Is Your Online Bill Payment Solution Meeting Your Needs?

Use these four questions to determine if your bill payment site is a flexible solution that can evolve to meet members’ changing needs.

 

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Remember when the drive-through window at your credit union was considered a modern convenience? As more and more of your credit union members adopt today's modern convenience - paying their bills online - it is critical that your bill payment site be a flexible solution that delivers superior control. Including both elements enables you to evolve as your members' needs become more sophisticated.

Do you offer a flexible solution that delivers superior control?
Most bill pay applications offer a basic front-end with minimal flexibility, expecting you to settle for customizing only colors and logos. This is great, if all you want to do is add "online bill payment" to your list of services in marketing materials. However, if you see bill pay as an integral tool in your online services, the look-and-feel of your bill payment application should go beyond merely customizing your logo. Accordingly, it is important to have a bill payment solution that supports your initiative.

Does your solution match the look-and-feel of your other online applications?
Do you lack the internal resources to support a full in-house solution? Do you still want more control than the average service-bureau solution provides? If so, how do you balance your needs with your budget? First, it is important to identify which elements of the bill pay site you wish to modify. Would the ability to change simple pieces such as text on the front-end or sections of the site meet your needs? Or do you desire even more customization?

Does your solution have flexible architecture that can adapt and evolve with your needs?
Often credit unions test the waters with a basic bill pay offering. Once bill pay takes off, the credit union usually wants more control in customizing its application, integrating additional services (e.g. alerts, secure messaging and account-to-account transfers) and making changes to reduce support issues. If you choose your provider wisely, your bill pay solution has the ability to grow with your needs by offering multiple levels of control and cost-savings. It is especially important to choose a vendor that can support your development, avoiding the necessity of converting to another vendor when your needs expand.

So, how do you know if your vendor has the ability to grow with your needs?
The first step is to explore exactly how much flexibility your vendor offers. Many ASP solutions only offer minimal customization of colors, logos and some marketing text. If your vendor offers additional options, ask how those features are implemented. Additionally, identify other support models your vendor offers.

Your vendor should present a variety of support options in order to effectively grow with your needs, including:

1. Service-bureau or ASP - offers the option of limited customization (e.g. colors, logos and banner ads). This is ideal if you are new to the bill pay arena. However, a vendor should offer additional customization, such as different payment-funding models, options for how payments are scheduled, and the ability to customize all bill payment site text and event-driven messages to members. These additional options allow the ASP model to progress as your members' needs progress.

2. Full customization - allows complete customization of your front-end interface, in order to match your home banking application. With full customization, you maintain your own bill payment Web pages, while still connecting to the vendor's payment warehouse and bill pay databases. This is a great solution, allowing you complete control over your members' bill payment experience while still minimizing incremental costs. This model also supports integration of other third-party applications and provides the ultimate low-cost, high-control option.

3. In-house - allows you to host and maintain all aspects of your bill pay system (including Web pages, payment warehouse and bill payment databases), while outsourcing your payment remittance processing to your vendor. This option enables you to completely customize the bill pay experience.

According to a recent creditunions.com analysis, online bill pay customers tend to be more loyal. They also tend to utilize a greater number of financial services. So, the online bill pay solution you choose is not just a modern convenience for your members, but an essential tool for the success of your business as well.
For more information about bill payment products and services, contact your corporate credit union or Nate Truelson, national sales director, (888) 656-4050, ext. 6126, ntruelson@memberstreet.com. Or visit memberstreet.com.

 

Oct. 17, 2005


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