Canadian Western Trust applies CRM smarts to 1-800 service

A Vancouver financial institution has added call centre-type functionality to its front office so it can intercept and organize the majority of its incoming customer calls.

Canadian Western Trust provides financial products like mortgages, mutual funds and stock incentive packages to independent financial advisors who then sell them to end clients. Earlier this year Western Trust reviewed its business units and decided there was a better way to handle questions and concerns from those advisors than just routing them through a switchboard.

One of those business units under review was Western Trust’s relationship management team.

“What this group needed was a way to track calls that came in through the 1-800 number,” said Adrian Baker, the company’s COO. “They had to obtain very quickly what the call was about. Was it in respect to an existing investment, was it in respect to a new investment, was it looking for product information?”

Western Trust reviewed various CRM packages that could potentially handle that type of functionality, said IT manager Libei Cheng. But the best fit was Footprints from UniPress Software, a Web-based help desk solution.

“We found out the best way to do this with was a server solution, hosted on a server then used on the client side with Internet Explorer,” said Cheng. “It’s Web-based but in the back end we can use SQL Server (as a database).”

Western Trust is using the MSDE version of SQL Server, which is a free runtime SQL and cheap to operate since it has the same engine as the corporate version of the well-known Microsoft product without the admin tools. Cheng said that Footprints is one of the few products to support the MSDE version.

The product is highly customizable, according to Fred Pack, vice-president and co-founder, of Edison, N.J.-based UniPress. “Consequently, we don’t need to have a special flavour for finance or education or health care or aerospace.

There are eight people in Western Trust’s Vancouver office using the product and two others in remote offices. Pack said he sells Footprints to smaller shops like them but “the same program is very happy to run with hundreds of users. The underlying technology is quite scalable. Footprint is a completely Web-based program, so you merely drop it onto your Web server and you’re up and running.”

At Western Trust, the relationship management team is able to determine the nature of the incoming calls, log them on Footprints, then refer them to the right department within the company.

“It’s a very quick way to record questions and assign them to another work area,” said Baker. “Then that manager can track: what calls are coming in, what are they about, how quickly are they being closed? They can identify in if there’s any issues or problems and confirming how quickly items are closed so we can track customer service levels.”

Since installing Footprints earlier this year, Baker said the relationship group has been able to intercept and redirect about 80 per cent of incoming customer calls. The company also offers a self-service online function for customers, but through a separate set of software.

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