Engel SA – South African subsidiary of Engel Austria, the global supplier of injection moulding machinery used to make plastic products ranging from cooldrink bottles to cell phone casings – uses ACT!, the customer relationship management (CRM) application from Softline Pastel, to maintain optimum levels of sales-orientated contact with its more than 2 000 customers.

“Our old software was not suitable for bulk electronic mailshots,” says Engel SA client liaison consultant, Gayle Pitout.
“For one thing, it didn’t allow me to group customers in ways that would enable me to send them new product information that is directly relevant to them. Because of the enormous range of products that our machines make possible we have customers in most industry sectors. So we have to tailor our product and other sales information to the interests of given sectors, in order to capture their interest.
“Now, with the latest version of ACT!, which has been customised slightly to meet our specific CRM requirements, I can send out bulk emails to particular categories of customers – at the touch of a button.
“The solution therefore enables me to work faster, much more efficiently, and to much better effect in terms of keeping customers informed and, as a consequence, generating sales.”
Although Pitout does call on external consultancy assistance occasionally, she is able to customise ACT! functionality and make changes to the database herself, as well as incorporate the company’s branding on mails and documentation generated within the system.
“The system is very user friendly, so I can find my way around it easily. More importantly, it allows me to be creative in relation to my own responsibilities. It doesn’t lock me into processes that are not relevant to the way I want to work. The flexibility and agility it gives me is, in fact, a competitive edge because it allows me to keep our brand top of mind in spite of increasingly fierce competition in the industry.”
Softline Pastel MD Steven Cohen says that keeping technology simple to use without compromising the sophistication of the functionality required is the key to equipping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for technology-driven growth.
“As Gayle Pitout points out, the users of technology need to be free to adjust the way they interact with customers or suppliers – or even colleagues – in order to continuously improve their own performance and, therefore, that of the business. That adjustment of personal performance shouldn’t require the constant presence of information technology (IT) specialists to update or alter the technology accordingly. That’s just too costly, time-consuming – and inhibiting of employee initiative,” says Cohen.
“At the same time, there needs to be just enough best practice built into solutions like ACT! to ensure that employees can’t go off at a tangent and compromise quality of service and delivery.
“All of which creates a new kind of challenge for software developers. They have to think as much about how people will use their solutions as they do about what the solution can be designed to do. And that means understanding people as well as technology. Traditionally, that’s not been a strong suit for technology specialists. But, at Pastel, we insist on putting user needs first.”