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Customer Spotlight: Brian Knollenberg from BECU

November 16, 2021

Amplifiers Spotlight: Brian Knollenberg at BECU

It’s time for another customer spotlight! We love learning about our Amperity users and the cool things they do with data.

Brian in five: 

  • SVP of Marketing, BECU

  • Comes from a former B2B background in software services

  • His goal at BECU is to build a stronger financial future for members

  • Uses Amperity data to drive loyalty and personalization, and to understand which products and services BECU’s members desire

  • Loves to cycle in his spare time

What are you responsible for as the SVP of Marketing?

I lead an amazing team of more than fifty that comprises all aspects of marketing including: Brand, Marketing Strategy, Creative, Affinity and Partnerships, Environmental, Digital, Marketing Technology and Marketing Analytics. We’re really focused on getting the right communications to our members, understanding the products and services that they use, and deepening their engagement with us so that we’re able to help them with their financial wellbeing. 

What’s something that most people don’t know about BECU? 

Most people don't know how we were founded. In 1935 a bunch of Boeing engineers put thirty-five cents together to start the credit union, and they used to carry it around in a box — a literal box.  So, all of the money and assets in the credit union were just sitting in a box that a guy carried around, and that was how they kept the money that could be lent out to people. Kinda crazy when you think about it today! 

What is your vision for customer experience at BECU and how does this differentiate you from other financial services?

What sets us apart is being truly owned by our members as opposed to corporate shareholders, which means our intentions and values really drive the work that we do. That lens informs everything we do, which is chiefly being guided by our principles to create a better financial situation for our members.

What led to your initial investment in Amperity? 

In financial services, we have so much data. Every swipe that somebody has on a BECU credit card or a debit card is transactional data we need to have and understand. It was difficult to place all of our data into a secure place where it could be organized and analyzed… while also making sure it was up to date. To ensure we were best serving our members, we needed a reliable place where our different data sources could live.

What role does customer data play in your organization?

It's critically important in terms of helping us understand what products and services our members use, and in understanding what products and/or services we should be offering them. 

Financial services are very lifecycle-based, and people tend to make large financial decisions at pivotal points in their lives. Say a member recently got married and wants to buy a home — by looking at different indicators, eg.  their engagements with other products or spending patterns, we can begin predicting important life events and have a product or offer ready in a time frame that makes sense. It really helps us create a better member experience.

How does having a CDP and a Customer 360 help you use that data?

In digital marketing, relevancy is so critical, and you can't be relevant if you don't have the most up-to-date data. Amperity allows us to combine and aggregate up-to-date data from different sources, which gives us a deeper understanding of our members and the ability to provide them with the most suitable and timely offers — it’s been pivotal.

Has your use of Amperity changed how you get work done?

Amperity has removed a lot of roadblocks for us, and gives us much cleaner and faster intelligence. Being able to reduce latency and improve reliability, while also having the power to be able to query and sort through that data has been game changing. 

Something that used to take us about eighteen hours to complete is now ready in thirty minutes or less. We've seen an increase in our ability to activate and execute. 

Where does Amperity fit into your current tech stack? 

Amperity talks to Salesforce marketing cloud all the time, they're good friends. I think of Amperity as the hub of the brain that’s sending out all of this information to our execution or analysis channels. 

We don’t have to go and build another manual campaign anymore. Instead, we can go back into Amperity and run through different processes to ensure it’s in the right format for our Tableau dashboards.

"You can't be relevant if you don't have the most up to date data. Amperity allows us to combine and aggregate up to date data from different sources, which gives us a deeper understanding of our members and the ability to provide them with the most suitable and timely offers."

How has this improved productivity? 

The process was extremely tedious and manual before. Someone used to have to go into marketing cloud and download the file offline and then do that data sorting and formatting using antiquated tools, which took more than ten hours on a weekly basis. But now we’re getting it on a daily basis from a mostly automatic standpoint, so it’s saved a huge amount of time. It’s removed all of the bogging down of execution that used to be the bane of our digital marketing team's existence. 

Are you able to quantify this in any way? 

When you’re talking about tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or even millions of outbound executions, you’re talking about real results.

How do you use Amperity to drive loyalty and personalization? 

You always hear people talk about how the bar has been raised and customer expectations have changed. The member expectation is really high, so we’re always pushing ourselves to go one step further. For us, it always comes back to really knowing our members. Loyalty is built around offering people the things that they want, and showing them that you understand the things they’re already doing.

If I kept asking someone to get a credit card who already had one, it wouldn’t build much loyalty for us — they’d be sitting there hitting delete. Building loyalty begins with a Customer 360. It’s so critical to know and understand them. 

What’s next? Any cool projects coming up? 

We’re starting to look more at the analytics. Statistical models don’t work well if you don’t know exactly what’s being fed in, if it’s not structured correctly, or if it’s not repeatable. So we’ve been working on those to help us learn more about our members. 

What’s your favorite hobby outside of work? 

Definitely cycling! I don’t actually have many pics of me riding bikes to share though– cause I take them all. They're all just my bikes and the places I go. But here’s a fun picture of me hiking with my golden!

Brian Knollenberg on a hike with his golden retriever

Thank you Brian!

BECU is a joint customer of Amperity and Microsoft Azure.

Stay tuned for more customer spotlights! In the meantime, you can check out previous installments here.