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This is how to make customers feel at home

It isn’t easy to provide top-quality sales and service when your employees and production are spread across 42 countries—unless you can build the right structure to connect everyone

Helping a large global company transform its customer relationships is by no means child’s play—but you can certainly compare it to the science of assembling LEGO bricks.

Deloitte Belgium partner Frederik Debrabander uses the building-blocks analogy as he explains the problem that was facing Belgium-based manufacturer Etex, as it sought to seam together a highly decentralized network of 14,000 employees across three divisions in 42 countries and 100 locations around the world.

“LEGO bricks are convenient and fit together, and there’s a lot you can do with them. But if you don’t guide your kids when they are making a house, you will get an enormous variety of different shapes,” he says.

It’s a fitting comparison: Etex is a global producer of innovative lightweight building materials for the construction industry. The organization had embarked on a ‘OneCRM’ strategy to harmonize processes across its global network, and turned to Deloitte Belgium to help it create one customer-facing system—incorporating sales, service and marketing. It was a daunting challenge, especially since Etex wanted to get the job done in no more than 18 months.

What was needed in the face of such an ambitious goal, Debrabander says, was a technological accelerator—the digital solution that would help put all those building blocks together into one harmonious structure.

Etex agreed to Deloitte’s recommendation to deploy the cloud-based asset Cloud4M, a Salesforce-based solution built especially for clients in the manufacturing sector (see sidebar). Continuing the LEGO theme, Debrabander, Deloitte Global leader for Cloud4M, compares the solution to “pre-built packages of blocks” that help organizations build an integrated system much faster, incorporating best practices for its users along all stages of the customer-relationship journey.

“If you want to grow, if you want to invest in innovation and also look at your way of working—especially in the COVID-19 era—you need this kind of modern technology to bring you into that post-COVID reality,” says Jan Kerstens, the CRM implementation project manager at Etex.

"If you want to grow, if you want to invest in innovation and also look at your way of working—especially in the COVID-19 era—you need this kind of modern technology to bring you into that post-COVID reality."

– Jan Kerstens, Etex

Kerstens gives some telling examples of why things had to change, and why the OneCRM plan was imperative. Because of the diversity of legacy systems and lack of collaboration, sales teams selling facades (for example) did not communicate with the teams selling fire protection, leading to obvious lost business opportunities and inefficiencies in areas such as post-sales service. 

The legacy systems not only prohibited cross-department collaboration, but were also a technical mess. Employees either had no access to a mobile CRM app, or a limited tablet app that was bolted on to the main system and would break anytime the devices’ operating systems were updated.

A Deloitte-Etex team set to work implementing the Cloud4M solution over a series of sprints that culminated in a phase-one launch for 550 users. And finally, beating the 18-month deadline by several weeks, the new companywide CRM system went live to the full suite of 2,000 users in 34 countries. Etex continues to enhance the system and has added a custom mobile app that is fully integrated into the platform.

COVID-19 reared its head at the tail-end of the work, forcing meetings, and subsequent user training sessions, into the virtual realm. But the organization has emerged stronger, and ready to ride its transformation into the future with confidence.

The OneCRM system leverages Cloud4M’s advanced digital capabilities to generate the rich data and insights that enable Etex employees in any location or division to manage each customer, from lead generation to sales, order fulfillment, subscription creation, project and account management, through to post-sales service and maintenance. 

Another point of impact: The integrated, pre-built nature of the technology enables projects such as this to be completed in a shorter time frame, saving organizations considerable time and expense. 

The digital transformation has not only vastly improved the company’s ability to reach and talk to customers with one global voice. The advantages it brings to the daily work experience have also greatly increased employee engagement and satisfaction, and, of course, productivity.

“It’s been a big step forward for us, saving a lot of money, time and resources,” says Kerstens. Indeed, Etex has achieved record financial results for the past two years—the last one even in the midst of the pandemic.

“In terms of commercial excellence, this project really contributed to make sure that globally, they have one sales approach, one marketing approach, and one way to service their customers—and ultimately, they have become much closer to their customers,” says Debrabander.

What is Cloud4M?

  • Cloud4M is a pre-configured multi-cloud solution for the manufacturing industry that provides companies with a single, 360-degree view of their customers and products.

  • The Salesforce-powered solution provides users with automated, data-driven sightlines into every aspect of the customer lifecycle—from lead generation to order fulfillment, though to field service and future sales predictions.

  • Impacts include increased productivity, responsive customer sales and service, preventative maintenance, transparency across the supply chain and asset lifecycle, and improved new-product planning.

  • Cloud4M was developed by Deloitte Belgium before becoming an official Deloitte-Salesforce asset now delivered to clients globally.