CRM shifts to the cloud
Three local companies share their online CRM experiences with Ulrika Hedquist
By Ulrika Hedquist, Auckland | Tuesday, 24 July, 2012
While cloud-based CRM offerings have been around for many years, on-premise CRM systems have traditionally been the preferred option. But now, analysts are starting to see that change.
“There is definitely a shift going on in terms of CRM moving into the cloud,” says Vern Hue, senior market analyst at IDC Australia and New Zealand.
According to IDC’s research, the local CRM market is growing by a rate of 14 percent annually.
“[That] is the total CRM growth number – growth for CRM on-demand will be significantly higher,” Hue says.
There are a couple of factors that are “nudging organisations towards an on-demand solution”, he says.
“First and foremost – the cost considerations. More and more organisations are seeing the value of moving some of their enterprise workloads into the cloud, and CRM has been one of the solutions [that] makes business and technological sense,” he says.
With IT being expected to deliver savings and drive business transformation at the same time, IT managers now see the viability of moving their investments from a capex to an opex model, Hue says. By running their CRM system in the cloud, organisations can also free up IT personnel to focus on more mission-critical and transformational projects, he says.
NZ Post rolled out an Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service system earlier this year, which combines web, social and contact centre functionality. The organisation had used its previous CRM system in its call centre for the last 10-12 years and it was time to move from that “basic system to a more integrated system”, says Russell Stephens, head of channels, customer solutions and services at NZ Post. The aim was to move away from a “siloed” approach, with one person looking after the call centre, another looking after chat and another social media.
“We wanted something that allowed us to utilise, on one platform, a lot of functionality across those different channels,” he says.
NZ Post has been using RightNow for email and internal chat for some time but went through a full selection process before choosing RightNow for CRM as well, he says.
In addition to the standard case management functionality used in the call centre – such as logging calls and recording details – NZ Post can now get a “multi-dimensional view of the customer” in the online space as well, Stephens says. If customers can’t find the answers they are looking for on the website, they can send an email that gets recorded in the CRM system, he says. Customers browsing the website can also click a button to get a live chat going, “or we can proactively offer them a live chat, if we see they are on a certain page for a certain amount of time,” he says.
“The point of having one system is that it allows you to record all of that activity in one place,” he says.
Chat is NZ Post’s fastest growing channel. “In the world we live in today, people are expecting it and using it in their personal lives,” Stephens says.
NZ Post’s mobile site is also growing fast, he says. “Looking at the number of people who are using our site from a fixed computer versus using the mobile site – the mobile site is growing probably three times as fast.”
There have been about 50,000 downloads of the NZ Post iPhone app, he adds.
“Mobile is going to be a big focus for us this year.”
In the next three to six months, the organisation will put the same Oracle/RightNow knowledge base on the mobile site as it currently has on the fixed site.
“Customers will be able to get exactly the same experience on a mobile device as they can on a fixed PC,” he says.
The fact that the system is in the cloud has been “powerful” to Stephens as a user, he says. He has been at NZ Post for about nine months. Before that he worked for Vodafone and Telecom and was a RightNow user in both places. He says it is reliable system. “In the past 10 years, I’ve probably had to phone up twice or three times when it hasn’t been available.”
To him, placing CRM in a secure cloud environment is a “no-brainer”.
The solution has been fully operational since March this year. NZ Post worked well with RightNow, he says.
“They had a couple of people onsite here, but most of the development was done in Australia.”
However, if going through a similar process again the organisation would get some more clarity upfront in the scope process, he says.
“Like with any project implementation you have got to be clear about your scope. I think it always raises questions if you are not clear about that.”
When Dunedin-based Southern Hospitality went looking for a CRM system, a cloud-based solution was a requirement. With 14 branches across the country and around 100 staff on the road every day, the CRM solution needed to be mobile and accessible from anywhere.