Northern Trust first opened its doors in 1889, when it welcomed clients into a one-room office in Chicago. More than a century later, the bank is one of the world’s largest money managers, with assets under management approaching a trillion dollars, locations in 84 cities around the globe, and more than 16,500 employees. Its clientele consists of corporations, institutions, and the world’s wealthiest individuals and families. Even more impressively, Northern Trust repeatedly garners accolades such as “One of the World’s Most Admired Companies” (Fortune) and “One of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens” (Corporate Responsibility).
Its venerable success lies in pairing what the company calls its “enduring principles” — service, expertise, and integrity — with an eye toward industry disruption, preferring to lead change rather than react to it. In doing so, Northern Trust is actively shaping the future of a new generation of clients and employees in a world that has become dramatically more complex.
In addressing the varied needs that accompany its personal clients’ significant wealth, Northern Trust’s Wealth Management division has focused squarely on the client experience. “We’re helping clients achieve their unique life goals,” said Pete Ruegsegger, Senior Vice President of Client & Partner Experience. “It’s a very personal process that’s grounded in a deep understanding of a client’s needs as they evolve over time.”
Managing relationships of this nature requires teams of incredibly talented people, inside the company and out, to exchange knowledge and collaborate efficiently around the globe. Northern Trust takes great pride in its people and wanted better technology to harness their deep expertise to deliver a seamless client experience.
Northern Trust has always delivered excellence, but it was increasingly finding that to do so required its partners — in the spirit of collaboration every Northern Trust employee is known as a partner — to manage the complexity of its business through capabilities and processes that were not sufficiently integrated. What resulted was a sales and service environment that contained an element of friction, despite a high level of client satisfaction. The firm elected to make a more seamless service delivery environment a business priority — and centered its efforts around the development of a Partner Workstation.
The team involved in the Partner Workstation initiative wanted to do far more than simply replace the existing customer relationship management (CRM) system. They articulated a vision for a new platform that could function as a “single pane of glass,” through which every partner could better serve clients, and each other. In searching for a provider, they met with more than 10 best-of-breed firms — all of whom pitched contemporary CRM capabilities. They selected Salesforce based on the strength of its broad array of capabilities, both directly and through its ecosystem, as well as its passion for innovation and continuous improvement. “Simply put, Salesforce was best suited to help us achieve our vision,” said Marianne Doan, EVP and Head of Enterprise Partner Services.
Leveraging agile development and human-centered design disciplines, the Partner Workstation rollout began in the Wealth Management business unit with a pilot group of approximately 400 partners in markets across the United States — and will soon be delivered to a much broader group. With Salesforce as the centerpiece of the new Partner Workstation, partners use Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Community Cloud, all integrated with legacy databases and accessible from anywhere via the Salesforce1 Mobile App.
“Historically, rolling out significant new capabilities can present a bit of a challenge for traditional firms,” said Doan. And yet several months into the pilot, all the participating partners had become “enthusiastic users” of the new platform. To ensure a smooth transition, Northern Trust relied on Community Cloud, which allowed partners in the field to get answers in minutes when they needed help. They called it “Smart Bar,” in a modest nod to Apple’s Genius Bar.
Because the Smart Bar represented something new and unknown, Northern Trust also offered a traditional toll-free support hotline. “In the thousands of interactions we’ve had with the pilot participants, not one phone call has been placed to the hotline,” said Doan. “We were pleasantly surprised at the appetite for change — and it starts to build on itself as partners continue to experience the benefits of Partner Workstation.”
The firm foresees engaging in deeper Service Cloud efforts in the near future. At Northern Trust, an extensive network of client service professionals complements the sales teams. Service Cloud will help them further streamline processes and workflows for the benefit of these partners and represents another big step toward achieving their vision.
Northern Trust prides itself on having some of the best professionals in the industry, and the firm’s leaders are focused on supporting them with the best possible capabilities. “The work we’re doing with Salesforce contributes to our ongoing focus on service excellence,” Doan said. “It allows us the opportunity to do things that are truly differentiating. Salesforce helps us accomplish this through forward-leaning capabilities like knowledge sharing, advanced workflow, and business analytics, all of which help us leverage our greatest strengths — our exceptional client relationships and our partners.”
With the Partner Workstation well underway within the Wealth Management division, Northern Trust is exploring broader use of the Salesforce platform, both internally and through integration with its client-facing capabilities. “I’m so proud to be associated with a firm where partners are focused on creating an exceptional client experience, and where there is a clear commitment to embracing the future,” said Ruegsegger. “I know for a fact that whatever else changes, we’ll continue to strive to serve every client with distinction.”