A Vision of Vignette

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2005-06-13 Print this article Print

Swimfish identified Vignette Corp.s technology as the right fit for Nicholas-Applegates needs, then managed the integration between that product and InterAction.

"Our vision included all the traditional components of relationship management and sales force automation—contact management, activities, [sales] pipeline," Stroot said. "But we also wanted to manage the documentation and correspondence with the client and have a single point of view with all touch points, as well as client statements, letters, proposals and research."

Licensing deals were struck with Interface and Vignette at the beginning of last year. Six months later, the system was up and running, starting with sales and client service employees, then adding operations, investment management and marketing departments. To date, Nicholas-Applegate has 65 users on the system, with plans to eventually roll out the software to 125 users, according to Stroot.

"Were rolling it out on a product-by-product basis," Stroot explained. "Well bring all the people that interact on a particular product, like small-cap portfolio managers and traders. Well get them all on the system so they can collaborate and start to leverage relationship intelligence. We really want to enable the collaboration process. Thats one of the things we didnt do with our previous software."

Although results are hard to quantify, Stroot said the feedback hes gotten from employees who are using the system has been encouraging.

"Just the ability to bring all that information together was an initial tactical win," Stroot said. "As we roll it out to the firm, what people are starting to realize is, the best word I can think of is workflow, and the process around how we want to get the whole firm around the idea of client service."

Stroot said the key to improving client service is to have every contact with a client recorded in the system.

"Eventually with client services, the strategic view is to get collaboration across departments so everybody knows whats going on and tie that to the client," he said. "So if were dealing with a Tier 1 client, everyone knows [that] this is one of our key clients, and the customer request is never lost. Its always tracked, and everyones sharing it."

It takes employee buy-in to make the system work. But Stroot said Nicholas-Applegate is getting that buy-in because employees are realizing the benefits of the system.

The result of the integrated CRM and content management system at Nicholas-Applegate is better management of client relationships, including an internal social networking system, Stroot said.

"The investment management business is centered a lot around relationships," said Stroot. "If so-and-so from our company is on the museum-of-art council along with so-and-so from the energy company, we can go into the system and see [if] we know anybody from anywhere else who knows so-and-so doing finance at the energy company. You leverage your contacts and get out there and build a relationship that would allow you to make that sale."

Investment products tend to be highly customized to individual customers, making close client relationships that yield good knowledge about them all the more valuable.

"Its an aspect of client service to make sure youre selling the right product in the first place," said Stroot. "Cross-selling at our firm is not the retail-type cross-sell; its more making sure we really understand what the customers objectives are from the investment management standpoint."

Interface was acquired by LexisNexis Inc. in December. The company now operates as LexisNexis Interface Software Inc. within the emerging-markets group of LexisNexis. Interface has approximately 420 customers, nearly all of them professional services organizations, mostly law firms, although financial services accounts for 30 percent of the companys customer base and is one of its fastest-growing verticals, according to CEO Nate Feinberg.

"In all professional services markets, the need to compete more effectively is not about how much money you spend but how relationships provide a competitive advantage," said Feinberg in Chicago.

"The driver is how organizations use their relationship capital and the information they know about their contacts to win business and service that business more effectively," Feinberg said. "No products in the marketplace suit professional service organizations better than we do. We focus on the contact being the center of the universe, rather than the account."

LexisNexis Interface is looking for partners, such as Swimfish, that can add vertical expertise, Feinberg said.

"Swimfish understands financial services so they bring that credibility," he said. "They can help clients with defining their processes. Were looking for partners who can add value that way."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about customer relationship management solutions.


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