Melissa Member enters your credit union and asks Stella Teller for help, after bouncing seven checks at a fee of $20 each. (Her husband inadvertently deposited his paycheck in his own account, instead of their joint account.) What’s the right response? a)”I’ll transfer the funds to the right account, but I can’t reverse the NSF fees.” b) “I don’t think I can reverse the fees, but I’ll ask.” c) “I’m sure I can have some of the fees reversed.” d) “I’ll reverse those fees right away and tell our share draft department not to return your checks.” The answer you choose will depend on how broad your view of the member is. If you only see an overdrawn checking account and low-balance share account, answer “a” looks good. If you can expand your view and see a credit card and auto loan with good balances and on-time payments, answer “b” is better. If you learn that your member has a large 401K and a sizable mortgage, “c” becomes your choice. And should you discover four other household accounts – representing a total household income of over $28,000 annually – you’ll opt for “d.” For you and Stella to choose the right answer – and retain this loyal, profitable member – all it took was a 360 view of her relationship with the credit union. The problem is, most financial institutions don’t have that view readily available. Getting it is no small task; but having it is imperative. Getting Beyond MRM Before we go further, let’s be clear about something: formulating a complete picture of your members isn’t just a matter of implementing a Member Relationship Management application (MRM, or CRM as our banking friends call it). The solution is much broader in two respects. First, MRM is a catch-all term that encompasses many different enabling technologies. It’s not a single, packaged application; nor is any single application the panacea for knowing your members. Second, the solution isn’t just about technology. The process of developing a 360 view is just that: a process. It will pervade your business practices and organizational culture. And it will take significant time and resources. So if the journey will be long and the work difficult, why take it on? Because the realities of today’s marketplace demand it. Your credit union is competing for wallet share at a time when 50% of consumers have equity investments – but only 17% of those investments reside in financial institutions. Your members have more complex financial needs and fewer personal contacts with your staff (which turns over pretty regularly). The journey’s not only necessary; it’s potentially very rewarding. The result is likely to be a culture where the traditional, risk-averse mindset that’s used to saying “no” gains the power and information to say “yes.” Where staff members spend less time taking orders and more time building relationships and sales. Where your most profitable members grow more loyal, and others are motivated to reach a higher tier of service. It’s not utopia; it’s simply a place where all credit unions need to be headed toward. Though not the sole focus, technology will play a vital role in achieving a 360 view. So as you develop a plan to get started, you should explore a number of related technologies. (Hopefully, you’re already well underway in implementing some of them.) MCIF. Widely used, MCIF systems provide an important first step: grouping accounts into households and analyzing their current position and future potential. Originally used to segment marketing mailings, they’ve evolved to encompass household profitability analyses, the incorporation of data from external sources, and even one-to-one marketing capabilities. Cross-Selling/One-To-One Marketing Selling the right product to the right member at the right time is the key goal of cross-selling. A good system will provide intelligent recommendations, based on known data at the household level, and apply them consistently. It will record the results of cross-sell campaigns and automate the fulfillment process, making it easier for members to “buy.” It will encourage a focus on the most profitable products and relationships. And it will take the judgement call away from staff – assuring that cross-selling happens when and how it should. Data Warehouse/Data Mining. Still in its infancy (and worthy of several separate articles), data warehousing is a means to create a central repository for member data from multiple sources – then use that data to make informed business decisions and to view changes or trends over time. The most effective applications will provide open, standards-based access to data through commonly used desktop tools; will be fast and easy for non-technical staff to use; and will scale up well to larger enterprises. Risk & Relationship Pricing. Like a frequent flyer club, these applications ensure that premier members receive premier service. Risk-based pricing involves assigning loan rates based on specific risk factors; relationship pricing involves waived fees and better deposit and loan rates for members with extensive relationships with the credit union. Automating these processes is an effective way to change and reward behavior, build loyalty and improve the bottom line. Automated Decisioning. At a minimum, you should begin to use automated decision tools when members open accounts and apply for loans, to reduce the risk of fraud and defaults. By fine-tuning your decision criteria, you can ensure that your automated decisions prove on target and profitable over time. Member Relationship Management. Both credit unions and suppliers have vastly different ideas about what MRM is. Any given technology available might interact with your phone switch and “pop” member data to your staff’s screen; or track call activity; or provide phone scripts; or wrap-in inquiry and transaction capabilities; or provide countless other functions. Regardless of the specifics, any MRM application should help you develop an organizational memory: a way to recall the member’s profile and past behaviors each time he/she conducts business with you. Sales & Referral Tracking. What gets measured gets done, and what gets rewarded gets done better. Tools that track referrals and sales can motivate staff to change their behaviors and focus on the broader relationship. Before implementing such a system, get HR’s help to make sure it’s fair and consistent and to provide any necessary staff retraining or reallocation To maximize your return on these applications, you’ll need one more component: the right infrastructure. Technologically, that means a core system that adheres to pervasive standards like SQL, ODBC and OFX; an open system that enables easy integration with third parties; and a thin client/server environment that saves time and money. Organizationally, it means the right people, in the right positions, with the right training, motivated by the right compensation plans. The importance of a 360 view is elegantly summed up in the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. They all set off to discover what an elephant “looked” like. One fell against the elephant’s side and said it was like a wall; another touched the tusk and said it was like a spear; a third grabbed the ear and thought it was a fan; and so on. Without a complete view, they all reached the wrong conclusions. And without the right tools, your staff may well be doing the same.

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