Siebel Euro Conference Highlights Banking, Utilities

At its recent European User Week conference held in Cannes, Siebel Systems with its partners unveiled new solutions for the banking and utilities industries. Developed with IBM Siebel showed off its next-generation CRM bank-teller application, aimed at speeding up banking transactions by giving tellers an expanded set of information and tools in a highly intuitive interface. Called Siebel Branch Teller, the company says the solution combines the CRM functionality of Siebel eBusiness Applications with the integration capabilities of IBM WebSphere to enable retail banks to update outmoded technology, transforming branches into customer-focused financial centers while reducing costs. By adding detailed customer insight and management functions to transaction-processing capabilities, Siebel Branch Teller enables tellers to provide highly personalized service to customers. The solution includes prompts for cross-selling and upselling products and services tailored to meet each customer's needs. Additionally, tellers are able to identify referrals and route them to other service groups for fulfillment. Richard Bell, research manager of retail channel for Financial Insights, says that for the first time in 20 years many banks are in a position where they need to do something about the branch. "Understanding the branch's role within the institution today--and its possible roles tomorrow--is essential in directing branch initiatives for institutions and vendors," he says. He claims that half of all United States banking customers are using their branch for banking activities. And nine out of 10 bank customers use the branch in a 90-day period. "So it makes sense for Siebel and IBM to come up with an application that will give tellers a way to maximize their interaction with customers," he explains. Over the past decade banks and other financial services organizations have concentrated on more self-service capabilities, including automated teller machines, call centers, and Internet banking. Most people have embraced these channels for withdrawing cash, checking account balances, and making deposits, but some people continue to visit their bank branches. According to Jim Hughes, vice president and general manager, Siebel Finance, bank branches are a critical customer touch point, and tellers need tools that increase agility and to enable them to deliver efficient and personalized service. Bell says he sees today's interest in branches as the start of a redefinition of the branch. "We believe that today's initiatives are prelude to more dramatic changes to come that will redefine the role of the branch within the institution's multichannel delivery infrastructure." Siebel also announced that the CRM component of Siebel Branch Teller, called Siebel Customer Relationship Console, will be available separately for organizations that want to incorporate customer insight capabilities into their existing teller systems or as a stand-alone component. The Siebel Customer Relationship Console offers a summary view of each customer, targeted product and service offers, a referral capture tool for recording potential customer needs, and other tools to help manage the customer relationship. This component provides banks with customer-management capabilities that can be deployed to users needing a smaller subset of traditional CRM functions. Peter Schliephake, CRM project manager at Zurcher Kantonalbank, said in a prepared release that instead of technology that dictates a limited set of activities, Siebel is offering "a breakthrough solution that enables a much broader and more effective role" for tellers. The Siebel Customer Relationship Console component is scheduled to ship in the fall. Siebel Branch Teller is slated to become available to select customers by the end of 2003, with broader availability in the spring of 2004. Meanwhile, SeeBeyond and Siebel recently announced the first joint solution to enable utility companies to seamlessly integrate the Siebel Energy application with back-office and operational applications, including critical CIS/billing applications. Called UtilityEdge, the solution provides a single interface and a set of integrated business processes for managing all customer service and billing inquiries across all channels, market segments, and service types. It leverages integration technology through Siebel's Universal Application Network (UAN) and the SeeBeyond eGate Integrator platform. Both companies claim that utilities deploying the UtilityEdge software solution can dramatically increase the efficiency of business processes that span CRM and billing at a fraction of the cost of traditional, custom-developed integration. UtilityEdge is aimed at reducing integration costs by up to 60 percent, while reducing time-to-market by up to 30 percent compared with traditional custom-built solutions. The solution is currently available to charter customers and is scheduled for general availability from Siebel and SeeBeyond in the third quarter of 2003, company officials say.
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