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Stanford Federal Credit Union (SFCU) was the first U.S. financial services institution to conduct business over the Internet. That was in 1986. Today, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based credit union serves 40,000 current members, including staff, students, faculty, alumni and campus businesses at Stanford University. And the SFCU continues to be a trendsetter, conducting 85 percent of its business electronically, which is important to members who rarely visit the credit union. But to continue to stay ahead of the competition, the credit union has to work to become even better at providing consistent customer service—regardless of the point of contact—and leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) technology to do so, according to SFCU president and chief executive officer Warren Marshall.



For one thing, the credit union set about consolidating its disparate customer information, which had been scattered across multiple databases. It was a situation that prevented SFCU from building one-to-one member relationships. "We couldn't properly serve 40,000 members without first collecting and analyzing customer data in a consolidated way and driving that information through all our channels," explains Marshall.

SFCU met the challenge with a CRM system developed by Prologic Corp., Spring, Texas. Prologic's technical staff first analyzed all SFCU business functions to determine data processing requirements and then customized its i-Wealthview software to allow it to integrate with the existing systems. The software supports one-to-one marketing practices for building customer loyalty. It also provides on-line transaction processing and front-end retail branch applications while supporting various delivery channels and e-commerce gateways.

After a year of collaboration involving a third of SFCU staff members, the credit union launched the new solution in June 1999. "We now have data in one place that we can query," says Marshall. "The solution provides a unified view of all data and one place to put it, along with custom reports."

But SFCU's efforts haven't stopped with that. Since growth depends on member retention, the credit union plans to integrate customer data even further, as well as encourage more customer-initiated transactions and create a portal look for its Internet banking program.

While SFCU may still be among the early adopters, it is by no means alone. The Internet has shattered the notion of the corner banker—freeing consumers from geographical banking boundaries. As a consequence, financial services companies are eager to reach outside of their conventional customer base and build new business by pursuing global consumers. CRM is one of the tools they are choosing to aggressively solicit prospective customers. To meet consumer demand, these companies have chosen to diversify, offering the expanded customer base a broader range of products and services. These full-service companies are using CRM not only to attract new business, but also to increase business from existing customers.

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