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First Technology Credit Union members are saying "yes" to sales offers at an "amazing" rate, thanks in part to a multi-channel marketing database.

"We are getting a 40 to 50 % rate of 'yes' responses to the campaigns we offer members," according to Char Shinn, vice president of e-Business at the $1.5-billion CU. "That rate is amazing. Our mail campaigns only generate a 3% rate of 'yes' responses."

Shinn added that 25% of those members who say "yes" to offers also sign up for the offers immediately.

Shinn attributes part of the sales success to a channel management solution and cross-sales platform called NEXT, provided by Summit Information Systems.

First Tech is using NEXT to reach into every corner of its membership, collating disparate data sets from the multiple sources, including the 135,000-member CU's Summit core system, credit bureau feeds, third party demographics and financial counseling and insurance systems, among others.

NEXT creates more meaningful sales encounters, Shinn said. The system tracks which channels a member is using for transactions and the details of sales interactions with that member-and then suggests relevant products that employees can offer members, said Shinn.

"I tend to refer to NEXT as a big chunk of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, because people are familiar with the term CRM," explained Shinn. "NEXT captures data and gives automated advice to our employees, advocating the next best product or service for our member, and it's not always the most profitable product or service for First Tech.

"We get a picture of all of the member's different relationships with us, assign a score, and then assign the member to one of five different relationship levels," Shinn said.

Previously, employees had to manually toggle between multiple databases to collect and synthesize data for sales campaigns. "And only the marketing department had access to our demographic data," she added.

Shinn plans to configure NEXT to import data from First Tech's new member database and consumer lending campaign database, as well.

Staff is trying to make the most of its hub, updating the system weekly and mining NEXT's resources on the spot as they give financial advice to members, Shinn continued.

"Every employee at the credit union is using NEXT," she explained. During an interaction, the employee locates the member in NEXT and selects a delivery channel from which to originate the transaction, such as the call center or the back office.

NEXT then delivers the member's profile and relationship level and uses a rules engine to suggest three relevant offers that the employee might make to the member.

First Tech currently sells 16 campaigns, ranging from broad to focused offers and from credit card rates to electronic notices, Shinn said.

"One of the hugely useful things about NEXT is that it records the offer and the response, and then won't make the same offer to the member again," Shinn added. "That's so valuable to the front line staff."

Although First Tech has some usage kinks to work out with NEXT, Shinn said she has noticed that member relationships are increasing "slightly." For example, when NEXT reminds employees to offer First Tech's competitive rates on credit card loans, 67% of members accept, Shinn said.

The credit card program wasn't as successful before it was imported into NEXT, Shinn said. "Members only trickled in."

With 55% of the technology-oriented membership actively using homebanking and 8 % of all transactions performed online, the credit union plans to go beyond the branch and deploy NEXT over 1stTechCU.com this year as well.

NEXT can also be deployed over a credit union's ATM and interactive voice response systems.

Las Vegas-based Nevada Federal Credit Union and Vacaville, Calif.-based Travis Credit Union also use NEXT.

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