Logistics company takes off with hosted CRM

IT workloads, reporting times slashed

Australian air Express (AaE) has stopped critical knowledge leaving with staff and improved sales by scrapping its manual customer relationship management (CRM) for a hosted solution.

The company employs around 1000 staff, 50 within IT, and delivers to most Australian PO Boxes and to more than 200 countries worldwide via Qantas flights. Each state AaE division is run independently.

AaE product manager Matt Larkin said account managers were relying on PeopleSoft financial database and lacked a commercial database.

“We did not have a structured commercial database..whenever we sent out our Express Magazine, it went to the Joe Smiths in accounts payable and might end up in the bin,” Larkin said.

“Each region had its own individual processes that had to be combined and changed for reporting.

“They were manual processes stored locally or maybe on a shared drive using spreadsheets and word processors, and the head national office had to change it again into their formats,” he said.

Retention of client interactions and relationships was the biggest driver for the CRM deployment. Larkin said freight companies are notorious for relying on individual staff to manage customers details: “Until the CRM we didn't have anything down in the system, it was all in the minds of separate staff”.

Standardisation was another big driver for the organisation which would cut burgeoning workloads on IT and form a tailored system in the language of AaE.

The upgrade to the salesforce.com CRM affected sales, not delivery, Larkin said, noting the company centralised its freight shipping systems for its 55400 customers early last year.

The client Freight Master software, installed in customer dispatch departments, was recently upgraded and a Web version was also made available.

Larkin is investigating how to automate reverse logistics for the return of goods, and said cloud computing could be used throughout the organisation.

The development was finished in October last year and the national two-day training sessions were finished a month later.

It will swap its Novell GroupWise e-mail client for Microsoft Outlook which ties into the salesforce system.

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