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Office and administration buildings, logistics facilities, housing projects — even large-scale construction projects are handled at a regional level. However, contractors and companies with a country-wide presence are usually involved in these projects too. One such business is the Köster GmbH group: With more than 2000 employees and sales of 1.24 billion euro in 2018, it is one of the leading providers for building construction, civil engineering and tunnel construction in Germany.
With a network of 22 branches and 6 competence centres, Köster GmbH and its partners implement a wide range of construction projects with expertise and a solution-oriented approach. Being able to share information between sales divisions is a key factor when it comes to offering consistent and high-quality services and solutions across Germany. A central data and IT platform is a good basis for this — which is exactly what Konica Minolta has created with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016.
As a general building contractor, Köster does not just exchange information with its customers — it also frequently communicates with a network of architects, project controllers, consultants and partner companies that are involved in projects from an early stage. Köster considered several CRM systems and partners before making their selection: the solution had to be able to map all networks, provide an overview of all business-relevant information and ensure optimal customer support for all matters. The project management team realised that all of the selected suppliers were able to provide a high level of technical expertise. „However, it was much more important for us to have a partner who understood our business and could consult with us on the structure of our sales processes. This required a lot of experience,“ says Axel Büchsenschütz, Senior CRM Manager Sales and Marketing at Köster. Mr Büchsenschütz and his colleagues were very impressed with the fact that Konica Minolta and Köster had similar attitudes. After analysing its requirements, Konica Minolta provided Köster with a theoretical presentation of the system and the opportunity to visit two reference customers. Based on these services, the decision makers were not just impressed by the software — the consultation service provided by Konica Minolta and the solutions gained as a result were also decisive factors.
The first step for Köster was to initiate a pilot project, as this would allow them to source ideas for the CRM solution from a wide range of management personnel from the outset and take a collaborative approach to defining the requirements of the system. The basic structures of work processes were mapped and developed further in creative discussions. „Establishing this dynamic paid off when it came to putting the system into operation,“ says Mr Büchsenschütz.
In spite of careful preparation, issues kept cropping up during implementation that had not yet been taken into account and that had to be resolved quickly, such as connecting existing systems. In other cases, the decision makers found in the course of the project that it would be better to resolve various issues differently from what was originally planned. „I would particularly like to highlight the flexible approach of Konica Minolta. If the contractual relationship was more rigid and the provider insisted on an initial planning phase, it would not be possible to deal with new requirements that crop up spontaneously,“ says Mr Büchsenschütz.
With support from Konica Minolta, around 230 users at 6 locations across Germany have been trained in one-day seminars for the initial launch. The company‘s internal training institution, Köster Academy, now offers several training modules that teach how CRM can be used as a vital resource for sales work. Mr Büchsenschütz is keen for users to both understand CRM as a technology and why it is so important: „The training should inform users on how to use information and identify and serve customer requirements in a solution-oriented manner.“
CRM enables the company to use identical processes in all sales divisions and optimises the impression given to customers. Having a consistent range of services across Germany is particularly important when a nationwide investor is building in Hamburg, Munich, Düsseldorf and Berlin, as Mr Büchsenschütz explains: „The customer is obviously expecting to be dealt with consistently and will rely on using the same services and connections across all locations. CRM is a key tool that allows us to provide such a consistent service. Internally, we appreciate the transparency and the wealth of automated processes that we have developed together with Konica Minolta.“ For example, a colleague who is sick or on holiday can be covered by another colleague at the same level at any time using the information contained in CRM.
However, CRM is not just used in the sales divisions at Köster — it is also an important tool for their marketing colleagues. The solution provides a comprehensive overview of customers, allowing all marketing and sales activities relating to information, newsletters and events to be co-ordinated based on existing data. „For us, it is a matter of recognising the requirements of our customers early on and being able to offer them the corresponding services in good time,“ explains Büchsenschütz. Information that is not directly related to a particular construction project, such as an interest in specific newsletter topics, is also important.
Köster will use the CRM project over the long term to maintain and ensure the long-term success of its sales divisions. The system will continue to develop and the information will be networked using internal and external solutions. Having the correct information is the only way that sales employees can serve customers in the best possible way.
„Our Customer Relationship Management system has a great impact within the Köster Group, so any changes or new solutions must be introduced and made available to users with the highest proficiency. We particularly appreciate our collaboration with Konica Minolta as they are able to reliably deliver this service. Since the start of the project, we have been working with our specified point of contact and their team. Even when we have unconventional or spontaneous enquiries, they always help us efficiently and with a high level of expertise. They support us both with technical solutions and advice on the structures of our in-house processes.“
Senior CRM Manager Sales and Marketing, Köster, Germany