Wesley Mission Queensland (WMQ) has adopted SugarCRM technology to support its business transformation and address changes brought on by the Australian government’s new consumer directed care model and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The NDIS, considered a once-in-a-generation reform, significantly increases funding for people with a disability around Australia. People with disability have the right to decide their own best interests, and to have choice and control over their lives and the supports they receive.
Under the changes to legislation, the consumer directed care (CDC) model was also introduced this month, which stipulates service providers are unable to receive an annual ‘block of funds’ from the government to be spread among clients. Instead, they will receive ‘individualised budgets,’ giving older Australians more control of the services they receive.
No doubt, the healthcare industry (particularly aged care) in Australia is undergoing significant change (as it transitions to a more consumer-driven market), according to WMQ’s director of community care and inclusion, Kris Sargeant.
WMQ, which has 2,500 staff and close to 100 volunteers, delivers retirement living, residential aged care, disability and mental health services for youth and family.
Single view of customer
Sargeant told CIO Australia WMQ needed to address the sweeping changes to legislation and step up its business transformation efforts to gain a better understanding of key stakeholders, and get a single view of its customers.
“Eighteen months ago we realised we needed to have a single view of our customer. We had many parts to our business. We have everything from childcare services through to youth and family services, in home care, aged care, and allied health services. We had customers entering in many front doors, many parts of our service, and we have multiple systems that we work with: client information systems (three main ones across our service), and we also have HR systems and finance systems.”
With the move to a more individualised CDC model and the rollout of NDIS disability services, she said the organisation realised it had to make changes to its reporting process with customers.
“We have to shift from reporting back to a handful of customers being government-funded to hundreds of thousands of customers that we would need to understand and report back in light of those two big changes to legislation.”
She said there was no clear picture of its customers and needed systems in place to help decipher some key questions: how were we going to communicate with thousands of customers? How were we going to understand what our customers were, who our customers were, and report back to those customers across multiple services?
“Customers might be accessing in-home care, getting some domestic assistance support in the home, but also might be accessing our hydro pools for some therapy; and they might be entered into two different systems - so we needed to have one view of that.”
Sargeant said the roll out of SugarCRM software is a crucial step in giving the organisation a single view of its customers, initially across its customer service, marketing, fundraising, in home care and allied health businesses. Traditionally, information about customers was spread between departments, systems and excel spreadsheets.
The new solution enables contact centre teams to view complete customer communication, visits, services and financial transactions history without switching between screens or redirecting customer calls through multiple departments.
Additionally, the marketing team can also send more targeted and relevant communications to customers, while customers themselves can edit their contact information and download receipts from the online portal.
The system can also deliver functionality in the area of process support for event management, donations management, sponsorship management, enquiry and lead capture/ management, case management and project management.
Challenges along the way
Since the introduction of CDC and NDIS, WMQ has had to overcome several operational challenges as it moves to function in this rapidly changing environment, Sargeant said.
“The first big challenge it presented for us was having to acquire customers. Up until this point, we’d been doing tender for the government: They would assign us a certain amount of packages and then customers were allocated to those packages.
"The change meant customers now had the packages and they would make the choice about where they spent that package. We needed to understand how we would acquire customers in a different way than a tendering process through government.”
The second big challenge, she added, was in having to report back to the customers individually, both on their budget and in terms of detailed information: who was delivering the service, how the service was going to be delivered, rather than simply reporting through to the government on outputs.
“We needed to have a way of communicating with the customer,” she said. “It is great because CDC really puts choice and control in the customer's hands and the customers get to have a much bigger say in the types of services they want, and how they want them delivered.
"But we needed better ways to communicate with our customers, both upfront when they first made the call to us, and also in reporting: how much money they spent with us; how much money they still have in their packages; what services they received; and who was providing those services.”
Having a comprehensive reporting process systems required bringing together disparate parts of the business to deliver a comprehensive customer service offering, she added.
CRM is one part of the equation
Sargeant said the implementation of the CRM project is one part of a broader IT roadmap, which was started five years ago and also includes enhancing websites and being able to communicate more effectively across other digital media.
“We did have most of our client information systems in place, and our finance and HR systems in place, but they weren’t communicating. They didn’t necessarily need to communicate to each other to report to multiple customers. So that’s where the CRM started to come in.”
Another driver for adopting the CRM technology was to deliver a ‘one-point of contact’ for customers to access the company.
“We needed a system that allowed our call centre, customer centre staff, to not be jumping in and out of different systems to find the answer, or putting the customer on the telephone roundabout to find the right person to answer that question.”
The next step in the journey is determining how best to report back to customers (the company has already started to implement portals where customers can get access to information), as well as bringing on more services to the CRM environment including areas like retirement living.
As the organisation continues to push towards a customer-centric strategy, Sargeant said it is an exciting time to be working in the sector, which is experiencing monumental changes.
“It is changes that we’ve not seen before in our sector and that is driving both massive disruptions in the market for existing providers. We are seeing new providers entering the market and we really need to change our business practices and business models to meet those changes the legislation is driving.
“It is massive. But it is also a really positive change if we can get it right and people don’t fall through the gaps.”
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