How To Capitalize On Member Intelligence

The power of data analytics to inform and personalize credit union outreach represents a new frontier for member service.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • Member intelligence requires a culture of cross-enterprise learning and cooperation.
  • Culling actionable insights from member data is essential to future success, but credit unions must integrate disparate storage systems.
  • Pulling together user groups and tapping best practices from other credit unions are two ways to start making use of member intelligence.

The role of member intelligence in deepening relationships and propelling growth is dominating conversations and to-do lists at credit unions of all sizes across the United States. Gleaning actionable insight from vast stores of transactional, demographic, and geographic data is pushing cooperatives to work with one another in new ways and to turn to technology suppliers for help in integrating dozens of disparate data formats.

At conferences, during roundtables, and in strategic planning sessions with credit unions, leaders at Callahan Associates have noted several recurring themes the firm has identified as opportunities for 2019. One of those themes: How can credit unions capitalize on member intelligence?

Credit unions are approaching the opportunity in different ways. Some are creating independent teams staffed by subject matter experts dedicated to supporting departmental efforts. Others are embedding analysts across the organization and challenging them to share best practices to the benefit of the larger organization. No matter the structure, credit unions with their eye on intelligence are striving to better understand member behavior and leverage data to build a better business.

Here, representatives from Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, Nusenda Credit Union, Centra Credit Union, and Callahan Associates talk about how credit unions capitalize on member intelligence.

Chris Howard, Callahan Associates

Chris Howard, SVP, Callahan Associates

Chris Howard is senior vice president at Callahan Associates. Along with consulting and facilitating strategy discussions at credit unions across the country, he directs an array of collaborative innovation initiatives for CUFSLP, Callahan’s partnership with 28 of the nation’s leading credit unions.

What member intelligence opportunities exist for credit unions in 2019?

CH: There’s power in having insight into how members think, what they think about the credit union and the role it plays in their lives and the lives of their communities, how they relate to the credit union, and how they evaluate the credit union’s products and services. But there’s an underlying technology issue here: The average full-service credit union runs between 25 and 40 systems that generally don’t talk to one another. Challenge No. 1, and the opportunity that follows, lies in addressing that interoperability.

Data mining and skill refining were top-of-mind for many credit unions in 2018. Learn what best practices these innovators have to offer in’s Best of Analytics 2018.

How do you recommend credit unions pursue that opportunity?

CH: In my work with credit unions, I start almost every conversation about member intelligence and data analytics with this question: Why are you doing this? If you don’t know why you’re doing something, how on earth are you going to figure out how to do it?

Once the credit union is clear on intent, then it can get into process. Member intelligence is a process. First, gather raw data. Then, sort it, analyze it, collate it, and combine it. From there, divine insights. That’s how you produce actionable intelligence. But, begin with why.

Charlotte Taft, Callahan Associates

Charlotte Taft, Director of Business Intelligence, Callahan Associates

Charlotte Taft is the director of business intelligence for Callahan Associates. Along with leading in-house initiatives dedicated to understanding data and making it actionable, Taft organizes the Tableau Credit Union User Group.

What member intelligence opportunities exist for credit unions in 2019?

CT: There are a ton of opportunities; it’s an exciting time. I like to think about the things that will keep me, personally, engaged as a credit union member. I’ve never been to my credit union branch I use my app and the website but there are still lots of ways my credit union can use data to determine what I might want or need next.

ACH data is a gold mine. So are credit reports. Together, they can help a credit union determine who might be ready for that next car loan. Credit unions can also see where people shop. All this data together can uncover the opportunity for a targeted, local campaign.


Execute a campaign relevant to me through the app, and my credit union will have found the next thing to keep me, and people like me, coming back for more.

How do you recommend credit unions pursue those opportunities?

CT: First, learn to use visualization tools like Tableau or PowerBI that can help the credit union identify opportunities it might not see in an Excel sheet.

Second, don’t go it alone. The Tableau user group is one example of pewful credit union collaboration that’s happening right now.

Third, take advantage of one of the most powerful sources of member intelligence that exists and exists within the credit union’s own walls credit union staff. Ask them what they are hearing from members and seeing on the streets. If they reflect the credit union’s membership, engage with them to determine what they want and need from a financial institution.

Deidre Davis, Michigan State University FCU

Deidre Davis, Chief Marketing Officer, Michigan State University FCU

Deidre Davis is chief marketing officer at Michigan State University ($4.1B, East Lansing, MI), where she directs marketing strategy, media buying, print and digital delivery of marketing messages, market research, web and mobile content, social media, and external public relations campaigns and communications.

What member intelligence opportunities exist for credit unions in 2019?

DD: We plan to use member intelligence to provide a better member experience in 2019. For example, our upcoming Year in Review email is customized for all members and recaps their interaction with MSUFCU over the past year.

We’ll also be using member intelligence in 2019 to enhance product development decisions and evaluate existing products and services for members. We’re introducing a new credit card in 2019, and we used member intelligence to develop the product’s features and make it as beneficial to members as possible. We’ll also use member intelligence to better align our messaging to the needs of members.

Learn how MSUFCU uses member intelligence across the enterprise in How To Build A BI Team That Drives Results.

How is MSUFCU going to pursue these opportunities?

DD: We have a team of business intelligence specialists who are adept at identifying trends in our member data and identifying actionable insights. Additionally, we work with several outside entities that help us make better decisions and enhance our service to members. Lastly, and important to our success in this area, is the collaboration across multifunctional teams at the credit union.

Paul Leavell, Nusenda Credit Union

Paul Leavell, Chief Strategy Officer, Nusenda Credit Union

Paul Leavell is chief strategy officer at Nusenda Credit Union ($2.3B, Albuquerque, NM). He blends operational strategies, marketing science, statistical tracking, and data mining to help Nusenda capture greater wallet share and provide members with an exceptional experience in the process.

What member intelligence opportunities exist for credit unions in 2019?

PL: Most credit unions have the opportunity to leverage the data they already have to do something. For more progressive credit unions, the opportunity lies in preparing and making the data available for agile uses of member intelligence.

Data volume is rising, and data is increasing in velocity and complexity. Building the infrastructure to house and leverage data across the organization on a distributed basis will be critical. The infrastructure will allow credit unions to capture and analyze more member intelligence.

Leavell co-developed a data matrix to deploy little, middle, and big data for targeted marketing . Learn more about making big data byte-sized.

Kevin Murphy, Nusenda Credit Union

Kevin Murphy, Chief Information Officer, Nusenda Credit Union

Kevin Murphy is chief information officer at Nusenda Credit Union. His areas of responsibility include systems integration, technology leadership, risk management, cyber security and business continuity.

How is Nusenda going to pursue these opportunities?

KM: We’re currently restructuring our data warehouse and developing a user interface to allow consumers of member intelligence the ability to retrieve and analyze data on a one-off or periodic basis. Nusenda is continuing to grow its analytics culture in a way that will enhance our currently more centralized approach to analytics with more distributed access.

Carrie Jenkins, Centra Credit Union

Carrie Jenkins joined Centra Credit Union ($1.5B, Columbus, IN) in 2017 when the credit union created its director of business analytics position. She leads the team responsible for empowering decision-makers with new levels of actionable insight.

What member intelligence opportunities exist for credit unions in 2019?

Carrie Jenkins, Director of Business Analytics, Centra Credit Union

CJ: Dashboarding and data visualization. Since our core conversion in 2018, we have access to so much more information about our members. Rather than poring over pages and pages of numbers, our decision-makers want to see the whole story at a glance.

Carrie Jenkins is leading Centra Credit Union on a new journey into predictive analytics. Learn about Jenkins and her role at Centra in What’s In A Name: Director Of Business Analytics.

How is Centra going to pursue these opportunities?

CJ: I put together a live dashboard for IT service tickets that our CEO loved. The next morning, I presented it to our board of directors. It reminds me of a quote from Global Bank: We are drowning in data and starving for insight.

I’ve challenged our senior management team to give me a top 10 dashboard wish list for the first quarter of 2019. I expect that list to contain requests from all areas of the credit union. My team is excited to dig in.


January 7, 2019

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