Standard Bank has trounced a host of global companies to scoop the Gartner 2008 CRM Excellence Award for EMEA. 

The award acknowledges companies which can provide excellent examples of how to implement a successful CRM programme across an enterprise and is measured according to the Gartner Eight CRM Building Blocks.
Standard Bank won the 2008 Gartner CRM Excellence Award for EMEA, beating Phillips and the Fiat Group Automobiles. Previous winners include Turkcell, Essilor, Bankinter and KLM.
Project Sapphire saw Standard Bank consolidate 23 disparate contact centres across the country, running on different technologies and all having different front-ends, into two live, load-balanced contact centres in Gauteng.
The project required an intensive planning period and a flawless execution in order to ensure the bank’s clients could continue to access help on a 24-hour basis during the switch over.
The scope of Project Sapphire was immense, requiring three years of planning. A further two years were spent redefining and optimising the internal business processes.
Project Sapphire’s business goals included providing a consistent customer experience across all touch points, reducing contact centre staff training times, lowering average call handling times and implementing metrics to allow for staff performance improvements.
"The focus on the customer experience when engaging Standard Bank across multiple channels was extremely important in the overall project,” says Johan Jacobs, Gartner Research director. The project led to dramatic drop in the level of abandoned calls, average call-handling times fell and agent training was reduced by two weeks.
Standard Bank's director of customer experience, Rolf Eichweber says the cultural readiness of the staff is crucial to the success of any project.
“A change management team was involved from the start. Fortunately we have an executive that understands that change management is not just a warm, fuzzy, nice to have. Training was a particular challenge. Working in a 24-hour environment meant that we had to plan our training very carefully. At one point I engaged with 1300 staff members in groups of around forty or less in eight days,” Eichweber explains.
Standard Bank was also mindful of designing scalable systems that would be easily deployed in other regions as the company expands into Africa and other emerging markets.
“We got rid of almost four fifths of our existing processes, ensuring we were completely streamlined.  We were looking at the customer needs first and foremost, not merely focussing on the cost requirements.  The customer experience must be of the highest standing no matter what medium is used to interact with the contact centre."
Gartner’s eight CRM building blocks encompass vision, strategy, customer experience, processes, data, technology and metrics and were used as the key evaluation criteria in drawing up the shortlist. The selection of the winner was then done by ballot from the close on five hundred people attending the Gartner CRM Summit in London.
“This award has acted as a great catalyst for renewed effort. While we have achieved significant milestones in the past four years, we acknowledge that there is still a way to go yet in this journey,” Eichweber adds.