US Bank "Blasts" Out Hot Leads
One million business customers. More than 13 million consumer banking customers. Approximately 16 million daily transactions. And 10,000 database variables. With numbers like these a company could easily drown in data overload. US Bank saw an opportunity. So it took action to mine customer data and deliver insights across a variety of channels more efficiently.
Believing that "a lead makes no money sitting on a server," Senior Vice President Richard Martino helped to devise BLAST (Banker Leads Alerts & Sales Tools), a system that both delivers sales opportunities to branch bankers and provides line managers with ways to evaluate and encourage their staff's adoption of BLAST. In the process, US Bank adjusted its bankers' compensation plan and aligned company and individual objectives to support the new customer strategy that BLAST enables.
"The real challenge comes when you put a tool like that in front of an individual banker, or more accurately 20,000 individual bankers, and ask them to do something differently than what they did yesterday," says Martino, a 1to1 Customer Champion.
Martino explains that BLAST, powered by the SAS Customer Intelligence Solution, allows US Bank to become more proactive with analytically based event triggers that immediately alert branch bankers to upsell or retention opportunities. For example, alerts are triggered when a customer's balance significantly increases and when high-value customers are at risk for attrition, shown by significant withdrawals or declining balances.
The system offers full analysis over the complete consumer portfolio (all banking products and credit cards), enabling a complete household perspective and allowing for appropriate follow-up on customer interactions. The bank has implemented similar analytical coverage for its small-business customer database.
With BLAST, US Bank can define customer contact strategies with a consistent message across all touch points, including call centers, branch sales and service personnel, and direct mail, personalizing both inbound and outbound interactions at every opportunity. Bankers can view each customer's behavior over time and act on significant changes immediately, accelerating sales opportunities and salvaging at-risk relationships.
The bank averaged nearly 20,000 customer contacts per month when BLAST first rolled out; it hit 193,000 in November, reflecting how BLAST has become more a part of its bankers' everyday toolset.
The results have been impressive: US Bank predicted an increase of $265 million in incremental revenue over a five-year period, and is currently running about 15 percent ahead of projections. And in the first month, BLAST's improved lead distribution saw branch credit card sales increase by more than 400 percent. "We knew we'd see lift," Martino says, "but the magnitude was stunning."
The customer experience also benefits from a shift from "product-push" to "needs-based" selling, he adds, which helps build loyalty. Branches regularly using BLAST have higher customer loyalty scores, and are 24 percent more likely to earn customer loyalty incentives and have average incentive payments 37 percent higher than non-BLAST branches.
Martino says that, for all the benefits realized, US Bank still has plenty of BLAST-related business to attend to in 2008. "We'd like to start delivering prospects, non-customers in the small-business space, to our bankers," he says.
"More broadly, we want to start integrating more tools for our bankers to use for responding to customers with specific life events-planning to move, significant increase or decrease in incomes, getting married, starting a business, whatever-and putting at their fingertips a set of tools they can use that helps industrialize best practices for bankers who work with customers on life events every day."
Mobile Gives DirecTV Legs
With more than 5,000 dealers in the retail channel, ranging from big companies like Best Buy to small, independent shops-not to mention the ever-evolving competition for eyeballs-DirecTV has to make sure its sales force is up to date on everything the company offers. Navigating multiple systems was simply no longer working.
"Our sales guys were facing a big task, given all the data and education they need to sell DirecTV," says Erik Walters, manager of business sales. "It's not your average 'selling a dishwasher' type thing. There's a lot of information involved in presenting our products to the market: sales metrics, quarterly offers, all the key elements need to be updated. It's a bit of a challenge, to put it mildly."
Instead of weighing down field agents with cumbersome notebooks and folders, DirecTV wanted to give them the ability to sit down with a dealer and quickly and easily pull up such metrics as number of activations, financial data, and open service requests. With these metrics and other key customer data at hand, agents could spend more face time with dealers, nurturing those relationships and making them as profitable as possible.
DirecTV worked with Antenna Software to implement a mobile solution for its Siebel CRM OnDemand tool. Information is now updated continually using both a traditional desktop application and a mobile application for the BlackBerry; the sales force now receives reliable, near real-time information, while DirecTV's customers benefit from greater consistency, Walters says.
Results include a 30 percent increase in the number of accounts visited in a week, more than 90 hours a week saved by the sales team due to their ability to update calls on an "anytime, anywhere" basis, and an improved frequency of sales data reporting turnaround-from seven days to one.
SFA Delivers Sweet Results for The Berry Company
T&T subsidiary The Berry Company provides Yellow Pages sales and publishing services-an evolving and increasingly competitive market. To ensure growth in that environment, Berry needed to develop a means of reinforcing its value to customers while maintaining a strong ROI.
"Local businesses now have a lot of places to spend their advertising dollars," says Director of Marketing Karen Payne. "We need to prove the value of our media to the customer. This tool enables us to provide customer-specific ROI for every call."
The tool in question is Berry Real Results, an interactive sales device designed to improve how sales representatives sell print and Internet Yellow Pages products. As Payne explains, the three main elements of the tool are to provide advertisers with ROI analysis, to offer compelling reasons for advertisers to buy, and to integrate print and Internet Yellow Pages value stories.
"Some marketers shy away from sales force automation," Payne says, "but we believe that embracing it results in a better sales call, which is critical for us."
Before launch, internal studies showed that just 37 percent of reps reported calculating ROI-on fewer than half their calls-and only
37 percent considered themselves "very comfortable" with pitching Internet ads.
With Berry Real Results, the amount of time needed to prep and plan was reduced from one hour to about 10 minutes, "which of course allows them more time potentially to sell," Payne says.
The number of reps using their laptops on sales calls has increased by 97 percent, with a concurrent rise of 10 percent in calls per day among telephone sales reps and a 5 percent increase in premise rep visits. Sixty-four percent of advertisers said their Berry Company rep was better at proving value than reps from other publishers, and advertiser decrease and loss fell by 7.9 percent on a year-to-year basis.
This year will see The Berry Company looking to continue simplifying the proposal process. "We never stop innovating," Payne says. "It's in the fiber of our being."
A.O. Smith Refreshes Its Customer Service
Most companies have their share of difficulties as a result of organizational silos. Imagine the challenges A.O. Smith Water Products (AOS) faced after making dozens of acquisitions between 2001 and 2006. The resulting disjointed structure prompted the manufacturer of residential and commercial water heating equipment to develop a cohesive and global customer vision. In particular, AOS needed to access a central repository of vital customer and product data that had been trapped in legacy systems from the original companies.
In essence the siloed infrastructure hampered the company's ability to develop a unified vision of customer service. As a result, customers were forced to wait for support and AOS couldn't easily transmit data across the enterprise. AOS, in response, decided to build a bridge to streamline processes and create collaboration among employees-no matter where they were located.
In October 2006 the company began working with Vertical Solutions and eventually rolled out the provider's PowerHelp software in a multiphase approach that began with enterprise data integration and then a go-live date of May 2007 in the contact center. Mike Rosenstock, director of customer quality, field service, and warranty, describes this period as a process of self-discovery where the company took the time to view its operations holistically. AOS documented its customer service processes and integrated 11 databases containing historical and product-specific information. "This process energized us to take the opportunity to go beyond installing a software platform and take a close look at what we could do to enhance the customer experience," Rosenstock says.
AOS is using its newly integrated data repository to improve customer service and company performance. All service calls about new products are shared with the design and quality engineers so they can make product adjustments, and repeat calls trigger a notification to Rosenstock to initiate a root-cause analysis.
Additionally, CEO Paul W. Jones initiated two important strategic changes to support the new service strategy: appointing a vice president of satisfaction, who is responsible for all aspects of the product experience from order entry to field service; and creating a new group called customer quality. This group handles complex issues, such as when a hotel reports a loss of hot water. "The importance of helping a customer cannot be emphasized enough," Rosenstock says. "Customers come first and foremost. That's a core value of the company."
With the technology and strategy in place, AOS has elevated the customer experience. The company now answers calls 2.5 times faster, it has reduced the number of call transfers by 20 percent, and has cut the time to research customer histories from one business day to seconds.
Although the database and application integration is complete and the call center has gone live, the project is still in its infancy. It consists of 13 more phases, including a roll-out to the field service team, integration to AOS's Warranty Wizard, and deployment to global locations.
"We've been making adjustments based on the philosophy of how the process serves the needs of the customers, and we now are starting to get other organizations more involved," Rosenstock explains. "We have real visionary ideas of how to take these tools to even higher levels."
Gaining a 35,000-foot View of Service
Virgin Atlantic is no stranger to receiving awards. The British airline receives a bevy of "best airline" accolades yearly from industry sources.
But competition in the airline industry has never been greater and Virgin doesn't want to take chances when it comes to maintaining customer service levels. However, managing a multisite, multicontinent contact center operation can make delivering on that priority challenging.
So Virgin laid the foundation for a virtual contact center network that delivers consistent and transparent service to customers globally. In 2006 that infrastructure included changes designed to create quality and consistency on a global scale, to ensure customers are routed to the appropriate agents, and to improve agent staffing.
Virgin upgraded its Aspect eWorkforce management solution to combine forecasting, scheduling, and adherence capabilities with performance and quality management to establish a global view of its business operations and to control more precisely where calls are delivered.
In addition, the company began moving to a VoIP environment to connect all of its contact centers in India and the U.S. to its contact centers in the U.K. to deliver consistent service to customers globally.
"We had some concerns around moving customer service calls offshore," says John Stanwell, resource, planning, and development manager for Virgin Atlantic. "We've obviously seen the headlinesbut we've equally done the investigations and didn't want to put the business at risk. So we put in place an infrastructure to grow and adapt to change."
As a result, the number of customers who say they're likely to book again jumped 8 percent, and customer satisfaction for Virgin's outsourced contact center increased 4 percent. Stanwell attributes the improvements to putting in place the strategy and training up front. "The most important thing is to understand what customers want," he says, "and to give them choices."
Getting Proactive With Customers
With more than five million subscribers, Internet service provider EarthLink aims to offer what it thinks every Internet user should expect: a seamless experience, minimal online intrusions, and quick resolution to troubleshooting.
In keeping with those goals, in 2006 EarthLink launched a proactive service solution that monitors online visitors, identifies those who need help, and invites them to resolve their issues via chat before they pick up the phone or send an email.
Although chat had been in place at EarthLink since 1998, the 2006 initiative introduced using it proactively. The company realized that it could no longer grow its click-to-chat channel. "We discovered a lot of customers out there who would chat, but wouldn't hop into channels themselves," says Mike Murphy, senior manager, call center innovation. "They needed a shove basically to try the channel."
So EarthLink opted for an invitation chat strategy. Managed through LivePerson's Timpani platform, the proactive chat tool aims to increase agent productivity and provide customers with improved online navigation. So when visitors experience difficulty in the self-service channel, for example, the system triggers an automatic invitation to chat with an EarthLink representative, making it easier for customers to receive support.
In addition to allowing EarthLink to engage new segments of customers, the solution has prompted a 20 percent reduction in call volume, a significant savings considering that each chat costs about one third the cost of a support call. The number of customers using proactive chat who say they are satisfied jumped 10 percent to 61 percent, and first contact resolution has increased 7 percent.
"Now our chat channel has the highest satisfaction rates and resolution rates of any channel," Murphy adds. "I think listening to your customers and delivering tools and options to your customers that give them answers quickly results in fewer overall contacts and higher satisfaction for customers."