Once members get Web savvy, said Brian Siegel, Wescom Credit Union's vice president of E-Commerce, there is no going back, either for the member or the credit union. The $2.1 billion-in-assets Pasadena, California CU has 176,000 members, 68,000 of whom are Home Banking users. Some 38,000 of those users log on every month, and giving them what they want and more is a challenge that Siegel and his team work at all the time. As a result, Wescom pushes the envelope as far as it will go, he said, by providing more services online than many CUs.
"We decided a long time ago that it wasn't just about access to accounts; we needed to provide a reason to visit our site," Siegel said. We took our cue from the Net world lesson of 'act quickly,' and we followed up with delivery of those services to cement the relationship with members. Our idea was to position Wescom as a robust source of unbiased information. Once we went down that road and saw the power, we figured, 'why not?'"
"We control our site in house and use a Middleware portal that interfaces with our Symitar DP system -the middleman between our home banking pages -which we built ourselves. Our creative employees come up with ideas; members ask for services, and we find a way to make it happen," said Siegel.
Wescom devised a way to do both inbound and outbound self-directed ACH transactions that in 2001 amounted to 23,000 transactions for $18.2 million. Members can see any pending transaction in their HB account, including debit transactions, along with checks deposited, cleared and the usual balances.
Wescom worked with Integrated Data Systems of Calabasas on many of these tech solutions, Siegel said, and three months ago formed a tech CUSO, named Wescom IDS, to make its solutions available to other CUs.
The consumer information content on Wescom's site is generated from daily news feeds it gets through Yellowbrix, and from within the CU's marketing and E-Commerce departments. "We pick stories we think members are interested in reading; they must be timely," said Siegel. The site now features stories about IRA rollovers and picking stocks in a post-Enron environment.
"It's not followed up with a heavy sell to use our CUSO for investment services, because we've learned that members don't want to see ads. If we promise information, that's what we must give, not a sales pitch. It's about building trust and letting members take the initiative," he said. (A link to Wescom Financial Services' Web page is provided at the story's end.) Stories are changed frequently, and an archive of past stories is available.
Siegel said he also benefits from learning how other CUs develop and implement E-Commerce strategies, and uses online surveys and chats for feedback. "Members who use the Web would rather use the Web to do transactions, get information, everything. We just redesigned our site three months ago to make it easier to navigate and provide more content, and we've seen an increase in logons every month since."