Speculate to accumulate

People, process and technology come together to ensure CRM success for the National Bank of Dubai. Sarah Gain finds out how.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  January 29, 2006

|~|evans200.jpg|~|Evans: There was a strong drive from the business side of the company to implement customer relationship management software.|~|The National Bank of Dubai (NBD), one of the UAE's leading financial institutions is looking to deliver on its commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction with an extensive expansion of its customer relationship management (CRM) system. But this is not something the bank has rushed into. In the past a basic call centre system had provided NBD with the beginnings of CRM functionality, but for some time the organisation had delayed the deployment of a fully-fledged solution, disconcerted by some of the pitfalls associated with implementing a comprehensive system. "We had discussed CRM for some time, but were wary of some of the issues associated with the technology," explains Sue Evans, head of information systems and technology (IS&T) at NBD. "For example, in the industry there had been quite a lot of bad press about CRM over the years with regards to TCO (total cost of ownership) and some unsuccessful deployments. We were determined that if we ventured down this path we had to be sure of achieving the results we wanted." But despite such apprehensions, the business side of NBD was putting the IT department under strong pressure to deliver a full CRM. "NBD's priorities include providing the highest standard of customer service, it's one of our high priority business objectives. As a result there was a strong drive from the business side to implement CRM software," says Evans. The bank was already a heavy user of Oracle applications and used its database and application server for in-house applications. Several modules of Oracle's E-Business Suite had also been deployed, and the bank was keen to use a CRM solution that would integrate easily with its existing applications. "One of our architecture principles is to exploit our existing IT investments as far as possible," explains Evans. NBD selected Oracle financial services applications (OFSA) in addition to the vendor's CRM solution and, under the CRM initiative, the bank also deployed the vendor's call centre and TeleService. The aim of the project was to achieve total integration between analytical and operational CRM. In addition to providing improved call centre facilities, the new system will enable the bank's managers to analyse and forecast product and channel profitability and performance against the various customer segments. "The solutions will also enable the bank to gain insight into customer behaviours and preferences and we can use this information to ensure we get timely information to customers on new services and products, and carry out more targeted marketing campaigns," enthuses Evans. The bank selected Mindscape Information Technology as its implementation partner for the project because of the company's experience in the financial services sector, and its local knowledge and presence. A team of 15, comprising both Mindscape and in-house technical specialists worked together to complete the implementation within the budget and in time for the November 2005 launch. "There was a lot of communication and good synergy between the teams - this is what made the project so successful," says Mohamed Fouz, CEO of Mindscape. "Our methodology is built on top of the vendor's standard processes for this type of implementation and Mindscape is also very strict on best practices. This fitted in well with NBD's requirements." Despite the extensive planning and risk assessments carried out by the implementation team, the complexity of NBD's existing multi-vendor architecture posed something of a challenge. Integrating the new solutions with the legacy systems took longer than anticipated. "CRM has to go across everything, and the bank had a lot of disparate back-end legacy systems where information was residing," explains Sohail Khan, VP of sales and marketing for Mindscape. "This was a challenge, but it didn't hold us back significantly." Mindscape assisted in the training of NBD's IS&T technical staff and of the initial end user training. The bank's in-house training department, with the support of the IS&T staff, then carried out further process training for users. The implementers are now providing high-level support, while the in-house team handles the everyday running of the new system. "From the feedback I've had, the call centre agents are now very comfortable with the system. There was no hesitation - everyone picked it up very quickly," Evans says. The initial benefits of having CRM in the bank's call centre include the ability to serve customer needs more easily, but as Mindscape's Fouz points out, "Customer satisfaction is intangible and is therefore difficult to measure." Nonetheless, Evans is confident the bank will see return-on-investment (ROI) in less than two years. "A growth in the bank's customer base translates into a better return, which is clearly something we are looking for," she says. "Avoided cost is also a factor there because we can effectively service more customers with fewer staff." Having replaced its outdated call centre systems, NBD was also able to update its telebanking service. Bringing in the new telephony interface means that this service is now fully integrated with the bank’s systems, and NBD can now provide more information and better service to its customers. "There is now just one number to call and when the customer authenticates using their PIN (personal identification number) they have the option to serve themselves with more basic enquiries," says Evans. "Alternatively, they can speak to a call centre agent who will have all the customer's details already on-screen." NBD is now rolling out CRM functionality to all its branches, and to the organisation's other business segments, such as the corporate banking operations; this should be complete within a month. The bank's IT department is also building a business intelligence (BI) platform and plans to eventually integrate this with the Oracle E-business suite.||**||

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