Making CRM More Than Software
Our American business culture is increasingly focused, some might say obsessed, with client engagement. And we work hard to track and document each client interaction.
In many ways, this obsession represents the maturation and evolution of basic CRM principles: knowing your members’ needs so that you can respond appropriately when the time is right. For credit unions, the goal is to ultimately increase the performance of different channels as well as the penetration of products and services.
The market for CRM systems grew 12% last year, three times the average of all other enterprise software categories. While the concept of CRM is nothing new, the infrastructure behind it is getting more intricate.
The credit union’s transition to more-effective CRM practices rests in truly turning the member service representative into a trusted adviser, positioning credit union staff as much more than just product-pushers. This means developing a lifetime sales cycle concept, whereby interaction with the member along with looking more globally at the credit union’s CRM strategy are key.
Primary attributes to a credit union’s successful CRM deployment include:
1) Executive sponsorship. Credit union executives need to walk the talk, institute employee training, reinforce support of CRM goals and financially support the strategy;
2) Cross-institution involvement. Take the CRM system as only that: a system. A top-down, side-to-side approach in employee engagement is required; and
3) Evaluative considerations. Look at how it impacts member on-boarding and how it can be applied to planning.
Start at the Top
Achieving employee buy-in for a CRM system starts with credit union management taking ownership of it. There, at the very top, executives must develop a strong statement of purpose and mission for what should be accomplished, then communicate that vision on down to the branch level.
This type of top-down acceptance throughout the credit union ensures balance. Key decision makers stay involved to direct and influence all CRM objectives, and those with frontline exposure understand the critical importance of what happens at the member level.
Execute Vertically and Horizontally
While ownership of a CRM system's effectiveness must begin at the high level where it is first identified as a key success strategy, everyone is ultimately involved in CRM. Bring each succeeding organizational level into the CRM effort: CEO and CFO to senior lender, branch administration, call center, operations and bookkeeping, MSRs and tellers.
CRM is not exclusively a retail branch responsibility. Credit unions must also look across the organization to draw in participants from HR, lending, eServices, call center operations and finance. Together, all these groups touch the member over the relationship lifetime.
Branch managers need to participate and interact with CRM every day, based on key management expectations that have already been created and are being reinforced. Direct mail and other marketing initiatives need to be communicated to frontline personnel at all times. A CRM system is the logical answer to supporting these objectives.
Next Page: Right Time and ROI
Right-Time Needs Assessment
The CRM concept is about getting to know each member well enough to best recognize his or her actual product need(s), and at the right time. One of the tools for right-time needs assessment is the new member on-boarding process.
We only get one chance to make a good first impression. What are you doing in the first 90 days of new member acquisition?
Part of the product welcome strategy should be two-fold: cross-sell initially AND retain the member for the long term so that he or she can take advantage of additional products and services. Lay the groundwork early for a deep (many products) relationship and a long, lifetime relationship.
Every credit union (and often every credit union executive) takes a different approach to the ROI from CRM calculation, and that is OK. Concentrate on what is measurable: client satisfaction scores before and following introduction of the CRM strategy, net new loans, eStatement sign-ups, bill pay activations, etc.—examine before-and-after results.
Depending on the credit union or executive’s focus, a useful parameter is often the number of referrals and the closure or success on those referrals. Look at visible MSR activities that can be measured and reported. Confirming the performance of new management directives in support of CRM is another good metric.
Be certain to focus on information that is relevant to member growth and long-term relationship profitability. Whatever measurements are applied, the goals to achieve must be made clear. Plan to document the frequency and outcome of those activities pre- and post-CRM introduction. Regardless of how complex the CRM system, it can be simple to produce positive and worthwhile results.
The CRM system is often seen as a silver bullet; the recurring planning, time and financial commitment for CRM implementation can be overlooked or misunderstood.
Instead, I estimate that 80% of the real work occurs after the CRM software system installation is complete.
Relying on your CRM system to do all the work will certainly set your expectations around it up for failure. Instead, create value around it as a learning tool for new and changing insights into each member relationship, which will directly impact how employees across your credit union can improve their own performance and members’ satisfaction.