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Opening Accounts and Relationships
A credit union uses service as a competitive advantage over price.
For the rest of the January 2006 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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North Shore Credit Union (NSCU) competes with some of the largest banks and credit unions in north Vancouver. The company has roughly 42,000 members, but needed to improve its understanding of the relationships it had with each of those members to expand its value, and therefore increase customer retention and profitability. "Our greatest challenge was dealing with other financial institutions which were globalizing, reducing costs, and therefore providing their services at a cheaper price," says Chris Catliff, North Shore CEO and president. "To compete with that competition on price, we had to provide better service. We really needed a way of managing their expectations." The company wanted to see a lift in wallet share by selling more products and was looking for better reporting tools. "We knew CRM was a way to set us apart, but we didn't have the system to do it. NSCU needed an integrated system to understand all its members' standings," says Susan Metcalf, development manager for North Shore. The company chose Pivotal, because the financial institution is a Microsoft shop and Pivotal is a Microsoft partner. Sometimes CRM systems are no more than sales-tracking tools, according to Fred Cook, NSCU's CIO, but his company wanted to find out the profitability of customers across the entire enterprise. "We could go anywhere to get sales management software," Metcalf says. "CRM software is more powerful. Pivotal is much easier to tap into and more powerful to bring in more information." The company's business strategy is, "You don't open an account with North Shore, you open a relationship." When customers provide the credit union with information in the branches, in the call center, or on the Web site, that information is captured in the CRM system and stored in one place. "You have to know what is your value proposition and what you have to compete with," Cook says. "We said we're going to outservice all our competitors. You come here for more value. That's the service relationship and CRM is the anchor." In its first full year of implementing Pivotal CRM, NSCU increased revenue by 41 percent and increased profitability by 40 percent. For the past two years it has seen year-over-year growth of roughly 25 percent. There also was a huge lift in the retention rates of existing customers. The industry average is about 75 percent because people are shopping around for better prices on things like mortgages; NSCU's rate grew to 90 percent.
Not only are customers happier, but employees are more satisfied because they have the ability to solve problems and present better information to the customers. Every six to eight months NSCU gathers feedback from the floor and puts it back in the system. Part of the increased satisfaction level this past year can be attributed to the company changing its screens to present information to its tellers in a simplified way, according to Cook. Now they can immediately gain access to the status of each member's relationship with the company. In April 2005 North Shore rolled out a photograph system that is imbedded in the CRM system to both prevent identity fraud and help enhance the level of customer intimacy by letting employees recognize customers in the store. "We present this as a service, but then you'll be free to not show ID [which is not very customer friendly]," Cook says. Unlike the Department of Motor Vehicles, NSCU always shows customers their picture to make sure they like it. The program has a 95 percent acceptance rate. "The key to their success stems from them having a very clear strategy around the customers and how technology will enable their business," says Bruce Kenny, Pivotal senior vice president of products. "They put technology at front and center of a competitive advantage." The Payoff Within the first full year of implementing Pivotal CRM, NSCU:
  • increased revenue by 41 percent;
  • grew customer retention from 70 percent to 90 percent;
  • improved employee satisfaction by 11 percent; and
  • boosted employee productivity by 10 percent.
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