In the present day, credit unions are in the run for becoming more member-centric rather than just account centric and this is one approach that is making them popular among the better half of the population. Member management and retention, streamline processes and marketing efficiency remain the prime objectives for most unions. Members are more informed and aware today, owing to technology. Adapting to this direction, several credit unions are turning to customer relationship management technologies to deliver highly differentiated and unique customer experience. The CRM software is generic, specific and works in almost any sales environment and so far, they have been successful in enabling financial institutions to become more cost-effective, custom-designed and user-friendly.
According to the data on CRM technology and initiatives provided by The financial brand,
“ CRM can offer a financial advantage of $5.60 for every $1.00 spent.”
Credit unions are bent on generating revenue by retaining loyal members, and at the same time, attracting new ones. Owing to this approach, they need to be able to offer exceptional member services across their omnichannel presence alongside immediate and personalized communication. CRM technologies play an essential role in coordinating these services and increasing sales to existing members. A centralized CRM technology can facilitate effective communication of targeted offers to members so that they are presented with services suited to their requirements, and increasing sales remarkably. And hence, investing in CRM technologies provides a platform to explore more opportunities while reducing operational costs, and realizing the benefits of selling and serving at the same time.
Despite their availability to retain members and manage them efficiently, CRM technologies face criticisms for the following reasons -
- They do not contribute to loan and deposit demand.
- They leave little space for innovation in processes.
- They are not entirely automated.
- They require continuous maintenance, upgrading, and updating.
- They are time-consuming and costly.
- They create a channel for poor communication.
- There is a lack of leadership.
- There is a resistance to cultural change.
- They require continuous IT support.
- They require regular training and inspection.
Here are some ways in which these criticisms can be dealt with and CRM technologies can be employed successfully.
1. They do not contribute to loan and deposit demand.
It is impractical to believe that investing in CRM technology, a credit union can directly increase its profitability, loan, and deposit demand. However, CRM technologies do help in driving revenue by maximizing not only the wallet share but also by attracting new customers while keeping the existing members loyal and connected. Credit unions do not function like ordinary sales organizations, and hence it is unrealistic to expect a huge influence on revenue in a short period or an increase in loan and deposit demand as a return on investment. CRM technologies make the members feel unique and valued and hence can be implemented for an increase in sales to existing members.
2. They leave little space for innovation in processes.
CRM technologies centralize electronic data and its storage and hence, they enable employees to continue their work and refer to data wherever they left off. It is convenient and saves time. However, they have been criticized for imposing standardized processes, allowing little space for innovation. It should be emphasized upon that technology in itself can be evolved and regulated according to the needs of the union and so can the CRM processes. Access to real-time and on-location data can aid the portfolio to react to the marketing trends and formulate standard procedures accordingly. This lends a hand in seizing an opportunity or avoiding a crisis.
3. They are not completely automated.
Automation might be a boon to the era of digital communication, but when it comes to implementing CRM technology, partial automation allows the employees to ensure that communication isn’t entirely robotic and unsupervised. Although automation assists in gaining an enterprise-wide view of the member data, the primary and crucial aspect of gathering and securing it remain with the employee. If leveraged proactively, CRM software can lead to constructive conversations striving to determine the needs of the members and increasing effectivity of marketing initiatives.
4. They require continuous maintenance, upgrading, and updating.
Despite these incumbrances, CRM technologies provide tangible benefits such as making the marketing portfolio more efficient and assisting in reducing the non-revenue- generating functions. It can help cut selling costs ( direct and indirect) and spare time for more profitable activities. Technology aids segment the potential market and existing members, thereby decreasing expenditures on irresponsive or unprofitable members.
5. They are costly.
CRM software and technology can assist in saving time and cost when implemented systematically. Here are some ways in which they can save time and expenses.
- Reducing costs and increasing efficiency in administrative tasks.
- Overcoming operational hindrances and boosting productivity.
- Acting as a support system for employees in the portfolio.
- Providing with real-time reports and analytics on time.
- Projects and tasks management, accompanied by active management.
6. They create a channel for poor communication.
CRM technologies might not be able to lead to direct sales but the integration of technology in customer relationship management can improve communication by -
- Tracking member communication and allowing the employees to gather insights and utilize the information.
- Streamlining communication- Creating a platform for communication on time.
- Designing platforms for ongoing and consistent conversations.
- Being supportive and understanding of member needs.
7. There is a lack of leadership.
Computational solutions lack leadership. While implementing CRM technologies, the inefficiency or lack of leadership can be resolved by assembling cross-functional teams for the determination of specific, measurable goals to be achieved in a specific period. This creates efficiently automated streamline marketing and sales processes. Interdepartmental relationships are a productive solution for creating accountability.
8. There is resistance to cultural change.
Resistance from employees concerning adapting to changes in their work environment can be resolved by communicating the benefits of customer relationship management technologies to build their faith and confidence and by providing them with space to develop a particular comfort level with the new systems. It is also crucial for the employees to be involved in the decisions of implementing such software so that it is easier for them to adapt and be held accountable.
9. They require continuous IT support.
Even though the IT department is involved in the initial processes of setting up and the technological aspects, it does not dictate or control the functioning of the systems and software. The support from IT can be mitigated into periodic updates and maintenance, but the overall implementation is reliant on the execution by the marketing portfolio. No function can run in silos; hence it is essential for the departments to design and implement in sync.
10. They require regular training and inspection.
CRM technology is comparably convenient and straightforward to use. Employees do need to be trained, and they require some limited amount of coaching, nevertheless this contributes to better execution and efficiency of member-centric processes. Today, this training can be moved to online channels and platforms as well, hence contradicting to the preexisting notion of being time-consuming, also, the employees can receive quick and easy updates for any new process or service.
Whether or not CRM technology is right for your institution is a matter of your business needs, and most of all, your capacity to implement these systems in an effective manner. Also, as mentioned above, proceeding with the right expectations about the concept and its benefits, will go a long way in achieving high-yielding and foundational results.