Companies Harness the Power of Microsoft CRM to Drive Customer Satisfaction and Operational Efficiency

REDMOND, Wash. Oct. 31, 2005 –A Mclean, Va.-based government business consultancy firm and technology reseller, immixGroup, and a Stockholm-based business consultancy, Accept of Sweden, are being recognized this week as finalists for the Gartner CRM Excellence award in the small and medium-size business category for pursuing customer-enabling strategies designed to make their organizations more efficient and profitable though their implementation of Microsoft CRM.

The Gartner CRM Excellence Awards are dedicated to promoting excellence in customer relationship management. Each year for the past six, Gartner CRM analysts and representatives from 1 to 1 Magazine have evaluated and recognized the most successful recent CRM implementations by end-user organizations. This year’s winner will be named later this week at the Gartner CRM Summit in San Diego.

immixGroup and Accept of Sweden have earned their spot in the limelight by posting outstanding results in their Microsoft CRM implementations. immixGroup’s new Microsoft business management system enabled its sales representatives to create a complex quote and process an order for a customer in less than 30 minutes –less than half the time needed under the previous system. After Accept’s CRM implementation, the IDC group of Europe studied the company’s business and concluded that the time it took from sales pitch to deal closing improved from 10 percent to 21 percent and the average deal improved by 87 percent. Payback for the investment is expected within 16 months.

“Microsoft CRM helps businesses like Accept and immixGroup drive sales, deliver better customer satisfaction and improve efficiency across their organizations,” says Brad Wilson, general manager Microsoft CRM. “Microsoft CRM provides a fast, flexible and affordable CRM solution for businesses of all sizes.”

Accept and immixGroup differ in size, scope and mission, but officials of both agree their Microsoft CRM solutions are helping them hone their businesses and better compete in their respective industries. When it first tapped Microsoft, immixGroup had grown to US$100 million in sales swiftly, outpacing its sales and ordering processes. Accept felt its sales costs were too high and too much time was being spent internally on sales-management coaching.

Working with ePartners, a Microsoft CRM solution provider, immixGroup integrated Microsoft CRM with Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains to speed up the sales-management process and order-processing system, and to give executives and customers more visibility into operations. Accept chose Microsoft CRM after studying what systems could support its situation and how best to use it to its competitive advantage.

“We’re very pleased to be a finalist in the Gartner CRM Excellence Awards and be recognized for our efforts,” says Bill Bottoms, senior director of Corporate Operations for immixGroup. “We’re also pleased to share the successful results we’ve achieved and help others in their CRM efforts,” he adds.

Bottoms says the fast growth of immixGroup strained the capabilities of its technology infrastructure. The company’s original management systems for tracking customer activity and creating sales quotations and sales orders involved too many repetitive, manual steps, and failed to create a clear picture of overall activity. Customer data resided in five different databases, making it difficult to obtain a consolidated view of their contacts or their accounts. Similarly, the company’s original method of creating sales quotes was a set of interlinked Microsoft Office Excel 2003 spreadsheets and macros to support them.

The new solution, built around Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Great Plains and the new sales quote .NET application created specifically for the company, has shortened immixGroup’s sales processes by as much as half, and helps give management insight and control over operations that would have been impossible under the former system. Using an integrated solution based on Microsoft software to manage the most significant aspects of its business also allows immixGroup to derive optimal value from its investment in technology.

The end of duplicate keystrokes helps save immixGroup time and money, and helps to eliminate most data-entry errors. “The great thing about the new solution is that information flows automatically between Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Great Plains,” Bottoms says. “There’s no requirement for duplicate data entry to confuse the ordering process and no opportunity to introduce errors.”

After conducting an internal market study and determining Microsoft CRM was the best choice, Accept worked with Microsoft partner Cybernetics Business Solutions to customize the system to its needs, as well as create a workflow of activities to support the company’s process, says Michael Sundquist, Accept’s CRM manager. The company also designed advanced reports for measuring efficiency and effectiveness in the sales process, in addition to benchmarking report results within the organizations.

Sundquist says his company felt it was very important to train extensively using the system in the process, rather than learn how to “push buttons.” Accept was careful to ensure the system was updated on time and made organization a top priority as well in order for the new CRM solution to be most effective.

“With the help of Microsoft CRM, we have been able to apply the sales coaching techniques we teach our customers to our own sales force,” Sundquist says. “The CRM system allows us to be proactive as sales managers instead of reactive by sticking to old routines that guided how and when we entered the data system.”

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