CNB cashes in with use of QuickBase

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For many businesses, a CRM system can sometimes be only as good as the people who are using it. And companies that have a customer-facing workforce - many banks and financial institutions, for example - will often put high expectations on staff for managing their CRM products. The trouble is, these staff are more often than not financially trained bankers and managers, not DM experts.

So for providers of CRM products, it's important to set up ways of working with non-experts, to help them improve tracking of prospective customers, and ultimately to keep tabs on the relationship bankers are having with potential customers electronically.

Putting the customer in the center
"Many financial service companies have difficulties understanding and connecting with their customers," says Thorsten Ruehlemann, director of digital strategy at Unit 7. "To improve marketing expense-to-revenue ratios is one of the biggest challenges they're facing. But they also struggle in providing everyone who is in contact with the customer, with the consumer contact history and a profound customer overview."

Ruehlemann adds that in order to interact with consumers profitably, and with the best level of service orientation, a consistent view of each customer's behavior is critical. Unfortunately, many companies find that customer data is scattered across the enterprise.

Especially for financial service companies, it is challenging to have a 360-degree view of customers when data on customers from marketing, service, online, operations and partners are all stored in different places. This information in also sometimes stored in different formats. This removes a consistent view across different products or categories.

One company that was in need of a user-friendly CRM program was Citizens National Bank, since it was experiencing a great deal of direct interaction with customers.

Citizens choice for CRM
CNB began using QuickBase, an online workgroup application that is designed to boost productivity, streamline workflow, promote visibility and establish accountability, three years ago.

CNB is based in Waxahachie, TX, and has 16 branch offices.

For most banks with multiple branches, the customer relationship management touchpoints are typically scattered far and wide, rather than existing in a single department. And CNB's existing CRM software was proving more complex than required; the level of sophistication the program was pitched at was higher than employees could manage.

CNB needed a system that would allow its managers to improve tracking of prospective customers, and ultimately track the electronic relationship bankers were having with potential customers.

As Mark Singleton, president and CEO of CNB, says, "The last thing we wanted to do was let some fancy software gum up the connection between our bankers and our customers. Our goal was to arm our relationship bankers with every possible shred of knowledge about each customer and prospective customer."

Finding a easy-to-use software
The problem CNB had with its existing software was not functionality, it was the usability issues that its bankers faced.

While the program tracked customer contact information, it also had many functions in the application that CNB did not need to serve its customers .

"Many of our employees are not technical in nature and often resist new technology, so we wanted a system that would be easy for them to understand and use," Singleton says.

The learning curve on the company's earlier software was too high and CNB never saw a return on the investment of its use, according to Singleton.

When CNB brought in the QuickBase product, Peter Fearey, developer and support manager at Quickbase, says the bank's employees could "concentrate on what's important - managing the relationship with the customer."

Says Singleton, "We're a relationship based bank and are truly into the relationship model. We're not interested in lamb chops; we're interested in wool, which comes from generations."

How it works
In implementing QuickBase with CNB's banking system, new account and customer information is uploaded each night from the QuickBase system to the banking application form. These forms are updated by CNB employees on site at each branch location.

This allows the bank's representatives to click on a customer's file and immediately see all the information related to that customer. This might include conversations with the customer, actions taken on behalf of the customer, follow-up calls, the salesperson's name, and the current account status.

QuickBase helped CNB update information across a growing sales team, create a central source for sharing information and reduce manual data-entry logjams.

Many CRM programs, including QuickBase, are Web-based, so software installation is not required. These products allow users to modify applications on their own, without enlisting help from the IT department. They organize, track and share information, and help things to move along as they take actions, like e-mail notifications, when something goes wrong.

Says Unit 7's Ruehlemann, "Bankers need to have a 360-degree view of their customers in order to provide them with the best solutions and offers."

"[Software allows them] to avoid redundancies by asking the same question that a call center might have asked before," he continues. "The consumer is expecting a seamless experience with a bank, [whether] it's online, on the phone or in person. Because consumers don't differentiate between channels - they consider all contacts with the bank as one relationship."

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