​From crisis situation to a digital business network

WIR is one of the most interesting phenomena in Switzerland: a complementary currency, a bank, and an SME network all in one. In this triple role, WIR Bank promotes business between small and mid-sized companies. Claudio Gisler, Head Product and Channel Management and Member of Senior Management, provided insight into a system that is unique in all the world, with a philosophy that seems more contemporary than ever – and which has more to do with CRM than one might at first think.

Claudio Gisler, Head Product and Channel Management at WIR Bank

Crises drive inventiveness – and encourage solidarity. That was already the case back in the 1930s when, during the global financial crisis, a dozen progressive companies gave birth to a self-help initiative for businesses. The goal was to bring money that was being hoarded back into circulation. That is how, what remains the only complementary currency today, was launched on a national level: WIR. It is linked to the Swiss franc and is interest-free – an en- ticement to quickly spend funds that are accumulated and thereby generate turnover for other members. “WIR was an SME concept from the beginning and remains so today,” explained Claudio Gisler.

Today, 84 years later, WIR continues to operate as a role mod-el of cooperative solidarity, as a business network, as a complementary currency and as a bank, using modern methods to do so. “I am passionate about digitization. It enables us to maintain customer relations much better and complements our classic network idea with the possibilities of intelligent linking,” stated the digital enthusiast.

“I am passionate about digitization. It enables us to provide much better customer relationship management.”

Claudio Gisler, Head Product and Channel Management at WIR Bank

Digital customer experience

With BSI CRM, WIR Bank introduced a tool at the beginning of the year, which enables this digitization. Both customers and the network are also central here. “We want to serve our existing customers more individually, win new customers and strengthen our network. The core banking system, with its limited range of functions, could only provide us with lim- ited support in this respect,” according to Claudio Gisler. The information situation of employees plays a decisive role, particularly in a support concept based on seven branches and a central advisory center. “Our customers should feel at home with us and not have to raise their concerns repeatedly. Banks have completely missed out on what has been going on in CRM since the 1990s. With BSI, we are now introducing the CRM aspect.”

Automated individualization

WIR Bank is focusing on digitization, combined with a return to local values.

The rollout of BSI CRM is at the same time the largest end-to-end installation WIR Bank has ever undertaken; a sophisticated project which brings together customers and their interactions across multiple channels in a single system. “Customers expect an omnichannel experience – and rarely receive it. We can now offer them this and prove that we are at home both in the analog and digital world.”

However, not only customers, also employees have high expectations for the CRM system. They were involved in the process and their requirements greatly considered during the development. That paid off: “Right after the introduction, the feedback received was overwhelmingly positive. I ex- pected greater resistance,” said a pleased Claudio Gisler.

“We aim to generate benefits for the SME community – the rest falls into place.”

Claudio Gisler seeks to bring the right people together.

It is all worth it?

According to Claudio Gisler, “we would rather have a satisfied non-customer than a dissatisfied customer.” The CRM launch is the continuation of long-range thinking and the societal mission that distinguishes WIR Bank. “We want to bring the right people together, to benefit the SME community in Switzerland – the rest takes care of itself,” said Claudio Gisler with a smile. He is convinced that digitization and the return to local values provide the best conditions for continuing to write the fascinating history of WIR. 

That is how WIR Bank profits from BSI CRM

  • Shared use by account managers, advisory center, marketing, back office and compliance
  • Simple, user-friendly interface with 360-degree customer view
  • Simplifies conducting multi-level and target group-oriented marketing campaigns
  • Coordinated, automated and digital end-to-end processes
  • Individual and continuous customer relationship management
  • Automated standard processes for improved competitiveness
  • Basis for Data Analysis, Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence
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