Until about a year ago, IES had been managing most parts of its operations via Excel spreadsheets, Cichelli says, and as a small business with a desire to turn around service jobs on time and improve customer satisfaction, they knew that simply tracking customers and prospect data online wasn't going to be enough to justify a CRM investment.


IES needed to improve its overall customer experience, and as the company's operations manager, Cicchelli knew that a better customer experience meant going beyond sales and marketing to track the performance of service jobs from start to finish, bringing in departments and steps behind the scenes that run the risk of falling through the cracks, leading to unexpected delays and dissatisfied customers.


IES needed more than CRM – they needed a solution that could boost their performance along the full range of operations, from quoting new business to gathering customer information, tracking orders from suppliers, tracking service jobs, and managing customer service communication.


For IES, a Dynamics CRM solution that could model the tasks of various departments as well as generate alerts for Cicchelli based on key performance indicators opened up a new world of operational efficiency. As Cichelli explains, he already knew the amount of time various parts of a customer job should take under normal circumstances, but tracking those things without a central system was nearly impossible before.


Things can go wrong in so many ways and for lots of reasons, and Cichelli says that having a tangible list of alerts for the tasks makes a world of difference.


"Alerts have definitely been worth getting and asking for" in his CRM solution, he says. IES worked with Hero Technical Solutions, a Dynamics CRM partner based in Hamilton, who developed the cross-department approach for IES. "I think it is one of those things where if I get an email and read it on my Blackberry, then by the time I get back to the office I may forget. These alerts are forcing me to keep updated on these jobs. It's increased tenfold how we've been able to improve customer service. "


Dynamics CRM creates alerts created automatically when a task slips past its allotted time, and they show up in Cicchelli's management dashboard in a list that categorizes items into critical, high, medium and low severity. Once an alert is in the system, it's Ciccelli's job to investigate the root cause, make sure his team is taking any corrective steps – including alerting the customer if needed – and remove the alert at the right time.


Every department in the 18 person company is now hooked into CRM in some way, usually with the department heads managing their teams' responsibilities like job tracking, billing, and order management.


"CRM is the hub of our business now," says Cicchelli. "We depend greatly on it. [For example,] when a part is ordered it is put into CRM – even prices paid for items."


Cicchelli sees several ways IES could improve on its CRM investment if they can find the budget, starting with getting more users hooked into the existing process. From a competitive angle, he also sees an opportunity to create some type of customer access to their jobs – perhaps with a portal solution – to boost their engagement and visibility into jobs.

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