Chemical Banking Corp. and Chase Manhattan Corp. are turning to new personal computer-based software of identify cross-selling opportunities among small-business customers

Billerica, Mass.-based Harte-Hanks Data Technologies designed the software, called Business Advantage.

At Chemical, Business Advantage will be rolled out to the commercial and professional banking group and the product management staff in the next few months, said Richard Goldberg, the bank's vice president of management information systems reporting.

15 Users So Far

In the late 1960s, the unit of Harte-Hanks Communications Inc. was one of the first companies to introduce marketing software that performed "householding." Such of analysis enables bankers to see the entirety of their consumer relationships by isolating names, addresses and demographic data.

Business Advantage applies these techniques to a bank's small-business portfolio. Since its introduction in the fall of 1991, 15 financial institutions have purchases the software, including Chase and Chemical.

The advantages of seeing a total picture of corporate activity are enormous in terms of marketing capabilities.

For years, banks as well as software vendors have tried to create householding applications for commercial banking, but because one corporation may have many addresses, names, and subsidiaries, using householding techniques proved difficult.

By using sophisticated data-searching tools that took at names and addresses for common information, Business Advantage is able to identify corporate activity and give a clearer picture of customers.

Customers Are Best Prospects

"In this economy, the size of the commercial banking pie is not getting any bigger. The logical way to build business is to cross-sell to existing customers," said Scott Gordon, vice president and director of commercial marketing at First NH Bank, a $4 billion-asset institution in Manchester, N.H., that bought the software last summer.

In addition, Harte-Hankes proprietary research indicates that 80% of a bank's small-business customers usually have only one relationship at any given bank, usually spreading their business to four or five banks.

According to Randall Bean, a marketing development manager Harte-Hanks Data Technologies, even when a small business customer has multiple accounts with one bank, those business ties aren't related to each other.

He indicated that branches tend to handle most deposit relationships, while another division calls on the same customer for loans. "Bankers didn't think we'd be able to create a product like this, because they had such a tough time trying to put a system together," he said.

Demonstration Effective

Chase and Chemical officials were among those who were initially skeptical. Mr. Bean said Harte-Hanks persuaded them to provide customer records it could use to prove that the software could help them understand the totality of business-client relationships.

Harte-Hanks ran the analysis, and Chase and Chemical were impressed enough with the results to buy the product.

"Bringing a database tool like this onto," a PC was unthinkable years ago," said Chemical's Mr. Goldberg. "Now that we can get a more detailed ... look at our smaller and commercial customers, we've filled a critical gap."

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