The UK's largest charity, the National Trust, has signed a multimillion-pound outsourcing deal with consultancy firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.
CGEY will manage the new system for an initial period of seven years.
With more than 50 million visitors per year and three million members, the National Trust wants to make its customer service comparable with the private sector leisure industry.
This will entail revamping legacy systems that have suffered a "historic lack of investment", said Anne Dixon, director of customer services at the National Trust.
The charity has three objectives for the contract:
- To build a new membership database, using Oracle's 9i software, which will underpin the CRM strategy.
- To build a multi-channel call centre that will provide a single source of information for customers, whether they require information about booking a holiday cottage or want to know opening times for a stately home.
- To enable the charity to target marketing campaigns for its membership.
The new membership database will go live in January 2004, and parts of Oracle's 11i e-business software will be added gradually.
The first year of operation after going live will be spent analysing seasonal trends to start delivering customer service improvements by the second year.
"Success would be more people visiting our sites, and membership retention will be a key measurement for us," said Dixon.
With a clearer insight into its membership base, the charity can cut costs by targeting mailshots and ensuring that members with specific interests receive only relevant information.
Currently, members receive all the newsletters and magazines the National Trust produces, irrespective of their interests.
By using membership data to provide customer information and improve customer service the National Trust was leading the way for other charities, said Kieron Brennan, head of business development at CGEY.
"CRM is still relatively new to the not-for-profit sector," he said.
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