Technology can be both a benefit and a curse. The right system offers today's credit union marketers a wealth of information. But too often, that information is spread out across departmental silos, with little transparency and access. Just as bad, many financial systems offer too much in the way of information with little or no coordination, causing marketers to get mired in the data. When implemented properly however, technology can form the foundation for long-lasting member relationships.
Here are nine core principles to consider when determining what data really matters, when it should be captured and how it can be used effectively and efficiently.
Is data collected efficiently and distributed based on relevance? For instance, when a member opens a new account does the system link the new customer to likely products based on the customer's demographic and characteristics? Clearly, a 60-year-old member is likely to have considerably different needs than a 30-year-old member with a family of four, and relevant information for each will be considerably different.
Can you tie-in an event with an offer and access and act upon the data in a timely manner? For instance, does a new mortgage trigger an offer for mortgage insurance automatically? Does a change in marital or family status trigger an offer for life insurance? Does the purchase of an insurance policy trigger an offer for a relevant cross sell? Is this information transmitted to the marketing department?
When new members join, is the marketing department notified immediately and do the marketers have access to the new member's information for marketing purposes? Are welcome packages distributed automatically and on a timely basis?
When it comes to prospective members, is their initial inquiry followed up with a package with all relevant materials? Does the initial interview or form ask for data regarding current and future needs so that relevant materials can be sent before and after they become a member?
Is prospect data from all sources collected, including face-to-face visits and inquiries via mail, Web and mobile, coordinated in a central repository for appropriate follow-up and are these names maintained in a prospect database for future promotions?
Can you capture all relevant data on a member and a member's family in a centralized database that allows you to target offers based on member demographics and characteristics?
Is your website self-service where it should be? For example, if the credit union offers insurance products, can a member access all product information online and apply for coverage online? In many instances where technology is lacking, members are directed to a toll-free number to talk to an agent or call center. This is a point at which many inquiries are dropped and business is lost. There is no need to lose this business as insurance applications can be completed and signed, via electronic signature, online. In the case of insurance, can the system interface with the carrier of the insurance being offered to, for example, enable the prospective insured to print out an insurance policy or certificate in instances of guaranteed issue? In short, are you providing the ultimate in the ease and convenience and customer service?
Can members use modeling tools on your website, and is the information being modeled captured and saved, on a permission basis, in a central database for use by marketers going forward? This can be particularly valuable with long-time credit union members whose family and work situations, along with their needs, have changed considerably over the years. To credit union marketers, knowing when incomes have changed, children have been born, marriages have taken place, etc. is invaluable.
When prospects and members visit your website, are they required at some point to enter their e-mail address? This is valuable information to capture, to maintain in a central database, that enables future electronic outbound marketing, which is ultimately efficient and essentially free.
The relationship between a credit union and its members is truly unique among financial institutions. As a member-based not-for-profit, credit unions are charged with conducting business in a way that truly serves the needs of its members. Like many other organizations however, human and financial resources are at a premium. And so, it is incumbent upon marketers to use technology to their advantage.
Creation and control of a marketing data base put you in a partner relationship with your members, added longevity to the member relationship and increases the perceived and real value the credit union brings to its members.
Too much information can overload even the most dedicated marketer. Too little can squander opportunities. But when technology is harnessed efficiently, information activates relevant marketing messages that assure members that you know them and can identify their needs-and that becomes the basis for partnership and growth.
Jim Ouimet is vice president for the U.S. market for Marketing Software Solutions. He can be reached at 215-862-3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org