CRM system helps Lavasa project, India's largest hill city, manage upto 50,000 inquiries a month. Where it once took up to five days to close an enquiry, a sales person can now do it within a few hours.
Organization: It’s conventional wisdom that customer satisfaction equals business success. But when you’re operating at the scale of the Lavasa project, ensuring customer satisfaction isn’t a walk in the park.
Alternatively called free India’s first or largest hill city, the scope of Lavasa city takes your breath away. At 12,500 acres, the planned city is at a scale that’s rarely been attempted. Set on seven hills along the Warasgaon lake, an hour from Pune, Lavasa city is actually a family of five towns. Its planners have ensured that they provide almost everything a city can need, raising expectations from Lavasa beyond other planned cities and attracting high rollers. Today, the project is still far from complete but one of the towns, Dasve, already has a couple of functioning hotels, and retailers. But by the time the last brick is put in place, Lavasa’s builders expect the city to have a permanent population of three lakh, create 95,000 jobs, and attract about 20 lakh tourists a year. In the meanwhile, all of the buzz around Lavasa is attracting plenty of attention.
Business case: So much attention that it is swamping Lavasa’s sales staff. At last count Lavasa’s offices were getting between 40,000 to 50,000 inquires a month. It didn’t help that most members of the 45-strong sales team were new and the department’s business processes were not set “The sales team didn’t have properties to sell or book, but enquiries kept pouring in. It was very important for us to keep these enquiries live. We knew we would require them at the time of sale and they had to be well organized,” says Vinod Vyas, VP information systems, Lavasa Corporation. It wasn’t only a numbers problem that overwhelmed the sales team. The class of people making enquiries were also used to a high level of efficiency. “A major chunk of enquiries were from VIPs, HNIs (high networth individuals) and elite personalities. Immediate and appropriate response was key in ensuring that customers were satisfied,” says Vyas. And Lavasa’s clients didn’t like repeating themselves. “Take for example customers who explain their needs to the sales staff at our Mumbai office. Once they visit Lavasa, they are forced to interact with another sales person and have to relate their needs all over again. Customers shouldn’t have to repeat themselves,” says Vyas. Making their jobs even harder was thefact that the sales team needed to cater tothe needs of three diverse categories of customers: people who want to buy houses, tourists who are interested in holiday villas and resorts and corporate establishments like retailers, schools, hospitals, hotels and biotech parks. Each set of customers had their own specific requirements. Lavasa’s nascent IT systems were not geared to cope with the avalanche of enquires. Typical customer interactions were handled across multiple channels including telephone, e-mail, chat, etcetera. With no CRM solution, the company struggled to optimize customer interactions, and risked turning off buyers.
"Communication and collaboration were pain points. An integration problem manifested itself in the form of the absence of updated real time information to respond to customer queries. Not only did this choke employee bandwidth and reduce productivity, the high dependence on manual intervention compromised the accuracy of the information being handed out,” says Vyas.
Project: Vyas decided to address the problem using a CRM solution. He successfully made a case before senior management and spent a few months evaluating various solutions. He says the final solution won thanks to its ease of use, its robust platform, wide coverage and higher level of collaboration and quick integration. It also had an easy interface with MS office, UC, and Microsoft Office SharePoint server, says Vyas.
Despite initial change management challenges, says Vyas, the new CRM’s look and feel (which resembled the excel sheets that the sales staff used), its scalability, and ability to integrate with other systems, won users over.
Today, the Rs 2-crore project enables Lavasa’s sales team to be more accurate with information, allows them to track payments from customers and, more importantly, be more flexible. “Now any sales person can take care of any customer. We no longer have to map a certain set of customers to a particular sales person. This has resulted in an optimum use of resources,” says Vyas. He estimates that by streamlining sales operations, Lavasa is saving 20 percent on its payroll costs.
Benefits: The CRM solution also offers a consolidated, 360-degree view of Lavasa’s clients. It helps the sales team manage customers, track leads, and tap new opportunities, driving up foot falls. But more importantly, it helps resolve customers’ queries faster. Where it once took up to five days to close an enquiry, a sales person can now do it within a few hours.
That will come handy in 2011, when Lavasa’s management expects to deal with over 70,000 enquiries a month.
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