This case study was originally posted in Microsoft’s Customer Stories portfolio.
Taylor Wimpey is one of the UK’s biggest house builders. It aims to deliver an excellent customer experience for all home seekers and purchasers. With 23 different business units across the UK, ensuring information is shared across plots, developments and regions is key to ensuring excellence and consistency of customer experience. To make this easier, Taylor Wimpey identified an overarching need to increase visibility throughout the customer journey – from marketing, through sales and on to customer service. To achieve this single ‘golden view’ of each customer, Taylor Wimpey chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 as its business platform, and Crimson as it’s Microsoft Partner. Today, the business is already benefitting from the improved information sharing and visibility. Most importantly, Taylor Wimpey teams are using the information to enhance the experience for customers.
“We’re a national brand,” says Ceri Pearce, UK Sales and Marketing Director at Taylor Wimpey, “and now we’re getting closer to our goal of knowing we’re delivering consistently for our customers across all touchpoints.”
Successfully enhancing the customer experience rests on visibility of the customer journey
Taylor Wimpey is one of the UK’s biggest house builders. It is justifiably proud of its homes’ industry-leading build quality. Headquartered in High Wycombe, the FTSE-listed business is awarded five stars for customer satisfaction by the Home Builders Federation.
With 23 different business units across the UK, the excellence and consistency of customer experience is a key priority for Taylor Wimpey. When, in 2016, the business undertook its technology roadmap review, it identified an overarching need to increase visibility throughout the customer journey – from marketing, through sales and on to customer service.
“Many processes were manual. And those systems we did have in place were tactical, rather than strategic,” explains Jeff Hart, Head of Business Systems at Taylor Wimpey. “We didn’t have a single system with a single, integrated view of each customer.”
Instead, customer enquiries were logged against plots, making cross-development marketing and multi-channel experience management almost impossible.
Choosing Microsoft Dynamics 365 to deliver a single view of the customer
Knowing it needed to create a “golden view” of each customer, the Taylor Wimpey team undertook a formal RFI process to review the leading CRM and digital marketing platforms. The choice of solution was business-led, with Microsoft Dynamics 365 one of two shortlisted solutions.
“We knew this would be a business change project for us,” says Suzanne Byrne, Customer Service Director at Taylor Wimpey, “and it would be challenging to land. The support that Microsoft could offer in terms of supporting business change was very important for us. Microsoft talked our language and understood the need to get everyone ready.”
“The extent of the digital integration set Microsoft Dynamics 365 apart,” adds Jeff Hart. “Plus, we’re a Microsoft house and, although we didn’t have that at the front of our mind when making our selection, the strategic fit of our decision pleased us.”
Developing a detailed scope
Having chosen Microsoft Dynamics 365 as its new CRM system, and Crimson as its provider, the Taylor Wimpey team began a four-month exercise to flesh out what the system and the business change programme would look like in practice.
Throughout 2019, Taylor Wimpey brought together groups of users to develop and feedback on the configuration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, for Sales and for Customer Service. “It was built in a very iterative and dynamic way,” says Jeff Hart.
Following integration with the business’s ERP system, user acceptance testing was completed in early 2020. Then the first pilot projects in two very different business units were begun.
“We chose to work with two business units that, while different, were both up for the challenge of taking on the pilot. They were willing to go through a bit of early pain to get it right for everyone else,” explains Suzanne Byrne.
“I knew it would be a massive change, but when we were selected for the pilot I was thrilled,” says Michelle Forbes, Associate Customer Director for the South East region, one of the Taylor Wimpey regions selected for the pilot. “Our old system was rigid and restrictive, and I saw the potential to ease a lot of the frustrations my team felt.”
The practicalities of supporting rollout through Microsoft Teams
At the time of the pilot, the country was in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown, so the Taylor Wimpey team had to quickly pivot and rethink how the rollout and business change support would be delivered.
“We were well-placed in the sense that we had just completed Windows desktop upgrades and rolled out Microsoft Teams to all our users as COVID-19 hit,” remembers Jeff Hart.
However, there was some nervousness in the business. Some thought face-to-face training and support would be more effective and even Jeff Hart expected some technical challenges when delivering that extent of training and change via Microsoft Teams.
He says, “In fact, it was easy to adjust what we were doing. The briefings and activities we put together on Microsoft Teams got people onboard and excited. We drafted in additional people to help in Teams breakout groups for extra support.”
While this meant that Taylor Wimpey had to invest more time and resources to get people ready to receive their training over Microsoft Teams, Suzanne Byrne says the solution played a pivotal role in how the team successfully landed Microsoft Dynamics 365 and how it now delivers training and after-care support.
Early feedback from users
Caroline Carter is Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey’s East Anglia region, one of the two regions selected for the pilot. She says, “The first benefit we saw was the data capture and having a place for that ‘golden record’ that was completely visible. Previously, I couldn’t see a plot file in Norfolk to review what a customer said, but now it is all there on screen.”
“Another of the first benefits was the diary management and having transparency across different sites and users,” adds Rachael Crapnell, Sales Executive in the East Anglia region, “then we saw the benefits of the different reporting aspects.”
“For me the reporting is everything,” concurs Michelle Forbes, “With Microsoft Dynamics 365, it’s easy to get information quickly and, once you have it, it’s easy to report. That has obvious customer service benefits, because when a customer calls up we can find them quickly on the system.”
Michelle says that, for her team, the ease of use of Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been the biggest benefit. “It’s the difference in seeing someone feel comfortable with a system really quickly,” she says. “Microsoft Dynamics 365 is easy to use and easy to navigate. You aren’t worried about doing something wrong. A lot of that is how it looks: it feels no different to a system you might use to book a holiday. There’s a comfortable feeling. It’s a huge benefit when bringing on new starters. It means they get up to speed quickly. And we can give better training because we can focus on what the job is rather than how to use the system.”
Using feedback from pilots to guide user rollouts
One of the important learnings that emerged from the pilot, was the usefulness of training “business champions” – super users who could help embed the solution locally. As Microsoft Dynamics 365 was rolled out to the other business units, Taylor Wimpey trained its champions alongside the preceding unit so that they had advance knowledge to take back to their own unit.
“This was a very important part of the process,” says Suzanne Byrne, “We gained an understanding of how each business unit did things before we rolled out the solution to them. Where there was a different way of doing things, we ran process gap workshops so we could ensure process consistency upfront.”
“This was an opportunity to change non-standard elements before layering Microsoft Dynamics 365 on top,” agrees Jeff Hart, “and it represents the most comprehensive effort we have put into standardising processes.”
A consistently excellent customer experience
In this way, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is supporting Taylor Wimpey’s efforts to drive consistency across the 23 business units and ensure a consistent customer experience. It’s an important part of the roll-out that the team is keen to continue through the next stages of its roadmap.
“This has been a great opportunity to share best practice across the business and I think those enhancements will be of great value,” says Suzanne Byrne. “But it doesn’t end there. The visibility we now have across business operations enables us to make comparisons and identify where we can share best practice between teams. That’s an exciting opportunity going forwards.”
The improved visibility of customer interactions is also helping to drive consistently excellent experiences. “Microsoft Dynamics 365 is helping us to continue to flush out best practices,” adds Suzanne Byrne.
For example, now all emails to customers go through Microsoft Dynamics 365, so there is always a central record of every communication with a customer that all staff can see. This is of great benefit in terms of compliance, especially for data subject access requests.
“It sounds really basic, but this is a completely different way of working for us,” advises Suzanne Byrne. “We just had no visibility of this before; it was all locked away in individual email accounts. Now, we can see all interactions. If someone is away, we can seamlessly follow up with the customer. A customer doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone; they are all Taylor Wimpey customers.”
New visibility of sales operations
“Now have all the basics in place,” agrees Ceri Pearce, UK Sales and Marketing Director at Taylor Wimpey. “We can now see how many enquiries we have per development and compare this to social media and marketing spend. We can assess data quality and check how well we are following up. We didn’t have real-time, central visibility of these things before.”
Taylor Wimpey is already building on these new insights. For example, it is working on a propensity model to inform lead follow-up prioritisation and cross-selling developments. Plus, it is building a model that will enable the leadership team to assess whether enough leads are being generated per development.
Another practical benefit of the improved visibility was felt over the Christmas 2021 period. By understanding which developments had active enquiries, Taylor Wimpey could see which developments needed to open and could unblock sales calendars accordingly.
Ceri Pearce explains, “Now that we can clearly see the number of enquiries per development, we can optimise our opening and resourcing. We can plan to open either five or seven days. And decide whether it should be single-manned, dual-manned or triple-manned. Microsoft Dynamics 365 enables us to put the science behind our decision making and resourcing – with obvious cost-optimisation benefits.”
Primed to exploit the selling window
“The big win is customer experience,” says Caroline Carter. “We’re a seven-day-a-week operation, so the sales team used to write notes to each other to share information between colleagues. Now that sharing of information is so much easier and more professional.”
The market disruption over the past two years of the pandemic makes it very difficult to plot trends, but Taylor Wimpey is anticipating a revenue boost from these new capabilities.
“One of the biggest benefits through the pandemic has been the new ability to take reservations remotely,” says Ceri Pearce. “Now we can share documentation, take reservations and orders for upgrades – all remotely. This means we can be a lot more proactive about contacting customers to take upgrade orders. We can better exploit the selling window.”
Alongside this, the information now captured in Microsoft Dynamics 365 is already helping to make marketing communications more targeted. Instead of sending out blanket emails, customers now receive information more closely matched to their needs.
Joined up with internal legal department
Taylor Wimpey is unusual amongst home builders in having its own in-house legal department. This innovation helps to deliver a faster and more seamless experience for purchasers. Through the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics 365, Taylor Wimpey has automated some of the communications between the legal team and the local sales teams.
“The automated authorisation and validation of identification documents, for example, helps the sale to progress and means we don’t have to store this personal information any longer than necessary,” cites Suzanne Byrne, by way of example.
“There is now much better visibility between the sales and legal teams,” agrees Ceri Pearce. “We expect to see a very significant productivity impact from this further down the line.”
“In progressions, for example,” explains Caroline Carter, “Sales Executives would spend hours writing up each plot. Now it’s as simple as putting a date in a box and adding a comment.”
“The fact that the system prepopulates information is great,” agrees Rachael Crapnell. “It’s all those little benefits that make life easier.”
Customer service benefits
Taylor Wimpey is now leaning into its Microsoft Dynamics 365 deployment to deliver a seamless post-sales experience for customers.
Local teams add the details of pre-completion checks and settling-in visits to the system. The local manager has visibility of any issues, as does the office-based customer service team. This helps to ensure no customer feedback or issues are missed during handover.
“It’s simple things like the local team logging all appliance numbers during the pre-checks, so customers don’t need to look up appliance numbers if they have to report a fault to our central service team,” explains Suzanne Byrne. “And we immediately know the scope of the service agreement. Longer term, we’ll be able to analyse at which journey points issues arise and adapt accordingly, so we can eliminate problems before they arise. Instead of working reactively, we can use data to work proactively and eliminate remediation costs.”
As well as improving the experience for customers, Taylor Wimpey will use this information to make better choices in sourcing and to drive process improvements.
The technical benefits of an integrated customer journey
By using Microsoft Dynamics 365 across the marketing, sales and customer service operations, Taylor Wimpey has achieved the single view of the customer it sought.
“I don’t think any other house-building company has such a comprehensive end-to-end system all on the one platform,” says Ceri Pearce. “By choosing Microsoft Dynamics 365 across the board, we’ve avoided all those technical integrations required between systems – and all the associated technical challenges. We don’t have the complications and costs of making changes to one system and then seeing unexpected repercussions in other systems – or the cost of maintaining multiple systems.”
Ceri Pearce continues, “We now know that at all points of a customer’s journey their interactions can be picked up and dealt with by any member of our team and our team has the information they need to handle that enquiry in the best way.”
An ongoing programme of enhancement and optimisation
As with any successful roll-out of a complex system, Taylor Wimpey understands that its deployment of Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not a one-time activity. It is already pulling together teams to explore configuration enhancements.
Reporting is a key area of interest for future exploration. The wider use of Power BI to share insights will be a next step. Increasing benefits will come through Taylor Wimpey’s ongoing commitment to continual system and process improvement – and the ongoing, incremental, data-driven improvements that Taylor Wimpey can action by using the information in Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Caroline Carter says, “There is so much scope in the way we use Microsoft Dynamics 365. It’s exciting because that scope means there are always going to be opportunities to improve and move forward.”