Posted by MeridianLink | May 30, 2023

Data-Driven Insights for Better Decision-Making: How Financial Institutions Can Use Data Analytics To Drive Success

At our recent MeridianLink® User Forum, we had a session highlighting the power of implementing process improvements at two customer credit unions. They both emphasized how better access to data stretched far past the immediate benefit of how quickly they could pull reports and highlighted numerous insights that helped them improve both operational challenges and the member journey. 

Shifting From Manual Pivot Tables to Automated Reports 

Nicole Hilburn has been with Pen Air Credit Union for more than 17 years. She began her career there as a teller and worked her way up to her current role as AVP of direct lending. She oversees teams of credit analysts, underwriters, and direct loan processors who process all loan originations through the online channel and contact center.   

Prior to implementing MeridianLink® Insight, everything was managed manually through pivot tables in Excel by copying data daily from MeridianLink® Consumer. This process was, in her own words, a “nightmare:” Something was always breaking, and by the time staff had everything working, there was little time left to analyze the data and make strategic changes to improve processes or performance before it was time to start the next day’s work. Her team repeated this process for years before deciding to try something new. 

Nicole’s initial goal in implementing MeridianLink Insight was to remove all manual pivot tables. Her secondary goal was to better monitor the data for areas in need of focus to identify where staff could make swift improvements. She went on to share that implementation was quick and simple, immediately saving at least a day per month per employee on compiling reports and allowing her team to shift from pulling data to interpreting it. 

Other immediate operational updates then followed, from her team’s ability to easily pinpoint areas of improvement to timely loan processing for a smoother member journey. Inefficiencies were identified based on which loan officers were taking longer to process loans and flagging those officers as staff who may require additional training and coaching.  

Nicole emphasized that “when coaching opportunities are realized in more real-time, it means that staff is capable of improved performance,” which also directly impacts the member and their access to loan opportunities faster. Her key emphasis in the session was that none of these improvements were available with what they had access to via manual data pulls—they required automated data and reporting for her team to be able to make the strategic adjustments needed to continue improving. 

Finding Actionable Opportunities in Near Real-Time Data 

Our second customer speaker, Amber Motley, was an early adopter of MeridianLink Insight and discussed her credit union’s data analyst team born out of the business intelligence tool’s successful implementation. Amber began her career with Colorado Credit Union as a project specialist, and four years ago she implemented MeridianLink Insight. She proudly explained how the tool’s implementation provided so much immediate value to the organization that they quickly created a new role for her as data analyst, and she began monitoring everything for the lending department with a data-driven focus. 

According to Amber, “the power of data-driven focus is the ability to constantly adjust and improve processes and results across multiple areas of the credit union.” She mentioned that in her early days, the immediate benefits were similar to those of Nicole’s: eliminating all manual pivot tables and better understanding loan officer efficiency since these items impacted everything. 

As her credit union shifted from end-of-month reporting to near real-time reporting, this allowed managers and loan officers to make immediate adjustments to meet individual and departmental goals rather than having to wait and adjust for the next month.  They also developed better pipeline KPIs by filtering data differently and seeing it from several angles instead of the one manual pivot table providing basic data and wide room for interpretation.  

They filtered data based on application type to better understand which products were most in demand, where bottlenecks existed in the application to improve time to funding, customer segmentation of in-process applications to compare initial offers and improve marketing segmentation, and where outliers existed so that loan officers could provide immediate coaching or assistance with more complex loans. 

As the team became comfortable with the new day-to-day processes, they began using the fallout report to drive changes in underwriting and decisioning, adjusting operations and goals for upcoming months based on this data. Amber found the dashboards and charts simple to understand and appreciated how they provided a visual context for her feedback to upper management as she explained which areas needed change. 

Amber also gladly shared that as overall processes and workflows improved, her team used the data to shift focus and begin celebrating these changes rather than solely focusing on improvements, fostering a more positive culture in the credit union’s lending department. 

Making Better Business Decisions Faster 

Implementing a powerful, turnkey business intelligence tool that enables your financial institution to make better business decisions faster through access to near real-time origination data is how MeridianLink Insight is impacting many other financial institutions like Pen Air Credit Union and Colorado Credit Union. 

Between promoting more efficient processing times, reducing fallout in your origination pipeline, evaluating areas of opportunity, and increasing cross-sell opportunities for your consumers, discover how Insight can improve your user experience through data-driven, actionable opportunities.   

According to Chris Dumas, the director of data product management at MeridianLink, “all of the data in the world doesn’t mean a thing unless it provides value to your business.” 

Schedule time to connect with your account executive to learn more about how MeridianLink Insight can transform your data into value for your organization. 

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