CRM and Relationship Profitability in Banking

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1 Corporate Technology Solutions CRM and Relationship Profitability in Banking A White Paper by Haitham Salawdeh

2 1. Executive Overview It is the relationships that count Sharing Profitability Data What to do with profitable and unprofitable relationships Where does CRM fit with profitability The Challenge Conclusion About Corporate Technology Solutions Haitham Salawdeh Page 2 June, 2009

3 1. Executive Overview It is commonly believed that about 10% of a bank s customer base contributes to about 100% of its profitability. This indicates that the best, possible, case for the other 90% is a breakeven contribution to the bank s bottom line. A bank will want to reward, and retain the profitable customers. But what is the best way to identify the profitable 10% of customers? Furthermore, what is the best way to deal with the remaining 90%? How can a banking institution maximize the return on its CRM or profitability system, if it does have one? Even though knowing the profitability of your customer is an important component to knowing your customer, Customer Profitability and CRM are seldom addressed as an integrated solution. A banking institution might have both solutions and yet the integration between the two solutions is either very weak or nonexistent. The reason is largely because different departments are interested in different solutions for different reasons. CRM is largely sponsored and championed by sales and marketing while profitability is generally a back office, finance or accounting, function. In addition, CRM information deals generally with confidential data presenting its own legal issues and challenges. But in addition to being confidential, Customer Profitability data is also strategic. Because of the strategic and confidential nature of profitability data, only a small group of people is often privy to that information. Hence, Customer Profitability data is either not shared outside the department that created it, or the bare minimum of information is released to other departments. Relationship Profitability refers to the integration of Customer Profitability and CRM. This integration is much more powerful and valuable than the sum of the individual solutions. CRM can enhance a profitability system by providing it with key relationship data. In addition a profitability system can extend a CRM solution by providing it with the financial value of the relationships and customers it maintains. This integration is needed to have a holistic picture of the customer contribution to the bank Relationship Profitability is not only a marketing tool, but it is also a valuable management tool for identifying product weaknesses and strengths. When utilized correctly, it allows management to design Haitham Salawdeh Page 3 June, 2009

4 profitable products from the get go, and discontinue unprofitable ones as soon as they are identified. It is essential to realize that Relationship Profitability is not a technology. It is rather the manifestation of an organizational strategy, which in turn is instituted to make and grow profit. It is an attempt to derive and maximize the difference between the revenue that the customer directly and indirectly generates and that customer s overhead and expense to the institution. Technology, however, contributes to the efficiency of this process. There are off the shelf systems that vary in their capabilities and there is always the option to build. This paper attempts to raise crucial issues associated with Relationship Profitability and suggests features that need to be included in a system to maximize the return on investment. 2. It is the relationships that count In the banking industry today, Customer Profitability is a more common topic of discussion than Relationship Profitability. Customer Profitability is, we believe, on its own of little value and insight. Taking away the relationships surrounding the customer, Customer Profitability becomes an incomplete representation of the overall value of that customer to the bank. It is not only misleading but also dangerous to act upon. To know the value of a customer to an organization is of no value when the relationships surrounding that customer are not clear. Customer Profitability should only be seen and reported in the larger context of Relationship Profitability. Relationship Profitability is the successful integration of CRM and Customer Profitability strategies. In this context, Customer Profitability should be used as a building block to arrive at the vital Relationship Profitability. The atomic level profitability for a banking institution, for example, is the profitability of an instrument or an account. Knowing that a specific customer s instrument is unprofitable, however, will not illuminate the profitability of the customer owning it, without looking at all other accounts that the customer has with the institution. Customer Profitability analysis then, is simply one level removed from the atomic profitability analysis. At a minimum, a household profitability analysis is required to make intelligent decisions about the profitability of a customer. In the twenty first century with complex inter-customer relationships, house-holding Haitham Salawdeh Page 4 June, 2009

5 customers is not an easy task. While one can use address and phone matching to automate the process, there are hidden attributes and relationships that cannot be deduced automatically. For example, siblings don t always live in the same house or have the same last name. Furthermore, the relationships of interest are not only between people but also, people and business entities. This raises the issue of allowing the people facing the customers to capture relationships that are discovered in an ad-hoc fashion. As a bank officer, for instance, realizes that the client he is talking to also owns a small business that has a deposit account with the bank, he should be able to capture that valuable piece of information and build the relationship between the customer and the small business dynamically. In addition to house-holding, referrals should be captured and the profitability of a referring customer should reflect the value of the referral. Much like campaign effectiveness measures, customer referral measures should be adopted. Since referrals are correlated to customer satisfaction, other areas of an organization can benefit from such metrics. Profitability data when based only on the products the customer has, will not provide complete insight into the value of the customer to a bank. That value can be accurately derived when all the relationships that customer has are all known. 3. Sharing Profitability Data Assuming that customers have been ranked and their profitability has been determined, how can these numbers benefit an organization? More importantly, how do they impact the people facing the customer? And how can an organization benefit from them operationally? First and foremost, it is important to devise a strategy of action before profitability data is released to the front-line. The persons facing the customer have to know exactly how to act, or not to act, when the numbers show up on their screen. This involves educating them on the components making up profitability. Moreover, the bank s strategy will have to address the messages to be conveyed to profitable and unprofitable customers. For instance, if a bank is interested in retaining and making more profitable customers who are currently unprofitable, then a person facing the customer will have to be coached in cross selling, and will have to better understand the bank s product offerings. Haitham Salawdeh Page 5 June, 2009

6 The institution will have to concern itself with the behavior of the people facing the customer (i.e. tellers, personal and business bankers, call center personal, managers.) Not only because they might misinterpret the Customer Profitability or Customer Value numbers, but also because their action might have an unintended impact on other customers. Consider an example where a teller feels that a customer is not worth spending time on. The teller might behave, at least, coldly towards that customer. How will a potential customer, observing this behavior, react to the teller s action? The answer, of course, is: depends on the observer. Some people might not be affected at all, while others might take the teller s behavior as if it were directed against them. Worst yet, an observer might even make negative buy decisions based on that experience. In addition, sales and marketing professionals, who generally are highly interested in these numbers, need to understand them very well. Not only do they need to be given a profitability number or a ranking but also the components making that number. To clarify this point, consider a customer who, overtime, is shown to be very profitable. Furthermore, the profitability of this customer is a result of a high fee income. A marketing campaign directed on increasing the bank s mortgage portfolio might exclude this customer if the fee income generated is largely assessed on late payments and bounced checks. However, knowing this piece of information allows the bank to offer this customer other products that take advantage of his traits. For example, this customer might be offered a mortgage product designed for high-risk individuals. Therefore, only if the specific components of a customer s profitability are discovered and made available, can the most effective marketing decision be made. It is worth pointing out that if the profitability of the bank relationships is known, then the profitability of the people managing these relationships can also be derived. Incentive packages for officers and relationship managers can be, in fact, based on the profitability of the relationships they manage. By doing so, an officer is incented to discover, document, in addition to create customer relationships. Without this, transitioning a bank, culturally, into a sales organization will be much harder. Furthermore, profitability does not only speak to the relationship contribution to the bottom line but, naturally, to the efficiency of the products offered. The profitability results can be shared with, and explained to operation and product managers to evaluate the way the products are maintained and offered. Consider, For instance, a product that offers free checking. This product gives only 5 free ATM transactions Haitham Salawdeh Page 6 June, 2009

7 and pays no interest. If the profitability of each instrument with that product type is known, then one can easily derive the profitability of that product. The bank management might discover that fee income of this product is low. Instead transaction costs, they might discover, are high. Customers might simply walk into the branch and withdraw money and not use the ATM. Or worst yet, customers might be taking larger amounts of money out to reduce the need to use the ATM. How does this manifest itself? It simply will be reflected in a low funds credit amount. As simple as this example is, it does illustrate the value of a profitability system in assisting in pattern discovery. Greatest value is derived when profitability data is shared across an organization. Because of the nature of the data, an organization has to be careful when releasing profitability numbers. 4. What to do with profitable and unprofitable relationships The common reaction we hear from banking institutions when asked about the reasons for instituting a Relationship Profitability system is that: they want to show unprofitable customers the door. They also want to cross sell to profitable customers and potentially reward them through better service, discounts and special offers. An institution should, indeed, focus on making profitable customers more profitable. Using personalized and directed advertising can be one technique that a bank might choose to achieve that. Whatever the technique, the fundamental need of a sales and marketing professional is to know the relationships the customers have to the banking institution in addition to knowing the value of these relationships. If used effectively, cross selling can be one of the most powerful sales techniques an institution possesses. It can help move a customer from an unprofitable relationship with the bank to a profitable one. In fact, this should be the goal of any strategic balance sheet exercise. An institution should not only focus on retaining and growing profitable relationships, but also on the products that can be offered to unprofitable relationships in order to transform them into profitable ones. To support such a strategy, a what if analysis or modeling needs to be performed. For the banking industry, this can be a complicated analysis Haitham Salawdeh Page 7 June, 2009

8 to perform. Modeling becomes important when an officer facing a customer, generally commercial, needs to decide on how much to charge that customer. An officer might reduce interest rate on a loan or reduce certain fees. This has to be done in order to be competitive and keep the customer satisfied. However, modeling decisions can best be made if a holistic picture of the customer relationships is available to the officer. The officer might even decide to lose money on a particular deal if the customer relationship as a whole remains profitable. CRM and Profitability products don t currently support this analysis effectively requiring banks to either custom develop integrated CRM/profitability solutions or to add functionality to purchased products. The integration between CRM and profitability provides the needed information to cross sell to profitable customers and enhance the profitability of currently unprofitable customers. 5. Where does CRM fit with profitability Customer Profitability systems can be the most powerful backbone of a CRM implementation. Both systems should share the relationships captured, and provided by a CRM solution. They also should share the profitability data for the relationships produced by the profitability system. Traditionally, CRM solutions have focused on customer touch points. The solutions were driven by call centers and sales professionals to manage the customer relationship and sale cycle. And the two groups collected data regarding customer satisfaction and preferences for their own use. Successful CRM programs have, in the past, increased customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. They have in many instances even increased company revenues. Unfortunately, customer satisfaction and loyalty do not always translate into revenues. More importantly, revenues don t always translate into increased profits. Furthermore, CRM was implemented in just one aspect of the business leaving all other areas, especially operations and development, isolated from the customer pulse. Addressing CRM and profitability integration would certainly close the loop between the customer touch points of an organization and the backend. CRM traditionally was championed by, and affected, sales and marketing. Profitability, however, is generally a back office function Haitham Salawdeh Page 8 June, 2009

9 involving the finance and/or accounting departments. If the two solutions are integrated, an organization is much more likely to succeed in having a full view of its customer in addition to having that view be consistent across the organization. Even today, however, Customer Profitability is either not part of a CRM solution, or the profitability in a CRM application is based on inaccurate criteria. In financial services, for example, measuring a customer by asset value, even if all relationships are clear, might not be accurate. One will have to take into account the type of product the customer is investing in. A mutual fund company, generally, earns more management fees on equity vs. fixed income products. Hence, two customers with the same investment amount but in two different products do not generate the same profit. In addition, the type of service needed to satisfy the customer is also relevant. A banking institution will typically have a higher cost servicing a restaurant than it would a retail customer. The customer value then cannot be a simple function of assets or revenues. Depending on the line of business and the products, calculating profitability is not a simple task. To maximize the return on a CRM program, it has to touch on almost all aspects of the business. Product Development professionals will have to be presented with the CRM data to help them modify, add and remove products from their offerings given changes in customer trends and behavior. IT departments can use this data to make enhancements and improvements, especially in e-space, to match the expectation of the customers. In addition, Sales and Marketing departments will continue to depend heavily on such data. However, managing a relationship without knowing its value can be like shooting in the dark. Incorporating that value into a CRM program will not only enable the sales force but also allow management and product development to manage products effectively. This requires a CRM program to define a loop back mechanism ( LB ). This is the means by which information will be shared between the two systems. When implementing a CRM product, the LB is translated into application interfaces, through data, API or some other method. In this architecture there is a two-way exchange between the CRM and the profitability application. Haitham Salawdeh Page 9 June, 2009

10 The CRM application provides house-holding and, hopefully, other relationship data to the profitability system. In return, the profitability system evaluates the profitability of these relationships. A well-implemented integration of the two products translates into a Relationship Profitability solution. This solution provides the profitability system with relationships about current customers. The profitability system will also get customer information either from the core processing systems (i.e. deposits, loans, credit card etc.) or from a Customer Information System (CIS). It is very unlikely that CIS will be the bank s CRM solution; hence a mapping will have to exist between the customer entries in both the CIS and the CRM applications. With that available, the profitability system will be able to rollup profitability to the relationships provided by the CRM application. In return, the CRM application will receive profitability information for the individual customer and the relationships the customer has with the bank. Marketing professionals will have at their disposal information such as interest and non-interest income and expense, in addition to other information that might help them make the right marketing message to the right customer. This integration point is one more step into the relationship-discovery process that banks go through already. Almost all banks with a Haitham Salawdeh Page 10 June, 2009

11 profitability system subscribe to a house-holding service. House-holding information is then imported into the profitability system. We are suggesting one more light to be shown on these relationships. A bank can continue to get the house-holding feed. However, in this model the bank will also be able to integrate relationships discovered by the officers facing the customer. In this model, a referral credit does not stop by giving a referring customer a blanket or a toaster. It continues by reflecting the profitability of the referrals into the referring customer s overall profitability. Furthermore, the commercial or personal bankers are constantly discovering human-business and business-business relationships. These relationships should be allowed to propagate into the profitability system. A house-holding algorithm will not be able to reveal these relationships. The integration between CRM and profitability provides the needed information to cross sell to profitable customers and enhance the profitability of currently unprofitable customers. 6. The Challenge As one might correctly assume, the challenge at hand is in the discovery of relationships both between the customers themselves and between the bank and its customers. The second type of relationships is problematic only because banking institutions have not traditionally been sales organizations. Not only are they lacking a sales culture but with that also the tools to support sales efforts. In the highly competitive landscape we see today, it becomes more necessary to cross sell. Furthermore, selling to current customers is generally easier and cheaper than acquiring new ones. Hence, adopting a sales culture and arming the officers and customer service representatives with the knowledge they need to make sale and product offering decisions, is imperative. More importantly, in the past few years, customers have changed their behavior. With more and more customers opting to use ATMs or ebanking alternatives, the opportunities for the bank to face them has decreased significantly. Because Relationship Profitability arms the bank with the information needed to make the most out of each visit, it becomes not only necessary but also conditional to growth and may be even survival. Haitham Salawdeh Page 11 June, 2009

12 Discovering relationships is a difficult endeavourer. It is especially difficult for a bank. Banks will have to make the most out of customer encounters. 7. Conclusion An integrated solution combining CRM and profitability can provide great value to a banking institution. The institution will be able to more accurately analyze and understand its relationships, in addition to having a strategic balance sheet to support that analysis and understanding. A CRM application can provide information about the relationships the banking institution has with and across its customers. A profitability application can derive the value behind those relationships. In addition to providing relationship management, an integrated approach will be able to provide a banking institution with a relationship value management solution. House-holding, while very important, is simply one relationship to be discovered. Capturing other bank-customer and customer-customer relationships will deepen the bank s understanding of the customer as a whole. Such relationships include referrals, retail-business, and businessbusiness relationships that are discovered by the officers facing the customer. When this holistic picture of the customer is shared across the organization, numerous benefits are realized. With such information at their disposal, marketing and sales professionals are empowered to target the right customers with the right messages, and operational managers are empowered to evaluate the efficiency of their products: resulting in greater revenues and reduction in expenses. To implement the proposed integration, or any CRM initiative in general, the following initial steps have to be taken: Build an integrated team. The team will be lead by the business and not, as is commonly done, by IT. Some of the decisions coming out of CRM and Profitability implementations require culture and business-process changes. Unless IT has the power to dictate these changes, a team lead by IT will be ineffective. Establish a project vision. At this stage, high level objectives and features are captured. This documents helps in maintaining a focus from the get go. Establish and agree on quantifiable success criteria. It is important to measure the net result of any CRM program. When Haitham Salawdeh Page 12 June, 2009

13 will you say that the project was a success? Example success criterion is: Increase interest income by 20%. Decrease product acquisition cost by 5%. Increase the size of the bank s loan portfolio by 10%. Involve your legal team. It is critical that privacy discussions are not deferred to the last moment. Privacy rules and regulations, in addition to customer expectations, will most certainly affect who can see what and for what purpose specific information can be used. Collect and document enterprise wide requirements. This requirement document will be the base for any RFP. It is important that it is accurate and complete. Do your homework on products and vendors: In addition to researching product features and the financial stability of a vendor, ask your peers. A user of the product will, almost always, give you feedback that is not given to you by the vendor. This phase is also necessary to support your build vs. buy decision. At high level this list seems simple enough to follow and understand. However, it takes discipline and experience to successfully complete holistic CRM programs. Even though technology plays a large role, the issues at hand are not limited to technology. Such implementations impact corporate culture, roles and business process requiring a well rounded skill-set and focus to be able to address them effectively. 8. About Corporate Technology Solutions Corporate Technology Solutions ( CTS ) is dedicated to providing the best possible solutions to the financial services industry. We enhance the operational and financial performance of our clients by understanding their business and applying our technical expertise through a disciplined process. It is our unique combination of technical capability seasoned with industry experience and understanding that distinguishes us from our competition. CTS is a leader in developing solutions that allow its clients to better understand their customer. We implement well-integrated solutions that give our client s management team the ability to make informed decisions by: providing accurate information, at the appropriate level of detail and at the point when that information is needed. CTS is an expert in the development of large and small-scale data warehouses. These warehouses enable the development of data-mart and analysis applications that enable our clients to make intelligent choices to achieve Haitham Salawdeh Page 13 June, 2009

14 their business objectives. CTS expertise in data analysis and data mining gives our clients a competitive edge. The implementation of these business intelligence solutions allows our clients to discover important customer behavior and trends as well as strengths and weaknesses of products and marketing campaigns. We help our clients share customer information corporate wide. Customer Information at point of care enhances customer services and improves customer satisfaction. The client s management team can use the same information to analyze, design, and improve products and services. Furthermore, the client s sales team, armed with that critical information, is empowered to increase cross selling and expand customer base. Haitham Salawdeh Page 14 June, 2009

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