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Getting Even

Banks use improved CRM, data mining and automation tools to unify and empower salespeople across all customer channels

Banks use improved CRM, data mining and automation tools to unify and empower salespeople across all customer channels

From the branch to the contact center, banks are empowering front-line personnel with tools and data for boosting sales effectiveness. Although the programs vary across individual banks, all are centered on building relationships, providing excellent customer service, and achieving coordination among distribution channels.

In theory, CRM technology supports sales associates with data analysis to measure the value of a customer's past and present relationships. This information can be harnessed by business operations to better serve customers, not just through promotions and campaigns, but through interactions within the branch and contact center as well.

Yet despite hefty investments in CRM solutions, banks haven't experienced much in the way of sales productivity, according to the 2002 Mid-sized Bank Study, which benchmarks banking organizations between $1 billion and $20 billion in total assets.

In response, banks are shifting their attention to the points of customer contact. "Banks are seeking CRM and cross-selling features within front-end applications that can leverage past investments in CRM database management and analytics to increase branch profitability," according to Alenka Grealish, manager of the banking group at Celent Communications.

Multichannel management, encompassing not only information integration across channels but also workflow management (e.g., loan application processing via the Internet and via the branch), is leading to an overhaul of branch systems, added Grealish. "The end game of channel integration will be providing uniform service and customer data, and tracking channel usage, which will allow banks to better gauge customer profitability."

But there is no one path toward achieving enterprise-wide sales automation Zen, as evidenced by the following case studies from three banks.


Few organizations have a better understanding of multichannel management than Key Bank. Its retail operations span 12 states, 26 districts and 206 micromarkets. It serves its two million retail customers through 900 Key Centers, 2,165 ATMs, a Web banking channel serving 576,000 customers (a 32 percent penetration rate), and four call centers handling a total of four million calls per month.

For each micromarket, Key managers decide upon a marketing strategy, using factors such as market type, demographics, market attractiveness and competitive position. The goal is to obtain at least a number four share in each market it enters.

"We decide whether to defend, grow or maintain that market," said Michael Orsino, vice chairman for retail banking at Key Bank's East Region, based in Albany, N.Y. "In Albany, we may have a market in Saratoga where we only have two or three KeyCenters. So the market attractiveness is high, but our competitive position is not so high."

With sales generated by walk-in traffic on the decline, relationship managers are going outside to beat the bushes. "As a result of migrating customers to other channels, our floor traffic is down," Orsino said. "So our relationship managers have to get on the phone and meet with clients, at their homes, place of business, in the evening, on a Saturday."

With the use of data mining technology, information about customers and which products they own or are likely to buy (the typical Key customer owns 2.86 products) is made available to the relationship managers in the KeyCenters. "As a result of our technology, we're able to get that data out to the RMs. When clients will most likely 'attrite,' and what products they'll likely purchase next," said Orsino.

Top-tier customers are placed into a book of business, a list of local clients that relationship managers are expected to contact. Typically, a relationship manager will have a book of 300 to 400 clients. Those customers that aren't placed into a book of business (the "unmanaged clients"), are targeted by the call centers and the KeyCenter. "The KeyCenter will call on those unmanaged clients as a team," Orsino said.

The fact that a client might get contacted by both an outbound telemarketer and a local branch is of little concern. "In this industry, we don't touch our clients enough, so they appreciate being contacted," Orsino said.

The book of business is updated with the latest profitability data. "We are able to determine the profitability and opportunity for each client," said Orsino. "And based on that, those are the clients that will be managed by an RM."

He added, "That doesn't mean that all the other clients aren't paid attention to."

An effective sales automation system combines sales, service and reporting. "It's all linked. Not only do you need the technology, the platform and the information, you also need to be linked with your product managers and marketing," Orsino said.

The call centers have responsibility for Key's electronic and telephone-based service and sales channels, such as 1.800.KEY2YOU. The centers provide customer service as well as inbound and outbound telemarketing, plus various support groups including voice systems; an internal call center serving Key's branch network; and workforce and project management teams that lead client satisfaction efforts and support system enhancements.

The call centers work in tandem with the KeyCenters to cement customer relationships. "The call centers will call on our unmanaged clients, and if a piece of business is sold, they'll be referred to a KeyCenter, where the relationship is established," said Orsino.

The call centers and branches share responsibility for customer service. The call centers routinely provide information back to the branch on all customer contacts, so that relationship managers can be alerted to any customer service issues.

Banks have performed relatively poorly in customer service compared to other industries, said Orsino. "The industry hasn't differentiated itself around service."

Still, relationship managers are expected to take customer satisfaction seriously: 15 percent of their compensation is based on meeting or exceeding service standards. "One of our strategies is to provide a consistent, positive client experience," Orsino said.

It's also essential that managers and salespersons be apprised of performance relative to goals. "We have production reports that roll up on a weekly basis relative to goals," said Orsino. "Every week everyone knows where they rank against anyone else in the country."


After two failed implementations, Hibernia Bank learned what works and doesn't work in sales force automation. Now, on the third try, it appears to have finally gotten it right. Last year, the New Orleans-based institution introduced ClientContact, a CRM and sales coordination system for its commercial banking and private client groups.

Built using Youcentric, a CRM platform from J.D. Edwards, ClientContact manages contact information, sales and service history, and provides coordination among relationship managers, marketing, client service and sales specialists.

One of the lessons Hibernia learned was the need for flexibility. "The GoldMines and Siebels had fairly canned applications or were too complicated," said David Frady, executive vice president of commercial banking at $16.5 billion Hibernia. "Youcentric has a Java-based platform that's open-architecture."

The two previous implementations failed to take into account the idiosyncrasies of salespeople. "Salespeople all have ADD," said Frady. "If it doesn't work one or two times, they'll quit using it."

Hibernia needed a solution that salespeople would embrace. "Since the sales force is an integral part of our overall CRM strategy, it was imperative that the end user-the relationship manager-be comfortable using the system," said Frady.

In commercial banking, the knowledge base resides in the heads of the relationship managers.If the relationship manager were to leave, the knowledge would leave also. "They know the client, their likes and dislikes, their families. We have never had the ability to capture that data," Frady said.

The problem isn't Hibernia's alone. "We as an industry have had a hard time telling anyone how many accounts we have," said Frady. "A large corporation might have 100 accounts under six different entities. So how many relationships do we have? One? Ten? Two hundred? Householding all those together is difficult."

ClientContact provides a single sales channel for reaching customers, especially the one percent that account for 40 percent of Hibernia's revenues, according to Erin Kinikin, an industry analyst at Giga Information Group (now part of Forrester Research) and author of a research note on ClientContact. "Previously, specialized units such as investment banking, trust, lending and treasury services would sell into these clients with little overall coordination. Now, Hibernia has a single sales pipeline for each client."

In addition, noted Kinikin, the sales pipeline "helps hold everyone accountable for pending business. Service calls are recorded in the same system, allowing the relationship manager to always be aware of any account issues."

Added Frady, "We spent a lot of time building a customer service model as part of the application. If we're not doing a good job of servicing, and if the relationship manager doesn't know about it, we have a huge gap."

ClientContact enables Hibernia's customer support employees to systematically track their workflow. "They know that if issues aren't resolved, it triggers an e-mail to their supervisor."


Employees are expected to maintain the accuracy of the system, noted Kinikin. "Any sales opportunity removed from the pipeline requires the sales rep to identify the reason for the loss...Call logs are checked against service entries to ensure that customer interactions are being recorded."

The success of ClientContact is due in no small part to the backing of Hibernia's president and CEO. Without such support, projects such as ClientContact are likely to fail. "Change is always hard," wrote Kinikin, "and the company has had its share of sales resistance."

Said Frady, "I'd be lying if I said everyone was thrilled. It takes time to enter in all the data. But our better sales people like using it."

Other banks would be wise to emulate Hibernia. "If you use it the way we are, your service levels will absolutely increase," he said.

Hibernia's retail operations have also gotten a boost from sales automation activity. Last year, the bank's contact center in Baton Rouge, La. produced $300 million, or 25 percent, of consumer loan volume. Its agents make 10,000 outbound calls a day, plus handle 1,000 inbound calls and 150 loan applications from the bank's Web site. Even more impressive, 30 percent of outbound calls are connected, and 60 percent of those are "right party" contacts, meaning they result either in a sale or a "not interested."

The centerpiece of Hibernia's contact center is Touchpoint, a CRM system from WebTone Technologies, Atlanta. Used in conjunction with an autodialer, Touchpoint acts as a central storage point for customer contact information.

In addition to enabling Hibernia to track all customer interactions, Touchpoint provides consistent and efficient handling of customer requests submitted via e-mail, fax, chat and telephone, plus powerful sales tools for cross-selling products and services.

On the inbound side, the contact center works with Hibernia's customer service centers in New Orleans and Shreveport to identify sales opportunities. Hibernia intends to install a computer-telephony integration (CTI) system from Genesys Telecommunications, which uses automatic number identification (ANI) to generate screen pops for agents.


After going on an acquisition tear that made it into a regional powerhouse and one of the top 25 U.S. banks, Regions Bank was left with the task of converting some 120 banks into a single network. The task grew harder with each new acquisition. Every bank, it seemed, employed its own core applications, some client-server and some mainframe-based.

Among the many challenges Regions faced was installing a branch sales system flexible enough to meet the needs of each of its 800 branches, yet powerful enough to allow the bank to track customer information and branch performance, and to develop more sophisticated tools such as customer profiling.

After reviewing several products, Regions chose SellStation, a branch sales system from EDS. A 32-bit client-server application, SellStation has allowed Regions to modernize, customize and connect with the technology of the banks that it's acquired.

SellStation has grown organically during its six years of operation at Regions. During the first phase of the deployment, it was installed at the branches and linked to the platform, teller and lending systems. In the second phase, it's become an integral component of Regions' centralized call center. Throughout, the objectives have been to consolidate customer support, present a common view, reduce costs and increase branch sales.

For some, SellStation represents something of a culture shock. "I'm an old mainframe programmer and this is client-server," said Sharon Arant, manager of consumer systems at Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions. "But it's very easy to use."

SellStation functions as a front-end for Regions' platform, teller, loan and call center applications. "SellStation can go to back-end systems and aggregate them, so the relationship manager knows what type of relationship they have," said Andy Tonkovich, director of financial industry solutions at EDS. "It provides a single place to go to determine the total relationship."

With many of its branches in rural areas, Regions was grateful for the system's ease of use. "Some of the branches are in grocery stores," said Tonkovich. "You may have a single person performing multiple responsibilities. They needed a system that one person could handle."

The system provides Regions with a complete picture not only of customers, but of customer interactions. "Regions wants to know not only what I sell, but what I didn't sell. The core systems don't provide that kind of information," said Tonkovich.

SellStation offers the same modular architecture and user-friendly windows in the call center that it does in the branches. Along with CTI computer-telephony integration software from Genesys Telecommunications, SellStation has eased the integration effort of the call center. And because Regions' technical and branch staff already were familiar with the product, training costs have been reduced.

In order to consolidate customer service and increase sales, all incoming calls are routed from the branches to the call center. If necessary, a call center agent can quickly route a call back to a specific branch, so that customers can speak directly to branch personnel.

As the system ramped up, the call center was successfully handling between 7,000 and 10,000 calls per day. In the latest expansion, call center agents are using SellStation for outbound calls.

SellStation also provides a set of sales tools to help customers make decisions. "A lot of the information that you'd find in brochures or handouts are within the system," Tonkovich said. "Relationship managers can turn their PC around and point it at the customer to display presentations and comparisons."

Regions hasn't implemented these sales tools so far. "When we first rolled out SellStation, we weren't as sales-oriented as we are now," said Arant, adding that the tools will be used with the next release of SellStation.


CUSTOMERS: 2 million retail


ATMS: 2,165


CONTACT CENTERS: four million calls/mo.

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