Transforming Life at Allianz With SugarCRM’s Intelligent CRM Platform

There's a familiar saying: "If it isn’t broken, don't fix it." But what if "not broken" just means "stagnant"?  Remember spreadsheets? Once upon a time, Excel felt like magic—a one-stop shop for data organisation. But as a business grows and needs evolve, there will always come a time when even those tried-and-true spreadsheets will show their limitations, and clinging to outdated tools can actually limit a company’s potential.

So, just as everyone graduates from training wheels, in such situations, businesses need to evolve their tools in order to adapt to the complexities and demands of the digital age.

Take Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for example. While spreadsheets may have once sufficed, modern CRMs offer a wealth of features that streamline processes and communication, boost efficiency, unlock valuable insights, and ultimately, strengthen your relationships with your customers—all things that can leave your trusty spreadsheet feeling like a relic.

Let's see how this played out in real life for one company. To illustrate the transformative power of a modern CRM, we spoke with Hygeia “Gia” Defensor, Product Manager at Allianz PNB in the Philippines, who shared the insurance giant’s experience of moving away from settling for "good enough" and embracing a more efficient future.

A Tale of Two Eras: How Allianz Went From Excel to Excellence

A tale of two different eras.

That’s a fitting way to describe life at Allianz in its sprawling offices in Indonesia and the Philippines, which cater to customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Before “Sugar,” it was an era marked by manual processes and time-consuming tasks. As Gia noted, it was prone to human error and felt quite antiquated, heavily relying on Excel.

“Prior to Sugar, CRM documentation was very ‘Jurassic’ and manual, so you could just imagine,” Gia explained. “I'm tracking and documenting in Excel, and reports are hard to crunch since each Excel file has a different documentation style. So, before you can do a report, you will need to clean up the data. It really takes time. It takes time to document, it takes time to track the status of each inquiry and request.”

Sugar in this case is SugarCRM, an award-winning CRM platform that helps empower marketing, sales, and service teams to achieve heightened levels of performance and predictability in customer experience
Gia knows all about the pre-Sugar days—when she was given the unenviable task of handling Allianz’s client portals and contact centres, and her day-to-day activities include dealing with vast amounts of data. Gia and her team were also tasked with keeping clients happy at a time when the customer experience—or the overall perception customers have of a company throughout the entire customer journey—was becoming a make-or-break proposition for all service-oriented organisations.

Of course, as one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with around 125 million private and corporate customers in nearly 70 countries, maintaining a constant focus on customers has consistently remained a top priority for Allianz, across all aspects of operations.

“For us, part of our priorities is keeping sustainable customer relationships. We want to provide services to customers throughout their lives,” Gia pointed out. “With that, we design our processes and our systems with customers in mind. We want convenience for them. We want efficiency for them.”

There was just one problem.

In the Philippines, Allianz was missing something. It didn’t have a CRM that could keep pace with the demands of being part of a multinational financial services juggernaut headquartered in Munich, Germany.

“Before, everything was being tracked and logged in an Excel file. Although we had a CRM system back then, we encountered challenges which led to us deciding to stop using it,” Gia disclosed. “It was very slow and plagued by frequent lags. Consequently, we resorted to using Excel files, but the manual tracking was highly error-prone, leading to several missed requests.”

Transforming the Allianz Way with SugarCRM

Slow response. Errors. Missed requests.

These are not the hallmarks of excellent customer experience. Rather, they are surefire signs that a company needs a new way of doing things. A better way.

That’s when Allianz in Indonesia crossed paths with SugarCRM.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history, with Gia recalling how key decision-makers within Allianz in the Philippines were “impressed with how SugarCRM was being implemented in Indonesia.”

“It so happened that we had a challenge with the current system we were using,” Gia explained, “So, it was really the perfect time to shift. SugarCRM was the best option we had [at that time].”

The decision of Allianz to move forward with SugarCRM heralded the “Sugar Era” for the company, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines. SugarCRM not only upgraded the company’s CRM into something more modern, flexible, and reliable, but it has also revolutionised how Allianz interacts with its extensive and discerning customer base, which includes thousands upon thousands of individuals with high expectations.

One area SugarCRM has fundamentally transformed within Allianz is mapping the customer journey, described by Gia as “ground zero” in determining points of improvement in the way the company deals with its customers.

“There are numerous valuable insights that we can gain from the customer journey. For instance, it can reveal areas where the company needs to improve on. It is easier to identify the pain points, the gaps—and with that, you can see where you can improve the processes, improve the service, and, of course, improve customer satisfaction,” Gia explained as she delved deeper into the many ways SugarCRM is helping Allianz.

Real-time monitoring is one of these ways, according to Gia, with SugarCRM enabling accurate, real-time, and holistic monitoring of customer inquiries and complaints—from the first contact until their eventual resolution. The flow of information within Allianz is also streamlined with a centralised knowledge management system that allows data to be one click away for internal users, who can access the relevant information they need—regardless of where they are stored—to effectively handle and resolve customer concerns.

The results are undeniable.

Reduced handling time. Improved turnarounds. More efficient case management and resolution.

These are just some of the manifest outcomes Allianz has seen since partnering with SugarCRM.

Manifest Improvements: How SugarCRM Is Adding Value to Allianz

The best part is that the improvements are not incremental; they are significant, clear, and making a profound impact.

Case handling, for instance, usually lasted 25 minutes pre-Sugar. With SugarCRM on board, however, handling time was reduced to 15 minutes in the first few months, according to Gia. It was further shortened to a mere five minutes—or the equivalent of a 400% reduction in the average time it takes Allianz agents to resolve customer inquiries.

Responding to client emails was expedited, too, from two to three days in the past to just one day—or within 24 hours after an email is received. That turnaround time is about 200% faster than before, with improved accuracy and precision. Case resolution directed to different business units—usually characterised by slow, cumbersome manual processes at every turn—was streamlined as well, cutting down the time it takes to resolve issues from the usual 60 or so days to only 5 days.

These are the results that make an impact on customers and are fit for a brand as well-known and highly regarded as Allianz. These qualities are the cornerstone of the customer experience that fosters satisfaction and loyalty among customers.

But those results are just for the external customers. SugarCRM is also making life a lot easier for Allianz’s internal customers—its very own employees, the teams Gia is leading in her capacity as Allianz PNB’s Product Manager.

This 360-degree view of the customer journey is a key factor in how SugarCRM has significantly improved operations at Allianz, according to Mark Bruyns, Deputy Director, Business Applications, at iZeno, the technology solutions provider that serves as an intermediary between Allianz and SugarCRM.

But that’s not all. Aside from streamlining how Allianz employees access information, SugarCRM, according to Bruyns, has also simplified the manner in which they do it—thereby eliminating the necessity of using multiple applications and platforms simultaneously.

“When we started out in Indonesia, agents typically had to open around four or five applications when they started their day. This included a tool for ticket management, separate access to back-office systems in another application, and so forth. And so, they'd load up four or five applications to start their day,” recalled Bruyns, who joined Gia in the interview. “Then, through the implementation., we did a lot of integrations into the back-office systems so that the agents could use one single interface.”

Embracing a Future of Customer Centricity

In essence, it is clear that life has significantly improved for both Allianz’s external customers and internal teams with the implementation of SugarCRM. By utilising SugarCRM's robust capabilities, Allianz has been able to streamline access to critical information, enhance collaboration across departments, and gain invaluable insights into customer behaviours and preferences.

As the global business landscape evolves, the importance of a comprehensive CRM solution like SugarCRM cannot be overstated. It empowers organisations like Allianz to stay agile, responsive, and customer-centric in an ever-changing market environment.

Looking ahead, Gia believes this strategic collaboration between Allianz and SugarCRM promises even greater advancements in customer relationship management. “With SugarCRM at the helm, Allianz is well-positioned to continue exceeding customer expectations, driving innovation, and maintaining its status as a leader in the financial services industry,” she expressed with enthusiasm.

The future certainly holds exciting possibilities for Allianz and its valued customers, marked by enhanced efficiencies, personalised experiences, and sustained growth powered by cutting-edge CRM technologies.

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