Cells4Life is the first private UK company to provide umbilical stem cell collection and storage. The company’s work involves developing lifelong relationships with families while balancing strict compliance in a highly regulated industry.
Enterprise-Capable, From Sales to Laboratory Management
It was a huge task when Wayne began researching the move from a contacts database to a CRM-enabled business platform that would take on most of the regulatory compliance and privacy responsibilities, manage laboratory equipment and processes – from intake of cell inventory to temperature logging and maintenance – and be an indispensable asset to sales and marketing.
“Just for laboratory management systems, we were getting quotes ranging from $50,000 to $800,000,” recalls Wayne, the Cells4Life chairman and a former IBM systems engineer. He chose Sugar Professional because of its intuitive nature, scalability and easy customization.
“With Sugar, we have recreated expensive laboratory management systems with something that was custom-made for us for a fraction of the cost,” Wayne says. “Our platform not only has more functions than those we looked at, it is more powerful. It is the best laboratory information management system I have ever seen, and we have hospitals now asking us if they can use our system.”
While the laboratory management accomplishments are substantial for controlling costs and meeting compliance standards, the components directly influencing the customer lifecycle processes – from marketing to invoicing – also are showing substantial improvements. The company has remained lean while growing revenue by automating many processes and government-mandated standard operating procedures that otherwise would have added at least five positions to the 30-person company.
From marketing automation to accounting, from legal to laboratory management, Cells4Life is setting new horizons for data management and process automation through Sugar.
“Beginning to end Sugar runs our organization,” says Channon.
Increase Wins With Smart Marketing, Sales Processes
By pairing Sugar with marketing analytics from Google and DCStorm, Cells4Life is increasing sales and creating a clearer picture of its customers.
From the time expectant parents first visit the Cells4Life website, DCStorm is tracking their interests and feeding the information into Sugar: what pages they viewed, what information they downloaded, the types of case studies they read.
That arms the Cells4Life sales staff, so that when an enquiry is made, a sales person knows about the potential customer’s interests and can tailor the conversation.
Typically, potential customers can request information through a welcome pack or via the “Contact Us” link.
As soon as a contact is made, Sugar sends a link for a downloadable information packet about the company and the process, and tracks whether the parents return to the site for more information. It also coordinates a drip marketing campaign in which the potential customer gets a Sugar-generated email every two weeks.
“We have a huge conversion rate, and it is all because of Sugar,” says Wayne. “When somebody requests a welcome pack, we convert a significant number of those. If they come from our contacts page, we convert an even higher number.”
Once a sale is closed, Cells4Life uses Sugar and associated software integrations to complete the process to get the expectant parents signed up and ready for the birth of their child.
The process involves a digital contract that is electronically signed by the parents, returned and logged into Sugar; followed by a Sugar-generated invoice and a receipt of deposit, which is posted within the customer’s account record.
Once those steps have been completed, Sugar generates an order to send out the kit that will be used to extract and return the cord blood tissue sample to Cells4Life for cataloging and storage.
The automation also has improved the client comfort level with the process of stem cell collection.
Previously, Cells4Life printed and sent out the contract, and expectant parents – balancing so many of the immediate details of daily life, pregnancy and an impending birth – would forget to sign and return the critical document.
That created havoc at the time of birth, both for the parents and Cells4Life, and potentially fostered unwanted legal exposure regarding the mother’s informed consent.
“People intend to sign the contract, but the baby comes two weeks early. The water has broken and they want to sign now. We were recording telephone calls with women who were in labour where we were reading a six-page maternal consent document and getting them to agree orally,” says Wayne.
“Today, when Sugar sends the document, they have time to read it on their tablet or smartphone, talk about it, sign it and hit ‘send’ when it is done. It is much more pleasant for all involved.”
Through Sugar, Cells4Life has created a smoother, more accurate process internally and vastly improved the customer experience.
Save Time, Protect Revenue
From the ground up, Sugar is making a difference for Cells4Life employees.
Rebecca Roberts has worked at Cells4Life for a decade and was its first full-time employee. Because she has done virtually every job in the place, she sees the benefits of Sugar for every member of the Cells4Life team.
As operations manager, Rebecca oversees departments ranging from the laboratory to human resources. All the workflow processes of the laboratory – from regulatory compliance to tissue storage and handling – are under her eye.
Previously, she would spend three to four hours per day checking paperwork for accuracy and regulatory compliance and to assure that all necessary documents were entered in the system.
“I’m saving 20 hours per week, easily, and managing better because of Sugar,” she says.
“I know exactly the maximum amount of time it takes a sample to go from Point A to Point B, and I get an instant email notification the second it has gone over the expected time,” Rebecca says.
Not all delays create crises, so Sugar prioritizes the notifications for Rebecca, drawing her immediate attention to mission-critical events. That also prevents complications from errors that are compounded because they are not caught for hours or days.
“If a problem arises, Sugar tells me, and I can take immediate action to prevent extended consequences. I can capture a problem, work out the cause and put in place effective corrections that are a long-term solution,” she says.
Sugar empowers her as a leader because she can pull reports on time gateways or document logging, and adjust staff workloads or revise processes.
“The staff have a lot more confidence when I say, ‘You guys look like you are running into problems.’ They know I am not going to sit down and spend hours discussing it,” Rebecca says. “It means they can come to me and say, ‘You will have seen we have had so many instances where this issue has occurred.’ And I simply make the changes needed.”
Because the audit functions and trend-spotting are easier with Sugar, Cells4Life managers can focus on improving processes, rather than identifying issues, Rebecca says.
Ultimately, Rebecca knows Sugar’s scalability will meet her needs. “Knowledge in the human tissue business moves on quickly and you have to be reactive and make changes immediately. With Sugar, I don’t have to get a third party involved in coding or creating a workaround,” Rebecca says.
Sugar has eased Rebecca’s daily workload and allowed her to take on more functions within Cells4Life as the company has grown.
Says Rebecca: “From just a few years ago, we have 2.5 times the staff in the laboratory, processing double the number of samples, but I haven’t had to double me.”
Through the creation of processes and protocols within Sugar, Cells4Life is saving time and money, growing market share and retaining profitability in a growing and competitive market.
Regulatory Compliant, and Beyond
When IT Director John Millis evaluated the CRM systems that might be suitable for Cells4Life, his criteria included flexibility and security.
“We needed to automate the standard operating procedures required by government – we are run by them and the overhead was killing us. The SOPs were paralyzing and prone to mistakes. We needed a way to remove that and scale the organization, and we got that in the modifications we made to Sugar,” John says.
“We wanted a system that could go beyond a customer management system. We had the laboratory to think about, in addition to the usual business functions,” he says. “Sugar allows us to customize and extend in any way we can come up with.”
Sugar’s ability to be deployed on-site gave it a leg up on some of the competition that required cloud-based data storage.
Because Cells4Life has to comply with numerous government regulations ranging from health-care laws to data privacy standards – which can differ in the European Union and the Middle East – John wanted the security Sugar on-site provided.
“We are dealing with a lot of personal information, human tissue samples, and we didn’t want to have that information exposed in any way,” John says. “We have to control who can access the data, how samples are stored, and what records are tracking the environmental conditions in the laboratory at all times.”
Launching Sugar took about two months and included migrating more than 10,000 existing data files.
For John, who was with a multi-national telecom company for 15 years and had become accustomed to corporate lethargy, the implementation’s speedy results were an eye-opener.
“It was a ‘wow!’ moment for me because Sugar made us much more nimble immediately,” he recalls.
Wayne adds: “With the ability to integrate different modules, Sugar is amazingly powerful. It is so flexible. We didn’t think we would be able to automate so many processes so easily. As a small business and we need all the help we can get, and Sugar has made a huge difference to our business.”
- Google: Adwords and Remarketing
- Drupal: lead acquisition via website
- DCStorm: Multi-channel tracking software, records website touchpoints by user
- DocuSign: electronic signature functionality
- Xero: invoicing
- Eway: online payment gateway
Solution Partner: Enable Technologies