Laurent-Perrier UK toasts a successful CRM implementation with IBM and Q:chi

Published on 20-Oct-2009

Validated on 06 Aug 2013

"By building on the flexible IBM Lotus Notes and Domino platform, Q:chi has delivered a solution that aligns with our business processes and provides wider access to CRM data than ever before." - Robert Smith, Financial Controller at Laurent-Perrier UK

Laurent-Perrier UK

Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

IBM Business Partner:


Laurent-Perrier UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Laurent-Perrier Group, the world-renowned champagne house. Based in Marlow, the UK company employs 20 people to manage the distribution of Laurent-Perrier champagne to the hospitality industry through a network of wholesalers, as well as to major national off-licences and supermarket chains.

Business need:
As a distributor of fine champagne to the retail and hospitality industries, Laurent-Perrier UK needs to maintain a close relationship with its regular customers. Keeping track of customer meetings, opportunities and contacts was difficult, as mobile sales teams could not access the central CRM system.

Laurent-Perrier UK implemented Biz! CRM, a customised solution from IBM Business Partner Q:chi. Built on the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino platform, the solution is integrated with corporate email and calendaring.

Q:chi Biz! provides a user-friendly customer management tool, reducing training time. All customer-related documents are stored centrally, helping users find the information they need. Simplified contact reporting features are expected to reduce administrative effort by 25 percent. Lotus replication features enable mobile users to access CRM information from wherever they are, even when offline, increasing flexibility.

Case Study

Laurent-Perrier UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Laurent-Perrier Group, the world-renowned champagne house. Based in Marlow, the UK company employs 20 people to manage the distribution of Laurent-Perrier champagne to the hospitality industry through a network of wholesalers, as well as to major national off-licences and supermarket chains.

“Despite the increasing use of technology to manage the mechanics of sales and distribution, champagne is still very much a people business,” says Robert Smith, Financial Controller at Laurent-Perrier UK. “We have a ten-person sales team that is constantly on the move – visiting our regular customers, holding events, hosting tastings and so on. It’s critical for us to know who our customers are and maintain a close relationship with them – so we need to be able to keep an accurate record of the companies and contacts we sell to.”

Laurent-Perrier UK was using a central customer relationship management (CRM) database, but found it difficult to keep information up to date.
“The problem was that it was difficult for our employees to access the system unless they were in the office – and many of them are on the road more or less all the time,” says Robert Smith. “As a result, although they knew who the customers were, they didn’t update the CRM system, and our customer database was gradually becoming more and more inaccurate.”

Building on Lotus technologies
The company had been using IBM Lotus Notes and Domino as its corporate email solution for several years, and realised that the advanced replication functionality offered by the Lotus platform could be the ideal basis for a new CRM solution that would enable salespeople to work on the move.

“With a Lotus solution, people would be able to work offline on a local copy of the data stored on their laptops, and then replicate to the central server when they next had access to the Internet,” explains Robert Smith. “This seemed like a great option, so we began searching the market for a suitable CRM application built on the Lotus Domino platform.”

Finding the right approach
Laurent-Perrier UK evaluated several off-the-shelf CRM solutions, but found them overcomplicated.

“We don’t need end-to-end sales force automation or any of the bells and whistles – we wanted a simple, user-friendly solution that would be easy for non-technical staff to use without extensive training,” comments Robert Smith. “Most of the off-the-shelf packages would have required us to change our processes to fit the software – but the way we work suits our business and we didn’t want to change.

“Next, we considered getting a solution built from scratch to our specific requirements, but this seemed likely to be very expensive. In the end, we decided on a middle ground – finding a framework solution that could be modified to fit our needs.

Working in partnership
“We asked several IBM Business Partners to make proposals, and were very impressed with Q:chi. They really listened to what we were telling them, and had a very flexible approach – they were quite happy to make changes to meet our requirements. As a result, we’ve built a solution that flows into the standard Lotus Notes environment in a very intuitive way, and our sales people have needed very minimal training to get them up to speed.”

Greg Evans, Director at Q:chi, comments: “We collaborated closely with the in-house team during the requirements-gathering phase of this project to ensure we were able to gain a deep understanding of Laurent-Perrier’s business processes. It was clear that they had high expectations regarding ease-of-use versus requirements for powerful functionality.

“Our development team worked through the various challenges with diligence and flexibility, and through careful communication and iteration we were able to rapidly deliver a solution which is highly intuitive, requiring little or no end-user training, but which still provides the rich functionality that Laurent-Perrier needs to manage its customer relationship and communication processes.”

Q:chi Biz!
The Q:chi Biz! solution offers a comprehensive range of CRM functionalities, and can be extended or refined to meet specific business needs. In Laurent-Perrier’s case, three main modules have been deployed: a customer/company management database, an events management system, and a contact reporting system.

The customer/company management database provides a full, up-to-date record of regular and prospective customers, including contacts and their roles – helping the company to target its marketing and communications efforts at the appropriate individuals.

Events management
For events management, Q:chi Biz! provides a role-based system that enables administrators to plan the event, while providing sales teams with information about which of ‘their’ customers have been invited and whether they need to follow up.

“Some of our salespeople do a lot of their work outside of normal office hours – visiting customers at bars and clubs and so on,” says Robert Smith. “Before we had this system, it could be really difficult to get in touch with them to check whether their contacts were available to come to a tasting. The Q:chi solution makes it easy for them to access the system outside of normal working hours, so information flows more smoothly. As a result, if we set up a tasting session for ten people and one drops out the day before, we’re more likely to be able to invite someone else and fill the place – so we can run our events more effectively.”

Simplifying CRM processes
Finally, the contact reporting system enables Laurent-Perrier to keep a full record of every interaction with each of its customers. Before a sales representative visits a customer, they can make a pre-meeting entry in the system, describing the purpose of the meeting and including any presentations, proposals and other documentation they intend to use. After the meeting, they write a brief summary of the outcome. Managers have full access to the system so they can monitor the whole process and make suggestions to help the sales teams achieve their goals.

“We have always tried to keep a record of our interactions with customers, but it was a cumbersome and time-consuming process,” comments Robert Smith. “With Q:chi Biz! we estimate that our contact reporting process will be 25 percent faster – helping our salespeople spend more time with customers and less on admin work.”

Boosting security
With a centralised system containing all CRM-related information, Laurent-Perrier UK has a more simple, flexible and secure way of managing its sales and marketing processes.

“As a champagne house, we work with some very high-profile clients, and their contact details are in our system,” says Robert Smith. “So naturally, privacy and security are very important. The Q:chi solution provides role-based access, which helps us ensure that this information is only available to the people who need to know it.”

He concludes: “By building on the flexible IBM Lotus Notes and Domino platform, Q:chi has delivered a solution that aligns with our business processes and provides wider access to CRM data than ever before. Our sales teams find it easier to use, especially when they’re on the road – and their input helps us to keep a more accurate record of customer interactions, which will ultimately translate into slicker, more effective customer service.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Notes, IBM Domino

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