Enhanced Service

By David F. Carr  |  Posted 2002-06-17 Print this article Print

This once-struggling credit union is using software not just to pull together information on accounts, but to offer new services to customers as well.

Enhanced Service

Credit union member Marjory Luxenberg may not know where the CRM system leaves off and the personal touch begins, but she does know that Meriwest's service has pleasantly surprised her on a couple of fronts lately. Luxenberg joined shortly after she went to work for IBM in 1967 and was caught in the same waves of layoffs that prompted Meriwest's identity crisis. Now a mainframe quality assurance manager at Delta Dental Plans of California, she says she is so impressed by Meriwest's service that she has dropped all her other bank accounts.

Meriwest helped her establish accounts for her son and daughter to draw on for spending money while they are away at college, allowing them to avoid bank accounts with exorbitant fees. In the process, she learned about services she hadn't even known the bank offered, such as debit cards. The same Meriwest representative noticed a pattern in the way Luxenberg was incurring high credit card interest charges and showed her how to restructure her accounts and save money. "When you talk to one person at the credit union, they can take care of all your needs," she says.

Although she wound up being sold several new services, Luxenberg says she never felt pressured. "I always get the sense that they're trying to help me. I never get the sense that they're trying to make money off of me," she says.

Gartner Inc. analyst Joe Outlaw says he is impressed by Meriwest's coherent approach to implementing a strategy, rather than just implementing a technology, and to tracking concrete measures of success.

"They covered everything, from top to bottom, including in-depth metrics of where they were and where they wanted to be," Outlaw says. "They did a complete rethinking of the company and what would need to change to make it" responsive to customers.

David F. Carr David F. Carr is the Technology Editor for Baseline Magazine, a Ziff Davis publication focused on information technology and its management, with an emphasis on measurable, bottom-line results. He wrote two of Baseline's cover stories focused on the role of technology in disaster recovery, one focused on the response to the tsunami in Indonesia and another on the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.David has been the author or co-author of many Baseline Case Dissections on corporate technology successes and failures (such as the role of Kmart's inept supply chain implementation in its decline versus Wal-Mart or the successful use of technology to create new market opportunities for office furniture maker Herman Miller). He has also written about the FAA's halting attempts to modernize air traffic control, and in 2003 he traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to report on the role of technology in United Nations peacekeeping.David joined Baseline prior to the launch of the magazine in 2001 and helped define popular elements of the magazine such as Gotcha!, which offers cautionary tales about technology pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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