Putting Customers First

By Heather Baldwin

You think you’ve got challenges trying to implement a single CRM system? Try walking in HP’s shoes for a day. Not too long ago, there were 200 regional CRM systems in 83 independent business units at the Palo Alto, CA-based technology company. And not only did it need to get its runaway automation initiatives under control, but it also “needed to move from a product-centric culture to a customer-centric culture,” says Mike Feldman, director of marketing, North America for HP Company.

In other words, HP did it right. Despite its niche as a high-tech company, executives understood that CRM is all about customers and that no amount of CRM software would be able to transform a company concerned mainly with product into one magically focused on customers. So HP put the “customer” piece together first. “How did we do that? We came up with total customer-experience metrics,” says Feldman: we wanted to be the easiest company with which to do business, we wanted to be a company that customers can count on and we wanted employees and partners who would go the extra mile and provide customers with an HP-branded experience.”

How does that translate to the bottom line? By transforming itself into a customer-centric operation and implementing an Oracle CRM program, HP anticipates additional revenue flow of more than $1 billion over three years. It also expects to see enormous operational cost reductions, says Mike Overly, CRM project executive at HP. Those reductions will come from IT staff (when you go from 200 systems down to one, says Overly, you obviously need far fewer IT personnel) and reduced marketing costs (by knowing exactly what customers want when they want it, HP can target marketing campaigns far more efficiently). Think HP would be seeing such spectacular results from its CRM program if it hadn’t first made the fundamental switch from the old “HP Way” to a truly customer-centric organization? No way.