Navy Federal Heeds the Call

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Navy Federal uses data to connect with far-flung membership.
Navy Federal uses data to connect with far-flung membership.

Large financial institutions that depend on their contact centers as revenue drivers have all manner of interaction platforms at their disposal to help make that happen. Finding the right people to man the phones and the displays is often the greater challenge. But not at Navy Federal Credit Union.

“It's in our DNA to provide superior customer service,” says Maritza Disciullo, VP of member research, intelligence and development at the credit union that serve the four major armed forces, Coast Guard, and Defense Department. “We hire people who are empathetic, knowledgeable—who have that gift. They are people who want to serve the people who serve our country.”

Navy Federal's problem was not so much a customer service issue (e.g., how its agents interacted with members—of which they have more than 4 million) but a marketing issue (i.e. what they should offer to them and when). In 2008 the credit union's executives decided that agents needed a platform to help them introduce new products and services to members to increase revenues, which were flagging. Today, with the inbound call center system being expanded to outbound campaigns, revenues are up 50% over what they were five years ago, according to Disciullo.

“The first thing we had to do was to make sure we had the right infrastructure,” Disciullo says. “We had to make sure we had the right analytics. We found out that the more we knew about customers, the more we could service them.”

Navy Federal installed Infor's Epiphany Interaction Advisor, which uses real-time analysis of historical, personal, and contextual information to help agents present the most attractive offers to members while they have them on the phone.

“Once an account number is entered, Interaction Advisor retrieves all past customer data and presents agents with everything they can touch that customer with,” says MJ Crabbe-Barberis, Infor's director of Global Product Marketing, CRM. “Sometimes it's not about cross-selling.  It could be, ‘How's your husband doing in Afghanistan?' It gives options to the call agent, but what's presented is left to the individual agent, because they know a little bit more. Is the customer thrilled? Is she crying?”

Disciullo provides an example of how the system can help agents enlist members for new products while providing TLC at the same time. “A serviceman in Iraq called in. He had an emergency at his house, a big job that was going to cost $10,000, and he called the service center to arrange a personal loan,” she recalls. “His wife was having to deal with the situation on her own, and with the information presented to the agent through the Infor system, the agent quickly determined it would be better for the wife to open up a new credit card at low rates she qualified for so she could deal with the situation quickly.”

Navy Federal has since used analytics to increase its profile in social media and to do a better job with outbound appeals to members. “We didn't market to members at all via email, and we learned that email was incredibly important to them, especially the ones stationed very far away,” Disciullo says.

Navy Federal may have come to email marketing late, but it came armed with technology. “Members want us to know when, where, and why we should reach out to them. They expect we will not spam them,” she says. “We have developed some robust analytics. We actually do a tremendous amount of member research beyond what's gathered through Infor and [email platform] WhatCounts. We learned that good service does not necessarily mean more communication. Sometimes less is more.”

Navy Federal made its first planned incursion into social media only two years ago on Facebook, and it since has grown from 6,000 to 696,000 likes.  (By comparison, USAA, the big armed forces insurer, has 531,000.) “We're not currently using social media as a way to increase sales, we're using it as a customer feedback channel,” Disciullo says. “It's one of the ways [members] are more comfortable communicating with us.”

Navy Federal's seemingly natural sensitivity to customer experience is endemic of its corporate culture. “They want lifelong members, and they face special challenges with the customers they serve,” says Crabbe-Barberis. “'Sell' is a four-letter word at Navy Federal.”


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