When you have 3.5 million clients representing assets in the neighborhood of $2 trillion, communicating with them efficiently and unobtrusively can be as much a challenge as it is a necessity. That’s the position in which Fiserv — headquartered in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, Wis. — finds itself these days. Boasting 158 locations and about 20,000 employees worldwide, the company provides information-management and e-commerce systems and services to the financial-services sector.

The platforms that Fiserv provides to its clients — primarily banks and other wealth-management institutions — let them perform an array of vital tasks, including trade execution, post-trade settlement, financial-planning and financial-performance analysis, back-end reporting, and client-statement creation.

“We’re processing millions of transactions every day,” said Dianne Morin, director of marketing and communications for Fiserv’s investor services division. “So, you can imagine, with all of that activity and all of the different processes that we automate, there are bound to be service announcements.”

If service announcements were all there was to it, Fiserv would have been in good shape. But living in the financial world as it does, there are lots of other vital alerts and other important information that Fiserv must deliver to clients, as soon as possible. The e-mails tended to pile up in client in-boxes, so much so that they became a bit of a nuisance. The company knew that it needed to find a better way of communicating, and turned to ON24, which provides cloud-based webcasting and virtual-communications solutions. The result was the creation of a virtual briefing center that completely turned the situation around, Morin said.

Now, clients receive one general e-mail each month that contains a list of hyperlinked story headlines. Clicking on the link whisks the user to the virtual briefing center, which also can be accessed via the client’s Web browser. Once within the center, clients can read everything that is relevant to them, learn more about new products and services that Fiserv recently launched, engage in prescheduled teleconferences with the company’s advisors, and view webcasts that detail the various products and services that the company provides.

“People can filter out what doesn’t apply to them,” Morin said. “It’s not overwhelming.”

Clients still get e-mail alerts when a service issue arises, but because clients aren’t getting continuously pelted — and because service alerts have a different look than the monthly general e-mail — “they resonate more,” Morin said.

In creating its virtual client center, Fiserv was given a blank room, Morin said.

“You decide what you want in the room, and their designers put it where you want it,” she added. “It’s not a prolonged process.”

Though ON24 has a selection of standard designs from which its clients can choose, Morin believes customization is vital.
“It’s important to create a look that captures the feel of your organization,” she said.

Other ON24 clients are using the company’s platform to host virtual events. For instance, IBM, Sanoma Media and SAE International each worked with ON24 within the past year to create virtual job fairs. In addition, CA Technologies — an IT management solutions vendor headquartered in Islandia, N.Y. — worked with ON24 to create “Mainframe Madness,” a virtual event held a year ago to complement its CA World trade show in Las Vegas.

CA Technologies wanted to extend its reach but had encountered a significant hurdle: People aren’t traveling as much in these rough economic times due to budgetary constraints, according to Tom Masotto, vice president of product management for ON24. So, getting significantly more people to Las Vegas was unrealistic. But the company soared over that hurdle upon launching the virtual event, which attracted 5,000 attendees from 50 countries during its month-long run, Masotto said. Moreover, these visitors spent an average of 4.5 hours at the event. One allure was that at least one live informational webcast was held each day. Another was that attendees could engage in group and individual chat with each other.

“The more customer interaction, the more successful the event is,” Masotto said.

Ed: Urgent Communications uses ON24 as its vendor for the webcasts it produces; also, ON24 provided the platform for the IWCE/UC virtual trade show and conference that was held last December.

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