BACKGROUND: Fleet Financial Group is a $100 billion diversified financial services company that services 10 million retail customers, 400,000 small business customers and an additional seven million new customers through recent acquisitions. Fleet has 1,200 branches in eight states, 2,400 ATM machines, 85,000 active o nline banking customers and must field 80 million telephone calls annually. The bank recently announced its merger with cross-town rival BankBoston ­ a combination that will create the eighth largest bank in the United States.

PLATFORMS: Fleet's data warehouse runs on an Informix database and clustered Sun 6000 hardware. The marketing data mart runs on a Sun 6000 server and Informix XPS database. VALEX software runs on Windows NT machines.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Fleet ascertained that nearly half of its customers had been unprofitable. Cross-selling efforts, in many cases, did little more than add accounts to the books that would never become profitable. Fleet's marketing efforts had been focused on campaign response rates and generated balances rather than on customer profitability and potential. Fleet recognized that significant opportunity lay in increased marketing efficiency and better customer retention efforts. Fleet needed to build a consolidated view of its customers acro ss disparate and inconsistent systems. It needed to reengineer marketing and sales processes within a discipline of continual learning and customer relationship optimization, develop the means to identify and solicit profitable prospects, and learn how to provide optimal service levels and pricing among different segments of customers. VALEX is the heart of Fleet's enterprise CRM solution that continuously plans, executes, assesses and improves target-marketing campaigns within a "closed-loop" cycle. VALEX has produced significant return on investment (ROI). In two promotions this year, marketing expenses were halved while results improved. Customer retention rates have also risen. Anticipated payback on the $30 million investment in the CRM project is under two years, with accelerated returns thereafter.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The key to VALEX is its ability to capture multiple types of customer responses across many customer touchpoints to feed the marketing data mart. It then uti lizes data mart information to assess customer behavior and campaign effectiveness in order to continuously improve subsequent campaigns, making Fleet's offerings more desirable to customers. VALEX is based on the premise of continuous customer management ­ the ability to perpetually monitor and manage customer behavior in order to optimize the value of customer relationships.

STRENGTHS: VALEX was easy to implement within Fleet's environment. The openness of the VALEX software means that as software evolves over time and as new data monitoring capabilities are introduced, additional capabilities can be easily integrated. In addition, what set VALEX apart was its functionality, ease of use and the way Exchange Applications captured perfectly Fleet's vision of how it wanted to run marketing campaigns. Fleet was also impressed by the strength of the company behind the software. Exchange Applications supported every phase of the overall data warehouse implementation. Throughout the project, we were repeatedly amazed by the depth of strength of Exchange Applications' services team.

WEAKNESSES: Like most campaign management systems, VALEX produces principally static output ­ for example, a file with instructions for a mail house, telemarketing group or customer care center. However, the industry is moving to more interactive communications over the Web and Internet. In fairness to Exchange Applications, its recent acquisition of a strong eMarketing software company addresses this challenge.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The major reasons for selecting VALEX were its open architecture, extensive function and segmentation capabilities, and strong scalabilty to handle millions of customers. Fleet wasn't just buying a campaign management tool, but a company that has extensive experience and background building CRM solutions and customer data warehouses that support the closed-loop marketing process we have to automate.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Due to its complexity, our pr oject was an unusually long. Without exception, every new consultant that Exchange Applications introduced to Fleet was first rate. It has been a truly strong implementation team.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation has been clear and adequate.

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