Marston’s uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to enhance customer experience

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 06 November 2014
Marston’s uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to enhance customer experience

Marston’s, a British public house operator and brewer that operates 1,700 pubs across the UK, has implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Social Listening to monitor social media and use it to recognise, follow and analyse trends.

The information and relevant insights that are gathered can be quickly shared with staff, helping them to react quickly to meet the needs of customers.

Marston’s has significantly improved its customer service offering thanks to the solution, and the company was presented with the Convergence 2014 Europe Customer Excellence Award: Cloud Transformation award.

Thanks to the new solution, Marston’s can not only capture information and recognise trends ‘upstream’, but also make sense of it and use it effectively.

“What’s important for us is not just to know the quantities of what people are talking about but the nature of what they are talking about — and there’s such a mass of information that we need to be able to boil it down to things that we can then act upon,” said Una Beck Johnson, Marston’s commercial marketing director. “And we need that information quickly, so that we can respond to it quickly.”

Once data had been acquired, an obvious trend was identified: customers are no longer just visiting their local pub, but are travelling in much bigger circles.

“Segmenting our insight is very important,” said Beck Johnson. “We have such a broad cross section of customers. That’s what makes it both exciting and also very, very challenging. We have to be able to understand the customers’ different occasions for coming and how Marston’s is delivering to really make sure that we’re getting the right experience to the right people at the right time.”

Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Social Listening, Marston’s can encourage customer feedback via social media while visiting on of their pubs. These interactions can be mined for insights and used to help improve customer offerings and communication going forward.

“That personalisation means being relevant to the individual,” said Mike McMinn, Group IT director for Marston’s. “It’s about your customers; it’s about their patch if you like. Customer experience needs to be as smooth as possible because reducing the friction in their dealings with us means they’re going to come back again.”

In the past, to implement a system of this size, planning would have taken six months and implementation an entire weekend. However thanks to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform and implementation partner The CRM Business, implementation has been smoother and taken far less time than expected.

“I can go to bed on a Thursday, wake up on a Friday and I have the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM,” said McMinn. “I don’t have to worry about how long it’s going to take to build, or whether the infrastructure is there to support it. We don’t have to worry about the security. All of that is handled by Microsoft. It just happens.”

Marston’s has also benefited from the implementation of Microsoft Lync, which allows team members to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM on mobile devices.

“It’s a distributive environment we live in, with five breweries and 1,700 pubs,” explained McMinn. “The traveling has come down dramatically with this system. It’s stopped people having to spend hours in a car. People are also more mobile, more flexible, and can remain more tuned into what the customer needs. We’re putting in infrastructure with the technology that gives people a choice about how and when they get things done, because that’s another part of our company’s culture change — it’s not ‘nine-to-five’ anymore.”

Unexpected benefits have also been realised, such as within company’s maintenance help desk team, which has moved its process to track repairs and maintenance equipment to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

McMinn hopes to continue the success Marston’s has realised by placing technology in the hands of the people that work for the company.

“There’s another customer in here, and that’s the employee,” concluded McMinn. “We introduce technology to show our people what’s possible, and when they understand what’s possible, it sparks off more ideas. This enables employees to discover innovative ways to eliminate burdensome busywork, and instead turn their focus back to the job they love — taking care of the customer. If I’ve made an employee’s life better at some point, then it’s been worth it.” 

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