4月 292011
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) of 2009 was triggered by the financial crisis and designed to protect subprime borrowers by forcing lenders to provide more transparency and more reasonable, fairer rates and fees to borrowers. This has proven a costly burden for US lenders as they retool to adjust for narrower margins and a new outlook on customer retention and loyalty. While at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, Rex Pruitt, Manager, Profitability & Risk, MIS Analytics at PREMIER Bankcard, explained how analytics helped PREMIER find its profitable customer and price point.

According to Pruitt, when marketing in the subprime space, (consumers with credit scores typically of 660 and lower), lenders have to be able to position themselves to cover the losses – usually about 35 percent in the first year. Subprime lenders have traditionally relied on fees and rate increases for profitability.

Those fees are now largely restricted in the US by the new regulations:

Prohibits Exorbitant and Unnecessary Fees
  • Prohibits issuers from charging a fee to pay a credit card debt, whether by mail, telephone, or electronic transfer, except for live services to make expedited payments;
  • Prohibits issuers from charging over-limit fees unless the cardholder elects to allow the issuer to complete over-limit transactions, and also limits over-limit fees on electing cardholders;
  • Requires penalty fees to be reasonable and proportional to the omission or violation; Enhances protections against excessive fees on low-credit, high-fee credit cards.”
(Excerpt from:

New rules regarding rates, fees, and limits
  • Caps on high-fee cards. If your credit card company requires you to pay fees (such as an annual fee or application fee), those fees cannot total more than 25% of the initial credit limit. For example, if your initial credit limit is $500, the fees for the first year cannot be more than $125. This limit does not apply to penalty fees, such as penalties for late payments.”
(Excerpt from:”

Lenders were required to be fully compliant with the terms of the Act by March, 2010. To meet those requirements, PREMIER began testing fees and rates even as regulators were still hammering out the final terms of the legislation. Additionally, PREMIER is using scoring models developed in SAS® Enterprise Miner™ and SAS Analytics to help with performance measurement and new customer acquisition activation.

Pruitt warned the audience that his presentation would only show the output of his analyses, but he said that he’d be more than happy to share any of the coding techniques behind the four systemic solutions that are helping PREMIER meet the challenges posed by the CARD Act. (His paper also includes only the output. You can find Pruitt’s contact information there if you want further information.)

“It is all systemically processed, and only one of the [analyses] cannot be systemically delivered simply by scheduling the code and running it all the way through email generation. I get one of the graphs from this on my PDA,” Pruitt said, holding his PDA aloft. “It is very integrated and can be replicated for additional processes as we move forward.”

PREMIER created four systemic solutions using SAS to address the new CARD Act requirements. Here is a brief description of how each solution helps PREMIER:
    Fee Justification Analysis – looks at APR and late fee strategies. Fee strategies are regulated by the US federal government. PREMIER tried to overcome this revenue lost from fee regulation by increasing APRs. In February 2011, PREMIER experimented with cards that had an opening rate of 79.9% APR. According to Pruitt, PREMIER had a high response rate in its market space. Rates on new cards are now between 35% and 59.9%. In order to justify these rates, PREMIER uses Fee Justification Analysis.

    Customer Loyalty Analytics – PREMIER needed to identify its best customers. Before the CARD Act, PREMIER had no real customer retention strategy. They focused solely on those customers in the subprime market and were content that some customers graduated to prime cards. With the capital requirements and the tighter margins resulting from the regulations, the lender needed a customer retention program to help cover their exposure. Customer loyalty analytics also helped PREMIER prove to the regulators that some customers do graduate to prime cards.

    Rapid Response to Strategic Planning – PREMIER’s marketing groups needed an accelerated timetable for the delivery of marketing data. They needed to be able to see results on a daily basis because of the flux in the market during the crisis. Additionally, in 2008, PREMIER was adding 200,000 accounts per month. PREMIER needed to stabilize the number of accounts coming in so that they could grow a stronger portfolio.

    Improved Daily Forecasting Model – According to Pruitt, PREMIER decided to focus on doing a better job of choosing the right customer and improving daily account forecasting - choosing who becomes a customer and who leaves when.

What would you do with 10%?
I won’t give away all of the details that you can read in the paper, but I will tell you about the most exciting story that Pruitt told in terms of real ROI. If your company must go through all of this, you’d hope to come away with best practices that you can apply to another part of your company. What if you also came away with real ROI? PREMIER makes it clear that they learned something AND saved some money!

Customer Loyalty Analytics segments and ranks the portfolio best to worst every month to show the value of PREMIER’s customers and generates a Microsoft Excel report. As you will recall, retention was not a part of PREMIER’s strategy before the crisis. Pruitt uses this report with his management to demonstrate that retention is a viable strategy for PREMIER. In his analysis, he found that a customer is worth an average US$11.58 per month in the 2-3 year timeframe.

“So, if we retain one customer for one extra month, we make $11.58,” said Pruitt. “That’s based on the top 75 percent of our portfolio … In an annual period, if I improve our retention strategy by 10 percent that equates to an annual revenue generation of $4.8 million.”

Read Pruitt’s paper and then tell me what you would do with systemic solutions like he and his team have developed.
4月 292011
Every insurance company would like to have a rich well of descriptive and predictive insight about customers. The insurer that can gain a 360-degree view if the customer can better meet the insured needs, expand the relationship and gain competitive advantage. However, many obstacles stand in the way of this [...]
4月 212011
In my travels over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many different insurance companies – all different shapes, sizes, geographies – in both the United States and Canada. For those of you not in the insurance business, you may be surprised by how unique each [...]
4月 082011
The SAS Global Forum Executive Conference is a three-day conference held April 4-6 at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The conference is international and invitation-only, designed to spark discussions about business problems and how to best solve them.

On Tuesday, April 5, there were two breakout sessions on the topic of customer analytics. I provided notes from the first session, titled How to Find the Most Profitable Growth Opportunities earlier, and below I’ll share details on the second session, titled Leveraging Customer Data to Drive Business Decisions.

What’s the most underused asset in an organization?

Customer data. Specifically tapping into the power of this data to build customer knowledge.

SAS’ Senior Director of Product Marketing, Nelle Schantz, led this discussion too. Lori was joined by panelists Stephan Chase (Vice President of Customer Knowledge at Marriott International), Mark Hodes (Senior Vice President of Marketing at Nextag) and Scott Sutton (now with ESS Analysis, Scott recently managed the database marketing team for The Venetian and Palazzo Resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada), to learn how these frontline leaders use predictive analytics to get the highest return on their marketing investments.

Nelle kicked-off the discussion by stating that so many of us today believe whole heartedly in the power of predictive analytics. Analytics drive our business forward. She said. “They allow us to convert data into business value.” After some brief opening remarks she jumped into the questions by asking the panelists to talk about how they are using analytics to drive their business forward and how they are converting data into business value.

Mark started with some context about Nextag. Nextag is an online comparison shopping engine, where they aggregate inventory from online stores and catalogs to help people make decisions about what to buy. Nextag invests money by paying for clicks from search engines, and they make money by getting people to click from their Website to a merchant (the merchant pays for this click activity). The delta is revenue. We can lose money every minute if we don't monitor our keyword bids Mark said. Analytics helps us optimize our bid strategy for hundreds of millions of keywords which are active at any given time. We have to leverage vast amounts of data in near as real-time as possible, so "analytics is at the core of how we make money."

Scott started by saying they create full views of the customer that visits their properties. We work to understand their behavior said Scott. We look beyond gaming data, to hotel data; retail data; dining data. What do customers do at certain times of the day? Once we have a full view of the customer, we start making decisions about how we can improve their experience.

Stephan said that Marriott has been working on finding out as much about their customers as they can, and they've been doing this for fifteen years. They focus on discovering the 'truth' about their customers ("Although there is no real Truth" Stephan said, only an approximation.) And then applying truth to answering questions like: what's going to make our customers happier? What offers will appeal to them? How do we get this in front of the customer at the right time?

Many organizations are migrating from a product-focused, to customer focused business strategy, and to that end, there is a huge focus on the customer experience... understanding it, improving it, and accumulating information to have a more complete view of customer behaviors across channels and products or properties (in the case of the hospitality industry). Nelle asked the panelists if they have found that this movement to a customer focused strategy is true of their company and if so, to briefly discuss the key strategies they are undertaking to move in that direction.

Continue reading "Leveraging Customer Data to Drive Business Decisions, fresh from the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference"
4月 062011
The SAS Global Forum Executive Conference is a three-day conference held April 4-6 at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The conference is international and invitation-only, designed to spark discussions about business problems and how to best solve them.

On Tuesday, April 5, there were two breakout sessions on the topic of customer analytics. I’ll provide some notes from the first session, titled How to Find the Most Profitable Growth Opportunities below, and publish another post later tomorrow with details on the second session, titled Leveraging Customer Data to Drive Business Decisions.

Quick! What's the best strategy for a company to grow?

“Just sell more products or services” right? It may seem like a no-brainer, but there is actually a smarter and more precise way to become more profitable.

SAS’ Senior Director of Product Marketing, Nelle Schantz, led a discussion with panelists Jim Foreman (Director of Circulation and Analytics at Staples), Halina Karachuk (Vice President of Innovation, Research and Analytics at AXA Equitable Life) and Barb Buettin (Director, CRM-Enterprise Information Management, Chico's FAS Inc.), about their approaches to finding opportunities others miss through analytical techniques such as data integration, data mining and forecasting.

To get us started, Nelle talked about the role of analytic teams, saying analytics has the ability to help organizations be very successful and profitable...but sometimes the role that analytics teams play in an organization can be quite different than the potential for analytics teams. And just like that, we had a great discussion about the function of an analytics team, where within the organization they live, and how that should change going forward.

Jim commented that his team plays many roles. He said that every analytical problem should start with a business question. "You start by providing the information they need. But," Jim said, "we always think about new ways to answer them, in a consultative way." Over time, they start to come to you with larger challenges, and we begin to be thought of as a strategic partner in their efforts. That's where I'm headed with my team. "Aim for a partnership"

"We're at a transition point in the organization." Said Barb. When we were really profitable, "it was all good" and we were not looking closely at our data or analytics. Now, that has changed. It's a big focus and things are much different since we've installed SAS. The entire enterprise is now focused on customer data and we work as a strategic partner with all other parts of the organization now. It's so exciting to be part of this new way of thinking. This new way of asking and answering questions.

Halina has seen the extremes of how analytics can fit inside an organization. In her current role, analytics is just beginning to be focused on. "We're a scrappy analytics organization" she says. "We're still building the commitment to this area of focus." She continued by saying that she seeks out people organizationally, who have needs for fact-based decision making, and offers them help. Everything we sell, she said, is through financial advisors - so analytics can be scary to them, since we're so organized around the sales approach.

It didn’t take long for the centralized/decentralized question come up. "When it comes to driving profitable growth with analytics, what’s better?" Asked Nelle. Are centralized analytics teams best set up to do this, or does the decentralized model (where each product, channel or line of business does their own) have advantages?
Continue reading "How to Find the Most Profitable Growth Opportunities, fresh from the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference"
3月 292011
SAS Global Forum appreciates the support of its sponsors. I asked a Teradata representative some questions so that we could get to know this valued Premier sponsor better.

1. Can you provide some background information on the Teradata Corporation?

Teradata is the world’s largest company focused solely on raising intelligence and achieving enterprise agility through our database software, data warehousing platforms, industry consulting and integrated marketing management. We’ve led the data warehousing market since our inception, with nearly 1,200 customers and more than 2,500 implementations. On any given business day in almost every industry throughout the world, well over a million users access a Teradata data warehouse for quick, precise and reliable intelligence to support business decisions.

Continue reading "News from Premier Sponsor Teradata"
3月 252011
For two days in Early March (March 7-8), we hosted forty-eight of the industry’s most influential analysts in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for SAS’ annual analyst conference.

Collectively, the analysts generated more than 2,000 tweets – the bulk of which were created in a single day – the day our executive team and customers provided candid insights into how software is being used and where they see the market going.

To make sense of all this data, we used SAS Social Media Analytics to track all the tweeting throughout the day. (Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis joked to the audience, “Go check it out. Look at your sentiment and see whether we pay for dinner tonight or you.”)

The solution allowed us to continuously monitor the Twitter stream during the event. And later, we used the solution to identify topic clusters, order of importance and frequency of tweets. Of the tweets collected, the following are the top-10 clusters, with the percentage by topic:

  1. Good year for SAS – solution growth (17 percent).
  2. Social customer relationship management – hard to do, SAS has great offer (14 percent).
  3. Hot areas – analytics, fraud, risk, CI, BI and government (7 percent).
  4. Partners/competition – influence and expectations (7 percent).
  5. Mobile applications – Roambi, iPhone, iPad and fit for task (6 percent).
  6. Teradata acquisition – comments from SAS executives on Teradata’s purchase of Aster Data (6 percent).
  7. Russ Cobb – local, regional, and global marketing plans and challenges (5 percent).
  8. Randy Guard – product roadmaps, decision management, rules and workflow (5 percent).
  9. Data integration – challenges and linkage to BI and enterprise resource planning (4 percent).
  10. SAS Social Media Analytics – directions, use of analytics and roadmap (4 percent).

Want to hear more? Read What the analysts are saying about SAS in 2011. This great recap provides excerpts from, and links to, some of the best analyst blog posts from the event.