Willis ACQUIRE Broker CRM System


Willis Networks is an expansive network of local, independent insurance brokers in the UK served by Willis Group Holdings, one of the world’s largest and most progressive insurance intermediaries.

It includes the Willis Commercial Network (WCN), representing larger independent brokers; and Willis N2, representing smaller, provincial players.


Willis Networks came across DCSL Software during a second round of tendering, having been disappointed with the first five suppliers it had looked at. “Until we met DCSL Software, we couldn’t find anything close to what we needed,” says Howard Robinson, marketing consultant at Willis Networks. “We were looking for a company with a track record of delivering web-based software built in a bespoke way to solve a client’s specific problem. No off-the-shelf package could do email marketing in the way we wanted.”

The goal was to be able to create templates for brokers to use for their own branded email campaigns, to help drive insurance policy renewals, for example. The new system needed to help automate these campaigns in response to timely triggers, and monitor responses so that follow-up actions could be focused on the customers most likely to repurchase.

“Not only could DCSL Software demonstrate they were right for the job, they were also able to deliver the software as a hosted, pay-monthly service, saving us the cost of 1,000 user licences if we had bought a standard CRM system,” Howard says. Even using an existing hosted platform like salesforce.com would have been expensive, because of the level of customisation required.


Operating in a highly competitive market, Willis prides itself on the high levels of additional value it extends to its brokers, in the form of training and marketing support and access to resources. This is critical in attracting and retaining network members.

However, the diverse nature of the Willis broker networks meant there was little consistency in the IT systems used by members to manage customer information and contact activities. This restricted the lengths to which Willis could go in proactively helping brokers in their promotional activities.

Willis wanted to establish an easier way of influencing its partners’ marketing activities, without incurring a cost for members. Providing off-the-shelf CRM software to each partner would have proved prohibitively expensive however, while failing to provide the functionality required to support this unusual distribution model. A bespoke solution was deemed the best fit.


A bespoke, hosted CRM system that is used as a free tool to sell the underlying Willis insurance products.

DCSL Software built and delivered a working system within three months. The custom-built CRM system is provided as a hosted service, which means there are no licence costs.

“We estimate that this will have saved us £120,000 over three years,” Howard says. “It also means we have been able to extend the software to all of our dealer partners as a pure value-added service. Each time we sign up a new member, we simply add them on to the system.”


Previously, Willis Networks’ members managed their own marketing campaigns, typically by post, where a single campaign might have set them back £700-800 in distribution costs alone. Now, campaigns are managed electronically, eliminating postal costs and giving brokers much greater control over customer segmentation and monitoring of responses. Willis has much greater visibility of and control over its partners’ marketing activities now too, which means it can offer additional support where opportunities are being missed.

DCSL Software took the time to fully understand our business and have been highly responsive and flexible in adjusting to our needs. Even after the final spec had been agreed, they remained flexible about making additional changes during the development process to make the system right for us. The solution is excellent value for money.

Howard Robinson, Marketing Consultant, Willis Networks

“This is a significant differentiator for us,” Howard says. “It is completely unique in our marketplace, and a major addition to the marketing support we offer to our members – enabling us to help them in a way we couldn’t before. This will enhance our relationships with our broker partners, while boosting sales for them and commissions for us. Everyone wins.”

He adds: “DCSL Software is extremely professional as a company. They took the time to fully understand our business, and have been highly responsive and flexible in adjusting to our needs. A key element to this project was the way we worked together to create the correct solution. Even after the final spec had been agreed, they remained flexible about moving things around and making additional changes during the development process to make the system right for us. The solution represents excellent value for money.”


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