The Norris Group
Real Estate Firm Adopts Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to Drive Up-Sell Opportunities
At California-based real estate firm The Norris Group, ten years of customer history and order data were held by an online e-mail marketing vendor. New anti-spamming restrictions and an unstable system introduced costly errors, plus the system lacked vital features The Norris Group needed. After the company brought the data in house, the database progressively degraded and crashed. Chunks of data the company had painstakingly collected over 10 years were lost. That spurred a search for a new solution that culminated in the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM Online. Since migrating to the new solution, marketers have eliminated direct mail to 75 percent of the company’s least profitable contacts.
At Riverside, California–based real estate firm The Norris Group, managers felt “locked in” with an online marketing vendor. They relied heavily on the vendor service to capture, maintain, and use both customer history and order data in their marketing campaigns. The vendor eliminated critical features, leaving The Norris Group in a bind. When the vendor’s platform produced an increasing numbers of bugs, Norris Group managers decided to act. “The e-mail vendor eliminated the very features we needed to effectively market our seminar and loan products,” says Aaron Norris, Marketing Director for The Norris Group. “That’s when we brought the data in-house and built our own database.”
Things went well at first, but over time The Norris Group’s home-grown database began exhibiting errors. These issues eventually culminated in an unrecoverable crash that resulted in customer data loss. That data disaster spurred The Norris Group to find dependable marketing tools within a comprehensive CRM solution.
Norris began his search for a CRM tool on the Internet. He read many white papers and quickly narrowed the 50 or so CRM systems down to SugarCRM, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM. Representatives from the three companies, including Microsoft Partner Spinnaker, presented their solutions. Norris’s team evaluated them against the company’s two primary requirements of a CRM solution: low impact on the IT team and easy access for remote users.
“I wanted a hosted solution for two primary reasons,” explains Norris. “I’m basically our IT department so I wanted a solution that would not be a burden on me to implement and maintain. Secondly, I wanted our employees working from home to be able to access and work with CRM data.”
||Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM [Online] is essential for us to achieve our long-term goal of effective marketing and sales touches with our customers.
Marketing Director, The Norris Group
Other requirements included a flexible solution that could be easily configured by non-technical people. The user interface also had to be very simple and intuitive to use. “Our customers love our products and services, but we’ve done a poor job in the past of using technologies to capture operational efficiencies,” recalls Norris. “To give you an idea of where we were, we recently implemented e-mail for employees. So we had to set the bar for ease-of-use of a CRM solution very high.”
Based on these criteria, Norris chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. His team makes use of the marketing and sales modules. “I love the interface,” says Norris. “It works very well with [Microsoft® Office] Outlook® and we integrated it to collect data from our Web site.”
Then, as customers interact with the company across different touch points, that activity is tracked and logged. “That helps make Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM [Online] our information hub,” says Norris. “We get a full view of our customers’ activities and preferences, which leads us to creating more sophisticated marketing campaigns.”
The new tool utilizes automated follow-up features to increase visibility and communication between the company’s departments to enhance marketing activities. For example, employees use the marketing module to create targeted marketing lists to advertise an upcoming seminar. Then they craft a campaign that uses direct mail and e-mail channels to contact prospects at appropriate dates before the seminar.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online delivered the reliable solution Norris needed to safeguard, analyze, and share customer data with employees. His team can now use that data to much more effectively sell and up-sell his firm’s products and services.
Business intelligence slashes direct mail costs. The company used to send direct mail to 40,000 prospects. Managers used the marketing module to weed out 30,000 low-potential contacts and save the company thousands of dollars in direct mail costs.
Interdepartmental customer visibility improves up-sell opportunities. Previously, employees in the loan and seminar departments were not aware of customer activity in the other departments. The new solution allows marketers to scrutinize customer activities and use that information to optimize cross-sell opportunities. For example, customers who complete training seminars make excellent prospects for the firm’s loan products.
Automation features significantly boost productivity. The company’s Web site generates 250 new prospects per month. It used to take 62 hours to input that data, but now employees can complete data entry in 7 hours. After getting prospects into the system, employees used a manual system to write individual e-mail messages to follow up with people. To replace that inefficient process, Norris used the solution’s features to create standardized e-mail messages and letters and automates their distribution at different touch points in the sales cycle. It used to take many minutes per e-mail message versus the seconds it takes now.
Centralized customer data repository safeguards corporate assets. Before the CRM solution, when salespeople left the company they took their client data with them. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online ensures that hard-won customer data stays with the company and is accessible when employees leave, go on vacation, or are out sick.
Hosted solution eases administrative burden. By choosing the hosted solution, The Norris Groups leaves the IT burden of updating and administering the solution to Microsoft. Moreover, the company’s vital customer data is backed up by the enterprise-class infrastructure and processes employed by Microsoft.