Nor1 Uses Sugar to Centralize Support Requests and Accelerate Cash Flow

Nor1's CRM grows it's business and leverages data across geographically dispersed users

Nor1 provides the hospitality industry with travel merchandising software solutions so that hotels and resorts worldwide can maximize revenues using data-driven pricing and merchandising. Its products power hotels to provide each hotel guest with customized product selection, upsell pricing, and display ranking decisions. As Nor1’s customer base has grown over time, it has used different tools to manage customer relationships. Today, Nor1 uses a customized Sugar instance across its entire company to improve customer support and accelerate cash flow.

Business Challenges

At each stage of growth, Nor1 found itself facing challenges that required it to adopt a new tool for managing its accounts and sales initiatives along with its extensive network of hotel contacts.

When Nor1 was in early growth stages, the sales team of five reps used spreadsheets to track its prospects and accounts. But as the company started expanding its customer base, the team realized they needed a dedicated tool for managing this growing network.

This is when Nor1 adopted a desk-top contact management solution for tracking contacts and sales progress. As the company continued to grow and hire remote employees, the need arose for a tool that was more than a contact database. While their current platform was suitable for contact management, the software wasn’t designed to track business development or for companies with geographically dispersed sales reps. “Our team was only five people when we were using desktop contact management software,” said Cindy Glackin, Director of CRM Technology at Nor1. “So it was easy for someone to enter notes and then literally zip them up and send them to the next employee. But as we grew, we knew it was time for an online solution.” At this stage of fast-paced growth and hiring, Nor1 would benefit from an online tool that would update in real time and included pipeline, lead, and activity tracking.

The Path to Success

When Nor1 decided to adopt a new CRM system in 2007, its requirements included:

  • Affordable license price that would allow its business to scale
  • An online platform so that remote employees would have access to real-time data
  • An open and flexible platform that would allow engineers to modify the core code
  • An API to allow for integration between the CRM and other applications

Sayi Puligandla, Vice President of Strategic Operations, Analytics, and Business Intelligence at Nor1, over-sees the CRM system and supported the CRM platform change. “We needed a platform that would grow with our business, manage all our relationships, and allow us to leverage all that information across geographically dispersed users,” said Puligandla.

After evaluating cloud-solutions from both Salesforce and SugarCRM, Nor1 felt that Sugar better fit its requirements. “As we did comparisons, Sugar was the product of choice due to flexibility and cost,” said Puligandla. Nor1 adopted Sugar and after several years of use, partnered with UpCurve Cloud to create several complex customizations that it didn’t have the internal resources to create on its own.

Success Factors

Cross Department Use

The low-priced license fees for Sugar have allowed Nor1 to add seats as it expanded Sugar to new departments. Today, every department throughout the company uses Sugar in the following ways:

  • The Account Revenue Management and Implementation Teams use Sugar to track their communication with each hotel, log key events, track implementation stages, store documents, and send out Welcome Campaigns and Product Announcements.
  • Engineering uses Sugar to access internal support requests.
  • Finance uses Sugar to manage invoice and contract data and to receive billing related support cases.
  • Sales uses Sugar to track opportunities, forecast their pipeline, and report to upper management.

Centralized Support

Before using Sugar for Support, Nor1’s manual processes hurt its ability to create excellent customer service experiences. “A support request would come in with something as simple as a password change request and they wouldn’t get a response until two to three days later,” said Puligandla. “We felt that this lag was unacceptable.” To create a central clearinghouse for support, UpCurve Cloud built a round-robin customization with a multilingual keywords module. The keywords module scans an incoming support email, translates it if needed, and routes the inquiry to specific employees based on the subject matter and required level of support. This automates the assignment of support cases and also decreases support costs. “We can now do more with less and provide a better support experience for our clients,” said Puligandla. “With Sugar and UpCurve Cloud we have been able to centralize our support, improve our support quality, and decrease our average response time.” In late 2015, Nor1 leveraged this keyword module to build online access to support, further enhancing the client support experience.

"The Sales team is really starting to love Sugar now that we’ve merged core customer data from Sugar with transactional data to produce business intelligence."


Hosting Flexibility

Nor1 felt that an added benefit of choosing Sugar over other CRMs was the flexibility to host the application anywhere. Nor1 chose to host its Sugar instance on UpCurve Cloud's hosting platform which allowed it to have constant access to its data, resulting in more powerful reporting capabilities. “We are a data-driven company and we like to ‘touch’ our data,” said Glackin. “Being hosted by UpCurve Cloud has opened up so much for us and allowed us to do analysis we couldn’t do before.” By integrating data from Sugar with transactional data that is held in another proprietary system, Nor1 is able to glean insights from Sugar on what’s happening with its customers and how they correlate to changes in performance. “The Sales team is really starting to love Sugar now that we’ve merged core customer data from Sugar with transactional data to produce business intelligence,” said Puligandla.

Increased Transparency

“Before, there was no harmony between the different groups even though they were all part of the same sales organization,” said Puligandla. “Now, there’s unison across the company because everyone is looking at one dashboard. There’s no ambiguity and everything is refreshed in real time.” The increased visibility that Sugar has created keeps deals from falling through the cracks. Nor1’s cash flow has accelerated because management now has expectations for what is coming down the pike and can put pressure on the sales team to keep deals moving.

Accessibility to Partner's Engineering Team

Nor1 feels that one of the most important factors in selecting a software partner is to find a team with a strong group of engineers. “The people we have worked with on the UpCurve Cloud engineering team have been really knowledgeable and great to work with,” said Puligandla. “The way that UpCurve Cloud lets us talk directly to the engineers during the project process is awesome.”

"With Sugar and UpCurve Cloud we have been able to centralize our support, improve support quality, and decrease our average response time."

Cindy Glackin,
Director of CRM Technology