NTE Inc.âs supply chain and transaction management software helps a customer such as Target Stores manage its transportation shipment information, making it easier for the giant retailer to deal with its vendors and customers. Unfortunately, just last year, NTE couldnât say the same thing about its own customer relationship management efforts.
Even though NTE had been using a CRM program from a major vendor, the application was nearly useless, executives said. Some customer information in the database was outdated or incorrect, making it difficult for the company to perform accurate and efficient analysis. In addition, the software version the company was usingâa server-based solutionâdidnât have remote support.
"We needed visibility for the entire company, and I knew we needed to start from a clean slate," said George Abernathy, senior VP at NTE, Downers Grove, Ill. "But we also needed something with a low barrier to entry upfront. We didnât want to outlay enormous amounts of cash."
Abernathy found what he was looking for in a hosted CRM solution from SalesNet, Boston. After paying what Abernathy calls a "modest" set-up fee, NTE had its new CRM program up and running within 30 days.
Training was a breeze, he said, because employees were able to access a Webinar and complete the course in about six hours.
Of course, some work was done before the migration from its old system. Most important, NTEâs staff spent hours researching and cleaning customer data.
Since NTEâs data went up on the Web, the company has seen significant costs savings, even with the $1,000 licensing fee it pays each month. In fact, NTE saw an almost immediate return on investment, Abernathy said, recouping all costs in less than 60 days. NTE is saving money by eliminating inaccurate customer data and the need for constant software and technical support.
Of course, ROI goes deeper than capital expenditures. Thereâs been a gain in productivity, too. On the operations side, the companyâs financial group can use the new system when itâs forecasting revenues.
In addition, everyone from the board of directors to salespeople can access information on whatâs going on in the company and make decisions based on the most up-to-date data. Because all of NTEâs CRM and sales material is online, users can access it anywhere thereâs an Internet connection. The software includes an offline option, too. Also, once a lead is approved, contract negotiations are simple, because everyone uses the same proposal templates.
"The salespeople are learning from each other. Theyâre taking the best of what counterparts are doing, and integrating it into their own customer service," Abernathy said. "Plus, since contract templates are standardized, thereâs no risk of using an old version. Customers get the most up-to-date offerings."
On the marketing side, NTE uses the CRM program to track and maintain direct mailing elements and lists. Prospects gleaned from advertising are managed online, too, in a pre-sales portal, Abernathy said.
"The ASP model has been questioned in the past, but what was a dramatic step three years ago is now something that can really save money and provide a secure, robust platform for users," Abernathy said. "I have absolutely no regrets or qualms about my decision."