billing software, or another application with customer-relevant data. The search for documents can become particularly time-consuming when customers have sent them to the company by mail, fax, or e-mail. The CRM expert does not have direct access to original documents and must look for them in one system after another. The result? Customers need a lot of patience and must wait until they get an answer based upon the right information.
Everything with One Click
And having the right information is the crucial point when it comes to optimizing customer service. It would be helpful to have an electronic customer file that is completely integrated into the software and shows a complete overview of the entire relationship with the customer. IXOS offers this function with its customer file for mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM). Employees have all customer-related documents available here at the push of a button – without a tedious search. Companies have an added advantage: Call center agents can handle more inquiries in the same time because of quick information access, so employee efficiency increases noticeably.
Using the added value of the customer file requires not only a technical link to existing IT systems, but also optimal support for new business processes. Offerings in the form of service packages would be helpful, and the consultants at IXOS Services offer such assistance. These kinds of service packages combine important functions for enterprise content management with the services needed to implement the functions. With this approach, companies can plan costs exactly and ahead of time.
The solution packages are most effective when they are tailored directly to customers. For example, in the first phase, IXOS Services holds a kick-off workshop attended by employees from user and the IT departments. The goal of the workshop is to communicate the design and functions of the IXOS solution and its intended benefits. “Together, our employees and those of the client company define a solution tailored to its special requirements and seamlessly integrate it into the existing system landscape,” explains Claudia Traving, director of Services at IXOS. Accordingly, the project plan defines a design for both implementation and rollout.
The second phase includes realization in several individual steps, such as installing and customizing SAP Basis. The steps cover creating the prototype, setting up a development and testing environment, converting specific scenarios, running several tests, and installing it in the production system.
Additional services are also important for the company that is implementing the solution. “Above all, training key users is important for a successful project,” underscores Claudia Traving. “In addition, you can’t forget support for the go-live during the critical rollout phase.” Only this type of approach ensures that the solution is seamlessly embedded into the existing IT landscape and that the business processes are optimized.