Feature

E-business awards: CRM award

The customer has never been more empowered than in Internet age. The companies on this page have all succeeded in improving their customer support and interaction to deliver a better customer experience.The Woolwich

The Woolwich was the first British bank to offer its customers access to Internet banking services from their Wap-enabled mobile phones. With it, customers can view their accounts, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills and view statements. News, weather, sport and financial information come at no extra cost.

The service follows on from the bank's consolidated personal accounts innovation, Open Plan, which provides the customer and bank with a single view of each other, no matter what channel is being used or what account is being queried. This has allowed the bank to integrate its Wap (wireless application protocol)service with other channel operations.

Security is guaranteed since the dial-up connection from the mobile phone links straight to the bank's dedicated Wap server. Handset and bank are operated via 128bit SSL encryption.

The Wap service has proved attractive to established customers, building loyalty, as well as attracting some new customers. The success of the site is not only measured in terms of hit rates but also in terms of the reaction from markets - an ever-sensitive matter to banks. On launch in April 2000, shares in the Woolwich rose by 11%, as the bank secured its reputation as the darling of the markets for its embrace of new technology. Product offerings have been improved on the back of the service too, for example, allowing the quick switching of cash between current accounts and savings accounts to maximise interest earning potential.

The site will evolve with GPRS and 3G technologies coming online, and expects to offer such facilities as share dealing.

Sponsor comment

The Woolwich set out to embrace key technologies, having recognised that 'first mover advantage' is a key strategic strength in a market where so many companies lay claim to so many capabilities. It is pioneering a personalised banking service, in itself a powerful CRM initiative, but is also making that service available via Wap-enabled phones. The key strength of this service is its openness - the fact that account-holders can access their details no matter which mobile phone network they use. The rich functionality of the service is also impressive - not simply the ability to view account details, but to pay bills, transfer funds and access a variety of information services. The goals of better customer service and products will be achieved by Woolwich and other companies by combining innovative, feature-rich offers with multiple forms of access any time, anywhere services.

Nikon

Nikon is a world leader in digital imaging. The firm has developed a Europe-wide Web site designed to support both general customer queries and the firm's internal knowledge sharing and gathering activities. The site is used by customers directly and by internal call-centre staff.

The site is built from the company's database of HTML pages. This resource provides a valuable supplement to published manuals, both in terms of more information and more up-to-date information. However, it is the search facility, from Deskartes, that is innovative. It employs neural-net-based artificial intelligence that improves on the ability to answer queries by building a database of synonyms that can be cross-referenced according to what individuals ask. For example, the system soon learnt that 'image', 'picture' and 'shot' should be treated in the same way when part of a customer enquiry. It thereby reduces the comprehension distance between human and machine. The system also requests immediate and automatic process feedback, so that it can constantly improve on the way it responds to queries.

The facility was built with Knowledge Management Software. It went live in April 2000 and receives about 60,000 hits per month. Set-up cost a little less than £200,000. The project was undertaken in large part to respond to the emergence of the consumer market for digital imaging products, with Nikon customers in this area growing by 10,000 a month across Europe. Self-service is an ideal way of meeting this demand, but with the added attraction, in this case, of greatly enhancing marketing and research efforts, too.

Sponsor comment

Nikon focused on improving the relationship it had with its customers by providing them with an extensive knowledge base through which they could resolve support issues. Vital to the success of initiatives like this is understanding the needs and drives of your clients. Nikon has demonstrated this understanding by providing a comprehensive multilingual, natural language solution. Nikon impresses in its understanding of the project drivers, goals and measurement of success. It recognised a compelling growth of customer interactions caused by increased sales, and found a solution to the issue that reduced the overall cost per interaction while increasing the level of customer support. Adopting the technologies and business processes provided by the Internet and modern business, and ensuring success through rigorous planning and measurement, is the characteristic approach of companies that succeed in the digital economy.

Parceline

Package delivery services have been one of the most deeply affected industries by the rise of e-commerce. Parceline has recognised the need to harness this technology both to reduce costs and to ensure that it brings customer peace of mind through confirmation of delivery and simplicity of service.

The impact that the Internet is having on its business is reflected in the vision the company has of what the technology will do for it. Parceline has targets that include achieving 80% of collections via the Web by 2001, having at least 90% of customers using Web-based trace and track services by then, and reducing customer attrition from 30% to 2%.

The Website lies at the heart of these aims. It incorporates 'Collect It', 'Track It' and 'Prove It' facilities that have substantially increased communications with existing customers, and uptake in Parceline's services. This comes with cost savings for the organisation too. For example, the average collection request is a 70-second process in the call centre. If 800 are entered via the Web site each day, that represents a saving of 15.5 agent hours.

Ease of use was central to the construction of the service, with smart Web servers recognising who the customer is with the minimum of information requests in order to personalise the page views. An average of 144,000 consignment enquiries are now being made on a monthly basis to the Web site. Parceline is in a good position to meet its objectives on target.

Sponsor comment

Parceline's success in CRM clearly comes from an established history of embracing technology and integrating it into critical operational processes. From the outset the company was clearly committed to achieving specific goals, combining longer-term strategic objectives with shorter-term 'quick win' operational goals. Its clearly articulated vision and technical strategy is a testament to a mature, clear-thinking business strategy. But a major differentiator for its CRM strategy is its planning and measurement metrics.

The Parceline approach to rigorous planning and measurement methodology has enabled them not only to scope, develop and deliver an effective CRM system, but to monitor and evaluate specific hard success criteria such as efficiency savings and customer churn reduction. Clearly, Parceline's strong management team has been rigorous in its planning and has thought clearly about quantifying its expected returns, and the results place it in an immediate, robust and competitive position.


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This was first published in September 2000

 

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