Banks Again Seek to Improve CRM
Financial services firms are attempting to improve relationships with their customers through a handful of new technologies that promise to deliver better fraud protection, compliance, and customer-service productivity as they focus on generating more business from current customers.
"When we surveyed banks and credit unions, we found that many had a CRM solution in place for more than two years -- and many others had them in place for more than six years -- but there's a new urgency for financial institutions to make much better strides," says Christine Pratt, research director for consumer banking and credit at analyst firm Financial Insights. Pratt, who authored her firm's recent report, Assessing CRM Strategic Initiatives in U.S. Banking: Run After Catch
, adds that the sluggish economic forecast is a motivating factor: "With the lackluster economy, the best way for financial institutions to grow the business is through satisfied customers. Financial institutions have determined the best way to get more business from the customers they have is to give them better service."
To that end, financial institutions need to be able to deliver fast, efficient, unified information to customers at different touch points--online, through the contact center, and at the branch, Pratt adds. Though financial institutions have been discussing such needs for several years, progress has been slow, she says. Even with the advent of additional technology, improving CRM will probably be an issue for financial institutions for years to come.
Certain recent announcements show the pace could be picking up. Cisco and IBM, for example, unveiled a partnership
to introduce modular solutions for banks to integrate front- and back-office systems with communications technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), streaming video, Web conferencing, and instant messaging. According to the vendors, the integration will help branch-office employees deliver more personalized products and services for customers.
The modular front-office solutions feature IBM hardware, software, and services, as well as Cisco core- and advanced-networking technologies. Components of the solution set include an integrated wireless network, a branch Web portal based on open standards, unified communications, and integrated contact center technologies.
NCR has also introduced new services for financial institutions, designed to aid customer interactions and to provide enhanced security and better ATM channel management. The vendor's new transaction-monitoring service continually monitors the number of transactions, reversals, or denials at an ATM and compares them to agreed hourly thresholds. This frequent monitoring against expected norms provides near-immediate awareness of any unusual or unexpected activity and initiates prescribed actions to proactively manage ATM availability.
Cash monitoring proactively gauges the levels of cash remaining in the ATM network, offering two cash thresholds for each ATM. This allows greater accuracy in identifying potential "cash-out" scenarios, important in meeting customer expectations for cash availability.
Several other recent technology upgrades have been announced in recent days, designed to enhance CRM in the financial services world. These include:
- the adoption by PNC of Oracle's Siebel CRM solution;
- the selection by Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Bank of Noble Systems Corp.'s technology to unify inbound and outbound contact center management;
- the alliance between SAP and CSC to offer pricing optimization technology to the banking sector; and
- the launch of Intervoice Banking 4.0, a platform that combines speaker verification with a banking application.
Not all of these moves may pan out as planned, of course. According to Pratt, of Financial Insights, security concerns have made consumers reluctant to use self-service applications for credit-related services. Whether applications such as Intervoice's will make a difference remains to be seen, she says.
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