Strategic Profile: LPL Financial Services
Even if it's well organized, it's not enough simply to make your unstructured data available to customers and employees on a web site. In some cases, companies can reduce support costs simply by making their online data easier to find. That's the approach taken by lpl financial services, which decided to add a little structure to data searches.
CIO: Esther Stearns, managing director and CIO
Project Manager: Mike Hamm, service center assistant vice president
Problem: LPL calls itself the largest independent brokerage firm in the U.S. It coordinates the efforts of 4,400 representatives, many of whom call regularly for advice on policies and procedures. Accord- ing to Hamm, the company's Vantive/PeopleSoft CRM software reported that 50 percent of its inbound calls from brokers concerned such inquiries, even though many of the answers were available on LPL's Web site. But the site's inefficient search engine forced users to sift through hundreds of Web pages to find what they needed. It was much more efficient for them to call.
Goal: Reduce overall costs for customer service calls.
Strategy: Install a search engine from iPhrase Technologies Inc. that could automatically "spider" the company's Web site at least once a day, automatically indexing pages and pulling them into the search engine to make the content easily available through keyword searches.
Challenges: Initially, call volumes remained high as brokers learned how to find the information they needed.
ROI: The company went from 10 percent to 27 percent monthly call volume growth to flat growth, and did it at tax time, its busiest time of the year. LPL avoided having to hire another two or three customer service reps as a result.
Assessment: Hamm reports that, along with the cost savings, he's seeing significantly increased broker satisfaction. "Now they're getting answers they never thought they could," he says.