MONTEREY PARK, Calif. – F&A Federal Credit Union doesn’t normally like to go out on the “bleeding edge” of new technologies, but it decided that making the most of what its chief operating officer calls “our most under-utilized marketing channel” was worth it. That channel is Internet banking. The product is WebMRM, the MRM standing for member-relationship marketing, and it’s the brainchild of a former Raddon Financial Group staffer who sold F&A not only on the product’s ability to sell, but its worth as an investment. “I developed a prototype and then sold F&A on the idea,” says Mike Ceranski, founder of aaBeck Technology Group in Chicago. “I had worked with Mike Harden, the COO at F&A FCU when I was with Raddon. F&A has been very helpful with suggestions, feedback and support. “And through F&A’s CUSO, FAFCU Financial, they invested in us, providing us the seed money to get things going.” F&A is the first client to go live with the system and the results so far have been promising, Harden says. “Our return-on-investment model projected 91 various loan and checking products would be sold in the first quarter after release. We thought that was possible, but aggressive,” Harden says. “We were surprised and pleased that 129 new loan and checking accounts were opened in that time period because of WebMRM.” He says the $731 million CU “rarely likes to be on the `bleeding edge’ of new technology because of the high cost and high failure rate. WebMRM was clearly a different situation because the cost was reasonable and it incorporated much of what was already in place, our member data.” The CU already had data-extraction tools in place, so it didn’t need that part of a large-scale CRM implementation to use the information contained in member MCIF files for targeted marketing. And since the 36,000-member CU’s ranks of home bankers are rapidly growing (now representing 27% of its members and 40% of its households) the Internet channel could be used to market the credit union’s full range of products without the high expense of the other two channels in use: the phone and print communications, Harden says. Plus, he adds, Internet banking users tend to be among the most active of clients overall, making them perhaps more likely to be interested in the five to 15 offers that WebMRM typically identifies based on the member’s individual circumstances and channel behavior. WebMRM’s power is in its simplicity, its creator says. The typical CRM system connects a core processing system with multiple ways of creating offers and communicating them through members in multiple ways, Ceranski says. “Communicating with such widely diverse channels from a systems point of view is, in and of itself, a horrifyingly complex issue. Consider the fundamental differences between projecting a message to the ATM in real-time and via batch mode through a printed statement. Then add a slew of different vendors and communications methods and protocols,” Ceranski says. “WebMRM uses only the Web to deliver offers and track member responses. It does not use real-time data from the host processing system, but rather uses the institution’s MCIF system. Deciding which members should get which offers is an automatic process that is done each month and results in a unique offer stack for each member,” he says. While F&A went first, the new system is now in use at five institutions. Three are using WebMRM in house, while two are using it as an ASP, Ceranski says. He said the core processing system isn’t as important as the MCIF vendor “although we do like to get transaction activity data from the host system when we can.” Core systems that WebMRM can access include several of the Fiserv units, as well as OSI, ULTRADATA and others, Ceranski says. MCIF files current clients are using include Raddon iNTEGRATOR’s, Harland’s Max$ell and Marquis. “The more data available to WebMRM, the more subtle and granular the marketing,” Ceranski says. “Imagine getting a new-car loan offer and the picture is of a Corvette. “The reason for this? You’re 46, an upscale demographic and male. A soccer mom might see a minivan or family-oriented SUB. A young, single member might see a Cooper or Scion.” -