How One Credit Union Is Using A Crystal Ball. Really

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Credit Union: First Tech Credit Union,

Beaverton, Ore.

Nominated By: Summit Information Systems,

Corvallis, Ore.

Nominated For: Automated Advisor Hub

While Crystal Ball-the newest tool being used at First Tech Credit Union-does look into the past and seek to predict the future, there is no magic involved.

The automated member advisor hub is a program developed by Summit Information Systems, Corvallis, Ore., that matches products and services with specific members based on member profiles and other programmed criteria.

"Whenever staff has an interaction with the member, Crystal can make the determination on what might be a good product or service for him or her," said Char Shinn, VP of e-Business Strategy. "Maybe this person doesn't have a checking account. Or, he might have an older version of a VISA card."

Shinn said the staff decided to give the system a name, Crystal Ball, to make the training more upbeat.

"We talk about her as a very wise person," Shinn said.

First Tech, which has $1.5 billion in assets, conducted an Intranet pilot program of the advisor hub for Summit in late August. Shinn said staff was so pleased with the response that it plans to expand it to the Internet in November.

"During the pilot program, 50% of the time, the offer was right," Shinn said, noting that 20 members and five products or services were part of the initial test.

While the set-up process was time-consuming, Shinn said, it was worth the effort.

To get the program running, staff first had to build profiles of its members and create specific criteria for the products and services they wanted to cross-sell.

"We worked for many months building the rules on how it would work and how it would store information," she said. "We had pieces and parts that we used in marketing but it wasn't all in one place."

Members were also categorized based on the products and service sthey carried, payment history and how often they conducted transactions, for starters.

"The ideal member has Net Check, direct deposit, uses home banking, has a decent credit score and does a lot of transactions," Shinn said. "Based on those criteria, we can quickly see their credit and relationship level."

Once the pertinent information was stored, she said, staff had only to punch in one of the participating members' account numbers into the computer and let Crystal do the rest.

"Her offers were very specific," Shinn said. "For example, VISA pricing is performance based and would only be offered to members who are over 18, have the best credit ratings and no bad flags."

Crystal also recorded such information as to how the contact was made-branch, phone or e-mail-and how the member responded to a particular cross-sell attempt.

"If the staff member does make an offer, we know whether the member already had that product or service on a different account or whether we should call them back later," Shinn said, "Crystal remembers everything you tell her."

While the pilot program only included a handful of products and services, the second roll out will add many more and be linked to the CU's online banking system, she said.

Online users will be notified of particular matches via a banner across their computer screens.

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