At the recent Financial Sector Technology (FST) Awards, the Society won
`Most Innovative Use of Customer Relation Management (CRM)’, and `Best Use
of Contact Centres’.
The ceremony was staged by the FST magazine at The Savoy Hotel, London, and
was attended by more than 300 key figures in the UK finance industry. It
showcased the talents of IT specialists and recognised excellence and
innovation in the UK financial sector.
This latest success also adds to a string of recent awards for the
Newcastle, including being named Innovator of the Year for a second year
running in 2002 by national finance magazine the Mortgage Finance Gazette.
In 2001 the Society’s online savings account, NewcastleNet, saw it win Best
Use of New Media in that year’s FST Awards.
Colin Greaves, general manager at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Winning
two FST Awards in one night is a stunning accolade for the Society and
underpins our commitment to leading-edge technology. We have invested £2
million in technology that vastly improves the way we handle customer calls.
I would say we won the FST Awards because we were able to demonstrate the
real benefits that this investment has delivered.
“Customers like to have their calls handled first time by staff best able to
look after them. They don’t like having to wait for someone to get back to
them. We were able to show the judges that 83 per cent of customer calls to
Newcastle Building Society are now handled first time and by the right
staff, which is a significant achievement.”
Mr Greaves stressed the success should not just be viewed as an award
celebrating technical excellence.
“It truly reflects on the Society as a whole, from the support and direction
at the very highest level in creating an environment that stimulates
innovation; through to multi-disciplined teams involved in the development,
and those who deployed and now use the systems,” he said. “It really has
been a team effort.”
The Newcastle was awarded `Most Innovative use of CRM Technology` largely
for its `Martini` principle of customer service, whereby appropriately
skilled staff can access customer details and answer correspondence
`anytime, anyplace, anywhere` within the organisation. This includes the
head office, branches or even at home. It means the Society’s capacity to
manage peak periods of demand is greatly improved and customers receive a
highly efficient service.
The technology used for this is called Document Image Processing and
Workflow. It was developed and implemented in conjunction with BT Syntegra,
BT’s consulting and integration business, and international software and
solution provider Eistream.
A new telephony system was also installed last year, in partnership with BT
and Nortel. This provides a skills-based routing system which, in essence,
creates “virtual” call centres in the branches. Again, the technology gives
the head office far greater capacity during peak workload times by routing
calls directly to highly-skilled staff in the branches, and to home-working
The award for Best use of Contact Centres recognised this drive toward
Robert Hollinshead, the chief executive of Newcastle Building Society, said:
“As with all financial service organisations we are operating with finite
resources in a fiercely competitive market. It is also a market where the
volume of demand can fluctuate significantly from one day to the next. These
awards show just how successfully we are using technology to meet these twin
pressures of competition and capacity. They also recognise the high quality
of our staff.”
Newcastle Building Society is the largest building society in the North-East
and one of the strongest mutuals in the UK. It has more than 650 staff and
assets in excess of £2.8 billion.