ABOUT THE VENDOR
Unica, a provider of analytical CRM and marketing automation solutions, helps businesses implement one-to-one customer interaction strategies that communicate the right message to the right person at the right time -- whatever the channel. Hundreds of businesses worldwide rely on Unica's software, services, and expertise to build profitable customer relationships and achieve marketing success. Headquartered in Lincoln, Mass., Unica is privately held with offices throughout the U.S. and a network of distribution partners in Europe, South Africa, and South America. Its customers include Lands' End, Bank of Montreal, Fingerhut, Merck-Medco, ABN AMRO, United Parcel Service, Marriott, Scotiabank, and AOL-AAdvantage.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Credit Union of Texas is one of the largest credit unions in the country with over $930 million in assets. The credit union operates eleven branches and serves over 155,000 members in the Dallas area.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
With Unica Affinium, a modular, cross-channel marketing suite, you can implement one-to-one marketing and customer interaction strategies that communicate the right message to the right person at the right time. Affinium, Unica's modular, cross-channel marketing suite, delivers deep functionality for data mining and predictive modeling, customer interaction and campaign management, reporting, and real-time personalization. Affinium
Credit Union of Texas selected Unica to help improve its understanding of member' current and future needs and to enable highly targeted, personalized marketing campaigns. SearchCRM spoke with Jerry Thompson, Credit Union of Texas' senior VP and CIO, about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
Thompson: Three or four years ago we started noticing a trend among our competitors that their direct mail pieces seemed to be much more personalized than they had been in the past. It became obvious that they were using something a little different to do their direct mail pieces. That got us started on investigations. Once we figured out that they were using some fairly sophisticated technology tools, we started pursuing CRM with a vengeance.
SearchCRM: Did you have any CRM implemented before this?
Thompson: We had what is referred to in the industry as a master customer information file system. I guess you could call it a precursor to CRM. But it was very unsophisticated--it didn't have any modeling capabilities, it had more of a shotgun approach to direct mail, and it had no ability to deliver messaging to our call center or our Web site.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a CRM vendor?
Thompson: Initially we wanted one vendor that could give us an A-to-Z solution. It became obvious to us after about a year of searching that no such animal existed--that this was going to be a multivendor initiative, with different pieces coming from different vendors. We realized that we had to have a foundation to build this thing on, and that was going to be a data warehouse, so we ended up picking IBM's DB2. Then IBM became the general contractor on the project. They brought in some of their own software, and they also brought in other pieces of software like Unica's Affinium product.
SearchCRM: What was the most challenging aspect of the implementation?
Thompson: Probably the most challenging aspect was getting our entire senior management team together in a room for about three days to sit down and put down on paper first what we thought our most pressing business problems were; second, how we were going to change our business culture to take advantage of these new automated tools; and third, how that was going to change our traditional methodology for marketing. So the most significant challenge was changing our mindset and our traditional culture.
SearchCRM: What kind of training did you have?
Thompson: There was extensive training, from technical training for my IS people across the board to other departmental management, and right out to our call canter and front-line teller personnel. Some of the training was done in-house by the various vendors, and for some of it we had to travel out to vendor sites. Some of it was done over the Internet. It was a combination of just about every training methodology out there.
SearchCRM: Was there any internal resistance to the new system?
Thompson: There was. I'd be less than frank if I said that we didn't have some players that didn't survive the transition. And that's typical when you change an organization's culture. We went from a service culture to a sales culture, and not everybody made that transition.
SearchCRM: Can you give me an example of how you use the new system in your day-to-day operations?
Thompson: We use it for a lot of different things, but I can give you an example of how we've used it so far.
We have a lot of transactional and demographic information on our membership that's already a part of the warehouse; anywhere from three and a half to four million transactions per month are captured and put into the warehouse. We supplement that data with external demographic data--lifestyle and life stage type information from Axiom Corporation. Then, using the Unica Affinium software, we'll start running bankruptcy and delinquency prediction scoring models. We can look at past members who have gone into either a delinquency on a loan or a bankruptcy situation, pick up on the key demographic profiles for those members, then overlay that profile against our entire membership.
SearchCRM: How does this help your customers?
Thompson: It gives us the ability to approach a member before they get too far down in a hole and either restructure their loan portfolio or get them into consumer credit counseling. It's been extremely successful; our delinquency is one of the lowest in the nation.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for companies thinking of starting a similar project?
Thompson: Don't go into it lightly--it is not as easy as it might seem. Sit down as a senior management team and put down on a piece of paper what you expect to get out of this. A big mistake we've seen a lot of companies make is that they don't have the scope of what they expect this to do for them before they start. Then they try to do too much with it initially. They think it's the end-all solution to all their problems, when really it's just one small piece of that.
Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at email@example.com, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in October 2001