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Forget "Big Data" - Give us Actionable CRM Information

By Karl Keller

The “Big Data” buzz word is drawing much attention in 2015. Financial institutions have known for years that customer and prospect data contain a gold mine of valuable information. But data is data -- ones and zeros, bits and bytes. What community banks and credit unions truly desire is not “Big Data” but instead actionable CRM information. Actionable CRM Information is the golden nugget that can be delivered to the customer facing bank associate to help make smarter decisions and provide outstanding customer service.

Financial institutions have more valuable data on customers and prospects than any other industry. Just like boxes I have in my attic that I don’t often look at it, your bank or credit union stores gigs and gigs of data in your bank CRM or core system often without realizing how this data can be turned into useful information to help your institution grow.


At most financial institutions, data is most commonly used for past trend analysis. How many new accounts were opened last month? How much has fee income increased over last year? We look back at yesterday, last month or last year to find out how well we have performed so we can develop new strategies for the future.

But just like pulling out the old 8-track tape player from my attic, it is nostalgic to look backwards but the real value of data is in using it to forge a path to the future. How can we transform the gigs and gigs of data into actionable information that front-line associates can use to:


  • Expand customer relationship and grow our community bank or credit union
  • Enhance the customer experience by delivering service that totally amazes our customer
  • Predict which customers will be our best customers in the future
  • Identify customers that have started packing their bags to leave the bank (attrition)
  • Event trigger sales, service and retention activities so each associate and touch point know what is important to the customer


So as the industry raves about “Big Data”, let’s instead focus on actionable information. The value of data is in how we use information to help our customer. When we help our customer, we develop lasting relationships that provide recurring revenue year over year.


Let me give you a very simple example of actionable Information.  “Big Data” would tell us that we have “X” number of customers that have large CDs greater than $25,000 coming due in the month of August.  Sure, that is great information to have but how does a community bank or credit union turn this into actionable information that can help retain the deposits or better yet help grow your new wealth management business?

What if you had an event driven strategy that automatically made use of this information to help initiate new conversations with your customer?  For example, when your customer visits the branch to cash a check, your teller could instantly recognize the opportunity and help them setup an appointment with your wealth management department.  Or another example may be when an automated event sends a message to your branch manager to initiate an outbound call to talk with the customer to help them get a better return on their investment. 

As you read article after article about “Big Data”, begin thinking about how you can turn your valuable data asset into actionable information.  Actionable information will help us drive our businesses and focus on the most important aspects of the business which is customer service, growth and retention.