Bank's CRM is carrot and stick

Commerzbank hopes to boost sales through better customer relationship management, writes Hazel Ward

Commerzbank hopes to boost sales through better customer relationship management, writes Hazel Ward

Germany's Commerzbank has made a move to strengthen its London-based investment banking arm with the roll-out of a customer relationship management system (CRM) system.

The bank is this week due to complete the roll-out of a Siebel Finance CRM system to over 20 sales desks in its London-based securities business , which represents the equities, bonds, and mergers and acquisitions division of the German bank.

The 250-seat sales desk had been using the Goldmine system for contact management, but the CRM project was started with the broader aim of giving both users and management a global view of the bank's client base.

"We wanted to know exactly what sales were made, when and to whom, so we could analyse the data at a global level, a pan-European level, or a sector level. At the moment, we can't obtain that data quickly," said Julian Dixon, commercial director at Commerzbank.

Working in conjunction with US systems integrator and CRM specialist Headstrong, the bank took a rapid approach to application development, completing the project within five months.

To date, the system is integrated with Commerzbank's newly-completed brokerage trading system, and its production and content management systems, although the bank is still in the process of migrating its static data.

"When you put in CRM, you have to use your global static data, then you plug the trading system into the CRM system, which means you can get some analytics of what you're doing at a salesman level," Dixon explained.

Central to the project was management of cultural change. Dixon also explained that it was crucial to ensure the system was easier to use than Goldmine. "There has been a huge political move to get people using the system. These people have significant egos, are very well paid and are quite difficult to deal with. You can never underestimate that."

To ensure sales people use the system, the bank has put in place "all the carrots - and the sticks," Dixon said. "They can access online trading information about clients, and one of the biggest benefits is the computer-telephony integration aspect, because some people call over 90 people per day.

"But if the system registers that a user has not been in contact with certain people, it will be reflected in their performance bonus."

"It's important not to underestimate the integration issues involved in such a project, [but] the key to success is recognising the impact of change on the users," said Laurence Shaw, president and chief operating officer for Headstrong Europe said.

Jennifer Kirkby, research director for CRM at analyst firm Gartner, said one of the problems with CRM in the investment banking sector was ensuring that users put their data into the system.

"Users' data is part of what they own, so getting them to part with it is where some of these initiatives come unstuck. Whether Commerzbank has tackled them in the right way will be seen at the roll-out," she said.

Plans for the system include the addition of analytics and datawarehousing capabilities, and the development of a workflow process - which automatically generates an expense form every time a client appointment is booked.

Commerzbank expects to start reaping dividends within a year, and have return on investment within five years.

If successful the project will be rolled out to Frankfurt and New York.

Read more on Business applications