The toughest challenge in managing customer relationships is not a lack of data, but a lack of immediately available, organized data to power a personalized, one-to-one customer experience. This is particularly true for large, global enterprises such as UPS.

As the world's largest package delivery company and a leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics services, UPS deals with 7.9 million customers on any given day. How has UPS combined customer relationship management (CRM) processes with technology to create an environment in which each of its 7.9 million customers can feel like the only UPS customer?

Investing in Customer Profiles

In 1997, a cross-functional team within UPS began executing a CRM road map that identified specific work streams surrounding three critical business activities: servicing the customer better, improving sales force effectiveness and developing more effective marketing campaign strategies.

At the time, our marketing campaign response rates were a solid 6 to 7 percent, but we asked ourselves how we could use our marketing dollars even more effectively. We knew that the key to improvement was to better understand our customers' preferences and reactions to our messages. As a result, the centerpiece of the CRM road map was the development of an application called TERM (technology-enabled relationship marketing).

TERM facilitated the centralization of all customer data and helped us identify holes in our customer profiles. Over a two-year period, we leveraged our constant interaction with millions of customers to secure the information we needed to fill in these holes, improving the quality of 23 million profiles. This monumental effort enabled us to initiate more targeted marketing campaigns and has nearly doubled our response rates to 12 to 16 percent.

Give the Sales Force Immediate Access to Customer Data

As the cross-functional team was executing on the CRM road map, it knew deploying technology to improve sales force effectiveness would go a long way in better servicing UPS customers. We wanted to give our sales representatives, who are expected to spend at least 90 percent of their time on the road, a more robust set of tools to understand all aspects of a singular customer relationship.

To that end, the team mapped out detailed sales force requirements in 2003. The following year, UPS selected, tested and deployed the sales force automation component of an off-the-shelf CRM package that was extremely intuitive and required minimal customization.

Using wireless laptops (which were deployed in approximately 120 days), our 6,000-person sales force now has immediate access to all customer interaction data. This information is stored in TEAMS (total enterprise account management system), a customer data capture tool.

In addition, UPS provides the sales, sales support group and sales management teams a summary analysis of the customer, including information such as weekly volume and revenue, service history, growth trends and more. These customer reports are delivered through a suite of Web-based reporting tools easily accessed from the wireless laptop.

As a result of this continuous, wireless access to customer data, sales calls become more meaningful and relevant. The sales team is able to provide pricing more quickly and deliver customer communications faster and more accurately. Moving forward, UPS anticipates each member of our sales force will save at least 20 percent of his/her time each week by having immediate access to e-mail and calendaring. The company also expects to streamline communications with customers.

This year, UPS is extending the deployment of TEAMS to additional countries as well as to all of its business units. By providing enterprise-wide visibility into a customer account, UPS expects to reduce the chance of channel conflict as well as reduce its time to market. When the total deployment is complete later this year, more than 7,500 users will be on the system - all accessing and updating customer information residing in common databases.

One-to-One: The Critical Success Factor

Companies that listen to their customers and respond swiftly with personalized products, solutions or processes can gain an advantage in today's competitive marketplace. However, you can't listen to your customers effectively if your data about them is buried in technology or processes that prevent your employees from having easy and immediate access to that information.

To be successful in creating one-to-one customer relationships, a company needs to continually invest in profiling its customers. Customer profiling can enable a company to define its target markets; generate higher response rates from its marketing campaigns; and, ultimately, grow its base of valuable customers. Most important, the lifetime value of customers can be increased by using data to create and maintain one-to-one customer relationships. 

Customer Relationships

Customer profiling can enable a company to define its target markets; generate higher response rates from its marketing campaigns; and, ultimately, grow its base of valuable customers.

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