Know Thy Customer

Indian corporates realize that customer satisfaction builds
a global business. The flourishing CRM market is indicative of this.

Imagine your printer service guy calling you up and say
ing, "Sir, your toner is due for replacement. Please tell us a convenient time when
we can deliver it." It surely would be a dream come true! No more calling up the
service company asking "so when can I expect my delivery" or no more incensed,
"is that final or do I have to call you up again to remind you?" Too idyllic to
be true? Not exactly.

As that’s what Customer Relation Management (CRM) packages
making their entry into the country aims to achieve. According to AMR, a market research
firm, the CRM market worldwide is expected to grow from $1.2 billion to $7.5 billion over
five years spanning 1997-2002. In India, CRM as a concept is still new.

However, the distributors of such products are very
optimistic as they expect the market to be bigger than the ERP market. "It can be
defined under the ERP segment but has a bigger market, as anywhere customer relationship
is involved this package can be implemented." explains SP Chittora, CEO, Bunka Orient
India (BOI), distributor of Canada-based Pivotol CRM package in the country.
Interestingly, Pivotol has been implemented by Infosys at its US office, sourced from BOI.
If information is empowering, then CRM can be called the solution that provides vital
information-about customers-on your fingertips! Not only that, these solutions provide
benefits such as customer loyalty through timely and proactive services.

For instance, Canon has installed Wipro’s ServicEdge CRM
package for its fax and copiers division. The company has dedicated lines, functional 24
hours, in eight cities. This has increased the number of first time call closures in case
the problem with a fax/copier is minor and easily rectifiable, prioritizing calls and
committing service time immediately. In case the call is not attended to within a
specified time, the package sends reminders till the details of the servicing are entered.
In case spare parts are required, the package mails to the department concerned
proactively and also sends reminders.

In addition to ensuring proper customer service, the
information in the package ensures proactive preventive maintenance. Says KV Sukumar,
General Manager, Services, "We have developed a concept called ‘productive parts
maintenance’. Since every sale is logged in the customer service package, as a specific
part nears its end due to its natural life cycle we call up the customer about the
possible malfunctioning of the product."

A CRM is useful not just for customer service, but the
information also helps in better sales/marketing information and improved functioning
through better target market identification. Another advantage is that the reports
generated by the CRM package also enables salesmen and service engineers to track the
market’s performance and evaluate it. "It empowers the management with information on
the company’s customer service performance as well as individual’s response to customer
calls without our having to revert to the engineer," adds Sukumar.

As with ERP packages, this package promotes transparency in
operations and enables better crisis management in terms of stocking and parts
maintenance. Sukumar confidently adds that the company has won extra orders as its
customer track record promotes confidence among clients about the company. Agrees
Chittora, "There is an increase in the number of new customer prospects as salesmen
have more time to pursue new calls since they have to spend less time on attending an old
customer if the call can be closed online."

Since a screen with the most common problems pops up as the
operator attends a call, the rate of first time call closure is high. An off-the-shelf
product, the CRM package also provides room for customization. Says Arun Simha, Product
Manager, ServicEdge, "In case a customer wants customi-zation to meet his specific
business process requirements, we do it. It could be at three levels-screen customization,
module level customization or localization."

The amount spent on customization is well worth it,
according to Sukumar, since the returns in terms of intangible benefits justify it. In
addition to Wipro and BOI, CRM packages are also available from Lotus and SAS in the
country. According to the Gartner Group, businesses worldwide are changing their customer
management practices. It is a well known saying that the cost of retaining a customer is
10 times more than the cost of acquiring a new one.

While in India, the customer has not traditionally got the
rightful place he enjoys in a developed country, the increasing awareness about the need
for customer relationship, the influence of the MNS culture and the availability of such
packages will no doubt bring about a sea change. Hopefully, the Indian customer will now
get the attention-which is rightfully his, amidst the rat race to make money.

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