CSC Implements CRM Solution for French Energy Provider Poweo
- Because the French energy monopoly was dissolved in July 2004, Poweo needed to quickly develop a tailor-made, yet inexpensive, information system to manage its many new customers.
- Poweo chose the CSC-Oracle team to build a CRM solution using Oracle E-Business Suite.
- The CSC-Oracle team's CRM solution went into operation three months after development began. Poweo's close involvement helped the project move quickly.
- Poweo awarded CSC new contracts to provide beginning-to-end support of this project over the next four years.
On July 1, 2004, a new market opened up for Poweo, France's first independent energy provider—a market that it can now tap into with a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution from CSC and Oracle.
On that day a 58-year-old energy monopoly became history, freeing 3.7 million French customers to choose their own electricity provider. To take advantage of this competitive opportunity, two-year old Poweo needed a tailor-made information system that would allow it to manage its many new customers and associated sales channels. Poweo gained 400 to 500 new customer sites each week, and targeted 12,000 total customers by the end of 2004.
A quick decision
"Early in the summer of 2003, our needs were clearly identified," recalls Céline Jourdan, direct marketing executive at Poweo and head of the CRM project. "Our priority was to create a real customer referential and equip ourselves with tools allowing us to work on this basis. We also wanted to benefit from the better running of and greater visibility into the activity of our sales channels aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and sole traders, [including] direct sales with our 25 branches [and] indirect sales with partners."
CSC was not among the initial six candidates for the project because, says Jourdan, Poweo was looking for an inexpensive solution with no intermediaries. Oracle and CSC came into the loop last, through the back door and as the challenger.
Christophe Amouroux, a manager in the Business Solutions and System Integration unit at CSC, demonstrated the recommended solution around the Oracle E-Business Suite. "Our teams specialize in the implementation of business solutions, particularly around Oracle solutions," says Amouroux. "Moreover, we had a great deal of experience in the implementation of customer relationship management solutions within very short time frames. This last point tallied with Poweo's needs, as it wanted its front-office solution to be operational by March 2004."
In late November, Poweo chose the CSC-Oracle pairing, with a few hesitations. "In choosing them, we felt like we were taking a risk, as a small business," explains Jourdan. "Oracle's solution was not particularly widespread, and thus seemed to require a great deal of work and development, while we had considerable time constraints. Furthermore, because thousands of businesses were already using Oracle solutions, it could have been difficult to make ourselves heard. That said, we were particularly seduced by CSC's apparent willingness to work with us, by the quality of their consultants and their knowledge of Oracle solutions."
Solution supports expansion plans
In theory, the Oracle E-Business Suite can appear imposing to a small business. "But it has the special feature of not imposing all of its functionalities," adds Amouroux. "It is adaptable and can be assembled 'brick by brick,' depending on requirements." This appealed to Poweo, which has plans for expansion.
Poweo's initial needs in December 2003 concerned sales and marketing. In the first instance, the solution had to support the sales cycle (identification and qualification of prospects, management of customer appointments, provisional views, management of indirect sales and contracts). From a marketing point of view, the tool had to manage campaigns (targeting on the basis of customer files, channel selection and allocation of resources to a campaign). Finally, the solution had to connect sales and marketing activities.
Three main tools were selected to construct Poweo's CRM solution: Oracle Telesales, to monitor sales teams; Oracle Marketing, to monitor the returns from each campaign; and Oracle Discoverer, a query tool that allows the user to establish global views.
"Our company has only been operating for two years," says Jourdan. "At first we wanted to stay close to the Oracle standard. However, we were learning our jobs little by little during the course of the expansion of the business and there were many modifications along the way, which led us to consider specific developments. CSC's strength lay in being able to accept these modifications and constantly evolve, with the emergence of new sales channels, for example. We could impose our choices—Poweo's sales managers could thus integrate their sales methods within the solution."
Renewed confidence, ongoing work
The CRM solution came into operation on time, three months after development began. "We involved a team of four CSC collaborators, including three consultants," explains Amouroux. "We worked on the organization, processes and implementation of the solution. Poweo's involvement was considerable throughout the course of the project, which was of particular help in making rapid progress: The sales managers and all decision-makers concerned took part in all of our prototyping workshops. This involvement allowed us to convince a number of sales and marketing people who were reluctant to adopt a solution that was perceived as an unwanted, overly complicated monitoring tool. We took great care in listening to their complaints and adapting the solution."
Poweo’s Jourdan agrees that the project went extremely well. "The only issues concerned the integration of this front-office solution with our back-office, which was also being developed during that same period," she says. "Indeed, it is not easy to make two parts of an information system communicate and interact when neither is complete. We did not ask enough of CSC regarding the accompaniment plan for the CRM solution; we thought we would be able to deal with it ourselves, and we would perhaps have needed much more to mobilize users."
Poweo demonstrated its confidence in CSC by inviting the company to support and develop its information system over the next four years. Specific new contracts awarded to CSC include the externalization of Poweo's CRM services within CSC’s data center in Roissy, France; third-party application maintenance and operational assistance around its CRM solutions; and the operation and management of its CRM solutions.
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