Building better customer service

“We wanted to create a competitive difference for our business while improving employee engagement by providing our CX team with better tools."

Perrin Gibert | Subject Matter Expert - Information Technology, Steele & Tube

With no customer relationship management (CRM) application in place, Steel & Tube’s account managers, salespeople, and customer experience (CX) team relied on a complex system of individually maintained spreadsheets, assorted digital and paper files, the ERP, and personal recall to manage customer relationships.

In 2020, keen to better serve its customers by gaining a single view of their interactions, quotes, and buying preferences, Steel & Tube decided it was time to implement a CRM.

A long-time Microsoft Dynamics AX user, Steel & Tube knew its ERP held invaluable sales data that, once linked to customer information, would help drive better service and sales. Ideally, a new CRM would present users with customer information, including active quotes from the ERP, capture call details from the cloud-based telephony platform, as well as inbound and outbound customer-related emails, and provide their teams with customer dashboards and accurate, real-time sales and service reporting.

“One of our goals was to improve our ability to convert more quotes into orders by seamlessly integrating this information in the tool our CX Team uses on a daily basis to engage with our customers. We anticipated that this improvement in customer communications, simplified process, and improved visibility would potentially result in a 2.9% increase in quote-to-order conversion each month, so we’d realise a project ROI more quickly.”

The business case for change

Steel & Tube considered several solutions before choosing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service. “While the functionality of some of the solutions we looked at was similar,” says Gibert, “we decided that Dynamics 365 Customer Service would support our overall Microsoft technology strategy and environment and, importantly - provide a common data model across all our systems.”

“We had confidence in their ability to answer the hard questions. Like any business, we are sensitive to cost, but we’re very aware that cheaper isn't always necessarily the best route and can cost you more in the long term. We had confidence in Fusion5’s proven history of successful and well-regarded implementations, realistic pricing, and depth of knowledge.”

Perrin Gibert | Subject Matter Expert - Information Technology, Steele & Tube

Steel & Tube approached three leading Microsoft partners. Each was assessed by a team of ten for their confidence and participation in workshops, understanding of the project, technical and delivery approach, solution, contractual agreement, and costs. Steel & Tube’s evaluation scorecard clearly identified Fusion5 as the best partner to help deliver ‘Project Stellar.’

“One of the main issues we had throughout the company, was that we often didn’t capture the name of the person that customers talked to on the phone. So, if they called us back to ask where a promised order was, there was no record or recall of who they’d originally spoken to. And if a branch didn’t answer their phone in time, another branch could have even answered and managed the call – making tracing who said what more difficult.”

Perrin Gibert | Subject Matter Expert - Information Technology, Steele & Tube

A stellar solution

Introducing Dynamics 365 Customer Service helped Steel & Tube overcome some longstanding frustrations.

“One of the main issues we had throughout the company,” says Gibert, “was that we often didn’t capture the name of the person that customers talked to on the phone. So, if they called us back to ask where a promised order was, there was no record or recall of who they’d originally spoken to. And if a branch didn’t answer their phone in time, another branch could have even answered and managed the call – making tracing who said what more difficult.”

By integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service with Steel & Tube’s cloud telephony system, incoming call details, including the time and date of previous calls and who handled earlier conversations, are automatically recorded for future reference.  

“Now, we have all our customers’ information in one place as well as complete visibility of every phone call and email. We can see who our customers talked to and what was agreed or requested – so we can be fully accountable. Additionally, our telephony platform recognises the customer’s number and triggers the CRM to pop their account details, including open quotes and service tickets, up on screen – so all the information needed to manage the call is right there.”

No more quote quandary

As expected, Steel & Tube’s ability to follow up on customer quotes has also improved. Although the potential of a 2.9% conversion rate improvement hasn’t yet been realised, Gibert says that at approximately 1.6%, the rate continues to follow a steady upward trend.

Gibert notes the factors which have contributed to the lower-than-expected conversion rate include changes in economic/market conditions and an increase in average selling prices. However, the revenue associated with the increased conversion rate nevertheless created a positive return on the project.

"To overcome this, our CRM summarises all open quotes against each customer. Now, when talking to a customer, we can click a tab to see all their current quotes – listed by value, date generated, and expiry date. With this information in front of them, our team can focus on following up on and converting the high-value quotes. As the CRM is integrated with Outlook, all email requests and responses for quotes are also captured – something we couldn’t easily see before."

Perrin Gibert | Subject Matter Expert - Information Technology, Steele & Tube

 

“Previously, our only records were in our ERP. We could see when the quote was created, lost, or cancelled – and nothing in between. Now, our CX team has a queue of quote ‘tickets’ to follow up on. Team leaders can see how long it takes to generate the quote and the effort put into converting it into an order, or they can query an ageing or missed opportunity.”

"In our industry, fast turnaround is important. We don’t want to let our customers down or lose their loyalty.”

Perrin Gibert | Subject Matter Expert - Information Technology, Steele & Tube

If a customer emails through a quote acceptance or requests a change, but the ticket owner is away, the CRM alerts another member of their team so they can promptly action it. 

Steel & Tube account managers are also getting great value out of the CRM, says Gibert. “They can check on the status of each customer before calling to see if there are any open service tickets.  Then, they can go in on the front foot, prepared and ready to deal with any questions or issues.”

It's thumbs up from customers and employees

Steel & Tube’s ultimate objective has been to serve its customers better - and going by the increase in NPS (Net Promotor Score), that’s exactly what’s happened. In 2023 the NPS was 41, compared with 22 back in 2019.  

Gibert says that Steel & Tube’s people are positive about using Dynamics 365 Customer Service. “There’s an improvement in job satisfaction as our CX agents can handle more calls from start to finish without having to switch systems or refer to someone else.”

With customer calls handled more effectively and efficiently, the number of transfers required for call resolution has reduced. Through more accurate and detailed reporting, the business can now see the cost of servicing its customers.

All Steel & Tube staff – from the executive team to CX - have the same customer information in front of them. And they can access it from wherever they are working.

A side benefit of the whole project, says Gibert, is that the Steel & Tube marketing team have access to better customer information. “We have a rich data source which we can segment by roles, so our marketing comms are becoming more targeted – there’s no need for a shotgun approach.”    

What's next?

“The next phases of Project Stellar are to continue to improve CRM functions to enhance our employee and customer experiences and see Dynamics 365 Customer Service become an everyday sales tool,” says Gibert.

Gibert is also excited by the potential of Microsoft Copilot to add significant capabilities to the CRM for the CX and sales teams, including helping to build out pipelines and saving time by proactively identifying highly qualified leads.

And Fusion5? Gibert says the Fusion5 team is ‘fantastic.’ “They’ve been great from the very get-go. Very collaborative, knowledgeable, and easy to work with.”

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