SAS Conference: Banks Focus on CRM

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LAS VEGAS -- Though banks continue to take customer relationship management seriously, reflected by their IT purchasing, advances must continue for banks to avoid diminishing returns.

This was the message yesterday from Susan Landry, managing vice president, banking industry advisory services at research firm Gartner. She spoke at SAS' BetterManagement LIVE conference here. The fourth annual worldwide business conference drew more than 1,000 attendees in various industries, plus many global sponsors.

Landry offered insight from a 2005 Gartner study of bank CEOs. The study found that attracting and retaining customers is the most important concern of bank CEOs. Increasing market share ranked second, she said.

Most surprising, Landry said, was that mergers and acquisitions no longer were considered a concern or a growth strategy for banks.

"Mergers and acquisitions are still going on, and they are still strategic, but they are no longer the primary growth strategy [for banks]," she said. "That is an enormous difference from what we saw five or 10 years ago, where primarily the growth strategy was growth by acquisition."

Landry also cited the American Consumer Satisfaction Index from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. The survey found that from 1994, when the index was first published, through 1999 banks "were taking their eyes off of the ball -- this was the earliest days of CRM cross-selling and marketing analytics and campaign management, [and the focus was on getting] cross-sell ratios up," she said. "Frankly, [banks] irritated the heck out of people with calls at dinnertime and mailboxes stuffed with credit card offers, etc."

However, Landry said that the ACSI for banks is improving.

"Most of the recovery comes from [banks'] ability to apply technology that allows banks to do target marketing," she said. "We are no longer blitzing everyone."

But Landry said that in 2005 and beyond, banks will improve on these strides by offering real-time messaging, dynamic relationship pricing and using sophisticated Web analytics.

SAS paid part of Melissa Campanelli's transportation to attend the conference

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