After Moving Cautiously, BECU Ready With CRM Solution

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CRM often fails because companies bite off more technology than they can chew.

That's a scenario put forth by BECU, one of the nation's 10 largest credit unions and a late adopter of CRM software.

Next month, BECU is piloting its first front-line, CRM-related tool, called Member View, which will offer employees a real-time snapshot of each member's financial relationships, according to Bekah Bridges, project manager at the $5.6-billion CU.

Member View is just the first of many tools that will comprise BECU's Member Care Framework, a CRM infrastructure arising from a set of Microsoft solutions.

Window Into Needs

"The Member Care Framework will provide staff with a window into our members' individual needs," said Melanie Walsh, BECU's director of Member Care. "This window will give staff the opportunity to identify and fulfill member needs by providing holistic solutions."

To that end, the Member Care Framework may integrate a diverse set of data, ranging from online account opening and funding to business intelligence.

"We recognize that the Member Care Framework will be a journey; there will not be a 'big bang' implementation," Bridges said. "Future features of this project will include a knowledge base, interaction and issue tracking, increased personalization of products and services and further integration with current systems such as our business intelligence solution."

Meanwhile, BECU's holding off on implementing its license of the Microsoft CRM module itself, resulting in what Bridges called an "unconventional approach" to CRM.

"When we talk about shaking up the CRM space, it's because we're not rushing out to get a technology and then throwing it at our staff and saying 'do this,'" Bridges explained. "Instead, we're piecing together our CRM technologies in very methodical ways. We want to give staff the cultural change and the tools they need at a base level to bring BECU one step closer to being a better advocate for our members."

Other large credit unions have likewise proceeded with caution. The $2-billion PSECU put its toe in CRM waters in 2002 with a cross-sell tool backed by MCIF data, waiting to purchase a CRM suite. The $1-billion Technology CU put its CRM module on the back shelf in 2001 after realizing that the business culture and supporting technologies were more obscure than other solutions.

Member View evolved from discussions with front- and back-office employees, who were asked to create a "vision for the future," Bridges said.

"What this team came up with was a set of personal interactions that they envisioned our members having with us," said Sheri Sala, BECU's Performance Support manager. "They also identified the tools, business processes and skill sets that they felt we were missing in order to make the vision real."

Microsoft's Biztalk Rules Composer and .NET platform are playing a key role in implementing the team's vision.

BizTalk allows decisioning based on BECU's new member-centric-instead of account-centric-business rules.

"We're structuring our technology to look at the whole member relationship, Bridges explained. "Otherwise, we may miss key attributes about the member when we just see the account details. Now we are able to provide a consistent and complete view of all of the products, services, and delivery channels an individual member is utilizing."

Member View pulls data from systems such as online banking, loan origination and credit cards, she said.

Before Member View, BECU employees used to search up to 10 disparate systems to get an idea of each member's relationship. And key data may not have been available to all representatives, or may have been organized by account instead of by member.

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