Home Improvement

VicUrban uses Oracle CRM on Demand to sweeten the customer experience.

by Joanna Holmes, August 2008

A wet, cold, and tired customer is generally not a happy customer, no matter how much he or she wants to buy a product. But this was the type of customer that Melbourne, Australia-based VicUrban—the Victoria State Government’s sustainable land development agency—had to handle when it began to sell allotments of land in Australia through general releases. Today, the company has been able to transform its customers’ experiences with the help of Oracle CRM On Demand, taking those experiences from challenging to superior during the course of one bold change.

In the past, VicUrban conducted high-demand releases through a lottery registration process. At the peak of the property boom, customers had to wait in a line—outdoors—for up to a week to indicate their interest and buy land. Until recently, says Kirsten Rappolt, VicUrban’s general manager for business planning and marketing, delivering a positive customer experience during the course of a lottery registration process meant keeping hopeful buyers safe, warm, and well fed while they waited in the cold weather.

But serving food to weary land buyers isn’t enough to create a truly positive customer experience. So VicUrban has embraced a customer-centric service methodology to complement the new Oracle CRM On Demand system. Using customer relationship management (CRM) to make life easier for its customers has been paramount for VicUrban in the roughly nine months since the implementation.

An Outside-In Approach

VicUrban’s approach to Oracle CRM On Demand aligns with a set of projects outlined in Gartner’s November 2007 report, Fifty Things to Do Right Now to Improve the Customer Experience, by Ed Thompson. VicUrban’s successful CRM rollout demonstrated that careful planning and broad communication, combined with an industry-leading CRM solution, can make a highly positive impact on customer experience—and on overall business performance.

According to the Gartner report, “At every customer interaction with a company, there is at least one 'moment of truth’—an interaction that can disproportionately positively or negatively affect the customer experience.” Today, VicUrban customers are more likely to experience that defining moment in a positive way, in the comfort of their own homes, rather than during a week spent outdoors waiting in line.

The company can save its customers inconvenience by using customer data to conduct the registration process entirely online. Through careful management of sales leads, VicUrban can quickly target the customers most likely to purchase a lot in a new development and can anticipate a strong response rate. For example, when the company was ready to open registration for its new Valley Lake development in April 2008, potential buyers received word via e-mail that they could register online—no more waiting in line. VicUrban was aware of the high interest this release would attract and wanted to forestall the potential health and safety risks associated with people sleeping outside for days on end.

“We didn’t want people to have to go through the discomfort and anxiety of camping out in the cold to be able to bid,” says Rappolt. “This release was launched through an online system where buyers registered their interest, securing their place with a deposit.” When the online queue officially opened, 88 people registered in the first hour. “It was still first come, first served, but this way people could 'line up’ in the comfort of their own homes.”

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