TORONTO — Canada’s largest commercial office products company has implemented an early warning customer defection system that automatically alerts sales staff to accounts that have reduced their number of orders or stopped ordering altogether.

Defector Detector, which has been in use

at Grand & Toy for over a year now, flags an account with colour that corresponds with an increasing level of risk, ranging from green, yellow, orange and red. If an account is flagged orange, for example, that means a customer hasn’t placed an order in three to four weeks. At that point in time, an account manager would make a call or visit the customer to find out why this is occurring.

Co-developed by Grand & Toy and Toronto-based software company Clarity Systems, Defector Detector gives Grand & Toy’s 400 account managers Web-based access to company customer relationship management (CRM) sales information. The software also loads monthly sales figures into Hyperion’s online analytical processing (OLAP) tool called Essbase, which generates monthly and annual summaries.

The information is organized into four types of reports, including a summary report for sales management executives, a district sales manager report and account management reports for commercial and retail.

Customer order defection tracking is one of several business intelligence (BI) applications that Grand & Toy has developed using Clarity Performance Management (CPM). Other applications include budgeting, month-end financial consolidation and reporting, sales excellence reporting and forecasting, category management and telephony reporting.

“If you haven’t started using CPM, start small,” John Melodysta, vice-president of information technology at Grand & Toy, said at Clarity Systems annual conference in Toronto. “(CPM) is truly a performance management tool that can be used throughout an organization.”

Prior to Defector Detector, it took Grand & Toy several days to run the data extracts and do the necessary formatting needed to create a single report, according to the company.

“(Defector Detector) allows account managers to see the problems,” said Allan Ramsay, manager of customer knowledge at Grand & Toy, who demoed Defector Detector at the conference. “Before (Defector Detector) account managers didn’t see the information and it was often too late to take action and resolve the problem.”

The application also enables Grand & Toy to create individualized reports for each of the 400 sales people – a task the retailer estimates would have taken weeks. Other benefits include the ability to generate these reports every month in a fast and easy manner.

While Defector Detector offers numerous benefits, there have also been some challenges along the way, said Ramsay. One of the main ones that account managers encountered was a very long list of accounts, making it difficult to pinpoint the problematic ones. Grand & Toy, which is currently working on the fourth generation of the tool, has resolved that by allowing the user to click on a box beside the account to bring up additional information instead of having it displayed all at once.

Frank Pizzolato, chief operating officer at Clarity Systems, who along with company president Mark Nashman founded the company in 1995 when they were both working as contractors for Grand & Toy, said companies need to think of CPM beyond financial applications.

“This conference is a great way to expose what other companies have done,” said Pizzolato.

Likewise, Nashman, in his keynote address, urged conference attendees to use CPM in other areas of their businesses and not just in budgeting.

“Initial (CPM) implementations are still focused in finance,” said Nashman. “But we can see them going towards other areas like human resources and sales.”

Nashman added Clarity Systems is looking to build better audibility tracking capabilities into its software to help companies meet month-end reporting requirements mandated by compliance regulations, including Sarbanes-Oxley.

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