CRM gives firms a complete view of their customers

Ceridian Canada Ltd. is hoping to unite the separate islands within its organization into a cohesive whole by implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system.

In doing so, the Winnipeg-based payment services company intends to better serve and understand its customers, as well as its own needs. It has turned to the recently-allied Siebel Systems Canada Ltd. and IBM Canada Ltd.

“From our point of view, this is the strategy which will differentiate us from the other guys in the marketplace and create a single customer database, a single relationship with our customers from the multiple relationships we have today and the multiple databases that we have today, and allow us to reach our objectives of being the number one provider in this business based on our ability to service better than anyone,” said Ceridian president Jim Jarvis.

Along with the CRM package, Ceridian is also working to e-enable its business.

Currently 27,000 of Ceridian’s 37,000 customers are small businesses with under 50 employees. Many of these smaller companies call in at an appointed day and time with their employee hours.

But Ceridian is creating an Internet-based payroll system for their customers.

“So no longer will they have to phone us at a certain time of the day, at the allotted time and give us their hours. We’ll eliminate time and distance and allow them to do their payroll anytime they choose,” Jarvis said.

Toronto-based Siebel and IBM Canada in Markham, Ont., have joined forces to integrate Siebel’s CRM software with IBM’s e-business strategy, which includes both hardware and software.

The plan is to allow everyone within an organization to share knowledge and experience with Ceridian’s customers. This way, when a customer calls, they will not have to repeat their whole history to the person they are talking to, said Robert Douglas, vice-president and Canadian country manager of Siebel.

“CRM is a business initiative or strategy around how an organization can gather a single view of their customer such that it doesn’t matter how the customer or where the customer is interacting with that organization. They have a complete and single view of that customer,” he said.

By integrating everything, Ceridian hopes to be able to tap into the knowledge it collects about its customers.

“As we mine this data, our marketing organization will begin to see trends like when we win, why do we win and when we lose, why do we lose,” Jarvis said.

Ceridian is just one of many companies considering CRM as a solution. The CRM growth rate is expected to be 61 per cent a year over the next five years, according to an International Data Corp. (Canada) Ltd. study.

“It’s the fastest growing software in the whole sector,” said Cameron Dow, the Canadian software research manager at IDC in Toronto.

CRM software automates and integrates all the touch points between a customer and the organization, Dow said.

But the points that don’t touch customers are also important. In order to realize the full potential of CRM, it is critical to integrate your CRM system with your back-end systems, whether they be newly implemented ERP systems or aging legacy systems. When the front office and back office are tightly integrated, users can “see their customers with a 360 degree view,” said Dave Achtemichuk, the vice-president and general manager of PeopleSoft Canada in Toronto. Like IBM, PeopleSoft is also integrating a CRM solution into its ERP offerings.

Besides tight integration with the back office, CRM solutions should also be Web-enabled, Dow said.

“You can’t really deploy a CRM solution without having an e-component to it,” he said. This gives customers 24 by 7 access and allows them to choose how they want to interact with a company.