Oskar Wegner, a Polish advertising agency, specializes in creating and managing loyalty and marketing programs for the pharmaceutical industry. The success of these programs depends not only on processing important data but also on the integration of efforts by many people performing different tasks. In order to streamline these activities to improve customer service and increase Oskar Wegner’s potential, the company sought to integrate and automate its processes. Working with partner Panoramix, Oskar Wegner used Microsoft® Visual Studio® and the Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 operating system to develop and launch a customized application that automates data management, integrates work processes, and expands business potential.
Oskar Wegner, based in Poland, has played an important role in the advertising and marketing industry for 13 years. The agency plans advertising campaigns, organizes media support, and runs loyalty programs and motivational campaigns for major corporate clients including those in the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier in the agency’s history, the loyalty programs and motivational campaigns were simple operations; however, more recently, the programs have become more complex in regard to business and logistics. Specifically, the scope of these programs has expanded into new areas, including client communication (e-mail and call centers), data processing of reward points earned, and the redemption of loyalty rewards, as well as data analysis and reporting. Loyalty programs and motivational campaigns have evolved into a significant and increasing source of income for Oskar Wegner, and they offer opportunities for the company’s continued growth.
||Owing to the new system, we are in full control of our loyalty program. We have achieved high-quality support and full process control.
Below the Line Division Manager, Oskar Wegner
Currently, Oskar Wegner employs 24 people, between 7 and 10 of whom use the IT system to support programs and campaigns. However, the company’s existing IT solution was insufficient and impeded the company’s growth in loyalty programs and motivational campaigns. The IT solution failed to provide a centralized mechanism to store and analyze data. Computers were running different versions of the Windows® operating system, and a Linux-based server was used to store the database and files. During various stages of work, Oskar Wegner employees used a range of tools, including applications that were written for the Microsoft® Access™ 2000 database software, Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet software, and electronic or traditional notes. Employees used e-mail for communication and to transfer files that were used in the various projects, but they spent too much time transferring data from one application to another, and their efforts were made even less efficient due to the lack of a task-performing system that would have minimized duplicate efforts. Manual data entry led to errors that could have jeopardized the agency’s reputation. A call center operator at Oskar Wegner notes that the system was highly prone to failure: “It was so bad that failures occurred almost daily.”
The existing solution also had only limited capabilities for e-mail communication with clients. The agency could not guarantee full-service support to clients, and this was detrimental to its reputation.
Adding to the concerns with the existing system was its lack of scalability. “Increasing the number of tasks required hiring new employees, but the additional document flow threatened informational chaos,” says Tomasz Burdzinski, Manager, Below the Line Division at Oskar Wegner Agency.
Oskar Wegner, which was poised for growth, required a unified IT environment that would provide efficient mechanisms for processing and storing data, effective communication tools, and automated systems. Additionally, a new system needed to be scalable in order to support current and future loyalty programs and campaigns.
Oskar Wegner management and the Polish implementation provider Panoramix analyzed the situation and decided that Oskar Wegner would be best served by an IT environment that was specific to the company’s needs, that would enable programmers to write code for a customized application, and that would run the application effectively.
Together, management at Oskar Wegner and Panoramix determined that the application would be developed using the Microsoft Visual Studio® development system and that the Linux-based server would be replaced by the Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 operating system and Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000, the latter of which would serve as the new database. Each of the applications used by Oskar Wegner connects to the central database through client workstations running on the Windows® XP Professional operating system.
The agency chose Microsoft products based on its positive prior experience with Microsoft and its extensive software options. “Oskar Wegner regarded the new system as very important, and they wanted to be sure that it would be based on proven and growth-oriented solutions. Therefore, the Microsoft environment was chosen,” says Marcin Skonieczny, Manager of Panoramix.
Once Microsoft products had been selected for the new IT environment, Panoramix programmers began development of the new application. The Integrated Loyalty Program Support System (ILPSS) application aligns all areas of the agency’s ongoing activity. During development, Panoramix took advantage of Microsoft .NET software for connecting people, information, systems, and devices. Microsoft .NET allows for a high degree of software integration by using small, independent modular Web Service applications that fit with each other as well as with larger applications.
The new Integrated Loyalty Program Support System and Microsoft IT environment brought efficient work processes and room for growth to Oskar Wegner.
Speed and Efficiency Lead to Customer Satisfaction
Currently, Oskar Wegner supports one large loyalty program, but when the company acquires its next loyalty program, it will be able to efficiently run two or more programs simultaneously by using the same application with separate sets of data.
||Oskar Wegner Company regarded the new system as very important and they wanted to be sure that it would be based on proven and growth-oriented solutions. Therefore, the Microsoft environment was chosen.
The benefits of the ILPSS can already be seen: “The time needed for fulfilling a reward order from a loyalty drive participant decreased by 50 percent with the introduction of the application,” says Marek Dorozynski, Vice President of Oscar Wegner. This timesavings improves customer satisfaction and results in a smaller number of complaints from program participants. In turn, customer satisfaction improves Oskar Wegner’s reputation and gives the agency an advantage when competing for new and additional business.
Effective Data Management and Access
Since the implementation, all members of the loyalty program team have access to the most current data. The authorized level of access depends on each person’s job responsibilities, and all actions performed are recorded in the database. Therefore, company divisions that support a loyalty program can function independently and effectively. At the same time, security features in Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000 help to safeguard confidential information such as personal data by minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to data.
Automated Operations and Improved Communication
ILPSS covers the entire loyalty program and all users of it. A participant’s access to the program and verification of authorized access no longer requires intervention by Oskar Wegner employees because the system performs those tasks automatically. In the near future, the company plans to use ILPSS to provide real-time support, issue participant identification cards, compute reward points earned, and manage changes in data. “All this has been enabled by the potential in the Microsoft .NET program,” says Skonieczny.
Importantly, even though the programmers wrote the code for ILPSS from scratch, they were able to take advantage of the rich repository of examples and ready code snippets provided by Microsoft. This accelerated work on the application and made it easier to add new features to it. “MSDN®, which is the knowledge base for Microsoft programmers, is continuously growing, so it is likely that we will add more components to the system in the future,” Skonieczny adds.
Since ILPSS is able to send and receive messages, communication with participants has also been automated. Moreover, the application supports program information lines, including announcements and other activities conducted by information-line personnel and targeted at program participants.
As a result of the new solution, several functions have been successfully automated, including internal and external communications, interconnectivity between system segments, and data transfer and validation. Implementing the system also allowed Oskar Wegner to open a call center that can access loyalty program data using another .NET-based application.
Through the new application, Oscar Wegner extended the available range of loyalty drive activities. For example, ILPSS provides logistical support for rewards, from reward orders (placed through a Web-based order form) to order aggregation. And, it makes it possible to mail rewards to participants and then record the receipt confirmations for those rewards.
Because many steps in loyalty programs have now been automated, employee workload has been reduced considerably.
Program Oversight Opportunities
The new system is able to generate analyses and reports of almost any kind. Therefore, employees have no difficulty managing the system, while Oskar Wegner management is able to evaluate work progress at any moment and quickly develop an analytical report for its client.
Using Microsoft products and technology to create and run ILPSS has enabled Oskar Wegner to efficiently run loyalty programs by integrating all program-related activities, meeting tighter deadlines, and keeping data up to date. These significant improvements have led to increased customer satisfaction and greater opportunities for Oskar Wegner. “Owing to the new system, we are in full control of our loyalty program. We have achieved high-quality support and full process control,” concludes Burdzinski.
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