DATS 24 has been reporting strong numbers year after year in a market where this is the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, the fuel supplier for Colruyt Group is continuing its rapid roll-out of a national network of CNG stations. A total of 95 are planned to be in operation by March 2018. Within the framework of its growth strategy, DATS 24 is also increasingly serving SME businesses. In order to effectively manage its relationships with its growing number of business customers, the company needed an efficient Customer Relationship Management system. DATS 24 found a solution in the form of Salesforce, which Realdolmen – as a trusted advisor – was able to seamlessly integrate into the organization.
Initially, all of the DATS 24 stations were located at Colruyt sites, and the company focused primarily on shoppers and passers-by. Over time, standalone filling stations were added, as a result of which DATS 24 now operates an extensive network that also attracts professional customers. “DATS 24 has a clear and consistent strategy of offering low prices all the time, everywhere. Together with our focus on efficiency and customer service, this makes us an attractive partner for an increasing number of SMEs. We are also aiming to increasingly and proactively advocate CNG (compressed natural gas) in the B2B market. Accordingly, we need to be able to monitor and relate to our potential customers more efficiently," explains Bram Decraene, Head of Sales at DATS 24 Professional.
However, to take a more professional approach to this target group, DATS 24 had to revise its strategy. "In particular, we needed a more structured approach within our sales organization in order to give us a better picture of the status of each customer," he states. "Some companies order fuel cards without any prompting, while other potential customers need to be encouraged and visited. Our approach to the latter group in particular was not especially efficient."
Realdolmen implements new CRM system quickly and efficiently
Previously, DATS 24 used an Excel sheet to monitor its B2B customers. All leads and prospects were listed here. However, this tool was extremely difficult to manage efficiently.
Bram Decraene: “Eoly and Symeta, two other companies within the Colruyt Group, were already using Salesforce and were highly satisfied. We quickly decided to follow their example, as it gave us the added benefit of simply having to look to our neighbors to see how the solution actually worked."
Realdolmen, with which DATS 24 had already collaborated in the past, was asked to manage the implementation of the software package. This was done on a fixed-price basis, so that DATS 24 knew exactly what the cost would be from day one.
DATS 24 has never regretted this decision for a second. "Our CRM partner, Realdolmen, was able to get the package up and running in under a month. The fact that the actual implementation process went so smoothly was undoubtedly the result of thorough preparation as well," says Bram Decraene. "Realdolmen explained to us beforehand exactly what we could do with the Salesforce software, so that we immediately had a good idea of the various options available."
DATS 24 and Realdolmen organized several workshops to discuss and fine-tune all of the various requirements and desires. For example, at the request of the parent company, Salesforce had to be implemented as a standalone system. "An important requirement in setting up the system was to ensure that CRM would not become an administrative burden. We thought long and hard about what we really wanted and what was simply unnecessary baggage," explains Bram Decraene.
During the implementation, DATS 24 kept with the standard version as much as possible. "However, one aspect that we did customize to our individual wishes was the definition of leads. Although leads are generally structured around a person, we wanted one lead per company. These types of modification were implemented very quickly," he adds.
"We soon noticed that the package actually works in a highly intuitive manner. Once you have made certain basic choices and structured the most important fields, it is simple to fine-tune the solution to meet your own specific needs. You do not even need to know all that much about IT to do so. We can now also do our own fine-tuning in the future without external assistance. Now that the basic system is fully operational, we also want to integrate the status of payments and the management of cards into the solution."
No more playing catch-up
At present, six DATS 24 customer consultants are working with Salesforce on a daily basis. With the implementation of the software package, they now know the exact status of their customers and the following steps to be taken. Tenders and emails are also managed neatly and efficiently. Since Salesforce regularly sends reminders, it's no longer necessary to play catch-up. In addition, everyone has access to the necessary information, meaning that anyone can assist a customer if they need help at a given time.
Of course, as in every such project, some change management was required. "Some employees found it difficult to take leave of their trusted Excel. Some new employees came on board at the same time as well. Fortunately, though, everyone quickly became used to working with Salesforce, once again due to the intuitive nature of the software package. One of our customer consultants wanted to work with Salesforce via the mobile app, and that also works very well," says Bram Decraene. "One thing we would not repeat, with the benefit of hindsight, is the integration of our old Excel files into the package. The information was not up to date, which meant that we could not do much with it anyway."
A structured approach for the future
According to Bram Decraene, the benefits of Salesforce are based primarily on greater transparency, increased efficiency, and a more structured manner of working. "Since our package is still a standalone system, we load our data from Salesforce once a month into our mainframe. In future, we intend to integrate both systems, which will allow us to track everything even more closely and efficiently," explains Bram Decraene.
Since DATS 24 started working with Salesforce, the organization has also seen a steady increase of its sales in the B2B segment. "Of course, it is difficult to estimate how large the 'Salesforce effect' has been. After all, we also opened about 10 additional stations last year. In any case, Salesforce has become an indispensable tool for us in order to efficiently monitor and manage our growing volume of business," he concludes.