Established in 1986, Kingfisher International is a global manufacturer and supplier of equipment for fibre optic communication systems.
Kingfisher fibre optic test equipment is used by technical and non-technical staff in all phases of fibre optic manufacture, installation and maintenance. Typical applications are to verify, test, certify and repair fibre optic systems in telecom, datacom, defense and automotive applications.
Based outside of Melbourne, Kingfisher employs 23 staff locally. In addition, it works with channel partners spanning over 70 countries. Export accounts for 80% of Kingfisher’s business.
Kingfisher had been using some form of customer relationship management (CRM) software for more than 10 years, starting with a DOS version of ACT.
Over time, Kingfisher outgrew ACT and looked for a replacement that would provide more sophisticated capabilities, for example allow sets of activities to be clustered around a particular incident, accounts, contacts, contracts and activities all interconnected and that could link with its accounting system. Kingfisher also required a CRM solution that could connect in with modern messaging technology, such as Outlook.
Kingfisher director Bruce Robertson firmly holds the belief that in a mature IT environment financials, CRM and reporting should all be linked. As Kingfisher was using Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) as its financial software, it looked for a solution that would be compatible with this.
“As a small to medium business, we need to make IT choices wisely and I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Having unintegrated disparate software packages in the business can cause issues, and since we already had Microsoft Dynamics GP, it made Microsoft CRM an obvious choice,” said Robertson.
Kingfisher has worked with Professional Advantage for around five years, who were providing support for Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) and its own business intelligence tool Webhouse (now standard in Dynamics GP).
“When our original provider for Dynamics GP terminated its support we needed to find a new partner. We felt Professional Advantage was a good match for us. They are a great bunch of people, a very professional crew with a terrific skill set,” said Robertson.
Kingfisher first installed Microsoft CRM in 2004 and upgraded to version 3 of this product in 2006. The decision to upgrade was based on a number of new functions Microsoft had added to the product, including navigational improvements, and the ability to manage and track marketing campaigns.
Overall, Kingfisher found the upgrade process to be smooth, but did face some technical issues at the beginning. Initially, the various components (SQL Server, Reporting Server, CRM Server) were installed on different servers but Kingfisher found this tricky to run and inefficient. It has subsequently moved these to the one server and has found that performance has greatly improved.
All of Kingfisher’s sales are conducted through partner channels, such as master resellers, manufacturing representatives and stocking distributors, but Kingfisher runs all marketing campaigns and manages sales leads itself.
Robertson believes that sales and relationships with both distributors and customers are better managed through the use of Microsoft CRM. “We now have a better visibility of the relationships between key people, and have found this to be particularly valuable when conducting business in the United States. Our experience has shown the United States to be a very relationship driven market where it is all about who you know and trust, and the soft links between people can be crucial,” said Robertson.
The value of the data contained in the Kingfisher CRM system was highlighted when the managing director of one of Kingfisher’s major distributors walked off the job – taking all the company’s data with him.
When staff turned up the following day they found no data existed on any resellers or customers. However through a combination of the data in the Kingfisher CRM system and its email archiving system, the majority of the necessary business information was able to be easily recreated and sent back the next day.
“The capacity to recreate that information really cannot be emphasised enough. Based on that instance alone I would say that the system has paid for itself already,” stated Robertson.
The next step for Kingfisher is to integrate CRM and Dynamics GP. It also plans to take advantage of the Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation, more comprehensive reporting for CRM, when it becomes available.