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Rocky Mountain High-Flyer

FirstBank launches "guided-selling" solution.

FirstBank, the largest locally-owned bank in Colorado, wanted to build close, personalized relationships with its mortgage customers by understanding each one's unique preferences. To do so, however, it needed technology that would empower and motivate employees to generate new and add-on business, and to facilitate customer engagement in efficient self-service buying.

FirstBank turned to Active Decisions, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of guided-selling lifecycle solutions used by more than 40 million people via call centers,bank branches, specialty kiosks and Web sites. Using Active Decision's Active Financial Assistant, the bank designed an application to help customers select the right mortgage based on their needs.

The application was deployed in record time (under four weeks) in order to quickly serve consumers seeking new mortgages and loans in the current low interest rate environment. The application is being hosted by Active Decisions under a one-year agreement.

Through aggressive marketing and products, Lakewood, Colo.-based FirstBank has expanded to 100 locations serving more than 600,000 customers along the Front Range and in several mountain resort communities. FirstBank claims to be the first bank in Colorado to offer 24-hour banking, Saturday morning banking, and grocery store convenience banking.

"We strive to stay ahead of the banking industry in the improvement of both our customers' experience and our understanding of our customers' needs," according to Dave Baker, executive vice president at $5.5 billion FirstBank.

Active Financial Assistant enables FirstBank to dramatically improve the way customers choose a mortgage, he said.

"We selected it because of its flexibility and power, combined with the fact that it could be deployed in a matter of weeks," Baker added.

The technology combines proven theories about buyer behavior and traits with a wide array of sophisticated personalization and recommendation technologies. Active Financial Assistant calculates unique scored profiles of each bank customer or prospect, which determine what recommendations are made.

Customers are often frustrated by automated selling tools because they only present choices in black-and-white terms, never in uncertain or in-between gray terms. Active Financial Assistant overcomes this by employing "fuzzy recommendation" technology and "multi-axis attribute lookup" to present customers with options that are optimal though not perfect.

Experience with more than 40 million consumers has enabled Active Decisions to build technology capable of making sense of contradictory customer information (such as "Price is not important to me" but "I will not pay more than 1 percent").

The product stands to increase the rate at which FirstBank's Web site visitors apply for mortgages, said Jeffrey Dunn, president and CEO of Active Decisions.

"Additionally FirstBank will be able to use the customer preference data AFA collects to spot trends and early indicators of what their customers care about in choosing a mortgage. This data will allow the bank to do valuable personalized outreach to customers based on their known preferences and needs."

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