CATEGORY: Analytic Applications
REVIEWER: Monique van Eekeren, applications manager for the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce.
BACKGROUND: The Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that serves 150,000 customers in Holland's capital city. It is the largest of 21 Dutch chambers of commerce. As a public service organization, the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce has three main goals: to register and maintain accurate information on its member companies; to aid new businesses with consultation, training and sale of promotional materials; and to represent the interests of member companies at the municipal level.
PLATFORMS: The Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce is currently operating on the IBM AS/400 platform.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Dutch law requires companies to register with the area Chamber of Commerce. Four years ago, we started looking for a CRM application we could use to manage our customer base of 150,000. We were putting considerable effort into helping new companies get established by providing brochures, documentation and training; and we wanted a means of tracking their success. We didn't know the number of people who requested information, what products sold best or how many members required training. Since the training department had no addresses of potential entrepreneurs, there was no way to measure the success of our marketing campaigns.
FUNCTIONALITY: By working with one central database, our staff is able to handle customer inquiries more efficiently. We are working cooperatively with four other Chambers of Commerce to develop business templates which we will share with the other chambers. We offer 70 to 80 different training courses, in all about 150 a year. We implemented Infinium CRM in the training group because of the incompatibility of our old software when we switched over to AS/400. Infinium CRM was a perfect tool because the system already contained customer information for this department. Now when our staff registers a new company, they are able to note its training record, what might be of future interest and do cross-selling. We use Infinium CRM for all course registration and will be building an interface to register on the Web. Our office staff completes a form or receives one by e-mail. We put the data into the CRM system; and, with Office Connect, we automatically print a confirmation letter that includes training session details. When a member company wants time with a consultant, their agent goes to the Chamber of Commerce desk to make an appointment and register all company data in Infinium CRM so the consultant immediately knows the customer's concerns and interests.
STRENGTHS: The biggest company-wide advantage is that we have only one place to store customer data. Previously, address changes went to three or four departments on several systems. Now we change the address in one central place. The main strength of the product is flexibility and integration.
WEAKNESSES: It is necessary to spend a considerable amount of time on application maintenance during implementation in order to build the necessary interfaces, test them, determine department requirements and make the software work the way you want. You have to spend additional time learning the system.
SELECTION CRITERIA: It was important that the CRM system we selected be an open system that interfaced easily to our main applications and to our office suite, primarily spreadsheets and word processing. It had to be user friendly, easy to manage and cost-effective. Of the four systems we compared, the Infinium CRM system was the best because of the flexibility of the system and the willingness of Infinium to build the interfaces we needed.
DELIVERABLES: Because all Chambers of Com- merce register companies the same way, we will use Infinium CRM for benchmarking to determine what we are doing right or wrong or why one chamber has more customers than another. It will also enable us to better understand the needs of our customers and service them more efficiently. Our management team uses reports generated by Infinium CRM to determine the benefits in products we sell, to identify training requirements throughout the regions and to ensure that we are producing the right documentation.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The best part of working with Infinium was their skillful, reliable consultant. The Infinium help desk can almost always answer my questions or will call back in the agreed time with the correct answer.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation that comes with the system is understandable, but it is not very clear how some operations affect other operations.
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