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Report: Online analyzers, financial planning systems vital to CRM

CRM tools like calculators for determining a loan's monthly payments and financial planners for figuring out when someone can afford to retire benefit financial institutions and their customers.

Acquiring a new customer isn't enough for financial institutions. They will need to gather and analyze data to understand their customers' behaviors and develop better sales leads as part of their overall CRM strategy, according to the latest from Newton, Mass.-based Meridien Research.

Some of the tools financial institutions will need to gather data are not typical CRM applications, according to Meridien. These include calculators, that allow customers to determine a loan's monthly payments; analyzers, that help customers determine the affordability of a loan by entering information into a calculator-type interface; and financial planners, that allow customers to figure out when they can afford to retire, how much money it will take and what they can do with their current income.

The tools don't necessarily capture a customer's data, unless a financial planner tool or analyzer is surrounded by an opt-in registration. Yet, the tools allow companies to look for patterns in a customer's behavior, said Tom Richards, research director at Meridien.

Financial institutions plan to spend more than $4.6 billion this year to gather and analyze data to understand customer behavior. "Financial institutions will invest an enormous amount of money trying to understand and anticipate the needs of their customers," Richards said.

Part of that might be direct marketing, but getting customers to volunteer information is much more effective, he added. These tools encourage customers to volunteer their information, and financial institutions have seen sales-close rates at 30% and higher, according to Richards.

The tools also benefit customers by allowing them to educate themselves on their financial options. Consumers can then choose to send their contact information to the bank to learn more and possibly apply for a loan or account, he said.

Companies that already have these tools in place include Citicorp and Wells Fargo.


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