“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” The truth of this statement, coined by famed engineer, author, and statistician W. Edwards Deming, is so powerful, it’s become a mantra among the most successful business leaders of our time.

Most companies compile information about their customers and how they interact with their brands. Often large amounts of information. Sometimes more information than they even realize they have available to them.

The challenge comes in understanding how to interpret all of this data and put it to good use building better customer experiences that grow business.

This is the topic of of Episode 3 of our Business to Human podcast featuring the expertise of Jen D’Amico, CMO at CommonWealth Central Credit Union.

About the guest:

Jen D’Amico is the Chief Marketing Officer at CommonWealth Central Credit Union in San Jose, California. More than 15 years of credit union industry experience informs D’Amico’s approach with her team that drives results across all areas of her organization. It’s that experience, knowledge, and understanding of customer data that empowers her team to break out of some of the traditional thinking behind what financial customers and credit union members truly value.

Breaking with tradition

Marketing strategy in the financial sector, particularly among Credit Unions, often falls into a traditional, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” kind of thinking where customer experience involves servicing them through the products that drew them in as new customers. Sometimes a long time ago.

But access to customer data enables and empowers organizations to engage and energize existing customers in all-new ways. So attracting new customers is no longer the only, or primary tool for growing business. Deepening relationships with existing customers becomes a much more valuable tool and the weight at the other end of the balancing act.

“We want to continue to engage existing customers and not just bring them in the door and leave them alone,” Jen says. “On the flip side, we must continue bringing in new business from new members.”

D’Amico lays out three, specific elements to the approach she’s seen success with:

  • Balancing engagement and new member acquisition
  • The role data plays in creating effective customer experiences
  • How to make better use of the data you have

How to balance engagement and acquisition

With a limited marketing budget, this balancing act between engagement and acquisition can be difficult to achieve.

Marketing needs to be thought of as the lens of how an organization communicates with its customers and prospects for both engagement with existing members and acquisition of new members.

The data you’ve collected needs to inform that communication to match their expectations and preferences. Even a cursory look at your data will clearly tell you what methods and channels your current members prefer—direct mail, email, online banking, even text or in-branch interactions can turn out to be extremely valuable methods of communication for growth.

Then the question becomes, what types of information are most valuable to communicate? Statistically, education is something on which we find members place a high value. Members are often highly engaged with learning opportunities about the benefits of specific services available to them, loan options, products they may not have been aware of and other ways your credit union can meet their needs.

This sort of engagement often leads to repeat business, increased loyalty, and a deepening of their relationship with you.

Attracting new members is no less important, and the approaches you take to that end can also benefit greatly from a critical look at how you’re using your customer information.

According to D’Amico, one way to help determine how you balance marketing spend, not by the difference in new and existing customer engagement, but rather by categorized spend.

“Break it down by how much you put into digital, community and brand awareness and automated marketing. Then you can determine if you’re missing any opportunities.”

In the end, the data you gather can help you balance and create what is most important for both existing and new members. This is what we mean by “customer experience.”

The role of data in customer experience

“As credit unions, we don’t do these hardcore sales pitches,” D’Amico says. “We want to help members in their financial life. When we look at the data, we want to determine what the customer needs.

This is where it becomes clear that customer experience is the most critical driver of success. And access to customer data eliminates the guesswork for business leaders. The collected data from existing members tells you exactly what it is they need and want from you.

This empowers your team to make accurately targeted communications offering the auto loan, credit card, or other product you know they need at the time they need it. Beyond this, understanding your customer data — really understanding what they are telling you by their actions — enables you to create a smoother, more satisfying customer experience.

“We gather as much data as possible with our member experience surveys. We want to know where members might run into issues in their processes,” says D’Amico. “We look at overall scores and ensure we’re addressing any problems that come to light.”

Use customer data better

With often seemingly endless data at our fingertips, figuring out the best ways to take action can be challenging. Not all data is equally useful.
D’Amico takes the time to walk us through some of the milestones she suggests are most valuable in the journey to better use of customer data and creation of a better customer experience

1. Understand your members and their migrations to digital channels

Traditionally, new credit union members are assigned through the branch where they opened their membership with activity is tracked through this physical relationship with the institution. According to D’Amico, a large percentage of members “migrate” to digital channels over time and as a result you don’t have an accurate picture of how they interact with you. This makes it crucial to understand the data surrounding this customer behavior in order to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

2. Take a deep dive into your credit card portfolio

Analyzing your credit card portfolio thoroughly can offer great insight to marketing teams, says D’Amico: “Analyze your whole portfolio to understand how members are using cards or not, then encourage them through an activation campaign that promotes activity.”

3. Understand member behaviors

Traditional marketing efforts are built on categories of age and income.

According to D’Amico, this exposes a weakness in the communication stream keeping you from realizing the benefits of establishing member personae. Simply stated, when you understand customer behavior, you can serve them better.

“No one wants growth for the sake of growth,” D’Amico says. “We want to bring in members we’re going to engage and that are really going to find value in being a member — that’s what the personas do for you.”

When you pay attention to all of your data, it helps you understand exactly how your members want and need to interact with your institution. Then, you can create a satisfying customer experience that optimizes and deepens current member engagement and at the same time, attracts new members.

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