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When Bally Total Fitness began a company-wide overhaul to streamline operations, the company decided it also needed to focus on the experiences of its fitness-club membership, including how members were able to communicate with its service centers.

As a result of the CEO’s visit to one of Bally’s call centers, where he saw firsthand the difficulty that customer service reps were having in satisfying customer needs, the IT team was given a mandate: Dramatically improve the member service experience.

The fitness company s call-center technology had been developed in the 1980s and required extensive training on its many manual processes. Data had the potential to get lost when it was handed off between employees during simple tasks. With 270 clubs and more than 3 million members worldwide, the company needed to automate its customer relationship management (CRM).

The communication channels were really limited to telephone only, says Guy Thier, CIO of Bally Total Fitness. We re trying to extend the channels a member can talk to us on and be more responsive to their needs.

In August 2009, Bally began evaluating CRM solutions, keeping in mind that the new system would have to play nice with its 30-year old legacy systems residing on an AS 400. After looking at products from companies including, Siebold and Sword Ciboodle, Bally chose the Sword Ciboodle product.

To read the original CIO Insight article, click here: Bally Total Fitness Gets Its CRM Into Shape