FORT WORTH, Texas – For one credit union in the Lone Star State, keeping a tight focus on expectations and execution has resulted in what’s sometimes seen as the brass ring of financial services technology: a successful CRM deployment. Last fall, $550 million EECU deployed the Synapsys platform from its core processing provider, Symitar. So far, it’s been used to record sales opportunities that come up during discussions with members, to review production and cross-sell reports of newly organized teams of tellers and financial services officers, to track and calculate incentive compensation, and to mine all that data for sales and marketing opportunities. The results? “A more focused and formalized sales culture. And documented and measured service events,” says Diane Gerstner, senior vice president of sales and services at the 95,000-member EECU. And the results of that? A $7.5 million increase in loan production in seven months and a measurable increase in the percentage of very satisfied members, from 54.1% to 61.6%. Gerstner, who joined EECU after several years with a leading consultancy whose credit union work included CRM projects, says the rap against CRM – high costs, technical difficulties, unmet expectations – did not dissuade the CU from taking the plunge. “We were not concerned about the viability of implementing a CRM solution,” the EECU vice president says. “In our opinion, there are three key components to achieving not just your ROI but successfully changing your culture: executive constancy, clearly established CRM solution objectives, and consistent application of the CRM solution within the entire organization.” EECU is one of 18 credit unions either using Synapsys or in the installation process, says Steve Sherman, Synapsys CRM product manager for Symitar. He agrees with Gerstner’s take on what makes a successful CRM deployment. “Most less-than-satisfactory CRM efforts aren’t due to technology as much as the people and culture of the implementing organization not being prepared for the new method of conducting business,” he says. “If the institution is currently an order-taking, product-driven organization, it is a large cultural shift. Synapsys enables that shift from a technology standpoint.” Gerstner says EECU chose the Synapsys solution because it combines CRM and MCIF functions and interfaces fully with the core Symitar platform, and that with “our tremendous internal IS support,” technical challenges were non-existent on the front end. Then came the changes that were needed to take the organization to the next level in its sales efforts. Training is ongoing and “Kelly Davis, our director of training, and her staff ensure that everyone is proficient in the use of the system,” Gerstner says. And they use it. That’s another key. In addition to providing senior managers with key performance reports, the CRM tool has empowered line staff in new ways. “After some initial resistance – the `I don’t have time syndrome’ – they now are the biggest supporters of Synapsys,” Gerstner says. “A very healthy competitive environment has evolved among the staff because they recognize they have control of their destiny. They no longer have to rely on monthly management reports to know how well they are doing or where they need to improve! “Most importantly everyone within the organization realized that a CRM system is not the sole solution, but a component of the solution for a successful sales culture.” So what’s next? “We have just scratched the surface of our systems,” Gerstner says. “Our next big step is increased utilization of ad hoc reports. The system comes with about 35 pre-formatted reports. Now that we have a good grasp of them, we’re ready to take report generation to the next level.” She also says that while the Synapsys platform meets nearly all the credit union’s needs, “as with all systems, there are a few functionalities that we do not currently have but hope to in time.” -

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