By Roy Urrico
The $647 million Indianapolis-based Financial Center First Credit Union saw COVID-19 disruption as an opportunity to reassess its member services, focusing on financial needs and concerns, with help from Cambridge, Mass.-based InterSystems.
In the early days of the pandemic, the team leveraged its database to retool its customer relationship management process and implemented predictive analytics to better understand member behaviors. Consequently, the credit union surpassed three sales records, increasing monthly member contacts, and reported a 57% increase in loan production compared to 2019.
Financial Center First Credit Union, with more than 70,000 members, serves 15 counties throughout Central Indiana and employs 165 people who focus on providing excellent service and financial education. The credit union is a six-time national award winner from CUNA in the category of adult financial literacy.
Shifting to Serve Members
Financial Center successfully shifted its business strategy to best serve members by utilizing data management and analytics capabilities from InterSystems, explained Cameron Minges, executive vice president at Financial Center.
“We had been working with InterSystems for years, but in March (2020) after closing our lobbies to abide by social distancing guidelines, we saw an opportunity to change the way we used our analytics to be more service focused,” Minges said.
InterSystems provided Financial Center with the tools to reimagine how they interact with their members. “In-person interactions used to be their main source of customer touch points, but with the pandemic, that was not really an option anymore,” Scott Gnau, head of data platforms at InterSystems, said. “Our technology helped them pivot their analytics platform to attain those key customer touch points.”
InterSystems enables the interoperability, speed and scalability to power these innovations, said Gnau. “We provided Financial Center First Credit Union with the ability to enhance organizational agility and harness the power of data to change the focus of its analytics.” Gnau added, “The great success demonstrated here by Financial Center is a key example of what can be accomplished when data and smart data analytics are prioritized.”
Minges explained, when COVID-19 pandemic hit, the credit union saw its main source of business — brick and mortar storefronts — become ineffectual, as in-person locations closed to comply with state health and social distancing guidelines. This caused concern for the credit union on many fronts, but they were especially worried about how they could adapt to best serve their members.
“We asked ourselves, what do members really need from us?” Minges said. “We changed the scope of our analytics models not to be sales focused, but to be service focused on two key pillars/drivers: 1) access to money; and 2) peace of mind. Our core emphasis was and is focused on deepening our relationships with our members like never before.”
To execute this new strategy, Financial Center used analytics to identify members who might need help immediately or benefit from a product or service they were not using. “We’re also looking to market communications, online services, outbound calling and internal workflow and response systems to execute on insights derived from those analytics,” Minges added.
The credit union saw the COVID-19 disruption as an opportunity to prioritize supporting members in any way possible as opposed to just making profits. Minges pointed out, “As in-person service is a prime touchpoint for member interactions at any credit union, this drastic shift and future uncertainty made it clear that the industry would have to transition how it approaches one of its main priorities — exceptional member service.”
Financial Center used InterSystems to rapidly create a predictive analytics-based application. Minges stated, “Having all our data organized within one ecosystem enabled our team to quickly develop a new application within an aggressive timeline that wouldn’t have been possible with another database.”
Financial Center integrates its systems using InterSystems data platform. “It takes away the need to spend time and money assembling and ‘bolting together’ multiple tools to gain all the capabilities you want in an integration environment,” noted Minges.
Integrating Modeling into Its Systems
The credit union used InterSystems’ DeepSee analytics capabilities to develop propensity models to better understand its members. “This advanced insight and ability to pinpoint and predict potential member needs helped us experience three of our top lending months in the entire history of the credit union,” Minges said.
Financial Center stores every element of its integrated solution as an object in the InterSystems Ensemble multi-model data repository. Minges explained, “By providing a consistent, unified view of the underlying systems, applications, and services in a solution, Ensemble greatly reduces the complexity typically associated with integration projects.”
Leveraging InterSystems data platform software, and specifically its business intelligence and analytics capabilities, Financial Center’s development team built various propensity models that generate engagement and loyalty scores. Minges said, “They factor in more than 31 different behavioral metrics, including recent transactions, loan applications, and credit card advances.” Additionally, the new applications arm the credit union’s sales team and retail associates with timely information on member behaviors that may correlate with needing additional financial support.
“By identifying members most in need, we have been able to provide them with two crucial things - access to money and peace of mind.” Minges said. For example, an uncharacteristically missed payment on an auto loan could mean a person has experienced financial hardship amidst the pandemic. “This insight provides our team with the opportunity to contact that member and offer them an option to refinance or receive some temporary loan relief.”
Providing the Right Outreach
Minges suggested the propensity models were also instrumental in providing the right outreach call lists that have now reached several thousands of the credit union’s members. “On average, we now make about 9,000 calls per month since COVID-19. Before, it was less than 2,000.” Subsequently, the credit union has also enhanced its reporting and dashboards by integrating InterSystems DeepSee with Google’s APIs. “This has enabled us to deliver analytics content in ways we never imagined before.”
Minges noted Financial Center has similarly conducted member surveys during the pandemic to gauge members’ satisfaction of its COVID-19 response including enhanced e-services for access to money, outbound calling, and fee waivers/product changes to help members through the time. “We scored an average of 4.4 out of 5.0 on overall member satisfaction during this time compared to an average of 4.0 of other credit unions conducting the same survey.”
Gnau said. “(InterSystems) is a creative data technology provider dedicated to helping customers solve the most critical scalability, interoperability, and speed problems. Our cloud-first data platforms help solve these challenges for large organizations around the globe.”
While InterSystems is best known in the healthcare industry, the tech firm also serves customers in a variety of other sectors such as financial services, supply chain and government. “Financial Center First Credit Union is just one of our FI customers that have taken advantage of our high-performance solution to create new opportunities and efficiencies through effective data management,” Gnau said.