OK, when you hear “CRM,” what do you think of? Some kind of pre-packaged computer system for sales and service? Or do you think of doing a great job managing relationships with your members?
Odds are that most of you thought about technology first. But the sure bet regarding this technology is that a feature-rich CRM system manages and builds stronger relationships with your members. In fact, the stronger relationships with your members directly tie in with your cross selling and marketing initiatives, enhancing member trust and adding value to your credit union.
The Tie Between Superb Service and Generating Sales
The facts are that credit unions are “sellers” and members are “buyers” of financial services. When asked by industry consulting firm Raddon Financial Group what the biggest influences are when buying financial services, members overwhelmingly responded that SERVICE SATISFACTION is a key factor in the purchasing decision. Members “buy” new services from those providers who have earned their trust.
When you peel this onion a layer deeper to learn how a member places value on service satisfaction, you’ll discover that the top three factors include:
- Accuracy – It’s no surprise that members want their finances handled in an efficient and accurate manner.
- Prompt problem resolution – Members anticipate that problems will come up. The difference is how effectively and responsively their financial services provider is able to resolve the issue.
- Knowledgeable people – When they come in contact with you, members want to speak with someone who can help them. They do not want to be passed from department to department and have to re-explain the situation every time. Get it done right the first time and you’ll build the relationship.
Think of yourself as an individual consumer. You certainly expect these qualities from your providers, so you can rest assured that your members will expect these things from you. And, most likely, they’ll get them from other financial services providers.
It’s also a good bet that those organizations doing a truly good job of managing member relationships – thus, creating trust and building those relationships – are using technology to their advantage. This is why CRM systems exist — because it has become increasingly difficult for employees to know everything they need to know to have personalized relationships with thousands of members.
Things to Look for in Making Technology Work for You:
Most credit unions today have not found – or have found but have not implemented – a set of technology tools that help them manage member relationships.
Many times the challenge boils down to finding the right solution for your organization. In the hopes of helping, here are some tips to consider when searching for a suitable CRM platform:
- Does it cover the basics? You can get a tremendous amount of benefit from some simple contact management, problem resolution, and cross-selling support tools. Many times systems are very complicated and sophisticated, but the “80/20 rule” applies here as well. You’ll get most of the benefit by implementing the basics.
- Is it easy-to-use and intuitive? When you are looking at a system, keep in mind that your staff will be using it – and that it will only work if it works for them. It has to be quick and easy for staff to find and enter information in the course of their dealings with your members.
- Is it flexible? At the end of the day you will want to tailor your implementation to your terminology and your preferences. Find a solution that allows you to do this, rather than one that has you changing your ways to fit it.
- Is it easy to modify? This is really important. No matter how well you plan your CRM implementation, you will likely want to make changes as soon as it’s launched throughout your organization. Also, find a platform and provider that makes it easy to let your implementation evolve to fit your needs as time goes on.
- Is the provider responsive? As important as the system is, so is the provider. Are they easy to work with, flexible, and responsive? Will it cost you “an arm and a leg” to make changes? And how quickly will those changes be handled?
- Is it easy to get data from other systems? Properly implemented, a CRM system should integrate with your other major systems. Staff should have access to a well-rounded view of your relationships with members and even perform transactions without having to jump from system to system to do so.
- Is it modular? Even though there is a lot of similarity between credit unions, there are also many differences. You need to find a solution that fits your specific needs – and this means finding one where you can pick and choose what capabilities are essential to your organization. As mentioned earlier in “the basics” section, perhaps your credit union would benefit by implementing a simple contact management solution rather than a full-blown CRM system. But, remember, you don’t want to lock yourself out of expanding to do other things later!
Generate Results by Getting Started!
Despite all the discussion, CRM is not a mainstream solution yet. The results you can gain by implementing part or all of a CRM solution are astounding. As you move down the path you will realize benefits from several perspectives:
- Improved Member Satisfaction – By enabling your staff with knowledge at their fingertips and implementing some problem resolution tools, your member loyalty and satisfaction scores will increase. Members will gain trust in you because you are able to respond to their needs and issues quickly.
- Increased Sales – Having “smart” information available about cross-sell opportunities that are SPECIFIC to individual members is very powerful. First Future Credit Union ($890 million, 67,000 members), for example, recently ran a test case for a new sales campaign and experienced a six-fold jump in sales of that service within the first month of implementing a CRM cross-sell campaign at a particular branch.
- Improved Productivity – Many times the discussion surrounding CRM is all about new sales or resolving member issues quickly. One of the benefits you will experience is a significant gain in staff productivity. When done well, a CRM implementation streamlines the communications between departments and staff. People have better information available to them – and it helps them do their jobs in a more effective manner.
If you’re looking to build member trust and add value to your credit union, the CRM tools are available today. All you have to do is make the commitment to get started.
-- Mike Winter, president of fiVISION, a feature-rich CRM solutions provider to the financial services industry. --