Alta Resources is an outsourcer of customer care, sales and call center solutions. The company represents and provides services to Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, Alta Resources operates a large call center with several hundred employees in Wisconsin and a satellite call center with one hundred agents in California.

In 1997, Alta Resources began a customer relationship management (CRM) project called the Enterprise Core System (ECS). The project's mission was to build Alta Resources' core competencies and enable Alta to conduct business in a manner that demonstrated operational excellence and a customer-focused attitude. The ECS project team consisted of every functional area that touches Alta's clients' customers including sales, human resources, executive management, telephone sales, customer service and lead generation. The team was managed by a structured approach with a focused schedule and specific objectives that were constantly reviewed and reinforced.

The primary strategic recommendation was "Plan your work and work your plan." For example, clearly define expectations and demand adherence. Have an extremely focused and dedicated individual who is 100 percent committed to leading the project. Give that person immediate access to senior-level executives. Present a progress report at the highest-level meeting on a regular basis, weekly if possible. The project coordinator can help prepare the materials, but the owners should provide the content and give the presentation. Ownership is a critical factor in the success of the project.

As part of the ECS, Alta evaluated new CRM technology. Its requirements were not CRM for just one company, but for dozens because Alta is in the business of providing call center solutions to clients. Alta's Wisconsin and California call centers needed to be joined electronically by a CRM solution that could enable them to operate as one. Alta had an existing telephony communications system serving every seat in both call centers and needed a CRM system that could integrate with the telephony system for e-mail, Web, fax and phone communications. Alta sought a CRM solution that would bring the customer into the call center by allowing the customer to view call center data. This approach would demonstrate Alta Resources' commitment to superior customer service.

Alta selected PeopleSoft's sales, marketing and service CRM applications. Alta integrated PeopleSoft's applications with its existing telephony communications system, enabling e-mail, Web, fax and phone communications to utilize existing resources along with the new technology. Alta found the real-time access for clients, the Web-based interaction center for self-help and the case resolution component to store case resolution responses in a knowledge base as a library especially valuable. In addition, PeopleSoft's commitment to research and development has led to the continuous improvement of the application and subsequent implementations of critical features. Using PeopleSoft CRM, Alta has developed customized applications for more than 20 customers in the last three years.

Since the implementation of PeopleSoft CRM in 1998, Alta's growth has been significant. Revenue has grown by more than 300 percent. The company added 300 people, including more than a dozen IT professionals. Growth is not entirely attributable to the PeopleSoft CRM implementation, but it wouldn't have been nearly as significant without it. The overall outsourcing marketplace has grown considerably, and Alta has been able to lead this growth by implementing PeopleSoft CRM applications.

Alta's success is also beneficial for its customers. For example, prior to implementing PeopleSoft CRM, Alta utilized 18 customer service agents to manage about 8,000 accounts for one customer. After implementing the PeopleSoft CRM solution, Alta reduced the number of agents to 12 and increased the number of accounts handled to 23,000. In effect, this more than doubled the coverage for this customer and reduced the cost by 33 percent. Since then, Alta has expanded its relationship with this customer to provide a much wider range of services and expects to continue having this customer as a strategic, value-added partner for a long time.

In hindsight, Alta could have introduced more specific metrics for success evaluation in the early stages. However, it is important to be cautious about monitoring metrics in intervals that are too close. For example, if you are looking for payback in the first few months of a project, it's unlikely that you'll find it. CRM implementation is a longer-term activity with a payback that needs to incorporate a vision of future opportunities.

PeopleSoft 8 CRM, for Sales, Marketing, FieldService, HelpDesk, Interaction Management and Support – PeopleSoft 8 CRM delivers access to customer data through any Web device anywhere in the world, any time; immediate insight resulting in the ability to increase revenue and profitability; and easy integration with PeopleSoft and non-PeopleSoft applications through its open architecture to offer consistent access to customer data across the enterprise.

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