by Monica Mehta
Telstra is committed to creating a brilliant connected future for everyone, so it comes as no surprise Australia’s leading information and telecommunications company hold customers at the center of all they do. Telstra’s B2B sales force—one of the country’s largest—leverage mobility solutions to maximize face time with customers. The flexible work culture, enabled by the company’s own network infrastructure, has generated game changing productivity, advocacy and employee satisfaction outcomes.
“To improve customer experience and drive advocacy, we needed to increase the responsiveness and productivity of our frontline sales team. We have a program at Telstra called Future Ways of Working (FWoW), which is about enabling people with the tools, technology and working practices that allow them to do their job flexibly from lots of places,” says Peter Scougall, chief of staff for Global Sales, Global Enterprise and Services.
“Many organizations are exploring flexible work models, with a focus on workspace design and accompanying HR policies. The reality is that you also need to consider your enterprise applications to ensure they’re fit for purpose in a mobility context,” he said.
Profit spoke with Scougall, his IT counterpart Roque De Souza, general manager of Global Sales, Telstra Global Enterprise and Services, and Matthew Lill, principal consultant from implementation partner Infosys, about Telstra’s decision to refresh their CRM, and how the new solution—Oracle’s Siebel CRM—helped the company boost sales productivity by 20 percent.
Profit: What drove the decision to revisit Telstra’s sales and CRM systems?
Scougall: Our old system dated from the late 90’s—and although it has received various updates over the years it was built by committee; every department had input to its design and had their own ideas about the key data fields and information that wanted it to contain. Consequently users had to wade through screens and fields that didn’t necessarily help them do their-day-to-day jobs. It was taking away from the time our sales team could spend with customers.
Profit: How did the project impact workflow and operational efficiency?
Scougall: Before we implemented the Oracle CRM solution, our sales and marketing team could only use the CRM from their desktops. At the end of the week, they would transcribe their activity based on their diaries, spreadsheets, and notes from sales calls. Obviously, that lag affected the accuracy of our reporting and forecasting. But it also potentially introduced error and inaccuracy that weakened the quality of the data.
We live in a mobile-centric world and no sales person wants to be chained to the desk, so we needed something that was more efficient overall—one that our sales team could use on-the-go and one that we could showcase to our customers as a great enterprise solution.
Once we got the Oracle solution up and running, we reduced the time it takes users to create opportunities from 12 minutes on a desktop to less than three minutes on a mobile device. It previously took us 72 hours to allocate resources for a new customer once an opportunity was created. Now, that happens in real-time and that dramatically improves customer responsiveness.
Re-engineering the system also cut 25 unnecessary fields and four screens from the sales workflow and underlines Telstra’s priority on making the complex simple for both our customers and staff. Our account executives are doing three hours less admin work per week. We’ve saved about 2,400 hours saved per week and that’s a lot of time that we can now invest to develop deeper customer relationships.
Profit: Together with Oracle Diamond Partner Infosys, you built the first version of the new system in only eight weeks. How were you able to accomplish an enterprise prototype so quickly?
Lill: As Telstra’s consulting and technology partner for over 11 years, we shared an understanding of the challenges faced by the business. We partnered together in the beta testing program for Open UI, validating functionality of the upgrade and developing the IP which went on to become the first Mobile Open UI implementation globally.
De Souza: We redesigned the business process and the user experience workflow for desktop and mobile at the same time. Doing those things in tandem, rather than sequentially, helped us to zero in quickly on what processes, screens, and fields that were no longer required. Then after the prototype, we released new versions to the users frequently so they could see that with each release they were getting new features and also saw directly how their feedback was incorporated into the new version.
Lill: The innovation that made the project such a success stemmed from the strong collaboration between Telstra and Infosys. We worked together as a single distributed agile team, leveraging expertise across the globe such as our User Experience (UX) practice.
De Souza: The user experience piece was successful because we went to great lengths to have the users provide feedback about the features of the new system, which not only got them engaged and excited about the change, but ensured that what we built actually worked for them. We focused on improving usability across all points of interaction, desktop or mobile, and built a solution that was device agnostic.
Profit: When you’re designing and developing for mobile, you can’t just dump what works on a desktop onto smartphone or a tablet and expect it to be user-friendly. What did you do to make sure users wouldn’t be frustrated by the mobile version?
De Souza: It’s true, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to use things like gesture and zoom on a tiny field. And you can’t actually choose some of the tick boxes or dropdowns easily in that context. Infosys helped us develop a streamlined mobile version that was even faster than the desktop version for creating new a new sales record–90 seconds. A user can tap a few buttons, enter about six fields, and create a new opportunity while having a cup of coffee and the back of the house support team will quickly kick into gear to execute the opportunity. This is incredibly important as our global account executives travel far afield and are always on the road.
Profit: What has been the ROI for Telstra with the Oracle CRM solution?
Scougall: Initial implementation took just eight weeks, and the project paid for itself in five to six months. There’s an array of benefits. Productivity rose on the order of 18 to 20 percent. Last year, sales grew by 28 percent. Forecasting accuracy has improved in the order of 40 percent. The business impact is clear and improving the way we work and enabling our teams out on the road will only bring more benefits with time.
Additionally, the system has environmental benefits. Our sales force uses less paper now. They don’t have to drive back and forth from sales meetings to the office to work on the system. And the system has also done great things for employee engagement, too—we’ve done something that makes their life and their world just a little bit better and easier to manage. From an employee perspective, the sense is, “I’m getting new tools, I’m getting a new way of working, and I’m getting new processes. Someone cares about me. Someone is putting in effort to making doing my job easier and I’m no longer chained to the desk”. And of course it’s great that we got the 2014 Global Innovation award for the project – it now sets the baseline for CRM delivery globally.
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