Inchcape drives customer service with SAP and Microsoft tools

Inchcape is aiming to steal a march on its rivals with improved customer services arising from major SAP and Microsoft implementations.

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Inchcape is aiming to steal a march on its rivals with improved customer services arising from major SAP and Microsoft implementations.

The world’s largest car dealer, based in London, has vowed to set a benchmark for customer service as a means of gaining an edge over its competitors and boosting profits, and says technology will make the difference.

Inchcape is using an SAP system to automate and streamline operational processes in its car dealerships, allowing its sales staff to spend more time with customers.

It is using SAP to push its plans to promote best practice across its dealerships and distribution functions in 26 countries, as part of its “strengthen and expand” customer and growth strategy. The company has a near £5bn turnover and 12,000 staff worldwide.

André Lacroix, chief executive at Inchcape, said the SAP system would "also be a platform for the fast and efficient integration of new businesses as we execute our expansion strategy in developed and emerging countries”. This includes newly acquired retail operations in Russia, including the purchase of Peugeot and Audi dealership chains.

The firm also wants to produce better business intelligence data for management. As a result it is implementing the new Microsoft business intelligence system Office PerformancePoint Server in order to measure improvements and draw out useful information for dealership managers.

As a long-time customer of ProClarity, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, the company decided to move to the new Microsoft product and integrate its various business intelligence systems, including ProClarity and Microsoft Reporting Services, onto a single platform. It said a recognisable interface, familiar to users of Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheets, would minimise staff training needs.

The company is also using Net Promoter Score, a management metric that gauges the loyalty of customer relationships.

Peter Wilson, chief information officer at Inchcape, told Computerworld UK that improving customer experience and measuring this properly was crucial to the firm’s growth plans.

“We’re trying to understand customer behaviour - how many customers are asking for quotes, or buying finance, for example, and how they feel about buying from us. We had no idea of these things 12 months ago,” he admitted. Other business areas being measured include parts sales and service.

The company has a data warehouse that runs on Hyperion Essbase and Microsoft SQL Server, and elsewhere it is replacing certtain legacy systems using a legacy consolidation tool. Wilson said some challenges remained on old data and advised others that when tackling a BI overhaul IT managers “should not underestimate the issues surrounding legacy data”.

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