Customer Data Gives Bank Sales Force an Edge

BOSTON (05/15/2000) - Northern Trust Corp. is one year into a complex customer relationship management (CRM) project that gives its workers around the world vital data on 800,000 clients.

The project is worth its $2 million cost, said Steve Locke, vice president of CRM at the Chicago-based company.

About 200 of Northern Trust's salespeople now have access to the tools in the JSales product from Youcentric Inc. (formerly Sales Vision) in Charlotte, North Carolina. By September, that number should swell to 2,000 users worldwide, Locke said. In a year or two, he added, 5,000 sales and relationship staff and back-office workers will have access.

Northern announced the project early last year. It went live about four months ago.

"It has taken so long because of the complexity of the data," Locke said.

"Imagine combining data sources from 15 areas going back dozens of years. ...

This is a many-years' journey."

But the benefits are already apparent to salespeople, who used to spend hours or days searching for information in those 15 areas, which include personal banking and trusts. They can now gather the same data in just 30 seconds, Northern Trust officials said.

JSales also lets sales managers generate reports on all the calls and sales opportunities available. And salespeople can quickly create reports for managers on their workloads.

For customers, JSales will provide more flexible banking services, said Locke.

For instance, a customer can travel from Chicago to a winter home in Florida, where bank staff could quickly check his account and get authorization to cash a $15,000 check.

Salespeople can also trace high-end clients to familiarize themselves with them before meetings, said Pete Ruegsegger, director of e-commerce at Northern Trust's personal financial group.

"There is now the ability to track demographic data on customers across the system and even post red flags like, ‘This is Patricia; don't ever call her Pat,'" Ruegsegger said.

Analysts say Youcentric is a small player in the CRM market, which is dominated by Santa Clara, California-based Siebel Systems Inc.

The Yankee Group in Boston puts the worldwide CRM market at $2.5 billion. It projects the market will grow 40 percent per year for the next several years.

Locke said that while Youcentric is a smaller CRM vendor, it has been willing to spend time on implementation at no extra cost. Other well-known vendors might not have done so, he said.

Chris Selland, an analyst at The Yankee Group, said Youcentric is innovative.

But he agreed that the biggest benefit is the company's willingness to do the extra work for free.

"There's great complexity in these packages," Selland said.

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