Health World & Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Good customer management helps to build a healthier business
Health World Limited was formed more than 25 years ago with the aim of providing high quality nutritional supplements to healthcare professionals and consumers. Since then, Health World has become a market leader and one of the most trusted suppliers of natural medicines in Australia and New Zealand. Its success can be attributed to the company's strict adherence to quality beginning with ingredients, following all the way through to manufacturing, distribution and its relationship with customers, which is a natural result of Heath World's commitment to help people live happier, healthier lives.
Today Health World's retail product lines include the market-leading Inner Health, Ethical Nutrients and Endura brands, while for health care professionals Health World offers the Metagenics, Health World TCM and Sun Ten brands.
A complex customer matrix
Health World has more than 55,000 active customers, ranging from pharmacies and health food stores through to specialist sports stores and medical professionals. Approximately 15,000 of these relationships are managed directly by Health World's sales force. The remainder are the subject of collaborative marketing activities. Health World recognises seven of its departments interact directly with their customers and require access to a robust relationship management and business processing tool.
With many customers likely to be involved in more than one product range the challenge for Health World is to manage the multiplicity of relationships along with their differing sales and marketing processes across all divisions, and to do so in a way that benefits both Health World and its customers.
In the early part of this century Health World achieved this with the help of a small Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system but explains, "As the company grew we realised we needed a specialised CRM that could give us more flexibility for managing multiple channels. With six major product categories across 150 end user employees from seven different departments, it creates quite
a complex matrix."
Wallace established a list of requirements for his ideal CRM system. It included:
- real time delivery of information to end users,
- the ability to record more, and more in-depth, information,
- analytical reporting,
- remote connectivity for sales staff working on the road and
- tools to enhance collaboration with other staff and management.
Maintaining control of their own destiny
In the latter part of 2008 Wallace and his team researched CRM solutions before carrying out due diligence on a short list of three early in 2009. Shortly thereafter, Wallace announced his decision. "Microsoft Dynamics was the solution of choice out of that process."
He points to the software's strengths in a number of areas. "It was something that we could host ourselves and when it comes to cloud solutions, we prefer to be in control of our own destiny. We found it quite flexible in terms of customisation and the ability to configure it to meet our information requirements. We also liked its integration with other Microsoft technologies that we had available to us."
This latter point was particularly important as Wallace was looking to retire not only Health World's existing CRM but also its third party BI tool. His plan was to replace it all with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a Microsoft SharePoint site hosting SQL Server Reporting Services, Excel Services and other BI services. Implemented as a data warehouse, everything would integrate to provide Health World with a single source of the truth.
To help build and deploy the CRM portion of the project, Wallace sought an implementation partner but it wasn't an easy process. "The original scope of the project was very high level bordering on conceptual. We didn't want to paint a partner into an unimaginative corner. Instead we wanted the partner to come to us with recommendations of how things could be done better," Wallace explains.
It took Health World two false starts before they appointed Professional Advantage and the project began to proceed in earnest. "The project methodology that we required was unique and we struggled to find a partner that could meet our requirements. Professional Advantage became the partner of choice largely because of their agility. What Professional Advantage brought to the table was proactive consultancy rather than reacting to us asking for things. They understood what was required from a commercial business sense. They explained to us the options along with the advantages and disadvantages of each approach which allowed us to make the right choice," he notes.
Back on track
From the beginning Wallace and his team had set a launch date of early 2010. The timing was necessary to coincide with the company's annual kick-off. All sales staff would be together in the one place for three days, creating an ideal forum to present the system and conduct training. "If we missed the date, we would have to postpone the launch until we could get everyone together again. That could have taken another year," Wallace says. Unfortunately, because of the delays searching for the right partner, Wallace adds, "We were three months out from going live but we were four months behind schedule."
What followed was an intense period of work involving both Health World and Professional Advantage staff. The system had to be configured, data loaded, stress tests conducted and training manuals prepared. "Professional Advantage managed to not only resurrect the project but they also resurrected the original timeline and we went live according to the original project plan," Wallace acknowledges.
In the time since that rush to launch, Health World has reported no problems with its CRM system. The project has entered into a continuous improvement cycle, whereby users proffer feedback and suggestions for enhancements are considered. "You can get all the specification you want from management but it's not until users start using the software that you can refine it," Wallace points out.
One early development has been the addition of support for Blackberries and other smartphone devices used by sales staff. Wallace is also planning an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 which will bring even closer integration with other Microsoft technologies.
Professional Advantage is still closely involved with Health World, providing expert external consulting services, Level 3 help desk support and carrying out enhancements as required. It's a close relationship. "We don't regard any of our value added relationships as consultants anymore," Wallace says. "We're partners. Effectively we induct our primary consultants into the business so that they know who we are, why we do things the way we do and so that they know the team that they must integrate with. Our Professional Advantage consultant certainly knows the intimate side of our business. The benefit for me is that I do less explaining and he does more understanding. And I continue to get proactive rather than reactive advice."
Wallace scores the project a nine out of ten. "Based on our due diligence, it's brought everything we wanted. I don't think any other solution would score higher."
To gauge the value of the CRM project, Wallace conducted a value stream mapping exercise based on Health World's original sales processes. The analysis identified points of constraint and inefficiency in the company's processes. He then did a similar exercise based on the processes adopted for the new CRM system and its integration with other tools. What he discovered was a 33 per cent improvement in productivity.
More importantly, through tracking and analysis of customer technical support requests, resolution and satisfaction rates, he estimates that Health World has become 50 per cent more responsive to customer needs. "That's where the advantage is for our customers. What we are able to do now is track multiple departments' involvement with a particular customer, not only over the phone but by email and other channels. We can identify weaknesses and put in place corrective action a lot faster than we could before."
Wallace is quick to add that weaknesses are definitely more the exception than the rule. "We take comfort in our responsiveness as a company." Every year Health World staff talks presents directly to over 5,000 health practitioners around Australia. With the information being captured in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Wallace believes that staff will be able to better assess the effectiveness of this investment of time, and that they will have a more comprehensive understanding of the information that customers require. "Using this system we can better listen to, and be guided by, our customers," Wallace concludes.