Building castles out of IT! Yeah, Godrej Properties did that

By : |May 16, 2014 0

MUMBAI, INDIA: When he knocked his management’s door that day, he probably had a different blueprint in his hands. It was a plan that doodled numbers and new designs, but for a different and bigger plot than usual.
As he unfolded his rough sketch, he hammered unheard ideas like usage of Mobility applications, multi touch screens, unification of CRM in single platform and more. Thankfully before the management creased a confused eyebrow, he translated why he was actually talking in a different language about business, revenues and better customer delight scores.

Can IT sift some gravel out as it blends CRM systems with customer insight that is critical in Real Estate industry looking at the competition? Can customer complaints and sharing the data expected by customers and wringing out duplication be that elusive masonry for faster, more durable revenues, delightful conversion ratios and cross-selling apertures or even zero defect qualities?

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He has been a CIO for nearly 10 years and at his current stint, Shailesh Joshi, Vice President – Corporate IT, Godrej Properties Ltd is busy blazing new trails in real estate industry as he attempts pioneering technology that only appreciates with time.

While the reason for investing money, energy, ideas, resources and more in a Customer experience transformation (CxT) project may not exactly be rocket science stuff given the significance of extraordinary customer service in today’s markets, Joshi had some strong reasons that spurred this intervention.

Laying Bricks, Avoiding Brickbats

Enabling ‘Customer Centricity’ and empowering sales & marketing teams in delivering better products & better after sales services throughout customer life cycle events is easier said than done and yet it’s not hard to imagine how strongly it matters when efficiency is served hot right from the time a customer walks in to even after he gets possession. Joshi was clear that he had to transform the operations and processes of the business around the needs of individual customers, delivering high value and memorable experiences.

For that, even back-end systems integration for Unified Master Data Management across CRM & ERP applications, needed to be aligned well. Joshi’s team decided to pick shovels in a wild, unbeaten terrain. They used a host of applications and technologies to generate a synergetic effect. As they combined and integrated a diverse mix of technologies liken Salesforce.com, SAP, Magic IBolt, Mobile Applications, Touch Screens, they dug out a new path breaking fountain that sprinkled some impactful innovation in this project.

The idea was to do the obvious in a fresh and unprecedented manner. For instance, the BPM Solution for Snagging Process was approached with a customized application. The goal was to deliver “Zero Defect” product to customers and this led an application designed for construction industry vis a vis that specific process for snagging. It worked in great rhythm with the tapping of mobile technology. The tango of mobiles with effective BPM solution came around as the team integrated it to CRM system to capture all the complaints during ‘Flat Handover’ process. Not so surprising then that, this was something particularly well appreciated by the Top management and customers alike.

Beyond the ground too, the project stayed fluid with its young ways. Self-Service kiosks that entailed interactive touch screens were installed at various sales offices. Now customers could get information about various projects, virtual tours of projects, buildings & flats. Alongside, content-rich mobile applications were rolled out to sales team across regions. These could mean engaging and interactive platforms for information as customers used the app to take a virtual journey of various projects via attractive galleries, videos, plans and walk-through, kept regularly updated.

Concrete Matter

 

Did these efforts materialize as expected? Let’s take a glance at a diverse moorland here.

The first obvious result which many tend to be expecting on the top of the list is increase in ‘Lead to Customer’ conversion rate. So yes, with the help of technology-enabled customer experience transformation program, this team could actually achieve an increase in lead to customer conversion rate by 10-15 per cent. This simultaneously resulted in additional sales in most of projects thereby releasing capital employed and also improving overall cash flow situation for organization.

As Joshi nails it, when you think of increased top-line revenue growth, improving customer experience directly translates to word-of-mouth advertising which is “Free”. “Our initiatives helped in driving top-line growth as result with positive feedback and customer referrals & recommendations. We can attribute around 10 per cent of increase in sales to our new customer-delight initiatives.”

Revenue-side was showing marked improvements but let’s also take the aspect of ‘Zero Defect Product Delivery’ into account here. It’s fascinating how with the use of a BPM solution, the team handed over around 500 number of flats with Zero Defect and 99 per cent customer satisfaction score. That, was a drastic improvement when you compare the figure to an earlier satisfaction score of 65 per cent.

These initiatives also helped in up-selling & cross-selling with many customers upgraded from smaller units to bigger units during the project tenure. Understandably, all this front-stage wonder was only possible with a well-equipped back-stage as many operational factors improved during the project and propelled new revenue accomplishments.

As insignificant as it may sound, when one is talking of about 30 per cent reduction in printing costs of brochure, pamphlets & handouts in this industry, every penny or let’s say, paper counts. That combined with the inherent advantage of real-time updating, something that was tad impossible with printed content, brings a notable shift.

The project brought about reduced ‘Cost of Service’. Now that most of the services were available online through customer portal, it eliminated ineffective and redundant communications, and helped the company save up to 20 per cent of related costs. Self-Service kiosks & other mobile applications further added to these savings.

Joshi reveals that with unified MDM & robust integration of CRM & ERP systems, they could achieve a reduction in order processing cycle time by 25-30 per cent. “It grinded discrepancy and errors, maximizes sales potential, and enabled highly targeted and effective marketing activities with complete and informed customer service.”

Cobbled streets

Of course, like any remarkable road of change, this path was paved with some risks and tarred with a few pebbles. From online Integration with ERP & CRM system, or budget constraints on investments on infrastructure to handling multiple systems for customer experience transformation, the team had to tackle a lot of bridges as they kept arriving.

“Customer Portal enhancements to ensure the data shared with customers are taken from ERP system thus ensuring the integration with ERP & CRM. Plus, looking at the current Real Estate challenges it was required to have better customer experience and able to tag future customers for the ongoing projects. ROI analysis was done to show the investment value to the management. Feedback by the customers on how the systems have helped them ensured that we are on the right track.” Joshi recalls.

But it takes some cement to build a real solid competitive lead in this industry. The project was challenging but worthwhile as it not only enabled enviable levels across the ‘Customer Centricity’ bar but also equipped the company transform operations and processes of the business around the needs of individual customers, and hence, delivering high value and memorable experiences. The fact that customer ‘Flat Handover’ process has become impressively smooth and that even cross-department activities are in sync, is adequate to bring that smile on Joshi’s face.

“All the complaints are tracked and addressed on time as web technology has enabled us to attach the images of the defects and route it to concerned department thus avoiding manual interaction. All the communication is done via system and email and even customer feedback is taken using the application.” He beams.

Integration of systems have enabled the organization to get faster, sharper customer information online and as new technologies give better customer experience, they keep adding a spark to evolving brand image of the company vis a vis the competitors. Not to forget, technology usage has not only mitigated duplication of work in ERP and CRM pockets but has also saved on not hiring additional resources to do manual updates of data in system.

As he hobbled and picked pace through some rough patches, Joshi and his team successfully constructed a road less travelled and proved once again that IT and revenue are not words that fit in an oxymoron but rather pillars of the same skyscraper.

Who says only land is an asset that does not depreciate with time?

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