It used to take Evansville Teachers FCU days or weeks to get the data it wanted to see. Since using Lodestar, the credit union can now dig in to member data better than ever – which allows them to increasingly understand how members operate in a timely manner.
Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union prides itself on its high level of member engagement and the resulting value it returns to members. Everything Evansville Teachers does is aimed at providing maximum value back to members in the form of high dividends, rewards points, fee rebates, low loan rates, innovative products and services – the list goes on. To provide this value to its members, the credit union has to know what its members are interested in – where that perceived value exists. That’s where data comes into play. Credit unions can guess and make assumptions all day long, but in reality financial institutions like Evansville Teachers are loaded with all the data they need to better know their members.
When it comes to managing its member data, Evansville Teachers has an overall goal that’s simple: getting all of this data in a central data warehouse to enhance its data analysis performance and become more efficient from both a marketing and operational perspective.
As with most financial institutions, the credit union’s data could be stored anywhere, including multiple loan origination platforms, debit and credit card processor, online and mobile banking vendor, core processor, and many more sources. So the more data sources it can combine, the more powerful it could become on those fronts. And the more efficient it is at gathering and analyzing data, the better products and services the credit union can offer its members.
“At the end of the day, we want to provide our members with innovative, value-added products and services that improve their financial lives,” says Evansville Teachers Director of Market Data Andrea Brown. “We feel we are on the right track for that, thanks in large part to our partnership with Lodestar.”
Lodestar, a business intelligence and data warehouse technology provider, arrived at a time when Evansville Teachers had numerous gaps in the data it could access. Brown and her team knew it was important to make data-driven decisions, but the reporting tools the credit union was using at the time were not functional.
“Data was ‘siloed,’ not always accurate, or simply non-existent,” Brown admits. “Data we did have available was difficult to access and even more difficult to join between multiple sources to get that highly coveted, 360-degree view of the member.”
It used to take days or weeks to get the data it wanted to see – or it couldn’t get the information at all. Since using Lodestar, Brown and her team can dig in to the member data better than ever – which allows them to really understand how members operate in a timely manner.
She adds that in some cases, the data supports their assumptions. In other cases, they have discovered that their assumptions were off base. By accessing and analyzing member data, the credit union has been able to make smart choices and build products that drive an extremely high level of member engagement. For example, its current products and service ratio is at 7.01 per member, with an impressive annualized growth rate of 15%.
Speed and efficiency win
Besides greatly enhancing member engagement, Lodestar provides the credit union with increased speed to which it can write reports and push them throughout the organization. It is able to produce more data at a higher quality than ever before, meaning it can support the data needed across the entire organization quickly and efficiently.
“Each department used to handle their data needs on their own, which meant multiple people across the organization were spending a lot of time pulling and preparing data,” Brown explains. “It also meant different people might be pulling things in different ways, potentially resulting in inconsistency with the data each department was using.”
To mitigate this disparate process, the credit union created a centralized data department with a formal report request system. It is migrating data-related tasks away from the business units and into the data department, which has freed up time in other areas of the credit union, improved the accuracy and efficiency of its reporting, and allowed business leaders to take a high-level view when analyzing data. Since centralizing the data function, Evansville Teachers’ now six-person staff has processed 684 report requests in a nine-month time period – a massive improvement from its previous pace.
“We have a great team of individuals who are committed to providing high-quality reports whenever needed. And Lodestar is such a powerful tool that we can build the reports requested and set them to update automatically,” Brown says. “We can then use the built-in visualization tools to really tell a story with the data, thus making it easy for the end-user to digest and understand what they need to know within seconds.”
In the past 12 months, the credit union has built more than 40 dashboards that are used by employees at all levels throughout the organization. These dashboards have multiple tabs with multiple reports on each one. Brown adds that she and her team receive new requests for ways to divvy up the data all the time.
“We love when we get these requests because it tells us that people are looking at their data and thinking about what it means,” she says. “There is true value being derived from our reporting efforts.”
Improving processes through enhanced technology
Stepping back prior to Lodestar, the credit union’s processes to retrieve data had substantial room for improvement. Anything Brown and her team wanted to trend had to be completed manually. So the first two weeks of her month – every month – were almost solely dedicated to gathering and preparing data by plugging it into Excel spreadsheets. That data would then be shared via hard copies. By the time key individuals were able to meet to review the data, however, it was time to start over for the next month. “Clearly we weren’t able to make timely decisions and garner actionable insights from this data,” she admits.
With Lodestar, Brown says her team can build the reports it needs in a way that allows them to automatically update each day or at each month end, depending on the goal of the report. “We always say that ‘trend is our friend.’ And now, thanks to Lodestar, we really mean it!” she’s relieved to say.
Additionally, the dashboard feature of Lodestar allows the credit union much more functionality than ever before. In Evansville Teachers’ earliest reporting days, it had two ways to disseminate data: preparing and sharing Excel spreadsheets or scheduling raw data files to email to the recipients. Lodestar’s dashboards allow the credit union to produce attractive layouts that include not only tables of data but also interactive graphs and other visual elements.
“We can give end-users the ‘big picture’ view instantly when they pull up a dashboard,” Brown says. “Plus, our employees love that their email inboxes are no longer flooded with .CSV files that they have to manipulate each morning.”
Evansville Teachers has used and capitalized on the data accessible through Lodestar in multiple ways:
1. It launched two new premium checking accounts in January 2015 that reward members for high engagement. The credit union tracks the adoption of these accounts on a daily basis to ensure they are still appealing to members and they haven’t become stale. If adoption ever starts to lag, the credit union can quickly come up with a strategy to reinvigorate the products.
Brown says they also track member engagement to meet the requirements for their rewards and earning the value of the products – either a high dividend or bonus points on their debit card. They also have ongoing campaigns that target members who did not earn their rewards for some reason. Targeting these members allows them to know the value of their account and encourage them to meet all of the requirements going forward. The success they see from these campaigns is always very high, which ultimately leads to a high level of engagement among these members.
The credit union ran four campaigns of this nature in April with response rates ranging from 5.6% to 13.6%, compared to industry averages of 1-3%. Also, there is no additional cash or point offer for these campaigns – Evansville Teachers is simply using data to identify the best target audiences and capitalizing on the inherent value of its products.
2. Evansville Teachers puts a lot of emphasis on debit card usage, as well as interchange income. Analyzing this data, they know that premium checking accounts have an average of about 34 debit swipes per month for around $37 each. So the credit union can identify members who are not close to this range and try to increase their usage. Two similar campaigns occurred in April – a version for each product – and the response rates were impressive: 18.7% and 20.3%.
Indirect lending is a large part of Evansville Teachers organizational strategy. It is extremely important for the lending teams to be able to track the success of the program. The credit union has nearly 300 dealerships within its network, and the lending team needs to be able to monitor each one’s performance, send daily and monthly statements, etc.
3. Lodestar has allowed them to streamline and automate these processes that used to take days or even weeks of employee time at the beginning of each month. In addition, this data is available in near-real time throughout the month, so any problems or opportunities can be acted upon sooner than ever before.
Evansville Teachers recently added the Opportunity Mining & Management (OMM) module to its Lodestar environment. Before it had OMM, the credit union’s campaign reporting was extremely manual and, therefore, extremely lacking. Rolling out multiple targeted campaigns each month, it needs to be able to track not only the success of the campaign period, but also the residual performance of members who successfully responded.
“When requesting approval to add OMM, I estimated the hours spent analyzing campaign results,” Brown explains. “I was conservative in the estimate stating that we’d launch four campaigns each month, provide one update during the campaign, and provide residual updates for the 12 months following the campaign. By the end of the year, this worked out to an employee spending 77 hours of each month on campaign updates. And, of course, this was the bare minimum.”
Now with OMM, Brown adds, the credit union is able to see the success of its campaign everyday by simply opening a dashboard. The results are accurate as of the prior day to monitor success throughout the entire campaign period, allowing the credit union’s team to know early on if a campaign is not performing as well as it should. This intricate reporting allows the credit union to send follow-up messaging, add in an offer, etc.
The credit union can also take those results and review them by branch, by age, by tenure, and more. “This process allows us to understand who our most responsive members are so we know who to target in future campaigns,” Brown says. “It also shows us who our non-responsive members are, allowing us to be more efficient with our resources.”
New data warehouse project
Evansville Teachers is also using Lodestar’s data warehouse on a new project to pull in loan application data. They are excited about utilizing the data from one of its loan origination systems for a few reasons:
1. This process will allow it to improve efficiencies in the lending department, as the credit union can now create automated reports centered around applications instead of just booked loans.
2. Combining data sources gives the credit union another view of members, including their relationships at other financial institutions. For example, if a member doesn’t have a mortgage with Evansville Teachers but their loan application reports a mortgage payment, it knows to target this member for a mortgage refinance.
3. It is Evansville Teachers’ first experience with integrating another data source into its data warehouse. Brown adds that Lodestar’s team has been great through this process, which makes her team eager and excited about the prospect of integrating additional data sources.
“The partnership we have formed with Lodestar is something I don’t take for granted,” Brown concludes. “We work with a lot of vendors, and you aren’t always lucky enough to be in alignment on your strategic paths. I feel that the vision they have is exactly the same as our vision, which makes us extremely excited about our future with Lodestar.”