ABN AMRO Bank NV Increases Sales Through Its Inbound Call Center

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KISSIMMEE, FL-Companies have a great opportunity to upsell their products and services when consumers call their customer service centers.

This was a key point from a presentation given Sept. 19 by Joep Vaessen, senior vice president at ABN AMRO Bank NV based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, at the 2006 Annual Teradata Partners User Group Conference and Expo here.

"Our customer call center gets 10 million customer service calls each year," Mr. Vaessen said. "We use that moment based on the information we have to sell our customers something."

Mr. Vaessen explained that ABN AMRO has a customer centric strategy and began establishing a its infrastructure in 1997.

In 2003, the Netherlands division of the bank embarked on an ambitious plan to increase its sales 300 percent in the 2004-2005 timeframe by encouraging its call center employees to sell its products and services to customers versus simply helping them out with customer service queries.

In order to do this, Mr. Vaessen said, the company understood that customer data would be critical.

"We realized that customer information and customer insights are our central asset," said Mr. Jaessen, who is a Teradata customer. "In order to build customer relationships, we need to feed all customer touch points for the optimal support and prioritization of all customer interactions, both inbound and outbound."

Mr. Vaessen said the company also had to train call center reps and essentially change the call center process, metrics, and attitude toward customer contacts.

The bank, with Teradata's help, created an inbound dashboard that allows the customer service reps to see information about the customer while the customer is on the phone, such as whether or not the customer could be a potential customer to upsell to. It also offered recommendations about what to sell to individual customers linked to overall targets.

The program took about a year to implement, and it went live in the fourth quarter of 2004. By the first quarter of 2005, sales increased in the inbound call center 473 percent, Mr. Vaessen said.

By the 2005-2006 timeframe average call handling times also decreased, and the program was migrated to the outbound call center, which saw a 15 percent increase in conversion rates.

The program is also moving forward with the bank always taking a closer look at customer information and using it to create more relevant dialogues with its customers.

Also, in order to train internal customer service reps, the bank uses a reality TV-style video that explains the program and why it works. Mr. Vaessen showed the video to attendees during his presentation. Many loved it and thought its style would work well in their efforts to achieve buy-in from their customer service reps for their CRM programs.

The project also has revived the company and its call center employees. "There is a sense of momentum and excitement because of the program, and we are very, very proud of it," Mr. Vaessen said.

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