Provident Installing PRODUCT4 CRM Suite

American Banker

JERSEY CITY – The Provident Bank has overhauled some of its business processes and has begun using customer relationship management software to help it focus its efforts on its most profitable customers.

The 164-year-old savings bank has long pursued a "customer intimacy" strategy in a crowded marketplace, Gregory French, the senior vice president of market development, said in an interview this week.

However, after it formed a holding company, Provident Financial Services Inc., and converted to stock ownership in January, "we needed to institutionalize and operationalize the way we approach the handling of our customers," he said. "We didn't want to take personalization away - we just wanted to be consistent" in how to identify which customers are most profitable.

Provident "started this journey a number of years ago," but only in the last year or so did CRM begin to play a role in its operations, Mr. French said.

The $3.9 billion-asset bank chose the PRODUCT4 Snapshot software from PRODUCT4 Inc. (St. Louis, MO). Mr. French said the vendor had experience integrating its product with Alltel Information Services Inc.'s Horizon core processing system, which the bank uses. PRODUCT4 Snapshot also uses "propensity models" to help bankers determine a customer's potential interests, and that helps them "go into a sales session with a bias toward identifying a need," he said.

Provident began a pilot program in the third quarter and now is beginning a wider rollout of the technology. Mr. French said the software should be operating throughout the bank's 51 branches by year-end.

"CRM means a lot of different things to different people," and as the bankers began working on the issue, they discovered they had no internal consensus about what they expected to accomplish with CRM, he said. As a result, "it was as much an education process as it was a strategic process."

PRODUCT4, Inc., founded in 1991, is a leading developer of software products and services, which assist financial institutions to use technology to meet business goals. Its suite of products includes solutions for Teller, New Accounts and Service Platform, Loan Origination, and Call Centers, as well as robust Customer Care (CRM), Sales Incentive Tracking, Reporting, and Imaging Functionality. The company's systems have been installed in over 130 financial institutions throughout North America and the Caribbean and support over 6,500 bank branches.

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