With more than 5 billion customers in 160 countries, Procter & Gamble sells products with brand names literally from A to Z, in stores that range from giant Wal-Mart to tiny overseas outfits operating off the back of a truck. But P&G’s enviable global reach can be a challenge when it comes to customer interaction. Faced with aging IT systems in the late 1990s, P&G decided to take the plunge and launch a worldwide customer relationship management initiative. Siebel’s CRM system lets P&G gather sales data with laptops, handhelds or tablet PCs and send it electronically back to company databases. Now, P&G instantly knows what items are out of stock at a particular retailer, and gets that data into the hands of those responsible for filling the shelves. The new system helps reps collect information faster so that they can visit more stores, and more store visits translates into higher sales. In fact, the Siebel system has been credited with a 3-5% sales volume increase. P&G also uses Siebel to plan and execute promotions, set budgets, trigger payment requests and get payment status. The key to P&G’s CRM implementation, and what makes it different from anything the company has tried in the past, is the fact that local offices are free to do what they want with CRM, as long as they use the basic Siebel platform. Instead of foisting technology on places that don’t need it, they strive to address local business needs with a single platform whose combination of flexibility and standardization will eventually enable global data sharing.
CIO 1 Sept 2003