The 7th Annual 1to1 Impact Awards - Page 2

Customer Experience
Customer Experience


Timing Is Everything for Australia's Westpac

Faced with competition from both within and outside its industry, and the challenges of serving customers without immediate access to relevant data, Westpac Banking Corp. sought a change in the way it manages customer relationships. In Australia, non-banks that offer financial services like credit cards are as aggressive with customer acquisition as are Westpac's industry competitors. To maintain growth in that environment the company needed to start having conversations with customers about their needs and to get its staff the information required to increase customer value.

"The various business units at Westpac used home-grown applications and each business unit had its own data," says Rob Craig, Westpac general manager of enterprise channels and infrastructure. "This was creating duplicate and conflicting offers to our customers."

In 2006 Westpac began aggressively measuring customers' future needs and customer satisfaction, as well as corporate leads and opportunity conversations, to develop a new experience for the bank's 4.5 million customers. Every person in the organization, from the CEO to branch tellers, can access reports on every action taken-within 24 hours of each transaction-through a data gathering and analysis system powered by Teradata software and a SAS database.

"Customers shouldn't need to repeat their details to our bankers," Craig says. "Now all our bankers and back office [staff] have access to the same customer information in real time." Initially many Westpac employees were uncomfortable with the idea of transparent sales figures and customer satisfaction numbers accessible by their peers, but they've grown accustomed to the benefit the system provides.

One initiative enabled by the data gathering is the "next best offer" currently used in the call center. As a result of that program, which aims to turn service calls into sales calls, two mortgage products have seen a 53 percent and 16 percent lift in cross-sales, which Westpac attributes to sharing information across channels and product lines. Overall the program created a 26 percent lift in call center sales in the first two weeks it was implemented.

Customers have been most receptive to Westpac's credit card application process, which was changed to provide a 60-second decision to all applicants-facilitated by the streamlined data processes. Previously the bank took 10 days to review information and get back to potential customers. According to the Australian Financial Review, in 2006 Westpac saw the highest growth in credit card business among Australia's five largest banks (it was previously ranked 4th). As a result, the company is currently looking at expanding the quick-decision program to mortgages and personal loans within the next 12 months.

With the increased availability and transparency of data also comes increased accountability. Now that branch managers can track metrics down to the individual banker, they are judged by profit/loss metrics developed to show how each branch contributes to the company. Westpac now rewards the locations with the highest performance numbers, and is developing a system to reward front-line employees for their contribution to revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

Thanks in part to these changes, the company's customer satisfaction score is at 73 percent, the highest it's been since 1997. Ultimately the bank wants to go a step further, updating customer data instantly rather than daily, so its more than 15,000 tellers will have access to real-time information as the customer is standing in front of them.

"It's about nurturing relationships and truly valuing our customers, and providing the right information at the right time," Craig says. "We want them to feel confident when making a vital financial decision."

Customers Sing's Praises

Until a recent Geico commercial in which voice-over specialist Don LaFontaine appeared and uttered the famous "In a world where" phrase, most people in his profession were faceless and nameless-except online. connects people like LaFontaine to the people who contract their services by allowing them to create profiles, send r?m?with MP3 files, and be searchable by industry.

Today there are more than 15,000 profiles on, representing 100 languages. This complexity gives CEO David Ciccarelli and his team myriad CRM issues to tackle. But with its previous customer service solution, wasn't able to solve problems quickly enough, keep its database updated, or gain user adoption of the software. So, Ciccarelli switched to, which provides with an FAQ database, email templates, database synchronization, and trackable support tickets.

"Before we had a package that just wasn't customizable as we were growing," Ciccarelli says. "Now we have more than 500 solutions in our FAQ list, which has been accessed more than 10,000 times, our subscription renewal is up thanks to better email campaigns, and we can track our Adword purchases from leads through the sale."

In the past year has seen a 62 percent increase in sales, as well as a 215 percent increase in leads in the past three months. Response time for support cases is now at 24 hours instead of up to 10 days, and employees can track their team's performance and progress toward bonuses through dashboards, which has led to 100 percent user adoption.

"Our employees love that everything runs well on their Macs, and we love the results we've seen in increasing leads and giving our customers better service," Ciccarelli says. "Everything is integrated, scalable, and we're looking forward to future growth."

ESET Upgrades Its Service

For a global technology company, ESET Software had a very rudimentary system of dealing with customer issues and support.
"We had one email box where all our support calls would go, and since so many people accessed it no one could ever tell if we'd responded to a customer or not," says John Tannone, ESET's business system manager. "It was a huge headache for us and for our customers, and we knew we couldn't use the existing system any longer."

ESET also sells through multiple channels, offering products via the Web, an internal sales force, and by partnering with consultants who sell larger solutions to companies and consumers.

As part of its search for an ERP solution last year (ESET previously used spreadsheets to manage purchase data and Outlook to manage contacts), the company upgraded its customer service as well, using Netsuite to support both front- and back-office processes. Tannone says there has been a tremendous increase in customer satisfaction because of the new system, which tracks every support case from the time it's opened to the time customers reply that their problem was solved.

"We wait for customers to respond after we send them an answer before we delete their case," Tannone says. "If we don't hear from them we circle back within 48 hours, and we've received positive response to that policy from customers who appreciate the extra effort."

The new system helped ESET handle 50,000 customer service cases in the first year, and support 20 salespeople. It also helped the company manage a 300 percent increase in Web site orders, which Tannone says the company never could have handled under the old way of doing things.


AT&T's Internal Partnerships Build Customer Relationships

AT&T has been in business for more than 120 years. But instead of the complacency that often comes with long-term success, AT&T has a renewed vigor for customer centricity. "We've built our trust on yesterday, but we earn on trust on today and tomorrow," says Bob Sloan, vice president of indirect/direct segment marketing. To do that, the company feeds the relationships between its staff and each individual customer.

Sloan's group works with midmarket businesses, which often think in terms of problems to be solved, not just product or service suites. "Our sales force needs to understand what our customers' business is, as well as understand how our services and our applications can support them," he says.

So marketing, sales, operations, and IT worked together to devise a multichannel, personalized communications strategy that is relevant, timely, and useful for each customer. The company categorizes customers into targeted groups, such as CIOs or technical managers. Then it tailors interactions specific to each group's needs, as well as to the specific products and services each customer already uses.

The strategy integrates direct mail, email, and personal URLs (PURLs) to communicate relevant information, such as product updates, white papers, or other information, without aggressively selling. For example, a technical manager who has purchased a VoIP system can visit his PURL to read the latest VoIP best practices, see the technical specs of the products, and send a message to his AT&T account executive.

Additionally, the account team is now positioned as a trusted advisor community. Monthly communications come from a specific account executive, complete with contact information and an invitation to discuss questions or concerns. Account executives can track customer activity-which mailings and emails customers received and if they took action, where they navigate within their PURL, what information they download-and follow up in real time with a phone call or email offering additional assistance. All this information is captured in the database to further understand each customer's needs for future interactions.

"[The strategy] is a way to develop a relationship without being intrusive on the sales side," Sloan says. "It is about learning and understanding, and being able to grow. Customers want to get educated so they can articulate what they're looking for when they do have conversations with their account executives."

Executing the strategy required buy-in at the executive level, investment in a multimillion-dollar integrated customer data infrastructure, and, most important, the endorsement of the account team, Sloan says. To spur excitement, Sloan's team sent personalized email, direct mail, and a unique PURL to each sales manager and account executive, inviting them to learn more about the program and update their customers' contact information in the database. "We need to practice what we preach," Sloan says. The sales team responded enthusiastically. They see the real-time understanding of customer needs as the biggest benefit, adds Fred Siegel, director of channel marketing.

The new system has greatly improved both the customer experience and sales, Sloan says. Thirty percent of the leads in the system have been converted into opportunities. Of those opportunities, 70 percent converted into closed sales. ROI numbers exceeded the company's goal, though Sloan does not give specifics.

AT&T has seen efficiency gains as well. The sales cycle in many cases is shortened, and account executives can spend time with customers discussing relevant products and services, instead of wasting time chasing dead-end leads. "When account executives follow up, they find out that customers actually do want to talk to them, and it may lead to other conversations as well," says Siegel. "It's proven to be very effective."

TD Bank Builds Trust-and Sales

Marketing should make an impact not by just acquiring new customers, but also by building a trust-based relationship. That's what TD Bank Financial Services in Toronto was able to accomplish with its marketing strategy. "Customers are so starved for attention from their financial institution," says Grant Hicks, associate vice president. "It's amazing how grateful they are when someone pays them a little attention without trying to push something [irrelevant] down their throat."

Working with Unica, TD Bank's marketing division developed a multicontact relationship strategy. First, new customers receive a personalized welcome letter from the nearest branch manager. This is followed up one month later with welcome calls to reinforce the bank's commitment and assist with any customer questions or concerns. Nearly 75 percent of customers who were called so far were pleased with the interaction, Hicks says. "They were pleasantly surprised that we didn't try to push anything on them, and instead welcomed them into the organization."

The initial contacts are relationship-based, designed to build trust with the customer. Then, about once every other month after that, TD Bank begins to cross-sell relevant products and services based on predictive analysis, risk management analysis, and other customer data gathered.

The program, which was rolled out to 86,000 new small-business customers in 2007, generated a 40 percent increase in the average number of products sold, a 60 percent increase in services sold, and a 20 percent drop in annual attrition. For 2008, TD Bank plans to roll out the program to its personal banking customers.

"We realized that if we made the new customer on-boarding experience better, looked at customers on the individual customer level, and provided the appropriate products and services to meet their needs," Hicks says, "it will get us to retain our customers longer and they will become much more profitable customers at the customer level, not just the product level."

Sylvan Does Its Homework on Customer Value

Sylvan Learning provides study guidance and tutors for students to help them achieve the best education possible. But the company was in need of some extra help of its own when it came to prioritizing prospects.

Previously, Sylvan employees had no way to judge a prospect's likelihood of becoming a customer. They simply followed up on leads based on the order they received them. In January 2007 the company began working with TargusInfo to score leads.

Matching up name, address, and phone number with demographic and lifestyle data from TargusInfo, Sylvan now has a better understanding of the prospect at the moment she interacts with the company. Sylvan creates a customer score based on information such as level of affluence, home ownership, and distance from a center, and compares it to profiles of existing customers to calculate a prospect's propensity to enroll in a tutoring program.

Customers are segmented into platinum, gold, silver, and bronze groups based on their profile and needs. Employees differentiate their treatment of those prospects by group. Customers in the top two value groups, for example, receive informational DVDs via mail detailing the Sylvan approach to improving student performance.

As a result of the customer profiling program and DVD promotion, Sylvan Learning increased its inquiry yield from platinum and gold contacts by 30 percent, increased its initial enrollment rate by 41 percent, and saw sustained enrollment rates rise by 25 percent.

"When you have someone in a center that [takes] an incoming call or check a Web site form but doesn't have any insight into probability to enroll, they don't know where to focus their resources," says Sara Costello, director of direct mail and conversion marketing for Sylvan Learning. "When you can support all those people handling incoming requests with a more automated system, they can focus on the conversation with the person."