Aviation and aerospace firms find value in CRM

Large companies in the aerospace industry are rolling out CRM applications to help them boost sales and improve service levels in...

Large companies in the aerospace industry are rolling out CRM applications to help them boost sales and improve service levels.

Commercial airplane maker Raytheon Aircraft has already recovered $1.4m of its investment in call centre and sales and service applications from Siebel Systems.

The system, which has only been partially rolled out, went live in November with 170 seats. Using customer information gleaned from the software, Raytheon was able to start closing deals with just one person doing follow-up calls, said Ed Dolanski, vice-president of customer support at Raytheon.

Before the rollout, there was no formal CRM system in place. Raytheon went with Siebel because it appeared to have the most comprehensive tool set to fit the aerospace business. 

"We identified that we didn't have any type of customer memory, and we cleaned up our act," he said.

He said the application was installed at 13% under budget and four weeks ahead of schedule, which allowed him to purchase Siebel analytics as well. 

Raytheon will extend access to the applications to the service centres, so service reps can identify a given customer by their plane number and access relevant information, such as what sort of food they want stocked in the plane.

"It's a value-added service beyond what the competition does," he said. 

CRM in the aerospace industry is just beginning to gain momentum, said Sheldon Tkatch, senior project manager at Garrett Aviation Service Centres, a provider of plane maintenance and modification services.

His company performed a two-year search before it went with hosted sales and service applications from SaleForce.com in January 2002. 

Despite the aviation industry's condition, the applications have helped Garrett to be more proactive in tracking sales opportunities and contacting customers, as well as helping the company maintain standard processes for things like creating quotes for customers. 

Other aerospace companies are also pushing ahead with CRM.

The Boeing's commercial aviation services unit is about to retire a mix of homegrown Unix and mainframe-based legacy CRM applications in favour of Siebel call centre software, said Gabe Hanzeli, information systems director for technical services and modification at Boeing.

The system, which will cost several million dollars, will mean support staff can access customer information from a single screen instead of having to flip through multiple ones, cutting response times to support questions. 

Boeing also expects the rollout, due to go into pilot testing in the first half of 2004, to boost customer satisfaction, improve the flow of product information to the field service personnel and reduce the costs of maintaining and upgrading the company's own applications.

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