AUSTIN, Texas — While there are numerous customer relationship management (CRM) tools on the market, out-of-the-box solutions usually don't do the trick.

As a result, a thorough tweaking — sometimes years in the making — is required to ensure efficient member onboarding. This has been the case for University Federal Credit Union.

"We are about to embark on a re-visioning of the CRM platform and the roadmap," said Sheila Jo Wojcik, senior vice president of communication and corporate affairs at $1.6 billion-asset CU.

"We had originally thought we would use the CRM solution for sales and referrals, tracking and as a possible fulfillment tool, but now we are realizing that we have to rethink that goal," added Wojcik.

To date, University FCU, supporting approximately 170,000 members and 14 branches, has realized success using Aptean's Pivotal CRM solution. This partnership began in 2011, according to CRM Program Manager and Operations Business Analyst Jason McGee. The first phase launched in July 2012.

"The reason Jason is a program manager is because we understand that CRM is not a project that you install and move on," said Wojcik. "It's a program that lives on. We're probably in phase two now, but will likely have phase three, four and five."

Aptean's Vice President of CRM Product Management Matt Keenan explained that the Pivotal solution is a "flexible framework" that can implemented around a credit union's existing business processes and workflows.

"Pivotal provides tailored features that include providing detailed member profiles and the ability to match members to products while also delivering a customized level of service across each member's financial lifetime," said Keenan.

CRM Phase Two
Nearly two years after launch, University FCU's mission has remained the same, which is to have a 360 degree member-centric view. This includes managing service request, analyzing sales referrals and tracking member behavior, among other initiatives.

Initially, Wojcik and her team thought the solution could go live in 2011, but it took more than four months to ready the solution, which is considered a short time frame.

"We've heard from other credit unions that have been working on their solutions for two or three years prior to going live, so we hooked up with consultants who really helped us," she said. With the current CRM system operational, each month 12,000 to 20,000 service requests are issued and closed.

"We can track not only what members were requesting, but how long it took to close the request. It also notes the request if it goes through multiple hands or multiple departments, and probably the multiple calls from the member," said Wojcik. "Having all that tracked in one system is a huge benefit."

For the IT department, the initial implementation did require significant resources, explained McGee. "A large part of this was due to our customization of the out-of-the-box product, as well as the integration to our core financial system. We wanted to integrate the member contact information with our core so when staff opened a new account they had to go through the CRM system to create that contact information."

To achieve the aforementioned goals, a significant amount of training was required, starting with a "train the trainer" session from Aptean. Next McGee said a customized training program was developed in-house and administered to each department using the CRM solution.

The ongoing challenge, he added, is providing a consistent onboarding experience when members open a new account. The current solution allows for new member activity or action plans to be scheduled from day one to 30 days, 60 days and so on. An added benefit to Pivotal is that it seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Outlook. "The staff knows what follow ups they need to do for those members, which has been a great tool."

Allowing Time For Upgrade
When new functions are introduced to the CRM platform, a period of one month is required for a minor upgrade such as adding a new "field" to one year for major upgrade that includes integration with disparate third party providers. This process includes training and beta testing, noted McGee.

With the core module implemented and yielding results, Wojcik explained that a contact module is being considered for implementation to increase call center operations as well as a social media module that could be used for mining consensual member data.

"This is why we are still in a visioning process because Pivotal is such a robust system with so much functionality that you really have to pace yourself," said Wojcik.

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