Waters Corporation customers aren’t average consumers. The company’s clients are researchers, scientists and engineers, working in state-of-the-art pharmaceutical, biotechnology and industrial laboratories all over the world. It’s an exacting and demanding customer group that expects not only top-notch liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, thermal analysis and rheology instruments, but also superior service.
Milford, Mass.-based Waters delivers on both demands. The world leader in its discipline manufactures invaluable, integrated solutions, used by its customers to develop new drugs, identify nutritional content of foods, and test the quality of air and water. The solutions include instruments, chemistries, software and value-added service aimed to meet customers’ comprehensive needs. Waters’ revenues top $890 million and its success has secured it a spot on the S&P 500. It operates in 50 countries and employs 3,500 people.
“Having a single face for the customer”
And Waters accomplishes all of that while providing consistent, world-class customer service. To do so, it relies on an integrated SAP R/3 system as its backbone for enterprise resource planning. To handle its thousands of multinational customers and its highly technical sales process, Waters relies on mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) software. Over three years, Waters attributes millions of dollars in revenue directly to the increased functionality mySAP CRM provides.
“The overall objective from a business point of view is to have a single face for the customer,” said Paul Newton, Waters’ chief information officer. Whether the customer interacts with the company via the Web, the telephone or face-to-face, Waters wants the experience to be uniform and painless, he says. Its systems must seamlessly handle global operations that span 50 countries, multiple languages and multiple currencies.
Waters mySAP CRM upgrade is part of its overall push to keep the entire company integrated on a single SAP-based system. Newton cites SAP’s system architecture and its ability to lower the total cost of technology ownership as core reasons Waters has been a satisfied SAP customer since 1994. Since completing its mySAP CRM integration in October 2001, Waters has seen dramatic returns. They include increased online and telephone sales, faster invoicing, more cost-effective direct mailing, more accurate lead generation, and more targeted and productive marketing campaigns.
Waters is right on time with customer and product data
Waters motto is “Right On Time,” a theme that indicates its commitment to help researchers find the right answers quickly. In business since 1958, Waters has been a crucial player in the highly regulated pharmaceuticals, refined chemicals, food and beverage, personal care products, semiconductors and plastics and environmental industries. Its products include instruments, column chemistries, and software and support services.
Both customer and product data must be accurate and accessible to all critical Waters units during the entire sales and service cycle. Waters’ customer service, engineering and sales staff, for example, must be able to see the same facts with up-to-the-minutes notes on recent interactions. “We needed to be able to represent a complex, configurable product with complex pricing rules and global contracts,” said Newton. Though mySAP CRM is a core component, Newton also points out that Waters’ overall operational efficiency is possible because of its entire mySAP Business Suite. That includes SAP R/3 for enterprise resource planning, mySAP Financials, mySAP Supply Chain Management (mySAP SCM) and mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM) and other pieces.
Overlapping business processes
The SAP components all work together to streamline overlapping business processes. “Managing our contacts begged for a single solution,” said Newton, with a single customer face and a single customer file. “The best way to synchronize two files is to eliminate one of them,” he said, something Waters tackled in its CRM integration.
That process turned out to be a challenge. In the midst of the upgrade, Waters discovered that two-thirds of its U.S. customer contact files were designated as “inactive.” With careful digging, Waters learned that the problem stemmed from repeated entries inserted inadvertently. Instead of adding new data to existing customer files, the support staff was creating a new file for each customer contact.
Cleaning up the master data files, though difficult, was vital. Accurate, current customer data must be accessible to Waters staff during all parts of the sales and service processes. For example, Waters needs to know who its scientist customers are and what labs they are in, as well as their company, division and parent corporation. Waters needs immediate access to data about who pays customers’ bills and who makes purchasing decisions, as well as information about service and maintenance calls.
An upstart challenger emerges
Early on in the upgrade, Waters found itself facing an unexpected challenge. During the dot-com boom, upstart online business-to-business marketplaces attempted take a slice of Waters’ sales. Newton says its mySAP CRM system gave Waters the means to fight back. The challengers couldn’t offer real-time product availability data, online pricing, software patches and other features that Waters’ SAP system offered.
In the end, Waters beat the upstarts by creating a comprehensive online product catalogue and e-commerce portal for 25 countries. “With one, integrated SAP suite, it was easy to take that solution and deploy it worldwide. It was easy because with SAP, we were already taking orders in multiple languages, multiple currencies and we had a global distribution network in place,” said Newton.
Today Waters’ portal brings in $2 to $3 million, while the marketplaces don’t exist anymore. And Waters’ entire mySAP Business Suite handles not just customer-facing processes, but other tasks as well. “We can issue a quote, take an order for an instrument, configure a complex instrument, write a five-year service plan and provide all the software, all on SAP,” said Newton.
Returns gained from mySAP CRM
Newton gives several examples of returns Waters gained from its mySAP CRM system. In the services unit, for instance, Waters relies on automated reminders generated by SAP to know when it’s time to alert customers that contracts are up for renewal. Customers appreciate the professional courtesy of a reminder and that unit’s sales have risen as a result.
Another return comes from Waters’ chemistry unit. mySAP CRM’s campaign management tool helped it raise its marketing response rate by 50 percent. Since Waters has data about customer buying patterns, it can better focus its marketing efforts. “We are able to run more campaigns for the same money and we are sending more targeted campaigns because of the integration of our customer files,” said Newton.
And, Waters’ mobile sales force has been empowered by mySAP CRM. The system’s data replication capabilities let Waters give sales people daily pricing and configuration updates. That means customer and product data is accurate when accessed on the road.
Are Waters executives happy with their investment in mySAP CRM and other SAP software? Newton says “yes,” in large part because SAP is reliable and gets the job done. “Year in and year out,” he said, “SAP has delivered on upgrades, features and functions to the quarter they were promised.”