How Port Container Services is finetuning lead management with CRM

Small Australian business invests in local customer relationship management platform

Newcastle-based company, Port Container Services, is proving you don’t need to be big to get value out of customer relationship management.

The 10-year-old company specialises in the conversion of old or decommissioned shipping containers, turning them into everything from site offices and accommodation to dangerous goods storage facilities, which are then sold or leased to a wide range of clients across Australia. The company employs 40 people.

According to Port Containers’ general manager, Steve Byrnes, the decision to invest in CRM was driven by a rise in customer inquiries digitally.

A search of available solutions led Byrnes to pass over more well-established competitors in favour of the small Australian company, Tall Emu.

“Because our industry is fairly niche, we’ve got a large product range, and we deal Australia-wide, I needed something that could be customised,” he said.

Tall Emu is a Sydney-based company that started in 2002 as a custom software developer before consolidating its knowledge into Tall Emu CRM.

According to chief executive and product manager, Mike Nash, Tall Emu’s experience of working with smaller businesses had shown that off-the-shelf CRM products were either too expensive or too basic for that market.

“If the system doesn’t do preciously what the customer wants, we found we were called in to do it for them,” Nash said. “We were extending more and more CRM systems, and after a while we thought we should write our own.

“We are trying to pull big corporate capabilities down into an off-the-shelf package. But the dirty little secret of CRM is unless it is properly implemented, it doesn’t actually work.”

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Byrnes said one of the original requirements for Port Containers was that the solution be able to integrate with its QuickBooks accounting solution (the company has since switched to MYOB), but its functionality has been extended significantly.

Byrnes said the partnership with Tall Emu has made a “massive difference” to his business. Nash added Port Containers is typical of many Tall Emu clients.

“A large bulk of our clients are in regional Australia,” he said. “They have never used CRM before, so they are typically using things like Excel spreadsheets and Outlook. But recently we have been winning business away from other CRM companies.”

Nash said Tall Emu integrates with accounting and other business systems, and can be pre-populated with customer data to determine where leads are coming from, making it useful from the outset.

“What our system tried to do is integrate in with all the business systems that people use and it tries to make business owners lives easier,” he said.

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