By Adrian M. Reodique
Aug. 3, 2016
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The age of digitalisation does not only challenge enterprises to use technologies to improve processes and productivity, but also to leverage it to deliver unique customer experiences (CX).
Responding to this challenge, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) - a telecommunications company in the Philippines, initiated its Customer Advocacy and Referral Application (CARA) project in 2015 to empower its more than 7,000 employees to be brand ambassadors.
"We want all our employees to be heroes for our customers by looking out for customers' welfare, and going the extra mile to deliver the best possible customer service. That's why one of our key company values is 'Be customer-inspired,'" said Ariel P. Fermin, Executive Vice President of Smart, in a press release.
The project also aims to create a unique CX by providing a more personal, convenient and mobile touch point. "When people find out that someone works for Smart, they often make service inquiries or ask for help, such as determining which postpaid plan to get. CARA will enable Smart employees - be they store frontliners, engineers, or marketing staff - to serve as ambassadors and provide such efficient assistance for free," said Eden Techico, Vice President for CX Management in Smart, in the same press release.
The CARA project was recognised as one of highly recommended projects at the 2016 CIO Asia Awards.
Developing the mobile app
CARA is the result of a collaboration between Smart's IT Team and the CX Strategy and Operations group. Smart said the app was initially called "Smart Planner" but was later renamed to CARA in order to give persona to the virtual personal assistant in the mobile app.
According to the telco, CARA serves three purposes. The first is to recommend the best postpaid plan that suits the mobile usage behaviour and budget of the prospective customer. The second is to capture a postpaid plan application in an easy-to-fill digital form and track the application status after submission. The third is to serve as an express channel to raise customers' concerns.
CARA was developed in-house using IBM's MobileFirst platform. The app runs on Smart's existing CRM Websphere Application Server (WAS), Oracle 11g as backend database, and Linux (RHEL) as its environment.
To ensure that CARA is secure and maintainable, Smart reused its existing functions and backend system APIs. For instance, it reused the authentication and authorisation rules built in its CRM system to ensure that the app complied with the company's existing security standards.