King Customer

DQI Bureau
New Update

Call centers are hot these days as corporates are reverting to the tried and

tested mode of customer service—‘Customer is the King’. The first step was

setting up call centers with sweet voices intoning ‘May I Help You Sir.’

Amrish Rau relied on a sweet voice while trying to activate his wife’s SIM



On the first call, he gave the sweet voice the necessary details about the

purchase of the card and asked it to activate the card. Nothing happened. On his

second call when he mentioned that he was yet to get the card activated, he was

forced to give all the details again. Three calls later and after chatting with

several sweet sounding call center personnel, Amrish whose own voice which by

now had lost all sweetness, was irritated with the customer service department

of the cellphone company. And he has good reasons for it too. Amrish is the

business manager (India) for Teradata, a division of NCR and a global firm

specializing in CRM and Business Intelligence (BI) solutions.

From his perspective, the first time he spoke to the call center voice, they

would have known of his recent purchase. In the Activation call, the data would

have been captured and forwarded to the concerned department for quick action

and escalation if necessary. From then on during all future calls they should

have known exactly what his requirements were, rather than getting him to repeat

everything again and again. Says Amrish, "it is all about understanding the

customer, and leveraging that understanding to serve the customer better."

CRM is not just about a sweet but fundamentally ineffective voice on the end of

the phone.

CRM — the new necessity


Times have changed and so have the marketing needs of companies. Gone are the

days of the product centric era where the company and its marketing team would

ask ‘We have the product, now how can we sell it to the customer’. Given the

competition, especially in the financial market, the focus in now on the

customers and the marketing team is now saying ‘Well this is the customer. Let’s

find out what products he wants." Comments Rau "This is a 360 degree

change in view of business."

Increasingly marketing managers are relying on the CIO to have a sound data

repository helping the marketing team get a good idea of customers. They can use

the same data not only to sell the products but also to cross sell other

products to the same customer. Comments L Sunderrajan, VP-Corporate Information

Tech, Birla Management Corporation, "If we can build up the customer

database across our various group companies, then we can check and match to see

if our mutual fund holder can also become our insurance product holder." An

easy task, considering the availability of customer insights a company can have

with the deployment of CRM tools.

The way out


Like the call center example, many companies are deploying call center based

CRM to take care of their customer requirements. But the real experience is

still missing and frustration like in the case of Amrish is not uncommon for

many of us. The big question is whether the front-end CRM solution is the way

out for any company, focussing and competing in an aggressive market. Not


While it is imperative to have a front-end solution like CRM, it is equally

important to have a back-end system binding the various components of the

front-end together. The first step in such situations is to have a data

warehouse in place. Today the company has many faces with which it interacts

with its customers. For example, in a typical banking or insurance company, the

customer can get in touch with the company via the sweet voice at the call

center, the ATM/Kiosks or simply by walking into any branch. Other interaction

points with the bank may be through the web or the bank agents. Any customer

contact at any point needs to be captured and updated to the central data

warehouse. ‘Knowledge is power’ though cliched, should be remembered once

the company starts collecting data from various sources. With BI tools, it

becomes possible to report, analyze and predict...

The company can get an insight into the low-key aspects of its business. With

business insight comes operational excellence. For example, if the company can

predict that during a particular festival, a particular section of the market

will be a heavy buyer of its financial product, it could mobilize additional

resources for that market. After pinning down the customer behavior, the company

can drive its customer intimacy initiatives for sustained competitive advantage.


This helps the company to focus on creating customer profiles and to devise

strategy accordingly. The company can draw up a customer management plan to

emphasise on the retention of the most profitable relationships and do away with

the unprofitable ones. Once this information is available the company can

communicate with the customer more effectively. Various parameters can be made

within the system to take care of the customers.

For example, if the profile is done on a particular customer who draws about

75K monthly, then the best time for communicating the need for a personal loan

would be at the end of the month and not at the beginning. Once the

communication strategy is in place, comes the most important part–actual

communication or interacting with the customer.

Remember the call center–that’s just one small component of the overall

customer interaction landscape. The communication should be driven by all the

channels to successfully execute and implement the strategy. And of course, any

feedback needs to be captured and new strategy devised accordingly.


Does all this help? The simple answer–YES.

In the case of Royal Bank Financial Group, the company could improve its

marketing cycle time by over 61% and had an above 40% increase in direct

marketing response rates. (See box). Apart from Teradata, other key players in

the market include database major Oracle and Siebel.

Yograj Varma In New Delhi

Customer is Really King...

To increase its customer focus and track the same, the National Australian

Bank deployed a CRM infrastructure including a business intelligence solution.

The company set out the basic parameters about the customers and deployed it

across all its channels. It so happened that one of its ‘good’ customers on

a particular month went to withdraw money from the ATM. As per the previous

profile, the customer seemed to have unpaid credit card bills apart from the

unusual poor savings balance. This skew in the customer’s pattern was captured

by the system parameters and after the cash withdrawal transaction at the ATM,

the screen flashed with the message ‘Do you want to discuss your finances with

us?’ The customer clicked on the ‘yes’ button. This updated profile was

captured by the data warehouse and forwarded to the call center agents. The call

center agent called to find the time of the appointment and the customer

informed that 3-6 PM at the residence would be the best time for the same. On

being asked to fix the appointment on a working weekday, the customer

acknowledged the same and was okay with the same time. Again the same message

was captured and sent to the nearest branch. The branch manager on analyzing the

data figured that calling on a weekday implied that the customer was either out

of his job or changing jobs or on long leave. The latter had lesser probability

given the current account balance and the customer’s willingness to discuss

his financial problems with the bank. So the branch manager just took two items

for the customer meeting— personal loan and entrepreneur’s loan material.

Indeed the customer had lost his job and was planning to go the entrepreneurial

way and obliged the bank with the entrepreneur’s loan. The bank added another

‘forever’ -loyal customers to its customer base, thanks to the sound CRM