Use Of MCIF Expands Into A Social Mission, Opportunity

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Credit Union: Charlotte Metro CU

Nominated By: Liberty, Mounds View, Minn.

Nominated For: Application of MCIF System

A marketing customer information files system-MCIF in more familiar parlance-is designed to helped segment member data and identify member clusters or groups likely to respond to specific marketing messages.

Charlotte Metro Credit Union, Charlotte, N.C., has found a way through its MCIF system to cultivate a new and potentially profitable market share.

Two years ago the $112-million community credit union began courting the local Hispanic market using Liberty Enterprises' MCIF system, notes Deb McLean, Charlotte Metro's vice president of marketing. What started as a methodology to market credit cards has turned into an almost social mission for the credit union, she says.

"With the Liberty Database Marketing System, we're building relationships," says McLean. "That's what credit unions are all about."

Charlotte Metro's relationship with Liberty started in 1995 when the credit union began purchasing checks from the company.

The relationship soon moved on to credit cards and then by 1998 Charlotte Metro began segmenting market data with Liberty's MCIF system.

Local Hispanics weren't the first group the credit union targeted. That didn't happen until 2001. It took access to reliable data to generate the credit union's interest.

"The local police department gave us a database of Hispanic surnames and we shared them with Liberty," says McLean.

Once that database had been developed and refined, Charlotte Metro began marketing products. This past August, the credit union sent names on its refined list a letter-one side printed in English, the other in Spanish-promoting IRNet, the partnership between the World Council of Credit Union and VIGO to provide inexpensive overseas money wiring services.

That promotion generated interest, says McLean. "We earned a little fee income and got quite a good response from the Hispanic community," she said.

The credit union has since purchased a list of Hispanic-owned business from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and has begun promoting its bilingual capabilities and services as something those business owners can offer their employees. Elizabeth Ramos, who manages relations between the credit union and Charlotte's Spanish-speaking community, has gotten much busier lately, says McLean.

The initiative is relatively new for Charlotte Metro and McLean admits that the initial numbers didn't look too good even after two years.

"It's a slow process because you have to build those relationships," says McLean. The word is getting out there, but not at the rate the credit union hoped it would, she says.

But thanks to the penetrations the credit union has made and to the Liberty system's ability to sort and categorize data, Charlotte Metro does like what it sees in terms of product usage patterns.

The average Charlotte Metro member uses three credit union products. The average Hispanic member uses five products, McLean says. That's everything from savings accounts to Visa cards to line-of-credit overdraft protection and all things in between.

"Our Liberty data gave us proof that Hispanics were quickly becoming our most loyal members," says McLean. "We're confident these members will come to us for their first mortgages."

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