Meeting customers' needs brings rewards

The shortlist of candidates for the Computer Weekly E-Business Excellence Awards has been drawn up. Here are the four companies...

The shortlist of candidates for the Computer Weekly E-Business Excellence Awards has been drawn up. Here are the four companies shortlisted for the customer relationship management award.

Donns Solicitors - access to case files for personal injury clients
E-file access is an online application that allows Donns' clients who are bringing a personal injury claim open access to their case file via the Internet. The service aims to cut through the air of secrecy that surrounds the legal profession, thereby enhancing greatly customer service. The site is designed to be simple and easy to navigate around. This is critical for the business considering it has seen its client base increase by 600% in the last five years. E-file provides each client with an online case file that is updated every 24 hours.

Security is of the utmost importance. Each client is allocated a unique password and username. The application is based on Citrix thin client technology and is written in Visual Basic and C. It is accessed via a firewall and a secure link from Donns' Web site based on a Web server at a remote site, via additional secure applications at Donns to a dedicated server based at the law firm's own site. Since its launch in July 2000, the site has received on average 1,200 visitors per month.

EasyRentacar - coping with e-mail enquiries
EasyRentacar, the world's first Internet-only car rental company, was becoming so overwhelmed by customer e-mail enquiries that it needed to implement a CRM solution that could handle the increasing requests while at the same time keeping customers happy. The company chose an online customer service support tool from Right Now Technologies, which dramatically reduced requests by allowing customers to access the information they needed on the easyRentacar Web site. E-mail enquiries that were taking a week to respond to are now answered within 24 hours.

Users have three options on the site. First, they can search the FAQ site. This is an intelligent database that puts most asked questions at the top of the list. Next is the search option, which will provide an answer plus extra answers based on trends from similar previously asked questions. Finally, customers can e-mail a request. Only 20% of visitors use this. Prior to the CRM implementation all enquiries were e-mailed. The site boasts 100,000 user sessions each week.

Bupa - one look for every channel
This service provides Bupa's customers, independent financial advisers, Bupa field sales people and on-site staff with the opportunity to do flexible business with the company - be it via the Web, e-mail, phone, fax or face-to-face, they get the same look, feel and experience. As well as providing a full range of CRM functions, the application also works as a graphical, Web-based interface on to back-office systems. This means that users have secure access to all the same customer and product information and that the marketing, sales and service process is consistent.

The system manages customers' entire interaction with Bupa, from initial enquiry through marketing and sales to long-term customer care. Business benefit has been gained from the seamless integration of front- and back-office systems. This was done by using a hybrid architecture that mixes the Point two-tier client-server model and Bupa's n-tier service call-based architecture. The system handles some 13,000 customer contacts per day. Up to 200 sales leads are generated, 130 quotations are provided across the Web, and 50 new clients are signed up each day.

Intelligent Finance - linking accounts
This telephone and Internet bank from the Halifax links customers' borrowings with their savings across a range of personal banking products - savings and current accounts, mortgages, personal loans and credit cards. This concept allows customers to link products so that they can choose to minimise their debt or maximise their borrowings. It is built on three tiers. The front-end has two Web browser solutions, one system for contact centre staff (superscreen), one for both the customer and contact staff (Internet solution), computer-telephony integration for the contact centres and a multi-fronted capability via an NT/IIS/ASP.

The mid-tier features a bespoke central customer database, a bespoke "open account" process for all products, online request support and workflow support. The back-end features a Halifax switch with links from, to and between core product systems in the back-end, a Halifax current account engine and a balance netting function, which sits as a batch process on the Lynx system. When the service was launched business volume doubled overnight. The Web site receives an average of two million hits per week with more than 64,000 weekly visitor sessions.

Awards sponsored by BT

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