CRM apps take flight at aircraft makers


Facing gloomy market conditions, large airplane makers like Raytheon Aircraft Co. and The Boeing Co. are rolling out CRM applications in a bid to boost sales and improve their customer service capabilities.

Raytheon Aircraft in November went live with call center, sales and service applications developed by Siebel Systems Inc., said Ed Dolanski, vice-president of customer support at the Wichita, Kan.-based maker of business jets and personal planes. About 170 Raytheon employees are using the CRM system.

Prior to the Siebel rollout, there was no formal CRM system in place at Raytheon Aircraft, a subsidiary of Lexington, Mass.-based Raytheon Co. “We identified that we didn’t have any type of customer memory, and we cleaned up our act,” Dolanski said.

He wouldn’t disclose the project’s cost but said Raytheon Aircraft has already recovered US$1.4 million of its investment through increased sales. The Siebel applications were installed for 13 per cent less than originally budgeted and were in use four weeks ahead of schedule, Dolanski added. Now the company plans to extend the software to its airport service centers so workers there can access relevant information about aircraft owners.

Saving Time and Money

Chicago-based Boeing’s commercial aviation services unit is preparing to retire a mix of homegrown Unix and mainframe CRM applications in favor of Siebel’s call center software, said Gabe Hanzeli, information systems director for technical services and modifications at the Boeing division.

Hanzeli said the new system will cost several million dollars and is due for a test rollout in the first half of next year. The Siebel software will let Boeing’s aircraft support staff access customer data from a single screen, he said.

Hopefully, that will reduce the time it takes to answer questions from customers, Hanzeli noted. Boeing also expects the Siebel rollout to reduce its internal application maintenance costs.

CRM is just starting to gain momentum in the aviation industry, said Sheldon Tkatch, a senior project manager at Garrett Aviation Service Centers, a Tempe, Ariz.-based provider of plane maintenance and modification services. In January 2002, Garrett began using hosted sales and service applications from Inc. The software has helped Garrett become more proactive in tracking sales opportunities and contacting customers, Tkatch said.