Cutting paper saves £80,000

Cumberland Building Society expects to save £80,000 per annum within three years, after rolling out customer relationship...

Cumberland Building Society expects to save £80,000 per annum within three years, after rolling out customer relationship management (CRM) software across its head office operation.

The company, which has 34 branches in the north of England and Scotland, implemented the correspondent management system (CMS), from software firm Oceanus, in an attempt to cut growing staff costs.

Cumberland will achieve the bulk of the projected savings by automating paper-based customer correspondence processes, said Mark Robinson, general manager at the building society.

"The savings will largely be in terms of the productivity improvements we will get by cutting paper out of the process," he said.

"All correspondence is now scanned into the system, which means a number of people can look at a document simultaneously on the intranet. It also allows staff to access the customer's case history instantly, improving productivity and customer service."

Analysts last week criticised UK firms for adopting the wrong return on investment measurements for their CRM projects, but Robinson is confident that Cumberland can meet its targets.

"There are 'quick wins', such as every piece of paper now having a location on the system, meaning we measure turnaround times by seeing how much work everyone is doing," he said. "We can also measure productivity improvements by ensuring staff are focusing on more value added tasks."

So-called "soft" measures, such as customer service improvements, are harder to quantify, admitted Robinson, but Cumberland has also taken steps to look at this, he said.

"We have sent out questionnaires to our customers focusing on service levels and we will continue to measure this over time," Robinson said. "Another 'soft' benefit would be the positive reaction of staff, which is easy to measure."

Cumberland is now considering the possibility of implementing the CMS software in its branches, which will allow staff to process correspondence through the head office when servicing customer enquiries made at local branches, Robinson said.

The company is also exploring other opportunities further down the line, he added. "We could introduce a self-service element, allowing customers to track their mortgage applications online," Robinson said.

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