AGF Management Ltd. is attempting to improve relationships with the 45,000 brokerage houses and financial advisors it deals with by changing the way its call centre does business with them.

The investment management company has purchased

a series of customer relationship management (CRM) tools from PeopleSoft Canada. Chief among those deployments is a module that will change its call centre’s approach to handling inquiries from the brokerage companies that sell its products.

The CRM module will provide a more holistic view by linking account inquiries to the brokers that file them rather than file them on a case-by-case basis.

Accounts can be tracked better and customer service to brokerage clients can be improved by establishing a stronger relationship between the two, explained Stephen Elioff, vice-president of CRM at AGF. “”You can imagine now if somebody calls in and we have these two things linked, we can not only help them log the current issue, we can also provide a status update or perhaps even announce a resolution to the issue that had been called in at an earlier point,”” he said.

Before the change, an advisor may have dealt with a different call centre representative for every account, so the CRM module is now helping AGF to make better use of its internal resources.

“”It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to be wasting resources against this individual when they don’t need me,”” said Elioff. “”The real danger is that you can blow out any profitability that you might see over the long term with that individual.””

Changes at the 400-person call centre are just one aspect of AGF’s new approach to CRM, which has been working with PeopleSoft’s tools since last year. The company has used a variety of CRM applications throughout the organization for about a decade, said Elioff, but never in a way that could unify the company’s approach to customers.

He said that departments “”didn’t really talk to each other, no data was shared back and forth between them. The business processes that sort of sprouted up as a result of that were unique only to those areas and in some cases created problematic situations for our customers. . . . We felt that it was necessary to tackle CRM on an enterprise level.””

Through the efforts of its deployment team, along with support from PeopleSoft Canada and services organization BearingPoint, AGF is now in the build phase of sales and marketing CRM modules and will address an analytics module this fall.

PeopleSoft Canada regional director John Bodolai said the project began two years ago, before AGF had even settled on a software vendor. “”AGF spent a fairly significant amount of time understanding their requirements and really detailing what they want to do from a customer standpoint,”” he said.

When PeopleSoft was first approached by AGF, Bodolai said the company laid out three main criteria: to gain a better understanding of individual AGF customers and their profitability, the ability to put together a consolidated view, and the ability to match the customer with the right resources.

AGF is now well on its way to redefining customer relationships, “”and they are doing unique things in terms of how they are using CRM,”” said Bodolai. “”I’d say it’s one of these customers you always like because they are really leveraging the application.””

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