Better insight for the business – and its customers

Coast Capital has embarked on a journey to an analytics-driven culture to help differentiate the credit union in a super-saturated retail banking market

In the evolving and hyper-competitive retail banking market, differentiating a company’s product and service offerings is crucial to protecting its customer base against the competition. For Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, a culture of analytics is at the heart of that differentiation.

“There’s more demand to drive decision-making and decision support in our industry and our organization,” says Merlyn Roberts, Head of Enterprise Analytics at Coast Capital. “There’s more of an appetite to have an insight-led approach to decision making.”

Driving that insight is the job of the enterprise analytics team, providing centralized support for the 75-year-old British Columbia-based credit union, which has 522,000 customers and over $15 billion in assets. The credit union is primarily focused on the consumer retail market, but does have a substantial business line as well.

The analytics team was formed in 2010, and has grown to a staff of 11. While providing standardized reporting and management information, there’s also a slice of the team devoted to business analytics.

“For a predictive analytics discipline, there’s a whole load of new variables that have been added to the equation,” Roberts says. SAS® Enterprise Miner™ allows the team to integrate a range of information including unstructured, external data, like social media and text, into the process of driving insight. This benefits the professionals at the credit union by demonstrating which points of interactions and customer channels are most relevant for future activity, a value that is extended to the customer.

“The end consumer doesn’t need to know about how we run different processes behind the scenes” Roberts says. “They’re just receiving proactive advice to help them with their products and services.”

Merlyn Roberts, Head of Enterprise Analytics, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union

“The end consumer doesn’t need to know about how we run different processes behind the scenes” Roberts says. “They’re just receiving proactive advice to help them with their products and services.”

The text-mining capabilities of SAS Enterprise Miner help create a 360-degree view of the customer so Coast Capital can deliver relevant offers.

 “The definition of a 360-degree view of a customer has grown,” Roberts says. Coast Capital needs more data to create that understanding; at the same time, members expect Coast Capital to be genuine about data collection and how its members benefit. “How can we make use of the data that has value? And how can we turn that around and do something with it that will truly benefit the customer?”

Giving a specific return on investment number is difficult, he says, because it touches many aspects of the business. “I could reference numerous initiatives over the years where we’ve used propensity models or other predictive analytics to help identify members for certain programs,” he says. Coast Capital often uses a test-and-control group approach to measure the impact of different insights on various campaigns. In many cases, Roberts says, augmenting professional judgment with analytics insight has boosted the bottom line of a campaign.

“We’re measuring the overall effectiveness of being a data-driven organization, and SAS is an integral part of that,” Roberts says. The results include deeper and more loyal customer relationships and better campaign performance.

Roberts says the analytics culture is emerging and evolving at Coast Capital. It’s partly a function of his team, but mainly a function of the desire of the company to become more insight-driven and data-driven.

Those who haven’t embarked on the journey to the data-driven organization shouldn’t try to boil the ocean right away, Roberts says. “Don’t try to do too much at first. Find one or two business problems to be solved, and make sure there’s an ability to understand and measure the scope of the problem.” Having an enterprisewide impact won’t happen at first, but being able to demonstrate the benefits in localized areas can help secure buy-in from senior executives who can drive an enterprisewide program.

Roberts sees the growth of an analytics culture as vital to the ongoing success of Coast Capital.

“I think the industry in financial services is likely to see some disruption in the coming years based on organizations that can rapidly use data to effectively communicate with consumers,” he says. “The way that organizations can now use information to provide services and help consumers is really transforming the landscape for Coast Capital and the landscape for financial services in general.”


Better understanding customers to deliver more relevant products and services.


SAS® Enterprise Miner


  • Deeper and more loyal customer relationships, more successful campaigns.

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