CRM on tap at Guinness



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1 April 2005 | 0

Popular wisdom has it that the quality of a pint of Guinness largely depends on how well it is poured. It follows therefore that the entire dispensing mechanism used to serve a perfect pint of stout must be kept in top working order with regular inspections and maintenance. 

Guinness, Ireland’s most famous brewery, is using an application based on the market leading Siebel CRM product to ensure that pubs around the country have their equipment maintained at regular intervals. The application is the first of several based on Siebel that are being rolled out to Guinness’ sales force on an ongoing basis with the aim of providing better service to customers, who are mainly licensees.

According to Mary Donovan, information systems director of Guinness, the company installed Siebel because it wanted to provide its sales force with a single view of each customer. Guinness had a large number of points of contact with its customers including field and telephone sales personnel, quality assurance and servicing specialists and distributors. 




Each used separate systems to manage their customer contacts, some of which were computerised and some of which were card-based. ‘We came to Siebel from a background of having a multiplicity of legacy systems,’ said Donovan. ‘The Siebel system makes the customer information captured by one department visible to all of the others.’

Guinness had a lot of basic customer-contact data contained in a bespoke Oracle database. However much of the service-history equipment-inventory data was based on a manual card system. Guinness developed the Siebel-based system in Dublin with help from Deloitte & Touche, which has a team of Siebel specialists. Deloitte & Touche supplied project management and Siebel development expertise to the deployment and the consultancy was involved in configuring the system to Guinness’ requirements. 

Data cleansing formed a large part of the basic preparation for the Siebel system. Data had to be exported from older databases, duplicate data had to be removed and everything had to be re-formatted for the Siebel database to provide a single view of each of Guinness’s customer contacts. 

The first application built on the Siebel database was for managing the service schedules for dispensing equipment in the 13,500 licensed premises on the island of Ireland. ‘We have a large inventory of dispensing equipment, including taps, piping and refrigeration,’ said Donovan. ‘And there is a service cycle for cleaning and maintaining all of it. We want to keep a record of when the next service is due at a particular premises. We also want to be able to respond to customer requests and answer service calls.’ 

The Siebel database records all the equipment held by licensees for dispensing Guinness products. It also records which particular dispensers are used for the various beers brewed by the company. This information will be used by the second application that is being rolled out using the Siebel system, a retail-marketing application. 

Lovely hurling
The marketing application will be used to target the particular drinking preferences of the clientele at individual pubs. Guinness hopes to segment the database further to get a better view of the types of customers that frequent particular pubs. For example, some pubs are renowned for attracting a hurling clientele, so in such cases Guinness might plan marketing campaigns that highlight its sponsorship of the hurling championship. ‘We can plan our promotions spend based on what consumers want,’ said Donovan. 

The key point about these applications is that anyone with access to the Siebel software can see all the information pertaining to a particular outlet in the one place. The problem of dealing with separate ‘silos’ of information that are gathered completely independently of each other has gone. 

The main Siebel database and core application is hosted in the offices of Guinness’s parent Diageo in London, but Irish employees have Siebel client software on their own PCs or notebooks that allows them to work remotely, because the data is synchronised daily with the host database. 

Poured to measure
The Siebel system was built specifically for the Guinness sales operation in Ireland. Although many corporate IT back-office functions are centralised, the sales functions for the various divisions are market specific. 

All of the development work was done by a team based in Dublin and assisted by Deloitte & Touche. The project team comprised about 15 people at any one time, although people moved on and off the project at various stages. A key part of the process was training users, with a team of five people being given that task.

‘What sales reps will see is all the Quality Assurance information, when the equipment was last serviced, any marketing initiatives done with a particular pub and of course all the contact details of the customer, names, telephone numbers and so on,’ said Donovan. 

Currently there are 330 users of the Siebel system in Ireland. As time goes on, Guinness plans to integrate the system more closely with its SAP line-of-business ERP system that it rolled out over the last few years. Donovan said that in the future sales reps will be able to use the Siebel system for remote order capture, with the back office functions such as credit checking and order fulfilment handled by the SAP system. 

Guinness salespeople dial into a remote-access server (RAS) in Dublin that is connected to the London office via two 2Mbit/s leased lines. Donovan says it makes sense to keep the core data in London, because ‘eventually the biggest volume of traffic will be between the Siebel and SAP systems.’ 

Guinness also upgraded its Siebel system from version 99.5 to 99.6 in between rolling out the two applications. The upgrade was performed very smoothly, according to Donovan. 

Hopefully, the successful deployment of the new system will streamline the servicing of pub equipment to ensure that the quality of a pint of Guinness will be uniformly magnificent throughout the country. Just as long as the barmen take their time when pouring the black stuff.

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