More Than A Relationship

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It's 2004, and embracing the sales culture isn't enough for award-winning North Shore Credit Union's membership relationship management (MRM) program.

In fact, North Shore is bent on achieving what it calls "Member Intimacy," the next generation of MRM, according to Chris Catliff, CEO at the $1-billion CU (all figures are in U.S. dollars).

"We're not expanding our relationship with new members, we're deepening our relationship with existing members," Catliff explained.

Indeed-in two years, North Shore membership has grown less than one percentage point to 41,000 members.

A deeper relationship means members are less likely to beat feet, Catliff said. Member retention-at 94% for North Shore-"gives you the biggest leverage for growth."

There's evidence that suggests North Shore's move toward Member Intimacy is working. Consider, for instance, that North Shore's assets under administration have grown more than 20% every year since 2001, said Catliff, while earnings growth has hovered between 40% and 50%.

And in December, North Shore's MRM program was once again recognized-this time by Credit Union Central of B.C.'s 2003 Credit Union Innovation Award.

Member Intimacy comes on the wings of North Shore's decision to segment members, Catliff continued. That's something of an "anathema" in the CU industry, Catliff admitted, where the credo is to serve everybody equally.

"We've moved from serving every member at any cost to focusing on those members we can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with," he said.

North Shore's "higher value" members are some 30% who have demonstrated depth, or profitability, and breadth, or that they use a range of products, said Catliff.

Higher value members each have a personal account representative, a division of "samurai knowledge workers, armed with the information of which services members are predisposed to take advantage of," said Catliff.

The samurai account representatives make telephone calls to their appointed higher-value members "ideally once a quarter," said Catliff. The member is surveyed as to the quality of the relationship with the personal account representative-and the representatives are compensated relative to the ratings they receive from members.

The samurai's sword, in this case, is "Value.Net," North Shore's in-house MRM tool developed in collaboration with North Vancouver-based Pivotal Corporation. "The MRM system helps us figure out who those higher value members are," Catliff said.

Value.Net consolidates each member's financial activity and life events, such as retirement or education. The web-based application helps identify member buying trends and service preferences that can lead to cross-selling opportunities.

The quality of North Shore's member profitability data has recently taken a giant leap, Catliff added. Value.Net now includes XML-based data feeds from North Shore's third-party credit card, wealth management, and insurance products.

In addition, Value.Net is North Shore's employee portal, "inextricably linked to MRM," Catliff said.

Every morning, employees log on to their own lists of "opportunities," which include potential mortgages, auto loans, stocks, retirement plans and financial plans, said Susan Metcalf, North Shore's development manager

Value.Net is currently tracking more than 3,000 opportunities, she said. "We've got more opportunities than we can handle."

Although North Shore is able to close on 80% of the opportunities it pursues, the CU's busy staff is only able to pursue about 15% of all opportunities annually, said Catliff.

"We're hiring lots of new personal account managers just to work down the leads," he said.

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