Omnichannel Provides A Unified Expereince
By employing a single digital platform centered on a flexible and dynamic core system, the credit union provides a unified, consistent member experience across multiple touchpoints. This is the essence of the omnichannel approach.
Lutheran FCU’s members can view their accounts and loans the same way whether logging into online banking from home, speaking with a member services representative over the phone, or accessing the mobile banking app on the fly.
Lutheran FCU uses Share One for its core processing needs. Find your next solution in the Callahan & Associates online Buyer's Guide.
The credit union’s staff enjoys fully integrated views across key services and member touchpoints, including online banking, loan and account applications, bill pay, remote deposit capture, and mobile banking. Even credit card transactions, which are commonly posted via a nightly batch process at many institutions, are integrated with the core and updated in real time.
One key to the credit union’s success to date has been its partnership with its core provider. According to Middleton, the credit union keeps in regular communication with the vendor to address questions and issues as they arise as well as to explore the capabilities of the platform. This is of special importance considering Lutheran FCU’s lack of history with any other core provider.
“We communicate with our vendor on a regular basis,” Middleton says. “It's a constant sharing of what is or not working and where we can go from here. I think it's a good balance of both sides — challenging each other and discussing where we want to go as we grow in our relationship.”
You need to have checks and balances in place, but that no longer means printing and retaining things in hard copy. It's just verifying the systems against one another. Trust the process.
Advice For Branchless Trail Blazers
Despite a lot of long days and sleepless nights, Middleton has no regrets about the credit union’s decision to offer a full complement of services from day one.
“We wanted to come out of the gate with everything all at once,” Middleton says. “We started off with a staff of four and we were all trying to figure out how it was going to work. It was mind-blowing.
“Now that we're through it, I get it,” she continues. “This approach allowed us to spend six or seven months pecking around, and as of the beginning of this year, we didn’t have to figure anything else out. We don’t have to layer on any additional systems. We are able now to just serve our membership and get this thing going. I think we put the strategy in place pretty nicely.”
Middleton admits the decision to go branchless was easier for a startup like Lutheran FCU than it would be for credit unions with an established retail branch network.
“I think we knew that early on, even during the process of getting things up and going,” Middleton says. “When we would speak to other credit unions, the one thing that everybody would say is, ‘Wow, it's so nice that you don't have to convert anything. You don't have to retrain your membership to understand what's going on.’”
That said, Middleton, who calls herself a “reformed banker,” believes the virtual model can be a viable solution even for institutions with an established branch network. She advises credit union executives to not let fear of the unknown induce paralysis.
“For those of us who have been in the industry for any significant amount of time, we've had it ingrained in our head that you must print documents, make copies, and file them away,” Middleton says. “Those days are moving behind us. If you are interested in pursuing a virtual model, whether brand new or converting over to it, just don't be scared. There is a way to do it. You need to have checks and balances in place, but that no longer means printing and retaining things in hard copy. It's just verifying the systems against one another. Trust the process.”