With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AG has gained renewed insights into both its customers and business, increased control and tracking of business performance parameters and most importantly, gained new capabilities to differentiate its customer’s touch
A pioneer in the Australian industrial distribution arena, AG Associated Gaskets (AG) offers one of the country’s most comprehensive and diverse range of gaskets, electrical and thermal insulation, customised tape and safety products. Setup in 1965, the wholly Australian-owned company has grown beyond its initial focus on gaskets to also offer full fabrication expertise to its customers in industries including power generation, defence, maritime and more.
With more than 70 staff across its Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong offices, an extensive logistics network also serves its international customers in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Asia. The company has achieved the AS/NZS ISO 9001-2008 certification for its commitment to quality.
"We face diverse challenges in our business. On one hand, optimum stocking is critical for our distribution range of products, while our design and fabrication business requires us to accurately anticipate customers’ needs to stay competitive. To effectively deliver quality products, fast response time and exemplary service while handling approximately 500 to 1,000 transactions daily, we need increased visibility, more accurate forecasting and better capabilities to track customer communication," said Mr Kurt Harding, National Marketing Manager, AG Associated Gaskets.
To market better to both existing and potential customers, AG wanted a flexible and cost-effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that would integrate well with its existing Microsoft Dynamics NAV (implemented by Gold Certified Partner for Enterprise Resource Planning, Compusoft), automate workflows for enhanced productivity and ensure security for data integrity. Most importantly, with a target of double-digit growth in the next five years, the system also needed to be highly customisable and scalable to grow with the business.
Explaining his choice of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Mr Harding said, "Familiarity with Microsoft was a priority, as our IT infrastructure is already standardised on Microsoft with the use of Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Office and more. Being new to CRM, we knew we could rely on the user-friendly Microsoft interface to drive easy adoption. Having evaluated a low-end CRM system which demonstrated benefits right from the start, we trust Microsoft to deliver fuller functionalities and more with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It's out-of-the-box capabilities, such as the mobile client, helps businesses like ours stay ahead with an increasingly mobile workforce, while enhancing collaboration and unifying customer experience."
Wanting nothing less than a certified Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner to handle its implementation, AG selected MicroChannel Services for their unique approach. Mr Harding commended, "We are impressed with MicroChannel’s willingness to challenge our preconceived notions of how a CRM system should work. Instead of just implementing what we wanted, they went the extra mile to ask questions that helped them truly understand our business, and subsequently design a CRM system that worked just for us. I am pleased that they were able to complete the implementation within our stringent timeline of six months." The implementation went ‘live’ in November 2012.
Powering its business with Microsoft Dynamics CRM tightly integrated with Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the back-end, AG now enjoys enhanced customer knowledge and increased business visibility, which enabled more differentiated marketing efforts to drive business growth.
Gained Complete View of Customerswith Faster Responsiveness
A complete customer view goes a long way for AG, especially for the design and fabrication side of its business -- which adds hundreds of new products monthly to the company’s pool of more than 14,000 industrial product lines and contributes to approximately half of its revenues. "Our custom fabrication service produces specialised products in small quantity, for example, a custom-sized gasket that fits only one type of machines, for a specific customer. As such, the key challenge is in managing the numerous iterations in specification changes while keeping an eye on turning around these custom items as quickly as possible – usually around two to three days," explained Mr Harding.
AG now enjoys a centralised customer database and the ability to track all customer requests for specification changes, even for quotations signed months ago. Mr Harding added, "Our service levels have been enhanced with faster customer response, as scrolling through back-dated emails, looking through old faxes or trying to interpret someone’s handwritten instructions are now a thing of the past. We can even track specific customer’s preferences for order confirmation via the phone. This helps our salespersons serve each customer with a personal touch."
Enhanced Visibility with Better Tracking of Leads,Win/Loss Ratio and Business Performance
With tight integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the enhanced visibility has given AG’s management better control in tracking business parameters, such as win/loss percentages, the number of new customers that have been added each quarter, and more. "With enhanced visibility, we are now empowered to make quicker decisions with more data at our fingertips. This gives us better appreciation of the competitive reality and in turn alleviates our quote win/loss status, which we expect to enhance by 40 percent in the next 18 months," emphasised Mr Harding.
One of the factors fuelling the enhanced visibility is the ease in creating dashboards within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Mr Harding said, "We can now self-service and create new perspectives whenever required. That is a real bonus!" With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AG has also gained new capabilities to map out a detailed sales process flow, which will better track its leads, isolate orders that have been stagnating in the pipeline, and potentially shorten the sales cycle to close such deals.
Enabled More Differentiated Marketing with Better Customer Segmentation
With double-digit growth in its five-year horizon, AG wants to devise new ways to connect with its thousands of customers – a number it hopes to grow exponentially, thanks to its CRM investment. For a start, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has enabled AG to better segment its customers into different business types, from retailer, manufacturer to contractor, each with its characteristics and requirements. Other segmentation possibilities include slicing by industry, territory, purchase history and more.
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM has truly given us enhanced insights into our customers. We now truly know who they are, what they have been buying from us etc. We can now even track customer enquiries, the types of marketing collateral they have received from us and subsequently, the effectiveness of these materials. This has helped us uncover upsell and cross-sell opportunities," said Mr Harding. These insights further empower AG’s decisions on new customer initiatives, from new communication channels such as newsletters, to differentiated customer appreciation programmes.
Specifically for its custom fabrication services, these enhanced insights also helps AG proactively provide value-added services to its customers, such as helping customers decide on the best raw material to fabricate the custom part they are enquiring on. In the near future, intelligence gathered from this information will help AG streamline and achieve more accurate purchasing and stocking of raw materials.
Powering People-to-People Connections and Business Expansion
To Mr Harding, the success of any business is encapsulated by the people-to-people connection between its staff and its customers. "Individualised service -- that is what we want to achieve. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we have taken a significant step towards gaining a more strategic understanding of what each of our customers want from us. Even knowing what kind of calendar a customer likes to receive at Christmas -- such things add up!" beamed Mr Harding.
AG attributes the recent ease in setting up its newest outpost in Perth to its new CRM infrastructure. Mr Harding said, "Integrating our business and customer-facing workflows with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics NAV has enabled us to get our new operations up and running in no time. As we look forward to a new phase of growth, we are now better equipped to become more service-oriented than before!"