CRM individual project Unilever case study: Improving internal reactivity to meet customer’s needs Table of Contents Title Page p. 1 Table of Contents p. 2 Company Profile p. 3 Situation: What was the specific need for CRM ? p. 4 Solution: PPE/Octavius a combined solution to improve information transfer p. 5 Objectives: What were the goals of the CRM strategy ? p. 6 Implementation: What was the corporate –wide implementation process? p. 7 Key Benefits: What were the results of this new business solution? p. 8 Future: Expectation for the future p. References p. 11 Appendix p. 11 Compagny Profile Unilever is one of the most important manufacturers in France for Home and personal Care (with P&G and Henkel). The company manages brands for house up keeping and laundry products (Cif, Domestos, Omo, Skip, Persil, Cajoline) and for body and hair care (Dove, Sunsilk, Timotei, Axe, Rexona, Signal) As all manufacturers in France, their customers are essentially in-home distributors (Hyper-Supermarkets & convenient stores). Unilever products are distributed on French market since the 50’s.
Thus, the mass distribution network is totally covered. The main point is not to acquire new customers (except the new e-channel distributors) but to satisfy the already existing customer’s demand as the Fast Moving Consumer Goods
This kind of operation requires indeed the manufacturer to satisfy the customer totally because if it is not the case, the latter could refuse the next promotional suggestions of the manufacturer. How to satisfy the customer to keep good relationship ? Situation before : What was the specific need for CRM ? In fact, when a retailer wants to organize a promotional event in its stores (for example the “25 winning days” in Auchan), several powerful companies as P&G, Henkel, L’Oreal, Reckitt, etc. re asked to make promotional suggestions to answer distributor demand. Then the customer will choose the best suggestions and go further in the negotiations to organize the promotional event. But between the moment when the customer accepts the promotional suggestion and the moment of the promotion event, the manufacturer must organize the communication for sales force to take orders in stores, launch production and delivery the products (and promotion media supports) [cf. Appendix A for more explanation].
In the past there were some problems during promotional operations. For example, logistics problems prevented Dove operation from occurring last year; after the confirmation of the promotional operation, the communication with customer relationship, logistics and production services was not reactive enough to response to an increasing demand of “boxes” (personalized sales shelves). As the effectiveness of sales forces was not supported by the production and delivery, the customer really felt unsatisfied.
Another remaining problem is also a lack of in-real-time information: Each time a new operation is accepted, the NAM/KAM assistants enter the information in excel files on Unilever intranet. Then the technical information for delivering and stocking products are made and pictures of the products are sending to the customer to do the communication of promotion and to anticipate the reception of products. As the same time, the NAM interns do the operation files: these documents enable the sales force to argue for selling a maximum of products and to take the products orders.
The earlier these documents are sent, the better the sales force can organize the customer’s visits planning to be efficient. But the transmission of the data was made only once a week (on Thursday noon) by a dedicated employee with Siebel Oracle (software that was used to transfer data to the sales force). Thus, a promotion suggestion which was accepted on Thursday afternoon couldn’t be transmitted to sales force before the next week – except if we send an e-mail to distribution list (but the heavy files fill in easily the mail box…).
This kind of solution was a problem for emergency situation as sometimes operations are confirmed at the last moment by the customers. These two types of frequent problems come actually from an internal communication problem. The lack of in-real-time information implies a lack of reactivity to answer customer needs that is to say to fulfil customer satisfaction. The solution: PPE/Octavius As the reactivity was the core problem in communication, the solution should have to shorten information transmission delay. The idea was focused on centralizing the information to avoid intermediaries and double tasks.
PPE (Promotion Planning and Evaluation) is a platform that enables to put all the information linked to promotional operations. By using a unique platform, all the services (category managers, logistics, etc. ) can access to data anytime (automatic update). Moreover the interactive aspect of the solution enable to link all the information about a product to save time: by clicking on a product included in a promotional operation, the KAM can see the characteristics of the product (technical file) and ordered quantity (logistics).
At the same time, a real-time solution called Octavius was set –up to transfer automatically the data to sales forces: as soon as a new promotional operation will be accepted, the sales force will be able to download the information to convince the customer about the benefits of the operation. At the moment this solution is in test period. People attended training about how to use PPE, but didn’t stop the former process. Thus, we will try to define the objectives of such a solution to improve Unilever efficiency and effectiveness.
Objectives This couple of business solution is supposed to improve reactivity of internal answers between services. By avoiding intermediaries – as implying too many people (NAM assistants, NAM and category managers), the new platform will give a direct access to the right information to the concerned person. Moreover, PPE should avoid the double information sources: before the category managers developed their own “tools” (excel tables) to manage the operations while NAM/KAM assistants were doing the same thing with other tables.
There were a waste of time: employees from different services were compelled to re-do documents just because they didn’t know that someone else was already doing it or because the document was not accessible for their account ; in addition, doing things twice could lead to more mistakes exposure. So, the strategy of PPE was to improve the quality of the information by reducing mistakes and gaining time. At the same time Octavius enables to transfer automatically information from a head office to the sales force.
The objective here is to gain time (until one week) for the sales force to be better organized as they are better informed about the promotional operations Thus the objective is to improve the customer satisfaction by being more reactive to the promotional operations change (which is frequent). To reach this goal, Unilever decided to improve the internal communication process. The strategy was to reduce intermediaries (having a direct access to information), to reduce the number of information source (only PPE should provide the information and not 10 excel sheets made by 5 different employees) and to have real-time information update.
That is why a common platform for the information and an automatic transfer were the chosen solution to improve quality internal information and close time gap. Implementation: the process planned First the PPE interface was set up on Unilever intranet. The basic information was display about promotional operations schedule: suggestions (no answer yet), accepted suggestions and rejected suggestions. Each operation displays the event information (customer, operation name, date, type of promotion/discount) and the reference of the products (name, brand, variety, pre-ordered quantity).
The assistants are supposed to fill in the event and product reference information and to add make any change (as they are directly contacted by the customer for suggestion, acceptation, rejection or change of a promotional offer). Usually the modifications are only about the status change of the operations: a suggestion becomes either a confirmed operation, either a rejected operation. It also can be a change about the products or the promotional event (made by the customer).
The category managers are supposed to fill in the planned quantity of products order: according to their experience of past event, they must plan the round quantity of products and boxes that could be order by the customer. Key benefits Thanks to the centralization of data and information, we can notice that many errors and time wasting could be avoided in the future. First, the centralization of data enables to type one time the information. It avoids double tasks (waste of time) and double information in the same system (decrease risks of typing errors that people won’t check).
Secondly, as every concerned people can access to this platform, it would decrease the quantity of e-mails. The problems with e-mail exchanges could be about forgetting someone in receiver list, giving too much information (not concern people can receive the mail), having a problem of stocking and sending information (a operation file can be up to 1Mo), having so much e-mail (new sending after correction) that the receiver doesn’t remember/find the last version.
As PPE would be a unique platform which is updated in real time, employees are sure to get the last information that is on a shared intranet (no stock on individual computer). The right and unique information with a free and anytime access for everybody is the solution for more reactivity to unexpected problems. Future In addition to the technical problems (addition of more options in the PPE interface), the underlying problem lies in employees’ behaviour towards this new interface: even if PPE seems to facilitate many tasks, people don’t trust this new process yet.
Especially the assistants who are not IT friendly and the managers who developed some additional files for more information communication and that cannot import these data in the new interface yet. Concerning the missing options in PPE, as the technical information (logistics information, etc. ) are not displayed yet, the assistants still use the Operation Table on excel. So for the moment the implementation requires double tasks for assistants. This double task is a psychological problem that makes the new solution be considered as reluctant for the assistants.
This reluctance could be worsening because the technical guides were not able to define exactly when the problem will be solved. I think that firstly the PPE solution should have been better designed to meet employees’ need before being launched. The directors of the concerned services (Category management, Customer relationship) didn’t take into account the peripheral services (logistics, sales forces, and marketing) which take part in the promotional operation building process.
In addition, they didn’t speak enough with the assistants who are perhaps not managers but who are directly responsible of the PPE running (they enter the data with the category managers) ; by deepening the stake and the consequences of using PPE, the directors would see that the solution was missing some important information. Thus, after more meeting about the setting up of PPE, the solution provided could have been better accepted because it would have been regarded as complete and adapted to the promotional process requirement.
As all the additional and necessary information couldn’t be add at the same time in the platform, the responsible people of PPE running should have been clear about the temporary process to run PPE with the missing information (the best and same way to act for all categories – food and HPC) and how long this temporary situation will last. References – Interview of Unilever managers assistants in Direction Enseigne (customer relationship) Service & Sales force – Unilever France official website : http://unilever. fr Appendix AppendixA Appendix B Appendix C