Manufacturer of automation technology, Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik (B&R) is now able to chart the entire customer life cycle thanks to support from SugarCRM.
Applications maintenance manager, Owen Davies was more than ready to upgrade B&R’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform after five years of working with a proprietary Lotus Notes-based implementation that was flawed and obsolete by technology standards.
Davies had a multitude of choices, including offerings from SAP, SalesForce and a new development in Lotus Notes.
The company was leaning toward a customided SAP-based platform – it had C-level support and was familiar because the company was using SAP on the financial side. But Davies knew the value strategy was in choosing a platform that provided agility and cost efficiency in the long term.
Counter to the institutional viewpoint, he lobbied for Sugar’s solution on the grounds of agility, cost efficiency, user comfort and integration capabilities.
Today, Sugar is the backbone of the sales team, a key element for marketing and a baseline resource for customer engagement in B&R’s 160 offices throughout the world.
The applications maintenance manager explained: “We’re a leader in process technology, and Sugar helps us show that in a cost-efficient way that makes us look smart as we develop a coordinated sales approach and track the customer journey.”
The CRM with the highest dividend
Like many growing companies, B&R tried as long as possible to live economically within its in-house Lotus Notes-based CRM, knowing it would be costly and risky to change, and that any change would get pushback from internal teams.
But change had to occur if B&R were going to maximise sales and net margins. Internally, everyone knew increased efficiency, process automation and outstanding customer service were keys to profitability.
The approach – the implementation that would help reach those goals – remained at issue.
Davies continued: “We had decided to build our own system in SAP and then somebody said we should look at Sugar. After looking at it for an hour in a web conference, we decided to throw out our plans.
“It was clear that Sugar could fulfill our goals and give us more than we had anticipated. Being in a web browser and appearing to be user friendly was very impressive and offered more flexibility.”
Rapid and comfortable implementation
Transitioning from legacy systems to any CRM can be bug-plagued and a difficult sell, especially to a sales team whose focus is more on generating revenue than imputing data about customers.
B&R resolved those challenges with a three-month beta program.
After running the old system and Sugar side-by-side, Davies noted that everybody quickly saw how effective Sugar was going to be, making the transition a lot easier.
He said: “We had about 600 users at that point – we’re about 700 now – and it was a fast, seamless transition once everybody, including sales, saw what Sugar could do for them.”
Three months after the kick-off, Sugar was up and running.
Sugar maps the customer journey
With buy-in from mission-critical teams, such as sales and marketing, Davies could show Sugar’s ability to lift customer satisfaction levels.
He knew others business teams, such as finance and administration, had to be involved, but the corporate truisms were universally valid – sales pays the bills and customers come first.
With 100%-use worldwide in sales, B&R’s sales implementation is the pivot point that helps the company chronicle the entire customer journey.
He continued: “Sugar gives us the ability to be customer-specific in our solutions; no matter who is responding to the inquiry, we know the customer and the needs. That makes us look smart and personalises our customer service.”
Using five stages of the sales process — what B&R knows about a company; who the contacts are; how the product can be presented; what the production needs are, and the up-sell and service opportunities – B&R uses Sugar to chart the entire customer life cycle.
Davies enthused: “We never had this kind of consolidated information before. It used to be in personal notes and spreadsheets not everyone saw. Now, it’s in one place in Sugar, and everybody understands how to see and respond to the customer.”
Herbert Groemer, who handles the daily CRM administration, says customers see a difference in the B&R business model today because Sugar helps produce laser-focused proposals that are unique to customer needs.
He noted: “We simply know our customers better because of Sugar, and our sales and marketing teams are more involved with the customer at a personalised level.”
A sweet look ahead
Now that B&R is seeing the returns from Sugar, Davies and Groemer know the internal sell on growing Sugar use will be significantly easier.
They are looking to add more marketing functionality, increase customised reports and leverage Sugar’s user-friendly adaptability to handle processes in finance and administration.
Davies concluded: “The Sugar vocabulary is so comfortable for us now that we see all kinds of uses.”