With more than 4.5 million customers, Volkswagen Financial Services AG is the largest provider of automobile financial services in Europe. The financial services of its German operating subsidiaries – Volkswagen Bank GmbH, Volkswagen Leasing GmbH, and Volkswagen Versicherungsdienst GmbH – make an important contribution to merchandising and sales assurance for the brands of the Volkswagen (VW) Group. They finance, lease, or insure more an a third of all vehicles produced by the group. Since receiving its complete banking license in 1990, Volkswagen Bank and Volkswagen Bank direct have operated successfully in the banking sector.
IT was oriented toward products
In 2003, the company restructured its organization so that it could optimize customer service. It set up various market centers to target service to private, commercial, and major customers. Because the existing software architecture was predominately oriented toward products, the company wanted new IT structures that provided better support to the customer service representatives in their newly created units. The existing structures focused on banking systems that primarily executed transactions and managed customer accounts and contracts. “New IT” was to improve a holistic view of individual customers because of the importance of all-round customer service: information, advice, responding to customer concerns, banking transactions, and much more.
Against this background, the related user departments at Volkswagen Financial Services AG initiated a companywide CRM initiative under the sponsorship of the board of directors. The initiative started a project that was to create a customer-centered integration platform for comprehensive customer service among all customer group and across all communications channels (telephone, letters, fax, and e-mail). According to the requirements, the new CRM platform was to operate in a network with legacy systems. Replacing the existing IT landscape was never part of the plan. It was to remain in operation because business-critical functions had been transferred to it over the years, especially functions for account management. An additional requirement was that the setup of the new system was to make only a few modifications necessary in the established systems. Volkswagen Financial Services selected a solution with a promising future, one based upon SAP NetWeaver and the newest Web and portal technologies. The solution consisted of SAP CRM (version 4.0) for customer service, SAP XI 2.0 as the integration platform, SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS) 6.20 as the application platform, SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) 3.0 for decision support, a master data server (SAP R/3), and SAP Enterprise Portal 5.0.
A new solution in 14 months
The project team consisted of employees of Volkswagen Financial Services and various IT consulting firms (syskoplan AG, SAP Deutschland AG & Co. KG, IBM Business Consulting Services, Ecenta AG, and Noack). The CRM solution implemented here was based upon the good results already obtained in other CRM projects in VW Group, customer service at Audi and VW. syskoplan, the software integrator, has been particularly involved in the design of these CRM solutions so that it could place its experience at the disposal of the new project. In addition, syskoplan played a significant role in the setup of the integration platform by using SAP XI to combine the banking systems, the CRM solution, a existing business partner system, and additional systems into a complete and functional overall architecture. This task can only be called pioneering work: the newest version of SAP CRM and SAP XI were incorporated during the production run-up. Gerhard Nägele of Volkswagen Bank, the overall director of the project says, “The IT infrastructure created here has a strategic meaning for our company. The expert knowledge and targeted realization of syskoplan made a crucial contribution to the success of the project.”
After a stable system rollout, Volkswagen Financial Services began pilot operations on February 28, 2004 with 60 users. Currently, in the first phase of the project, the financial services provider is equipping 500 customer service representative with an integrated workplace so that they can create and process about 13,000 incoming documents each day and 3 million calls a year. When the project is complete, it will support 1,800 customer service representatives who will handle an even greater volume of communication. Dr. Peter Lüders, IT project director for CRM development at Volkswagen Financial Services, is confident when he says, “The solution we’ve attained is now giving us a significant competitive edge over our competitors and will continue to do so in the next few years.”
Due to the portal-based user interfaces of mySAP CRM, the people-centric user interface, and the interaction center Web client employees save time and get an overview. The tools enable employees to select and arrange application windows on their screens optimally so that they have immediate access to the required documents, data records, and applications. Customer service representatives and clerks now have a uniform view of customer and contract data and receive end-to-end support for their processes. The processes begin with entering a customer contact (in the front office). Written correspondence is scanned and documented. Representatives can personalize their workplace to display the customer history and any activities that have occurred or are planned along with the dates of those actions. They classify customer concerns and generate intermediate replies. They can also control processing steps in the back office until an event is closed and the customer receives a binding reply or confirmation. Torsten Möller, the director of companywide CRM coordination says, “The solution created here serves as the foundation for the further development of customer service and expanded use of our potential in sales.”
From the very beginning, the solution was consistently designed for expansion. Most of the communications channels are already integrated. Incoming postal mail, e-mail, and faxes are provided to customer services representatives electronically in their inboxes. Integrated creation of correspondence lets customer service representatives easily create replies and send them to customers by mail, fax, or e-mail. Campaigns use the telephone as the communications channel. For example, representatives might inquire about customer satisfaction or mention a customer-specific offer. Additional integration of the communications channels in the direction of computer-telephony integration (CTI) and any media routing (AMR) is already planned and will be realized in the upcoming phases of the project.
The new CRM solution at Volkswagen Financial Services illustrates how modern integration tools and mature banking systems can be joined successfully into one platform for innovative customer processes. The solution is designed so that it can be expanded into a service-based overall architecture later on. Egon Schubert, EAI project director at Volkswagen Financial Services, is looking ahead. “In the framework of our CRM project, we were able to create a flexible and reusable integration solution based upon SAP XI 2.0, and we can already use it as the foundation for additional EAI projects,” he says. And Sven-Torsten Huster, CIO of Volkswagen Financial Services, also notes, “Now it’s important to anchor this project, originally driven primarily by IT, as the working basis in user departments. That’s why we’re so pleased with the positive reaction of users who went live in the first phase of the project. We’re in a good place to be able to design the step-by-step rollout and expansion quickly.”