Health benefits provider acquires unified access to client data

Deploying a single customer relationship management (CRM) system has enabled a Canadian health benefits provider to enhance client services, more than triple its sales, and streamline operations.

The new system replaces an assortment of disparate databases and processes that HealthSource – a provider of employee health and pension packages – was using.

Headquartered in Toronto, HealthSource Plus also has offices in Montreal and Niagara.

The organization says that – thanks to the recently implemented CRM system – it can offer customer service agents easy access to relevant client data and its sales force strategic information needed to follow a lead and close a transaction.

This is in marked contrast to the situation just over 18 months ago, when the organization’s employees lacked adequate and timely access to client data.

“Picture an environment where you have a dedicated customer service representative who’s basically running their own fiefdom in a silo,” says Jeffrey Stinchcombe, vice-president, corporate development at HealthSource Plus.

He said prior to the recent rollout, if a customer service representative was home sick, it would be next to impossible for another employee to access client information housed on that person’s computer system.

One reason, says Stinchcombe, was the contact management software employed was not only outmoded but inadequate given the size of the organization.

In addition, it wasn’t allowing an employee to easily access another’s computer system.

“We wanted redundancy and one platform for all.”

He says that wish was granted with the implementation of Microsoft Dynamic CRM Professional edition 18 months ago.

Although the implementation process was a mere couple of months off target – six months in total – it was relatively hiccup free.

According to Stinchcombe, one reason for the smooth ride was the familiar user interface.

He says Microsoft Dynamic CRM integrates Microsoft Office applications affording the end user a familiar look and feel. In addition, he notes that HealthSource Plus was a “Microsoft shop” having written its own enterprise system for administration in .Net.

A smooth implementation was only the first of HealthSource Plus needs. More importantly, the organization wanted a CRM tool that would support its growth plans. “We knew the current environment — from an IT point of view — wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of growth,” says Stinchcombe.

Those growth plans he refers to were a 300 per cent boost in sales targets.

“We chose to invest in our scalability for the future,” explaining the chief reason for the CRM rollout.

And that investment paid off, according to Frank Falcone, product manager for Microsoft Dynamic CRM.

He says the Microsoft CRM product offered HealthSource the ability to integrate multiple systems, and provided the foundation for business expansion.

“By providing them that full suite, they now are able to track the entire customer lifecycle from the minute the customer is a prospect all the way to maintaining the relationship.”

The complete suite Microsoft Dynamic CRM Version 3.0 includes sales and marketing automation, and customer service modules.

Falcone said the sales module offers salespersons the ability to follow-up on leads and opportunities. The marketing module allows end users to run direct and e-mail campaigns out of CRM, and track the results. And, customer service scheduling lets the user know when a policy expires or when to follow-up with a client.

While version 3.0 comes with the partner-hosted deployment option, HealthSource Plus chose to run the system on site.

Falcone says there are several deployment options for Microsoft Dynamic CRM and the product includes a comprehensive tool for client tracking. But he adds user adaptability is crucial.

To that end, he says, strategic decisions were made to embed the functionality in a familiar Microsoft Office format, have “minimum” installation requirements, and offer the potential for easy integration with other Microsoft applications such as SharePoint.

Falcone says the tool’s adaptability is a strong value proposition in that Microsoft Dynamic CRM can respond to the needs of a range of organizations – from the one-person show to large enterprises.

A Canadian analyst emphasizes the adaptability advantage of Microsoft Dynamic CRM provides to small and medium-sized enterprises.

It’s that the tool differs from the more mature CRM systems in the market, says Joel Martin, vice-president of enterprise application software at IDC Canada.

He says by integrating applications familiar to information workers’, Microsoft Dynamic CRM facilitates the implementation process from the perspective of IT administration, users and training.

“That’s a huge thing because they can deploy the tool fairly quickly. When you overcome that barrier, theoretically your return on investment (ROI) is a lot faster.”

For HealthSource Plus – a mid-sized firm – the ROI included not just a 300 per cent boost in sales targets, but a tremendous boost in confidence as well.

According to Stinchcombe, the success experienced by integrating multiple systems gave them the confidence to launch their Concierge customer service program last October.

The organization now administers around $150-200 million in premiums and covers 50,000
Canadians under the benefits and pension plan.

“Concierge was not contemplated prior to CRM implementation. But it gave us the confidence to be able to brand it as a superior customer service,” says Stinchcombe.

He says CRM has allowed them to capitalize on the fact that customer service had been waning in the past five years, given competitors were stuck in outmoded and inflexible legacy systems, and embroiled in acquisitions that occurred in recent years.

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