Commercial real estate is a cutthroat industry and brokerage firms need every advantage they can muster. Many, like Colliers International, are finding a competitive advantage by implementing comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Colliers, for example, was struggling to compile client reports quickly and target marketing messages to client lists because information was stored in disparate systems. The firm turned to Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create a single repository of customer information in Australia.
Microsoft partner MicroChannel Services helped Colliers integrate the CRM solution with Microsoft Exchange Server and from the firm's telephony company. That helped staff track every customer communication. Using Microsoft SharePoint, IT staff also created a customer-oriented image library serving up images for 25,000 properties.
Marketing More Efficiently
"We needed to reduce the number of mouse clicks and screens required to complete common tasks, such as listings compilations," said Fiona Glenton, national manager of Information Management at Colliers International. "In property, efficiency gains are a paramount objective, so the quicker we can supply our customers with new listing information, the greater the opportunity to negotiate a deal for our clients."
Colliers' staff also needs to analyze clients' company and property-ownership structures and assess how much revenue is generated by clients with multiple properties or operating companies. Before installing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, its system could not automatically aggregate this data.
"We needed to find more efficient ways to market tailored listings to profiled client lists, send the appropriate research and marketing to particular client groups, and target clients for the many corporate events we host each year," Glenton said.
"In addition, we wanted a system that was easily accessible by all our staff -- including designers, valuers, engineers and project managers -- so we could use our collective knowledge about property markets across Australia, to help all our clients make the right property decisions," she said.
Better Customer Service
David Watts, national manager of Business Systems and Development at Colliers, said Microsoft Dynamics CRM appealed to the commercial real estate firm for two reasons.
"First, it is highly customizable and designed to easily integrate with multiple devices and applications. This would help us integrate CRM with staff devices, enabling them to synchronize client contact details on their own mobile devices, for example," he said. "Second, Dynamics CRM 2011 has an email tracking feature. This meant we could log every single customer email, so anyone opening a customer file in the CRM could instantly see all correspondence."
The benefits: Faster reporting has dramatically affected the time taken to create stacking plans. Instead of reports being created ad-hoc, Dynamics CRM automatically generates each report for each property, displaying tenants within all floors of the property. These reports are scaled accordingly to the size of the unit/suite that a tenant occupies and are color coded according to their lease expiries.
With greater access to data and improved reporting capabilities, Colliers can better understand where its revenue is coming from, and improve its client engagement. By using a central database, the firm is also able to link the enquiry and listing sides of its business.
"If a prospective client is interested in purchasing or leasing office space, brokers can now immediately access a list of available properties, and search for prospective clients who have a property requirement that matches a listing," said Glenton. "This makes it easier for brokers to instigate conversations, ultimately increasing our revenue."