CRM solution ties it all together

Budget cuts and an amalgamation of IT services were the driving forces for the University of Western Ontario’s adoption of a new CRM strategy, according to Debbie Jones.

Jones, manager of client support for UWO’s Information Technology Services (ITS), said the group had 10 years of budget cuts and needed to merge all of the IT support areas from academic to administration to hardware services.

They also had to replace at least one piece of software that was not Y2K compliant. The university decided to merge the services and find one product to support that. When the time came to find a starting solution, they chose PeopleSoft’s Vantive line.

“An implementation team was formed and trained in February of 1999. Between February and April of 1999, we went through a gap analysis. What could the out-of-the-box Vantive do for us? What did we have to customize ourselves? That was a very large piece of work to do , trying to figure out how to customize this to fit our business practices,” Jones explained.

The UWO team ended up choosing two pieces from Vantive, HelpDesk and FieldService. Jones noted that by August 1999 they had phase one – the help desk and the technicians – up and running. That left hardware services and the INP group, which was the group with the non-Y2K compliant products.

“We brought in the beta version of the INP software and we managed to get it in by November, so now we had a product that could be used by everyone,” Jones said.

She added the last phase, completed recently, was to streamline their processes. “Prior to this, our customers actually saw us as little individual pieces, – and we were. Now we create a single report of everything ITS has done for you every day.”

PeopleSoft purchased Vantive this year. Christopher Hay, director of sales support for PeopleSoft Canada, said the Vantive product has been effective at the UWO ITS.

“CRM helps to maximize the lifetime of customers. You need to be able to provide a consistent message to the customer no matter what channel,” Hay said.

Jones agreed, noting it was very important that customers have one number they could phone to access all the available services.

“We wanted to streamline. We wanted to reduce duplication. We wanted to be able to hand a call off. If customers call and they’ve dealt with the help desk and it turns out it moves into an area where we have to send out a technician, we don’t want to have to ask them the same 10 questions again,” she said.

ITS also wanted to have a central place to store information, so if a customer calls five times in a month the ITS staff would know that last week that person had a new hard drive or this week their network connection isn’t working.

Michael Bauer, senior director, ITS at UWO, said this centralization is the best part of the new CRM implementation.

“One of the original objectives of management was collecting data on processes to actually become a little bit more proactive. We’ve just got to that stage now,” he said.

Bauer noted ITS would like to build an on-line Web interface with customers, in which a Web-accessible database allows ITS to post problems that are particular to the university.

“Now you can change the behaviour of customers, so they go to the Web first and then call and ask questions,” he said.

Jones added they want also to use network alerts that go right to the help desk. “We want to beef up the process where the customer can actually enter prioritized work for them in the system and be able to monitor the order.”

Hay noted PeopleSoft is moving to provide a centralized customer interaction system. “It will really provide, no matter the method of integrating the CRM system, techniques like universal queuing…which will ensure all interactions from your customers are going to be routed and appropriately queued,” he said.

He added PeopleSoft looks at customer retention as the key. The Vantive line entails support and quality modules, field service, help desk applications and sales force automation.