As TimeTrade won global customers, complex local regulations clashed with central management, performance and scalability. How could it serve international markets while providing localized capabilities?
By selecting IBM Cloud to provide capacity, flexibility and localization, TimeTrade is now able to serve tens of thousands of appointment confirmations daily, delivering an exceptional user experience.
Scalesseamlessly to handle tens of thousands of appointment bookings daily
Elevatesservice quality and delivers an outstanding customer experience
Deliverssophisticated localized services to achieve global compliance goals
Business challenge story
Providing the personal touch, worldwide
Digital transformation has resulted in the elimination of entire categories of costs for many businesses. Instead of providing a face-to-face service, companies can build web portals and mobile apps to manage customer interactions at a fraction of the cost.
Although such digital interactions do drive cost-efficiencies, they are not without a price – particularly for financial institutions that depend on strong customer relationships. By diluting personal contact with consumers, banks and other institutions run the risk of weakening their connection with customers and losing ripe opportunities to sell new products and services.
TimeTrade, a pioneer in online appointment scheduling, recognized that today’s consumers expect personalized engagement that’s customized to their unique needs. Because personal appointments with customers now occur much less frequently, the value of each appointment is greatly increased. To optimize the engagement journey of all customers, companies must understand the best ways to reach them and connect them to the right expert for answers to specific questions. This connection must happen instantaneously, via each customer’s preferred channel and at the moment the customer is making a buying decision.
Despite this new reality, many organizations continued spending their resources – up to 90 percent of enterprise marketing budget by some reports – encouraging customers to pick up the phone and book an appointment. But booking a meeting by phone or email can often be a disjointed and unsatisfactory process, leading to missed appointments and unnecessary expense. Both consumers and corporations came away dissatisfied.
TimeTrade spotted an opportunity to raise the bar. Starting with simple online booking systems, it now offers a full suite of intelligent appointment scheduling solutions, deployed to banks, financial institutions and retailers globally.
As the business grew, it became untenable to manage multiple software deployments to on-premises hardware in each client’s data center. Instead, the TimeTrade team switched to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, running on hosted servers where each server supports several clients (the ‘multi-tenant’ approach).
However, this hosting model also brought challenges: if a client needed greater transaction capacity, it could overload a server, requiring significant technical effort to re-balance the workload. Moreover, as overall workload grew, the only option was to buy, configure and deploy new servers—increasing infrastructure costs and maintenance effort.
To add to the complexity, data protection laws and other regulations vary from country to country. For example, EU consumer data must stay within EU borders, restricting TimeTrade’s ability to share the global workload evenly between its servers.
Cimarron Buser, SVP of Business Development, comments, “As we grow, we want to be able to scale our infrastructure in a way that will be flexible and affordable. The geographical location of our servers is an essential consideration both to ensure compliance and to provide a low-latency, high-performance service.
“Consumers expect a near-instant response from their bank’s website or mobile app, so the performance of our service impacts our clients’ customer satisfaction ratings. How could we eliminate our technical challenges, navigate the complex regulatory requirements, and deliver the scalability and performance we wanted?”
Ensuring compliance across multiple geographies
TimeTrade looked for a cloud solution provider that could solve the scalability challenge, and provide the precise geographic control needed for compliance. IBM provided an ideal solution for each of these challenges, with a combination of IBM Cloud bare metal servers, IBM Cloud Virtual Servers, and IBM Cloud Object Storage.
The IBM Cloud solution enables TimeTrade to specify the exact location of each server at the data center level. With this fine-grained control, TimeTrade can demonstrate compliance with regulations such as the Privacy Act in Canada and GDPR in the EU—even though the service is fully cloud-based, and TimeTrade no longer needs to own the individual severs.
Additionally, because the IBM Cloud solution allows TimeTrade to choose the location of its servers, the company can ensure that its failover and backup servers are geographically separated from its production systems, providing the enterprise-grade resilience that its clients expect.
TimeTrade has also been able to transfer all its key infrastructure and service management tools to the IBM Cloud, including its third-party load balancing, application integration and connectivity management solutions. Retaining control of these capabilities in-house is central to TimeTrade’s offering, allowing it to manage performance and service delivery directly.
Within the IBM Cloud offering, TimeTrade uses provisioning automation to request and deploy new capacity, eliminating its previously manual workflows and ensuring consistency and reliability. When the company needs to grow its environment, it can simply specify the required bare metal servers, virtual servers or object storage via the IBM Cloud web portal, and the resources are automatically provisioned within hours.
Cimarron Buser continues, “From an operational and systems standpoint, IBM Cloud delivers the scalability and flexibility we need, and as the business expands we can very quickly scale up to meet new requirements.
“For example, we might start up a pilot project for a new banking client across a small number of branches, and then all of a sudden we're going live for every single branch. Being able to manage huge growth over a very short period is critical, and IBM Cloud gives us the tools we need to do that.”
Raising customer satisfaction scores
Today, TimeTrade manages around 100 million appointments annually for more than 500 corporate clients. Larger TimeTrade clients, such as National Bank of Canada, generate thousands of appointments daily, inviting customers to discuss mortgages, insurance and investments—areas where face-to-face meetings generate true value.
By providing an integrated user experience, with timely reminders and an easy booking process, TimeTrade’s solutions can help to avoid missed appointments, increase customer satisfaction, and lift Net Promoter Scores (NPS). TimeTrade’s research suggests that banks ranking in the top 100 for customer satisfaction enjoy a 163 percent higher growth rate, so the incentive to optimize user satisfaction could not be greater.
Within the TimeTrade platform, each appointment is stored as a single transaction, containing personal, time and date details, which analysts can mine for insight into attendance rates and trends. Data from TimeTrade’s services can also be integrated with third-party solutions such as salesforce.com, providing easy visibility of upcoming and past appointments, as well as relevant reports and analysis.
As a result, corporate customers can use the TimeTrade engine to help predict the resource investment needed to manage appointment volumes effectively. For example, they can use appointment data to assign appointments to employees who have the most appropriate skills to handle each specific enquiry. For example, National Bank of Canada can allocate English or French speakers according to the customer’s preference.
Cimarron Buser remarks, “Companies in the Americas, Europe and Australasia may need to deal with very different languages, regulations and business requirements. IBM Cloud has proved to be an ideal platform to help us demonstrate our capabilities across all these regions. For example, we can easily provide all the required security, audit and compliance information for regulators, which is essential for financial institutions in particular.”
The IBM Cloud service gives TimeTrade the ability to define geographic locations and spread workloads evenly across the available server resources, offering flexibility and scalability, combined with the detailed control that the company needs to maintain compliance.
Cimarron Buser concludes, “We know that customers who have a good experience with a vendor can spend up to 140 percent more that those who are dissatisfied. Working with IBM Cloud, we can provide a unified consumer experience for tens of thousands of customers as we grow across the globe, and help our clients deliver excellent service.”
TimeTrade aims to make appointment scheduling for companies across the globe simple and hassle-free. Smart Matching technology ensures all appointments are matched correctly with appropriate customer service agents, while also enabling easy modification of appointments if there is a schedule change. TimeTrade also provides customer experience analytics technology to easily keep track of Net Promoter Scores, marketing campaign performance, staff efficiency and more.