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Customer Relationships are Key to Driving Successful CRM Solutions


TMCnews Featured Article

July 09, 2010

Customer Relationships are Key to Driving Successful CRM Solutions

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Companies seeking to drive sustainable growth and revenue streams understand the basis of the business is in the customer. Such companies launch strategies that aim to build customer value, as well as organizational value. 1to1 Media and Gartner (News - Alert) have partnered to spotlight those organizations that take such an approach and have significantly improved their business performance. The Navy Federal Credit Union is the latest organization to be honored.

With the change in the U.S. economy in 2007, Navy Federal Credit Union recognized that it needed to strengthen member relationships. To do so, the credit union needed to make a number of changes in how it integrated people, processes and technology with customer relationship management.

One key initiative was to maximize every member interaction to ensure no business opportunity was ever left on the table. At the time, the credit union had 1,300 contact center agents who were focused on providing reactive customer service and lacked the necessary training to identify and respond to sales opportunities.

The credit union had been collecting demographic and transactional data on customers in a data warehouse, but lacked the necessary tools to pull that information together to identify and react to cross-sell and upsell opportunities. To change that, the credit union launched a "cross-servicing" initiative known as "Above and Beyond" that was designed to help deepen customer relationships and provide its members the right offers at the right time.

Initially, the credit union flagged the records of members who have multiple accounts, such as savings, checking, debit and online banking. Agents can now suggest any core services during interactions that specific members may not be already using. With success in this area, the organization decided to take it another step further.

In March of 2009, the credit union implemented Infor's Epiphany Inter­action Advisor and Customer Relationship Backbone systems. The idea was to help its decision-makers analyze members' transactional, propensity and other information in real-time. The credit union hoped to shift its 1,300 agents from order-takers to raising members' awareness of its products and services. The challenge was convincing the agents this was a good idea.
Julie Griffin, vice president, eServices for the organization, noted, "We made sure we had buy-in [to the program] from across the organization. We didn't want to turn this into a hard sell. We kept it pretty simple."

The Above and Beyond program became a success as it was extended to the credit union's online banking program and branch offices and has delivered strong returns. Last year, nearly 75 percent of members indicated that its contact center agents were acting as advisors instead of just selling a product or service.

In addition, the organization has enjoyed 17 percent in new sales to the credit union's credit card portfolio and 15 percent and 11 percent gains its certificates of deposit and auto financing business, respectively. The organization had established a targeted acceptance rate of 5 percent prior to the initiative, but has since achieved an average of 8 percent, greatly exceeding expectations. The organization now refers to this initiative as a great success.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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