American Heritage Federal Credit Union ($1.2B, Philadelphia, PA) is evolving its delivery channels to engage members in the ways they want to manage their financial transactions.
The credit union is an early adopter of new technology, creating a brand rooted in history, but a culture willing to change with the times to serve members better. With the help of third-party vendor, American Heritage created an easy-to-use mobile application, making it one of the first financial institutions in its area to roll out a mobile app .
At the same time, with 36 branch locations, American Heritage is still counting on the branch to provide stellar member experience for those who use it. With members’ increasing desire for self-service, their branches will be more a place for information services and consultation rather than daily transactions.
Driving Mobile Transactions
Within four months of launching, over 9,000 members are using American Heritage's new mobile app developed by Access Softek for both the iPhone and Droid.
Most members are using the app daily to view account summaries and transaction histories, and to transfer funds. Members can also pay bills, view spending patterns, use the message board to live chat with tellers, and find the closest branch or ATM with the branch map. Nonmembers can apply for membership via the app.
American Heritage's executives wanted members to be able to do anything a teller could do. Members find many advantages to using mobile devices for financial services and tellers and branches benefit from increased efficiency as well. If tellers can cut back on the amount of small transactions they’re doing, they can focus more on loans.
“The future of banking is changing so quickly,” says Bruce Foulke, president and CEO of American Heritage. “Financial institutions that get their members to use mobile are going to be the winners. If you don’t get your members using these applications now, it’s going to be harder to get people to transfer.”
Foulke is gearing the credit union to be a leader. American Heritage is tracking both the downloads of its mobile teller app and the usage numbers. After all, it’s not enough to just have a member download the app and never use it.
American Heritage even rewards members who download the app with a $5 deposit. Giving members a monetary incentive has cost the credit union about $45,000 as of August, but Foulke says the benefits of moving members online is worth the expense. Incentivizing usage with points and giveaways keeps members engaged.
Along with the mobile app, American Heritage launched eDeposit, a remote deposit capture capability that allows members to take a picture of their checks and deposit the funds into their, or their families', accounts. In one month, more than 1,600 people signed up for the eDeposit, which is from ProfitStars.
“It gives this wow factor,” says Foulke, who expects the future of the branches will change dramatically over the next five years. “Our strategic plan is to get every member in the teller line that qualifies – based on courtesy pay qualifications – to use this product with their iPhone or iPad or Droid.”
To drive adoption, the credit union deployed an iPad at every branch, training employees to walk members through an example eDeposit.
This proactive step makes members feel comfortable. As people age they become more hesitant, says Foulke. “But once you learn it, you can’t live without it,” he says.
Voice recognition will become an integral part of mobile banking over the next few years, Foulke predicts. Texting is still undoubtedly popular with the younger generation and piquing the interest of older generations, voice recognition, which can provide better service with less threat of accidents on the roadways, has significant potential.
Engaging Members Face-to-Face
Building new branches is a significant cost to the credit union and one that Foulke says is going to be increasingly debatable as a good investment. Foulke wants to reduce the number of new hires and focus current employees attention on the loans.
“Having that contact with the membership eye to eye, whether it’s through Skype or at a branch or through FaceTime, is critical,” says Foulke.
The credit union is making all its branches comfortable for members, designing private offices so people feel secure discussing their financial issues. Individuals, especially those who are getting a mortgage or car loan for the first time, still want that one-on-one contact the credit union believes.
The credit union is looking at ways to reinvent the branch. “Why do people go to the Apple store?” he says. “It’s the experience they have, but they don’t go every week to the Apple store.”
The credit union wants to develop interactive smart offices where members can talk to member service representatives at the main office in a comfortable lounge area over an internet platform like Skype.
“That’s probably one of the last times we’ll see some of the members because they will have been comfortably taught how to use the technology,” says Foulke. “The initial process is just getting over that technology scare. We want to teach our members how to use the technology.”
Author Bailey Reutzel and multimedia producer Melissa Forsyth hit the road in August for a weeklong Cooperative Trek. They traveled from Washington, DC, to Portland, ME, stopping along the way at 11 credit unions and learning first-hand about successful strategies to share with our readers. Follow the 2012 Cooperative Trek on CreditUnions.com as we release stories from the road throughout the fall of 2012.