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When David Vey tells credit unions why customer relationship management (CRM) software is so important, he gives a simple example:
“The daughter of one of your most important members comes in to cash a check, but she doesn’t have an account with you. Your teller routinely asks her for three pieces of identification, a request that alienates her.”
Vey, CEO of Sedona Corp., says a good CRM system would have tagged that account’s importance to the credit union and pulled up information about the member’s household. That way, the teller would have known how to handle the family member’s transaction quickly.
Chris Braccia, director of product management at Harland Financial Solutions, calls CRM “the great differentiator” because a good member experience is often the only edge credit unions have today.
“This includes defined criteria based on the complete member relationship with the credit union,” he says. “Say a credit union designates its most valuable members as ‘retains,’ and crafts a set of criteria around them that defines interaction benefits.
So when Mary Smith is distressed about a fee she thinks is unfair and the teller sees ‘retain’ in her CRM profile, he removes the fee.”
Credit unions share three common goals in using CRM, says Floyd Salamino, vice president of CRM consulting at Marquis. “Along with increasing member retention and recruitment, they’re also looking to increase cross-sales and automate in-house processes. Where they can differ is in how developed their sales and service cultures are.
“Some of them look at CRM as a way to bolster existing sales and service cultures that already have buy-in from senior leadership and front-line employees,” Salamino continues. “They’re looking for technology to support and expand those capabilities.”
Make information actionable
Staff buy-in is crucial for making CRM systems effective, Braccia says. Obtaining that buy-in requires giving all member contact representatives access to useful member information. “The credit union has all of these bits of data about John or Mary Smith—the key is to compile and analyze the data, turning it into actionable information that can be used by staff to improve sales.”
Harland Financial Solutions’ system, Touché Analyzer, uses “segmentation schemes,” elaborate data categories that make information available to staff. This includes members’ purchasing propensities, share of wallet, cross-selling suggestions, and members’ current and potential value to the credit union, Braccia says.
Vey notes that while almost everybody can use, for example, an Excel spreadsheet, “the average user takes advantage of maybe 1% of its potential. Our goal is to take the power of our software and make it easy for users to learn and obtain useful data. You have to know how to migrate the information and present it in interesting and useful ways.”
CRM advances over the years include more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, including an improved layout, more logical flow, and clearer verbiage, says Salamino.
“The days of programmer-centered software are long gone,” he says. “Also, there’s much wider acceptance of the technology and a greater focus on results versus activities. Credit unions aren’t just tracking referrals or calls, they’re now looking more strategically at the actual results of those actions.”
Implementation, however, is the hard part. “Credit unions don’t set up CRM software every day, which is why they turn to us for help,” Salamino says. “We send a consultant onsite to help them customize the software and stay focused on what’s essential.”
The most important thing is simplicity, he says. “Once you’ve mastered a few essential elements, expand your use of the software’s other features.”
It’s also important to prove results, Salamino adds. “Set a benchmark and goals, and develop metrics for measuring progress: Where are you now and where do you want to be in 12 months? Track, measure, and adjust along the way.”
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