Integrated Sales and CRM System Lets DirecTV Capture More Couch Potatoes

DirecTV's new enterprise system offers sales agents a whole view of the customer -- and real-time guidance to close deals.

Handling the phones for DirecTV used to be a juggling act. Sales agents had to use as many as 13 systems -- toggling between applications, scribbling notes, checking cue cards, punching numbers into handheld calculators -- all while trying please a potential customer.

Keeping those balls in the air affected productivity for a group responsible for half of the $30 billion company's revenue. Working with three outsourced call centers without a consolidated customer record didn't help either.

"If you started the sales process and then hung up to check with your wife, the next time you called in, you'd be routed to a different call center and a different agent and none of that original information would have been captured," says DirecTV CIO Mike Benson.

In 2009, DirecTV decided to consolidate the disparate tools and processes into a single enterprise system to guide agents from lead tracking to closing the sale. They'd tried that a year earlier, but failed when agents rejected the tool. And Benson knew why.

"We had no understanding of the actual processes being used in those call centers," Benson says. "We built capabilities on wrong assumptions." IT relied on the business operations group that managed call centers to provide requirements, but they were too far removed.

This time, Benson sent his staff, including business analysts and programmers, to observe call centers in California, West Virginia and Florida for two months. They then collaborated with business operations to develop the right workflows.

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