Article

Tech Time: Interconnected and Efficient Relationship Management

digital illustration of CRM customer relationship management system in center of network of member and sales data
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

3 minutes

CRM offerings are moving from siloed sales solutions to highly integrated and user-friendly platforms.

With a breadth of new, interrelated offerings, Ryan Myers, director for CUES strategic partner Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Arizona, says CRM vendors are quickly surpassing the concept of CRM as a sales management-only tool, diversifying into platforms with complex automation, analytics and new member-facing technology. “Just look at the slew of Salesforce acquisitions (such as Tableau, an analytics platform, and Mulesoft, a provider of integration software for connecting apps and data) as clear examples of innovation, which aid in reporting and integration.”

Integration and Centralized Data

Most surprising for Myers is how complex organizations can be centralized into a single platform, including multi-product loan operations or contact center support. “CRMs have rarely replaced any of the dozen or more critical systems on which credit unions rely,” he adds. “But the trend has been for a web of technology to integrate via application programming interfaces. We see large financial institutions configure CRMs into enterprise service platforms that integrate data and add supplemental value (i.e., user dashboards or cross-sell recommendations) through improved user interfaces, automation and analysis.”

Another dramatic change is the expanded utility and flexibility of CRM offerings. “System vendors and implementation partners are improving out-of-the-box capabilities to solve common pain points that plague credit unions, such as pre-built integrations with online banking and loan origination solutions,” explains Myers. “Hopefully, these efforts continue to drive down costs and complexity barriers to implementation.”

Eliminating Friction for Members and Staff

Shrewd financial institutions are also using CRM to personalize cross-sales and simplify the online application experience, reflects Myers. Here, the platform can help identify the next-best product, nurture member interest, pre-fill application details and even collect required documentation. ($1.4 billion Credit Union of Texas, Dallas, is doing an excellent job at this, he says.)

A further example of CRM integration at community financial institutions is in their contact centers. Some institutions have consolidated data and functionality from as many as six or more systems into a single platform, reducing call resolution times and staffing requirements, he notes.

Writing for GonzoBanker, Cornerstone’s blog, Myers shares that $5 billion Idaho Central Credit Union, Pocatello, and $6 billion Delta Community Credit Union, Atlanta, successfully deployed CRM in their contact centers, embedding inbound call authentication into their platforms. Idaho Central CU estimates it gained two to three FTEs’ worth of efficiency in time saved at the beginning of a member call.

Myers adds that efficiency may include more accessible customer information (a 360-degree view), a convenient and accessible method of documenting contact history, integration of common tasks, and the ability to submit and track the status of requests sent to business partners.

“Rather than working out of several systems simultaneously, employees can update member information, reset online banking passwords, request a debit card reissue and document conversation details in a single platform. Lastly, the system makes it easy to identify new cross-sell opportunities and submit referrals—the bread and butter of all CRMs—and deepen member relationships.”

Specialists primarily manage implementation of a CRM platform, and it can still be complicated, generally needing a fair amount of technical assistance, notes Myers. However, a “codeless” trend among innovative CRM solutions is placing a tremendous amount of post-implementation power and autonomy in the hands of system administrators—providing greater democratization among users.

Although it’s helpful to have tech-savvy administrators, he stresses that credit unions today don’t require trained programmers to achieve value with a CRM platform. “It’s much easier to train a tech-savvy employee to configure CRMs to improve business than it is to teach a techie the business that needs to be improved.”

Myers reiterates that rapidly evolving CRM systems have a lot to offer the financial services industry, which is in desperate need of better efficiency, analytics and personalization. “It takes significant preparation and a little patience, but credit unions that have embraced the journey are finding themselves ahead of the curve.”

Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists credit unions, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.

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