One source, one view

When the Canadian arm of mutual fund company AGF was looking to implement a CRM system, the primary goal was to pull together all the loose ends in the company, not add bells and whistles it would never use.

AGF Funds Inc. in Toronto wanted to bridge the gap between what was happening in its

130-person call centre and what its sales force was doing on the street.

For AGF, 80 per cent of its sales are driven by its external sales force.

“”We were looking for something to tie everything together,”” says Steve Elioff, vice-president and CRM program director for AGF Funds Inc., in Toronto. “”We already had a sales force automation tool and we had an excellent call centre — 95 per cent of calls at AGF are answered in four seconds. But we didn’t have something to bring it all together.””

Elioff says customer service had little knowledge of what the sales and marketing people were doing. “”Sales would go out on a sales call and step in the door and waiting behind the door was a customer with an axe to take his head off because of issues that were going on unresolved in our back office. We wanted a 360-degree view so we would better understand the customer,”” says Elioff.

AGF went looking for functionality in the area of service and sales and marketing to build connectivity between departments.

“”CRM internally for us is about customer segmentation, so we can effectively develop and deliver the right service and product offering to the right people,”” said Elioff.

In its search for a vendor, AGF was looking for a solution to fit the organization’s needs, not a lot of extras that would never be put to use.

“”Siebel was eliminated early on because it was too feature rich for us,”” says Elioff. (Oracle was also eliminated although AGF is using Oracle’s ERP system.)

A PeopleSoft sales module will go live in October and marketing will be added to the system in the fall while a support module rolled out in June delivered case management to AGF for the first time. “”While we were an extremely strong service organization, there were basic things we couldn’t do. You would have three different customer service reps possibly dealing with three separate issues for a customer and none knowing about the other.””

In situations, like AGF’s “”technology can simplify by having one source of the truth everyone can go to,”” says Pete Smith, vice-president, PeopleSoft Global Services in Canada. “”It allows you to engineer a business process you didn’t really have the capability to do within the organization.””

Despite the proposed take-over of PeopleSoft by Oracle, Elioff isn’t letting the saber-rattling of the software giants distract him from the project at hand.

“”We have no alternative but to continue on our path as it exists now,”” he says. “”We decided not to run with Oracle for our CRM application and I don’t think a lot has changed with Oracle to make us change our minds.”” At the end of the day, Elioff says what AGF does is not about technology, but how it serves its customers.

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