The team at the small boutique-style investment house at the North Vancouver branch of Scotia-McLeod felt automating its sales processes was so important they decided to purchase a customer relationship management package on their own. And because they couldn’t install non-bank approved software

on bank equipment, the team also purchased its own hardware.

Now sales consultants at the branch all have two computers on their desks.

The investment was well worth it, says Chris Carter, an associate director and branch manager.

“”We made the decision we wanted to take ownership of this project and run with it.””

Carter says they wanted to automate the mundane customer service functions.

Among the key features they required was the ability to call up an account and see if all of the proper follow-ups had been executed. This was difficult to gauge prior to the CRM implementation. Now, the sales team is automatically given reminders when it’s time to touch base with an account.

“”It’s almost eliminated us having a daily service item that was simply forgotten. I’d say the biggest thing right now is the peace of mind we’re getting. Clients don’t say, ‘How come you never phone me anymore?'”” Carter says. “”It feels like an enormous weight has been removed from our shoulders.””

When looking for a new system, Carter phoned about 30 people in the industry — both fellow Scotia-McLeod employees and competitors. He found a number decided to implement their own solutions rather than use what their financial institutions provided. In the end, the North Vancouver branch chose Maximizer Software Inc.’s suite.

“”Maximizer was going to allow us to manage our lists much easier.””

He and his co-workers sat down and made a laundry list of what they wanted and hired a consultant, On-line CRM Solutions, to help them implement the project.

“”We were babes in the woods when it came to consulting a consultant,”” Carter says.

The consultant set their expectations about costs right from the beginning, he says.

Because the branch couldn’t use existing hardware, it had a better idea of the costs involved, says Rod Milne, the president of Vancouver-based On-line CRM Solutions. A lot of smaller organizations, however, aren’t prepared to make the hardware investments when implementing a new software system, he says. Users don’t often realize they will need to put a server in place or add more horsepower to their machines.

To make the project more manageable, it was split into four phases, Milne says.

“”A lot of users want (their systems) to do 16 different things, but if given all 16 things at once, the users are all overwhelmed.””

Though it’s difficult to put a dollar value on the ROI, it’s definitely been beneficial, Carter says. It’s eliminated missed calls.

Stories of CRM projects that run amok are becoming less frequent, says Warren Shiau, director of software research at IDC Canada in Toronto. There are two primary reasons for this, he says.

First, there are a lot more contact centre CRM solutions being implemented in Canada these days, and it’s much easier to evaluate the metrics used to measure success with such projects than with sales force or marketing automation projects. Also, vendors are becoming more proactive in leading their CRM sales efforts with their consulting organizations, which is important because CRM projects inevitably lead to organizational change.

“”This has really helped lower the incidents of dissatisfaction with CRM.””

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