Unexpected Complications

The system went live in July 2010, but not without a few glitches. "We did have an unexpected complication right after we went live which was really an issue with a browser," Thier says. "We went live with IE and the response time wasn't satisfactory. Then we switched to Google Chrome and that increased our response time quite a bit. It took us a few weeks to try and figure out what the issue was and try and get it resolved."

Improvements were made to the company's ability to handle outsourced call center traffic to centers in Costa Rica and Florida. However, training reps on the new platform had mixed results, depending on whether employees were new or had been using the company's legacy systems.

The training time for new call-center reps was slashed from about three weeks to a few days. "It used to be 90 days till we had a fully productive call center rep," Thier says. "Now we're down to a few weeks. Every major metric we're interested in tracking for member services has exceeded our expectations."

Longtime employees, however, did not adapt as quickly to using the Ciboodle One desktop agent. "We were surprised to see how quickly new call center reps took to the software," Thier says. "And we were surprised at how long it took existing call center reps to get a handle on it. They were so ingrained in the legacy technology that shifting to something easier to use was more difficult. Initially feedback was it was confusing. But after a few weeks, they started getting the hang of it and realized that it was a lot more efficient for them."

Once reps became more comfortable with the system, handling time decreased.

Bally is now looking at ways to leverage its CRM system to streamline inbound email handling and route messages to the correct person based on the message's content. "And we're looking at putting chat on our website so that we can have hosted chats or productive chats if someone is struggling on our web site," Their says. Both functions are available in the Ciboodle product.

System maintenance will require training an internal support team, which Thier says should be ready to take over later this year. "The only reason we would need to customize anything we currently have is if there's a significant shift in the product mix that we're selling [such as a] change in how we're doing business," he says. "Otherwise we should be in pretty good shape."

For other CIOs looking to implement CRM solutions to improve customer relationships, Thier advises working closely with business partners and having conversations about current requirements as well as what you believe your requirements will be one to two years out. Their says he expects Bally's CRM system to be in place for at least five years.

"Keep those [requirements] in the front of your mind as you're going through the project," Thier says. "Our goals of increasing member satisfaction and staff efficiency have both been met."

This article was originally published on 07-05-2011
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