Better Branches, LLC is a CUSO formed out of SAFE Credit Union’s need for a more consistent service and cross-selling approach across their branch network. SAFE ($1.4B, North Highlands, CA) was looking to deepen their member relationships, and to do so they needed to make the overall member experience more efficient and more effective.
Better Branches is a somewhat unusual CUSO in that it has both credit union and private company ownership. As with other collaborative CUSOs though, Better Branches benefits from the strengths of its owners. The CUSO came about as a collaboration between SAFE Credit Union, Poulton Consulting Group, and Performance Systems International. These three organizations each brought something unique to the table whether it was the credit union perspective on member service, an understanding of optimizing processes for efficiency, or the technological prowess to implement a solution. These three distinct mindsets were able to collaborate to create a solution that not only met members’ needs, but was developed in a way that also met the credit union mindset.
Benefiting from Ongoing Collaboration
Since the CUSO’s launch, it has deployed the Better Branches platform at other credit unions across the country. The expanded user base has resulted in even greater collaboration. Better Branches allows for changes to be made by individual credit union users, a functionality that enhances the platform for all. “We know that additions made by one credit union usually represent additions that other credit unions are interested in as well,” David Pope, VP of Information Systems at SAFE Credit Union. “Therefore when one credit union spends time to make an addition, we make the code available to all other credit unions.”
As these adaptations are made available, other credit unions can also benefit from the changes that bettered the system. Under this model Better Branches is getting continuous “feedback” about what their clients need the system to do, or what would be the easiest way of doing it. “Essentially, it becomes a format to highlight ‘best practices’ that can increase the benefit the system offers the member almost exponentially,” says Pope.
Implementing the Better Branches model delivered positive results for SAFE, including reducing SAFE’s lobby wait time from 10 minutes to 2 minutes on average. Similarly, SAFE also posted a decrease in the average time required to process a member request. Before implementation the average time was 72 hours, now that time has fallen to between 24-36 hours on average.
With continued enhancements from the collaborative network that has evolved, Better Branches anticipates additional impacts in the future. Pope sees this as critical for both their organization and credit unions as a whole. “We need innovation,” he says, “credit unions are traditionally risk averse. We are looking to give them an opportunity to invest in something that brings about that much needed entrepreneurial drive.”
For more information on CUSOs, tap into the just-released 2007 Directory of CUSOs . Case studies on CUSO business models complement the contact information for all 887 CUSOs.