Travelex consolidates its CRM with hosted service

Currency exchange company Travelex has begun rolling out SalesForce.com's hosted customer relationship management service across...

Currency exchange company Travelex has begun rolling out SalesForce.com's hosted customer relationship management service across Europe following a pilot project in the US. Its aim is to consolidate its customer databases worldwide.

Following the acquisition of travel operator Thomas Cook in 2001, Travelex found it was running a number of CRM systems, such as Siebel and Goldmine, and realised it needed to consolidate its customer databases in order to improve customer service.

SalesForce.com has pioneered hosted CRM, where users pay a perpetual licence to access CRM through a browser-based user interface. A typical subscription costs £32 per user per month. One benefit of the hosted service is that users do not need to maintain the CRM system - this is all done at SalesForce.com's datacentre.

Such an approach to CRM raises the question of where customer data is held and whether it will be secure. In order to run the hosted service, all of TravelEx's customer data needed to reside with SalesForce.com.

Brian Eagle-Brown, business manager at Travelex, said, "It was quite an issue convincing the board that our customer data would be held at SalesForce.com." In the end he organised an independent security audit of SalesForce.com to prove to the board that the data would be safe. "SalesForce.com was able to prove it was able to handle the data, probably better than we could ourselves," he said.

What attracted Eagle-Brown to SalesForce.com was the concept of an annual subscription for the software. "There was no need to pay additional costs as the subscription model gave us access to a very flexible system," he said.

Rolling out SalesForce.com was relatively straightforward, since it is internet-based, Eagle-Brown said. It took four months to implement. One of the benefits discovered while running the US pilot was that the sales team was able to enter partial information into the database rather than fill in all customer details.

"CRM is only as good as the information it contains," said Eagle-Brown, and this aspect of the product made it more usable. SalesForce.com's consulting team helped with data migration.

Eagle-Brown is now planning to use the additional CRM offered by SalesForce.com. "We are evaluating how to use the customer query and marketing features," he said.
This was last published in February 2004

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