The More You Know, the Better the Service
By Steve Miller
Vice President, Client Services & Sales Development Coach
INB staff members recently received an award for our “outstanding approach to technology and service.” The new technology – a Client Relationship Management System or CRM – is allowing INB to live up to its mission of “helping customers minimize financial pressures so they can live better lives.”
It all begins with data, says INB’s Customer Services CRM Coordinator Sarah Stahly. “You can’t help people if you don’t know about them,” she said. “With our CRM, we gather the data in one place so we can help customers by recommending products and services they could benefit from.” She gave these examples: We see a customer orders checks frequently. That’s a sign they might benefit from a different checking program or use of a debit card. We notice a customer keeps a large balance in a checking account; we might want to recommend another savings vehicle.
Part of INB’s CRM implementation included adding a Call Center. That center allows our branch staff to work more efficiently with customers who walk in the door. It also means the ability to catch trends more quickly than we could when all the calls were going to our branch locations. For example, in the past, our North Branch might have gotten a call about a debit card not working. South might also have a call, and Mt. Pulaski, two calls. Once all calls are going directly to our Call Center, our staff will realize right away that, with four debit card calls, we could have an overall problem.
Another benefit of our CRM is simply the knowledge our staff has. “Some customers work with several staff members depending on the products they have with us. In the past, they might have to check with three people to get answers to several question. Today, it’s often one call; one call is actually our goal because our Call Center staff can answer most questions. If they don’t have the answer, their job is to get it and follow up with the customer.” The centralized knowledge base is also important to customers who use more than one of our branches. “We have customers who live in Riverton and bank there,” Sarah explains, “but they work in Springfield and might bank at any of our locations there. Now, no matter who works with that customer, they have the same knowledge base.”
Sarah adds that with CRM, Call Center staff often know why a customer’s calling even before the customer is able to articulate the issue. “The staff pull up CRM, sees there’s a fraud alert, for example, and can very quickly get right down to business with the customer.”
Sarah was hired about 18 months ago to work with one of the bank’s primary service providers, CSI (Computer Services, Inc.), to develop our CRM. She got the job because INB leadership knew they needed someone who could champion the development and implementation of this new tool that would change how many staff members worked.
As a newcomer to the bank, Sarah naturally asked a lot of questions. She also questioned INB processes, some of which had been in place for years.
She and Shanda Purcell of CSI became business partners just days after Sarah joined INB. “I met with Shonda in Paducah, (KY) my first week on the job. I sat through meetings and didn’t understand half of the acronyms or jargon, but it was a great way to get up to speed really quickly.”
Sarah and Shanda got to work right after that meeting. And in less than four months, Sarah had finished training INB staff on how to use CRM.
She’s also continuing to work with Shanda to make CRM even better. “We soon will launch components that allow us to put all outgoing mail and email correspondence into each customer’s file. Again, this will help our staff answer questions even before the customer can ask a question.
Each time an employee works with a customer, they log the activity into the CRM as an “interaction.” Today, our call center logs about 500 interactions a week, with over 1,000 noted by other areas of the bank. With shared information like this, it’s simply easier to help someone. “It’s all about giving our customers not just the great customer service, but the best customer service.” Sarah added: “When someone calls, we shouldn’t be asking their account number. People aren’t numbers. They’re names. And that’s what we should ask for. CRM allows this type of personal connection.”
Sarah says when she gave this example to our branch staff, “The lightbulb went on. They immediately saw the value of the CRM.”
Our CRM wouldn’t be what it is today without what Sarah calls, “a fantastic partnership” with CSI. Shanda served as Sarah’s right hand as the system was being built. Then as the weeks went by, Sarah brought ideas from INB staff to CSI. CSI would ask questions like, “Why is that a pain point?” Once they understood, Sarah says the CSI team quickly put appropriate ideas into action.
Today, Shanda and Sarah continue to regularly meet and talk about CRM.
As a result of the partnership, CSI nominated INB for its “Seeing Business Differently Award.” Bank President and CEO Sarah Phalen was on hand at the annual CSI Customer Conference to accept the trophy. She later told her entire management team, “I’m very proud of this accomplishment because it shows we can adjust and change and do that in a dynamic fashion. You guys make it happen. Thank you.”
Check out the video produced by CSI for the award presentation.