Halfords extends Salesforce.com investment

Halfords is using software-as-a-service (SaaS) based enhancements to quickly build new system functionality that is helping to relieve the stress caused by a stolen bicycle.

The UK car accessories and bike retailer is using customer relationship management (CRM) systems from SaaS provider Salesforce.com to manage the hassle-free replacement of thousands of lost or stolen bikes each year.

Halfords Business Services (HBS) division uses the CRM software to manage relationships between insurance companies and cycle policy customers alongside other systems that support the government's Cycle2Work' initiative.

Charles Ashwell, Halfords business-to-business (B2B) development manager, told IT PRO the retailer's corporate services division was attracted to the ability to manage and control the CRM system themselves, with little IT knowledge.

"Business Services is in a unique position within Halfords, with key and specific business requirements, so it's important that we can drive our own agenda without having to go to IT every time a change is needed," he said.

But Ashwell said that when integration limitations between the Salesforce.com applications became apparent, the CRM vendor's AppExchange partner, Synchosoft offered a way to optimise their operational processes.

Synchosoft's workflow optimisation application allows HBS to manage the workflow across Salesforce's applications via its Force.com cloud-based platform and with external stakeholder systems like Insurance Claims Management.

"Salesforce now gives us complete visibility of what we do at a corporate, client and customer level," added Ashwell. "We've been able to create specific apps ourselves and reduce the amount of re-keying with Synchosoft."

He also said the SaaS investments were reducing the cost, time and effort of managing and fulfilling business customer services requirements. They not only provide transparent visibility of customer information, but have also improved the quality, accuracy and availability of the information in Salesforce.

"We've done this by automating a lot of the manual administrative effort, reducing paper-based activities, automating escalation and communication and automatically reporting on violations and bottlenecks. Basically doing more, better," he concluded.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.