Bank boosts customer service 60 per cent with open source tool

Not so long ago YES Bank managed customer relations via Excel sheets, a practice this Indian bank was starting to regret.

Use of Excel sheets for CRM also didn’t square with YES Bank’s image as a technologically progressive organization.

Indeed, since it was founded in 2004, this Indian bank has sought to use technology to enhance the breadth and quality of its offerings and brand.

Its success in harenessing technology to drive business success have been recognized by several awards  including the NASSCOM Award for  ‘IT Innovations in Emerging India’ (April 2006) and the ACNielsen CIO Jury Award for Technology Innovation (June 2006 ).  

So though it was used extensively by the bank’s staff for cross-selling and up-selling, everyone recognized the Excel sheets needed to be replaced.

They lacked interactive features such as capturing feedback from a customer.

Nor was it the smartest way to run the bank’s sales force. “We had instances when we lost sales leads, or multi-interfaces to the same lead and re-assignment of leads.

We just couldn’t track older leads because there were multiple registrations and entries for tracking them,” says a branch manager of YES Bank who prefers not to be named.

A new customer relationship management (CRM) tool was the need of the hour. “We wanted to start with a small framework-based model which changes with our business needs,” says Suvanjay Kumar Sharma, vice-president (corporate strategy) and chief enterprise architect, YES Bank.

An off-the-shelf CRM product would have made Sharma’s job much easier but he believed a CRM tool should have customer feedback incorporated at every step.  Only an open source system would give him the agility he was looking for.  

So he decided to build the product in-house. 

A relatively new entrant in the field where the big daddies such as nationalized banks have already celebrated their centenaries, YES Bank was established in 2004.   

From the bank’s perspective, late entry into the fray was an advantage as it was not saddled with legacy systems, and could adopt and implement technology to suit the needs of its customers. “We wanted was a scalable CRM [tool] that could grow as we grew,” says Sharma.

And from those priorities was born the concept of the Yes Bank Collaborative CRM (YCCRM).

Capturing customer/employee ideas

The YCCRM system took six to eight months to develop and implement at the first branch.

Sharma knew customer satisfaction could not be achieved without ongoing and accurate customer feedback. So at the very outset, mechanisms to capture customer feedback and ideas were built into the system.

And harvesting employee ideas was also a priority.

The YCCRM banks rely very heavily on employee collaboration. Information lying in islands, without being shared across the organization, is of no use at all, Sharma noted.

“Internal collaboration adds a productive edge to the information we capture.”

Customer information captured in the YCCRM is mapped to blog-like entries made by employees. These entries include ideas, suggestions, and perceptions of the sales representatives.

The sales and product teams can then analyze this information and figure out related business opportunities.

Such information can also be leveraged to customize existing products or conceive new products altogether.

Earlier, with Excel sheets, sales staff culled out details of customers by tabs in the form (name, company, account number, etcetera).

But with YCCRM, they were provided with a template where they can fill details (other than the standard keywords) noted during their interaction with the customers. This meant they could personalize their dashboards.

Typically, sales staff interacts with customers over the phone, jotting down the most important parts of their conversation on little pieces of paper.

This information was later filled on a separate form. With the new CRM, sales reps can now upload or download scribbled information from their phones to the main CRM system.

“We focused more on capturing data from mobile phones into the CRM system instead of capturing CRM system in the mobile phones,” says Sharma.

The new system also helped sales representatives in other ways. As a sales rep, part of the job includes being constantly on the field, which leaves them little time to fill in their reports. As a result, it is not always possible to feed details of their interaction with customers on the day they meet them.

The old system marked the day they filed their report, not the day they met their customer. YCCRM has changed that.

It provides an additional tab of source date (the date mentioned as the source date when they meet the customer and the system date when it is registered in the system). Sharma says,

“Adding the source and system date has helped calculate the turnaround time of serving a client.”

The integrated and personalized dashboard with an activities planner enables the smooth functioning of a sales rep.

And it’s social value-based relationship management helps in cross-selling. Take for instance a software developer who wants to move from an employee status to being an owner of his own firm.

That piece of insight can be uself for the bank. The social value-based relationship management component will help cater to his changed needs.

On the dashboard, a small search box allows the bank staff to do an internal as well as a Web search on their customers.

Getting buy in from business users

“We modeled the system so that it is practical. We wanted people to take part in the development of the system. The system has to be agile and ideas have to come from the users. This also allows you to add features according to your requirements,” points out Sharma.

But this convenience comes at a price. It wasn’t easy to implement the CRM solution across YES Bank’s multiple branches.

One challenge was getting business users – accustomed to off-the-shelf products – to use the unique collaborative features of the YCCRM.

These users needed to be convinced the new system could give the bank competitive advantage, and it wasn’t easy.

“People prefer to walk the conventional path and hesitate to give up their existing mode and processes of working. But once you help them understand smaller processes they gradually accept the change,” says Sharma.

Better service, faster processes

The implementation of a key tool like CRM has already started reflecting positively.

There has been a drastic improvement in customer acquisition after sales leads were passed on via discussion boards.

“There is servicing of 1 million leads and around 500,000 service requests per year. Customer service has improved by 60 per cent and turnaround time for its processes by almost 70 percent,” says Sharma.

“This helped achieve greater service excellence, capturing all customer queries, complaints and their feedback into the common system. It has helped us understand our customers better and analyze the resolution time for each query or complain and then improve internalprocess accordingly. It also added lots of intangible business benefits and helped retain customers better,” says Sharma.

Cross-selling of products has substantially surged after the implementation. The collaborative CRM has given a new window of social value-based relationship which is key for future cross-selling.

Further, the centralized repository for reports generated numerous benefits for the organization. “When data gets captured in a central repository there is more than one advantage to it. First, data loss is prevented.

Second, data can be extracted and analyzed, which helps in understanding the business better. It allows us to observe trends and take proactive action to improve the customer experience and products,” says Sharma.

The repository also enables geography-wise customer segmentation to plan a promotional campaign better.

The next logical step is to take YCCRM online, where customers can directly be part of the system.

“Since this is an initiative to accommodate customers in the bank’s process, we want to get the CRM system online soon so that customers can directly send their feedback or use blogs to interact with us. This will definitely open new sources of informationand at the same time it will provide us with a new set of opportunities in understanding the customer. This would surely help us serve our customers better,” says Sharma.

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