5 Ways Your Credit Union Can Benefit from Home Banking

Looking for ways to make operations more efficient at your credit union? Then let your members take over.


Looking for ways to make operations more efficient at your credit union? Then let your members take over.

According to John Best, Director of Technology for Wescom Resources Group, he says to allow your members to take over, you have to teach them how to use your Web-enabled services like account maintenance, fund transfers, check verifications, bill payments, etc.

''It goes back to the old saying, 'Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and they won't call your call center,''' explains Best. ''Do this with your members and you empower them, which frees up time for your staff that can be reallocated elsewhere.''

Best adds, as a result of teaching members to use the financial services on your credit union's Web site, you cut down on calls to your call center, your day-to-day operations run smoother, and your members receive better service because staff has more time for them. In the long run, your credit union saves money.

Best has developed five ways your credit union can enhance its efficiency through home banking: account maintenance, imaging, ACH, separate processes via home banking, and infrastructure stability.

1. Account maintenance performed online saves time. Members can perform address changes, phone number updates, add or change e-mail addresses, transfer funds between savings and checking, etc.

''Who knows first when they've moved?'' Best asks. ''Your members do. Wouldn't you rather have them update their new information online than send them two or three address change requests in the mail? This saves time and money.''

2. Extend your check imaging capabilities to your members. In other words, provide your members with the capability to view their checks online should they ever have a question with their history.

''It's much easier and quicker for a member to view a canceled check online than it is for a member to call or come into a branch and request to see one,'' he explains. ''Members can login to their online home banking service and simply see the check in question. It's quick, it's easy, and there's no hassle.''

3. Automated Clearing House (ACH) through home banking allows members to transfer funds online between financial institutions. In the past, many institutions devoted large departments to ACH transfers. But today's technology allows members to do it themselves at the click of a button online.

''This used to be a very tedious process for financial institutions,'' Best says. ''With the advances in the technology, it's time to get the members involved instead of having them call in every time. This is a real time saver.''

4. Separate the financial processes through home banking. In other words, place as many of your available products and processes online.

For example, eStatements is a recent service that's migrated online. It's a huge cost-saver and time saver. Members can receive their statements online on the first day of the month rather than a week or more through the mail. eStatements also saves credit unions postage per member each month. If you have 15,000 members opting in for eStatements instead of the mail, that's a saving of $5,550 per month at $.37 per statement . This cost doesn't include the envelopes, stock and labor involved to mail the paper statements.

''Any product can be exposed to the Web for your members,'' Best states. ''You just have to have the infrastructure in place to make sure you can integrate them.''

5. Invest in your infrastructure because this will build stability within your credit union and enable you to apply more products and services toward home banking in the future. In addition, anything you devote to the Internet for your members should be available to your staff via the credit union's Intranet. This allows staff to better serve the members.

For example, Best recalls story about a member coming into a credit union that had just implemented check imaging capabilities. The member wanted to verify a signature. The teller accessed the check image through the credit union's Intranet and was able to verify the signature on the spot by comparing the canceled checks with the signature.

''This process saved everybody a lot of time,'' Best adds. ''And it was a great idea from which everybody benefited.''

According to Best, home banking creates a beneficial cycle for both members and staff. Home banking in general allows members to receive a better return on their money because they're getting better service from the credit union staff. Staff benefits because they perform tasks more efficiently, which frees-up more time for them to provide better member service.

''The more online access you can provide your members in regards to products and services,'' Best says, ''the more they'll eat them up. All you have to do is teach them. Home banking services make life more efficient for everybody, which is most beneficial.''



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Sept. 1, 2003



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