Honda revs up IT operations by ditching software upgrades

Seven year old database lacked customer detail

Honda Australia Motocycles & Power Equipment Pty Ltd (MPE) IT manager, Craig Bassett, has just completed a massive data cleansing exercise which was central to implementing a new two phase business strategy.

The goal, he said, is to drive customer retention and identify new revenue opportunities but this meant taking the company's marketing campaigns to a new level.

He couldn't do this with the company's seven year old contact database.

Honda MPE has a database of approximately one million contacts, but only around 250,000 of those are qualified.

Of the remaining 750,000, Honda MPE has little insight into details like their age, gender, occupation, customer purchase history, or even if the customer still owns a Honda MPE product.

Bassett had run direct mail and e-mail marketing campaigns in the past, but was not sure he had targeted the right demographic, and had no way to measure the campaign's success.

"We had used another system as our contact database, which was more than seven years old and too basic to give us the customer detail we needed," he said.

"It didn't have a marketing function, which is an area of the business we wanted to improve. Most data was out of date, and as a result the response rates on our marketing campaigns were low."

Seeking a solution to drive top and bottom line growth, Bassett looked to an on-demand solution.

"We wanted to better communicate with Australian customers as well as automatically track and manage marketing campaigns. Also with Salesforce we were able to clean up the data and validate each contact," he said.

To do this Honda transferred all customer data to Salesforce. Now the organisation can automatically record every customer touch point to keep records up to date, track satisfaction levels and customer complaints for follow-up, update information online, profile customer spending histories and is integrated with other departments within the organization.

"Interestingly, we weren't looking for an on-demand solution, but chose one after discovering how cost effective and easy it is to use," Bassett said.

"That we don't need to worry about managing the system on-premise is also a huge advantage. It frees up our IT staff because they don't need to worry about software upgrades, disaster recovery or extra security."

In operation since 1991, Honda MPE imports motorcycles, power equipment and outboard engines and assembles lawnmowers and brushcutters. With annual sales in excess of 200,000 units representing over $350million of turnover, Honda estimates that it has more than 1 million Honda products currently in active use in Australia.

Honda MPE Australia is one of the 35,300 companies of all sizes, industries and geographies that comprised the Salesforce.com customer base as of July 31, 2007.

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