. Enhancing the Performance of the Call Center of Signal Iduna Bausparen AG

By | February 9, 2018

The fourth case focuses on how the improved knowledge provision is provided to employees in the CRM business processes. The case is based on the service and call center process of Signal Iduna Bausparen AG, a leading provider of financial products to support the development of funds for private persons intending to finance their own home. Signal Iduna Bausparen aimed especially to integrate all necessary information in one application for the call center agents and to integrate a performance measurement system to evaluate how it performed in the light of cur- rent business goals. Therefore, this case focuses on the aspect of composition, which it extends further than in the other cases with the integration of structured and unstructured information. It also highlights the link between the process level and business goals, which is established by performance measurement.

CKM Challenges. Although supporting CRM processes with knowledge about products and pro- cesses is of crucial importance, the CRM philosophy also requires the provision of information

that pertains directly to the customer. This relatively dynamic type of information describes the interaction of the customer with the company and should reveal a particular customer’s prefer- ences, which he might have articulated directly or which can be inferred from certain characteris- tics which the customer displays.

Originally, call center staff did not have specialized applications. This had two consequences. First, the employees had to use existing user interfaces to legacy applications, which required extensive practice to use efficiently, since information was spread over many screens and masks. Therefore, retrieval of knowledge could prove quite challenging during phone calls, when an- swers needed to be quickly available. Second, a lot of information about customers was simply not available. For example, past interactions had not been recorded, so when a customer called more than once about the same problem, he had to tell the story once again. Also, the data about customers was very limited, precluding the analysis of personal characteristics which might point out special preferences and ultimately be used for cross- and up-selling purposes.

On the other hand, the implementation of improved customer relationship management was crucial with regard to the competitive situation of Signal Iduna Bausparen, which sold highly standardized products via a network of independent salespersons and needed to differentiate it- self from the competition mainly via services.


Relevant Knowledge Aspects. Like Union Investment in the first case, Signal Iduna Bausparen was determined to address the issue of information about products and processes as well as about customers. However, they decided to emphasize the provision of customer-related infor- mation typically administered in a CRM system. To integrate all relevant information in a pro- cess-oriented manner into one application interface, the project mainly had to focus on the aspect  of composition.

The design of the new application was centered on the service process in the call center. Basi- cally, two stages can be identified in the process of a customer interaction. When a customer contacts Signal Iduna, especially via phone, he first needs to be identified, so that the system can provide a complete picture of his preferences, his product portfolio, and past interactions with the company. In a second stage, the system needs to support the employee in dealing with the reason for the customer call. This could be providing information on a specific topic, changing existing customer data or preferences, executing a transaction, or filing a complaint. The document-based content was directly connected to a specific activity (e.g., change of address, consulting about specific products, or cancellation of a contract) and provided a step-by-step guide for employees as well as additional explanatory information if necessary. The information, therefore, was avail- able only in the context of the particular processes and could not be accessed with a search or navigation functionality from elsewhere.

In contrast to all other cases presented in this chapter, Signal Iduna Bausparen decided to develop a custom CRM application and not use standard software. The developer team created the application based on the programming language Java and designed appropriate interfaces for the computer telephone integration (CTI) and the information contained in legacy applications.

The integration of explicit knowledge contained in documents to support processes and the transactional data about customers and their products enabled a high degree of process support. It offered means of dealing with the customers to the level of providing scripts for a variety of issues and showing all relevant preferences and past interactions that might help the agent improve his work. It also allowed agents to record the result of their interaction with customers, making it clear what had been communicated and ensuring that critical information contained in complaints, for example, could reach the parties who needed to deal with them in the organization.


Results. The introduction of the new CRM system was part of a reengineering of the entire service area. The new solution facilitated the hiring of new, younger employees who were well suited to sustain a service-oriented culture. This target group was especially well acquainted with the mod- ern graphical and mouse-based user interfaces that the new CRM system provided.

The service process could be drastically accelerated for different channels, such as phone, e- mail, or letter. Major customer requirements, such as not having to state problems or personal data over and over, could be fulfilled only with the new application.

These changes were also reflected in the results of the service process. With the new system, more employees could be employed to deal with more customer enquiries at 20 percent less than the previous total costs. The reason was that the new system allowed for employment of younger agents, who were less costly and more flexible than those employed previously—for example, when it came to working part time in order to cover peaks. By automating tasks such as filling out forms with customer data by hand, employees could spend more time speaking to the customers. With service agents being better informed, members of other corporate departments had signifi- cantly less work to do in helping out on difficult cases. The “one face to the customer” vision could be better fulfilled through the use of scripts, so that different agents would give the same answer to a particular problem.

Typical performance indicators that the project team introduced with the new CRM system are the statistical analysis of the different process steps (which step takes how long, how are different cases recorded in the system), the average time for solving a customer enquiry in different chan- nels, and the first-call resolution rate. Although these indicators were not recorded before the project, they helped management to analyze the current performance of the service process and to develop appropriate measures for improving process flow and knowledge provision.




The aforementioned case studies show successful applications of parts of the CKM model intro- duced by Gebert et al. (2003). In each case critical customer processes were identified, KM in- struments suitable for those processes selected according to the CKM model and then implemented. This produced significant performance improvements in those processes, eventually enabling higher revenues and/or lower costs.

Case 1 identified content creation and knowledge navigation as crucial elements within the CCC and service management. The CKM model suggests content management systems with an easily maintainable content structure and a search functionality as appropriate KM instruments for these elements.

With the implemented system the duration of service calls and the quality of the service pro- vided could be improved, enhancing knowledge transfer to the customer and resulting in higher customer satisfaction, higher loyalty, and, thus, higher revenue. Also, more efficient content cre- ation was facilitated, resulting in lower costs.

Case 2 identified skill management and staffing and planning as crucial elements. The CKM model suggests skill management systems and expertise directories to be suitable KM instru- ments for these elements.

Case 2 demonstrates how a skill management system allows the recording of employee  skills according to a corporate skill tree. This led to increased transparency of existing and required skills and competencies. Hence location of expertise was accelerated, resulting in better and faster service to customers and more efficient project staffing and planning of indi- vidual and corporate training measures. This produced higher customer satisfaction as well as


more efficient resource allocation, eventually raising revenue and lowering internal costs.

Case 3 focused on communication support, community management, knowledge navigation, and knowledge discovery as elements of CKM. The CKM model suggests portals, personaliza- tion, and discussion boards as suitable KM instruments for these elements.

The company implemented a portal facilitating global collaboration across members of mul- tiple project teams. This made project management more efficient and lowered the costs of imple- mentation for standardized contract management. Standardization made contract management more efficient, enabling the insurance company to reduce costs significantly in managing cus- tomers and their contracts.

Case 4 emphasizes the aspect of composition in a process-oriented structure and the impor- tance of performance management in CKM. The CKM model contains the navigational structure as one of the primary means of retrieval and suggests the use of process-oriented navigation. The CKM model also stresses the vertical integration between strategy, processes, and information systems which this example illustrates. The integration of different types of information can be achieved only with a strong link between the process and the systems layer, while performance measurement links the process layer to strategic goals.

The project mainly improved the CRM processes of service management and complaint man- agement, where significant reduction in cycle times and process costs could be achieved. This also enhanced the provision of service to the customers. However, it was not possible to draw a direct link from better service and higher customer satisfaction to improved financial results, although this can be assumed in a market where service is the key to differentiation. The other CRM processes also profited from the new solution, as there is less need to involve them to help solve customer inquiries.

This chapter illustrates how, in each case, the CKM process model was used to identify the potential for knowledge management tools to support customer-oriented business processes in the field of CRM. Thus the cases show that the proposed CKM model is a valid framework for designing efficient CRM process by providing knowledge support

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