Kent RO Systems Limited, best known for its Reverse Osmosis water purifier products, has revolutionized the water purifier segment since its inception in 1999 from Noida, India. From humble beginnings, Kent has slowly built its business through innovative products to emerge as India’s largest and most trusted water purifier brand with an over 30% market share in the segment. Their products, apart from the most popular water purifier systems, include technologically advanced healthcare products such as Air Purifiers, Vegetable and Fruit Purifiers, as well as Water Softeners. Kent RO System’s CIO, Saurabh Gupta, is an IIT Delhi alumnus who heads the Kent IT operations encompassing IT Strategic Planning, Budgeting, Resource Planning & Management, Procurement, Office Automation, and IT Infrastructure. He has spearheaded the company’s IT revolution to a resilient Cloud-based CRM system. Gupta is a technocrat with 15+ years of experience in varied areas of business operations and is also an avid gamer!
Change is the heartbeat of growth, and at Kent RO systems, the trigger to move to the Cloud was their vision to make their IT systems future ready to match their projected business growth. With a customer base of over 2 million and counting, their earlier infrastructure was not designed to handle the increasing number of end users, be it customers, 1200+ franchisees, service engineers, 300+ call centre agents, or corporate users. The need of the hour was a robust and dynamic Cloud-based CRM system that would be role-based, scalable, with multiple access points, and available 24X7. It was time for some serious cleanup! Today after their Microsoft Dynamics CRM on Azure adoption, they have a totally different story to tell, a story with a happy ending!
IDENTIFYING THE DREGS IN THE SYSTEM
The most critical step before embarking on a system-wide change is to identify the problems that plague the existing system. Kent’s list of issues were:
Distributed Data: One of the greatest challenges Kent faced during its fast-paced growth stage was having data that was decentralized. The plethora of data to be maintained for the customers, the call logs to be maintained by agents, and the details of end user resolutions was fragmented. This made monitoring and analyzing data cumbersome.
Lack of role-based access: With different kinds of end users (customers, service franchisees, dealers, call center agents, service engineers, and corporate users), information needed to be shared on a need-to-know basis. Hence a system with multiple access points was proposed.
Scalability: With growth picking up pace, the existing IT system did not scale well to its user base of 2 million customers, 1200+ service partners, and 300+ call centre agents.
Availability: For the successful resolution of a customer issue, it’s imperative that all stakeholders have information that is always accessible, current, and consistent. The existing systems did not meet these business needs.
Kent’s multi-step refinement story
After due diligence and evaluation of the solutions offered by various vendors, it was time for the most competent partner to step in, aiding Kent’s Cloud adoption. Microsoft became the partner of choice not only for implementing their Enterprise hosting solution via Azure but also for their CRM (Dynamics) adoption owing to its extensive feature set and user-friendliness. The CIO asserts that the reasons for partnering with Microsoft went beyond just the technical core competencies of their Azure and Dynamics offerings. Gupta adds, “What set them apart was their willingness to provide support for Kent, the geographical advantage of having an India-based data center, and the support provided during the implementation phase.”
Stage 1: Getting over initial hiccups
An implementation as large as Kent’s couldn’t have been without any teething issues. The two main issues that Kent faced were:
Data porting – Porting the massive database – which was distributed and offline – was cumbersome. However, the problem was expertly managed by the implementation team and the data was efficiently integrated into the new systems.
Go live – Because of the sheer size of data and multiple stakeholders involved, it took a lot of planning and meticulous detailing for going live. Training all the stakeholders, getting the infrastructure and application ready and further syncing the activities so that end users didn’t have to suffer because of this migration were the key considerations.
Once these issues were resolved, the call center went live last April and Kent has never looked back since.
Stage 2: Leveraging mobile technology to improve reach and availability
Dynamics on Azure now forms the core of Kent’s IT system and provides access to different users via multiple interfaces. Leveraging the advantages that mobile apps provide, Gupta and team have developed apps specifically for their service engineers, customers and franchisees, apart from supporting the traditional browser based access. Customer app is available on both iOS and Android platform while other apps are available only on Android platform.
Stage 3: Quantity with Quality
From a fledgling small team of in-house call centre agents prior to their IT makeover, to an outsourced model with 300+ call centre agents, KENT has grown concentrating on core areas and outsourcing others. Since transfer of technology from their implementation partners last June, Gupta has ably led his 35-member team – comprising 13-14 application developers and a dozen infrastructure support staff – to ensure a smooth transition.
Managing a system that averages a mind-boggling 10,000 customer cases per day pan-India is no child’s play. Even though the cases logged look huge, in the CIO’s words, “It’s just a meagre 0.5% of our 2 million+ users”. Given the numbers, it comes as no surprise that Gupta prides himself for having partnered with Microsoft to successfully deploy one of India’s largest Cloud-based CRM solutions. “An implementation that couldn’t have been done better”, is how Gupta sums it up. Definitely a feather in the cap for both the CIO and the Microsoft team!
Stage 4: Crystal clear focus on customer satisfaction at Kent
At Kent, the adage “Customer service is the new marketing” is taken quite seriously. The Azure adoption, besides addressing Kent’s biggest concerns of “Scalability and Availability” has enabled their systems to become more efficient and productive. The end user experience has gone up by several notches as follows:
Service Engineer: The service engineer, by using the Cloud interfacing mobile application, updates the case logs and upload customer feedback all from the customer premises. This has helped Kent to address customer complaints in a time-efficient manner. An earlier 8-hour turnaround time in the Delhi NCR region now is at a new average of 3 hours. Quicker response times translate to happier customers and higher throughput.
Business Franchisee: The dealer’s access to the centralized system has smoothened out the post-sales installation process. The dealer now takes on the onus of placing an installation request along with the customer details once an order is placed (http://rfi.kent.co.in). The call centre gets notified about the new service request and the customer get notified about the installation scheduled.
Customers: For a product-based company, customer is King! Kent has made sure that they provide their customers with easy access to maintain their products via a customer-specific mobile app and a browser-based portal (http://customer.kent.co.in) . In addition to the app, the customer also has access to call center via chat or by dialing 92789 12345. Ease of use of the app, as well as regular and real-time updates have gone a long way in improving their customer satisfaction index. We tried it ourselves and the registration process on the web was truly user-friendly!
In a nutshell, the new approach has not only improved sales, customer, and dealer satisfaction but also improved the company’s operational efficiency and competitiveness in a hard fought market.
CLOUD ADOPTION: TEST THE WATERS OR TAKE THE PLUNGE!
Gupta is a strong advocate for Cloud adoption. Over and above its ability to provide businesses with easy and agile deployment, Cloud implementations helps to cut IT maintenance costs especially for expense centers. His word of advice to his peers who are still sceptical about the cost involved in adopting Cloud is – “The reason why I support Cloud is the difficulty in revamping the hardware inventory very frequently to keep it current. The 3 year ROI always works out cheaper if you outsource than the cost of managing a system in-house including redundancy, AMCs, cost of people of manage the systems, backups, data security and other costs factored in.”