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Union Bank

 The system that puts Union Bank clients first 



 Union Bank, the sixth largest bank in Israel, deployed a dedicated CRM system based on the advanced Microsoft CRM platform and adapted to the specific needs and requirements of the bank. Effect, the CRM  Dynamics Center of Excellence, which is part of the CRM and Telecom Division of Matrix, has won the unique and complex project for the development and deployment of this system.

Previously, Union Bank used an old version of CRM that did not adequately serve its needs. In 2007, the bank engaged Effect and started a lengthy and detailed process of system specifications. By mid-year, the first version of the system based on Dynamics CRM was launched at the bank's customer center (Igud Yashir). The system included customer ID encryption by IVR (interactive voice response), redirection to CTI telephony, and it was integrated with the CRM and a call recording system. After the system was firmly established in the banking and business/marketing customer service of the bank, additional modules were gradually introduced for campaign management and distribution, management of communication between bank centers and branches, and management of premium centers for VIP customers. The next objective was implementation of the CRM system for mortgage management.
Effect developed an xRM (eXtended Relationship Management) version of Dynamics CRM for the bank, which represents an advanced evolution of the traditional CRM system. From the business point of view, the development and deployment of the dedicated xRM system took place in parallel with implementation of the business objectives for the mortgage department set by Haim Freilichman, General Manager of the bank. These objectives could be achieved only by means of a CRM system of this type.
Effect was chosen because of its extensive and comprehensive experience in the development and deployment of Dynamics CRM systems for various sectors of the economy, especially in finances and banking. The company's reputation played a role in Union Bank's choice. Effect ranks sixth worldwide and second in EMEA in the field of Dynamics CRM, and has joined this year the Inner Circle, the prestigious and restrictive club of Microsoft's Gold Partners from 50 countries.
The pilot system was launched on September 2, 2008 at six local branches, and it is scheduled to be installed in all 35 branches of Union Bank. The cost of the project is estimated at NIS 2,400,000.

The business challenge

 Union Bank presented Effect with a set of complex challenges, the central and most difficult of which was the narrow timeframe for the completion of the project – only five months from specification, through development and testing, to the launching of the completed system -- all within a low and inflexible budget. Despite these limitations, Effect lived up to the challenge and launched the system in September 2008.

Haim Freilichman, CEO of Union Bank, declared this to be a flagship project of high importance. Following its implementation, the bank expected to drastically improve the profitability of its mortgage system.
Freilichman appointed a steering committee to closely monitor the implementation processes for the entire duration of the project.
Says Dan Zar, head of the banking sector and project manager at Effect: "The mortgage project was at the center of attention of the bank's CEO, who held us to a tight schedule and on a fixed budget. The constraints were so extensive that even our counterparts at the bank thought that we wouldn't be able to achieve the stated objectives, but in fact exactly because of this pressure we succeeded in putting together a quality team of dedicated professionals."
The request to build the mortgage system on top of the CRM system already operating at the bank presented an additional challenge, as it required the incorporation of new tools and the flawless integration of several service providers. Over a period of two years, Effect incorporated the previous modules into the system, including the Igud Yashir center, the private banking system for premium customers, and more. The current version of the mortgage system is the most complex, comprehensive, and important of all.
The present system was launched at the same time with the enhanced and updated version of the banking centers and of the private banking division, increasing the pressure both on the bank and on Effect. "We actually saw how all the tasks are channeled to our experienced professional team. The interdependence of the developed systems that needed to be launched in parallel presented a serious challenge. Effect handled the job successfully, of course," added Zar.

The solution

 The new CRM system was designed to provide a comprehensive solution to the bank's mortgage department, covering all its function, from following through leads for potential customer, through authorization of the loan by the appropriate bank officials, to the actual completion of the loan and the transfer of all related information to the operational system. As part of the solution, the project team developed the following applications: simulated mortgage calculator supporting several types of loans (Spitzer repayment schedule with fixed or variable interest, with full or partial period of grace and various types of indexing); workflow mechanism for conveying a mortgage request from the branch to headquarters and enabling transfers between all relevant parties authorizing the loan, according to the ranking established in advance for obtaining credit and interest figures; interfaces with BDI and the Ministry of Interior; and integration with MOSS to enable clients to print mortgage forms stored in electronic format.

The launch of the second stage of the project is planned for the end of the year. It will include the integration of the mortgage system with the Bankware systems (the operational system at the bank) by means of the EPSS tool (the autonomous transfer of loan data to the MF screens of the operational system), which will save precious time to users. In addition, the system will assemble a set of relevant forms for each client, according to the type of loan requested.
To produce these components, the development team combined Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 with in-house programming based on C# NET. The system was also connected to the databases of the Ministry of Interior and of BDI, as well as to internal databases, such as the database of clients whose checks were returned because of insufficient funds and require checking. This is necessary to enable the bank to investigate and obtain the relevant information about potential clients interested in applying for a mortgage, and to verify the information in the client's ID card vis-à-vis the data of the Ministry of Interior. All the loan forms that must be completed by the client were created in electronic format by MOSS, and can be printed after they have been completed and are ready for the client's signature.
For this project, Effect used a relatively new approach in the field of CRM, called xRM (eXtended Relationship Management), where x stands for a variable that can contain any element in the chain of values of the organization: providers, partners, investors, employees, clients, or any other entity of interest that communicates with the organization. The xRM system is part of the evolution of CRM and offers a platform for business development based on applications that facilitate the management of relations with other parties.

Business advantages

 Tal Ben-Ari, manager of the CRM project at Union Bank: "With the CRM system the bank succeeded for the first time to create the cross-organizational client profile with information about customer activities, products, and bank representatives handling the customer. These capabilities, including improved, shortened, and more efficient processing procedures, enabled Union Bank to set more challenging objectives for sales and levels of service, and at the same time to reduce the pressure on field units.

An increase of over 30% in activity was registered at units where the system has been installed, without any negative impact on service parameters. User acceptance of such a complex and multi-functional system, including by elderly clients with no exposure to technology, was made possible by Microsoft's intuitive displays and the similarity with other popular Microsoft interfaces such as Outlook."
According to Chemi Morag, Assistant General Manager and Manager of the Resources Division at Union Bank, "the bank chose the system that would upgrade service and sales capabilities, taking into account Igud's unique characteristics, first and foremost the need to preserve personal and professional relations with clients. Since the system was launched, we observe that greater synchronization between our work tools in the interactive, automatic, and central system has significantly improved response time to customers and our approach to service, and resulted in time savings and increased profitability. The process of documenting client transactions has also improved, providing complete tracing of client activity patterns. Documentation of this type will make it possible for us to better retain our customers and reduce the percentage of defection. Effect carried out excellent, professional work and achieved all the complex goals we set, including a very tight schedule."
Yossi Chaimov, General Manager of Effect, points out several business advantages of the new advanced system: "Improved response time in providing mortgages together with synchronization of all work tools in one automatic, central system; documentation of interactions with clients, with complete tracing of their activity patterns; retention of customers and reduced defection rates; improvement of customer service and significant time savings; maximized client potential, with the possibility of preferential treatment of various sectors; shorter processing times spent by employees; structured and documented management of the sales process; monitoring and reporting capabilities based on data stored in the system, including sorting, searching, and filtering; real-time presentation of complete client profiles; and improvement of the financial parameters and profitability of the bank."

Looking forward

Udi Ashkenazi, Manager of the CRM and Telecom Division at Matrix: "We have been supporting Union Bank in its transition to the Dynamics CRM system for several years now, and we are proud that Union Bank chooses Matrix time after time to incorporate additional modules into the system. This time, in the case of the mortgage module, we emphasized importance of the CRM system specifically and met the expectations of the bank. It was especially important to meet the expectations of the bank's CEO, Mr. Haim Freilichman, regarding the growth of mortgage sector revenues following the launch of the upgraded CRM system we developed. Under the scrutiny of the bank's CEO we set a records in keeping up with a tight schedule within the limits of a rigid budget."

The professionalism acquired by Effect in the development of xRM applications allows it to handle successfully any CRM project, of any scope and in any field or sector. Today Effect understands a great variety of business processes and provides computerized solutions for their advancement, improvement, and increased efficiency.

Effect offers creative and sophisticated solutions to a wide variety of companies, realizing considerable savings for the company by shortening processes and saving expensive time and labor. Additional profitability is achieved through improvement of business process and increases in efficiency.

According to Ayelet Morim, manager of CRM at Union Bank, "our relations with Effect became so close that interest in the success of the project and in the greater profitability of the bank resulting from smart use of various modules of the CRM system was equally strong on both sides. We continue to cooperate on our next project."