“When [COVID-19] hit, we were easily able to scale up our Virtual Service Center (VSC) from about 10-12 agents to fill all 22 of our privacy booths, and have taken this remote banking capability to branches and ICCU staff working from home. We now have about 65 full-time employees using this tool! It has been a life saver for our business team as they have worked through funding the Payroll Protection Program rolled out by the government. Without it, I don’t think we would have even come close to what we were able to accomplish.” – Matt McEwen, Director of eCommerce, Idaho Central Credit Union
Creating the Branch of the Future
Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) sees the branch of the future converging human and digital, allowing users access to a person at any time from any place via their mobile device. To provide this capability, ICCU had transformed their branch in 2019 to support a robust digital experience and meet users wherever they are.
To realize their goal of embodying the branch of the future in a unique way, ICCU sought to integrate their branch experience into their mobile app. This completely seamless user experience wouldn’t be a contact center solution, but would carry a user from the app where their identity is authenticated into a direct live video conversation with an ICCU Virtual Service Agent to deepen the credit union’s service level. This would require no extra validation steps that are typically required in a chat or phone call not initiated in mobile banking.
By retaining a human touch while focusing on technology and user experience (UX) to change how their users banked, ICCU would eliminate the need for more apps or machines and show users a new level of security and simplicity. Attaining this goal meant ushering in the branch of the future: a technology-driven branch that granted users a completely mobile way to bank. Being so focused on the future, ICCU positioned themselves and their users in a secure place when faced with an unpredicted global event.
Bringing the Future to Users Now
ICCU set a vision to simply be available when and where users needed them. To enhance their day-to-day banking services, ICCU started with learning modern banking needs from users themselves to develop a sense of what banking technology they needed to provide.
ICCU’s Virtual Service Center (VSC) went live in waves starting with 2,000 users in January 2019. By April, all users (nearly 400,000) could engage with the service. With the strength of Alkami’s open API framework, ICCU was able to extend their branch-of-the-future vision to meet users wherever they were — the Alkami platform facilitated video chat via mobile as well.
As part of their planning and production period, ICCU examined what type of user would use this service to learn how to build the new team that users would meet when utilizing the service. These agents were cross trained and empowered to open accounts (even for businesses), move money, and more to address a wide variety of user needs. ICCU’s first physical branch with this technology included two booths and has expanded to ten. New branches, especially those in rural areas are installing booths. In a matter of days after rollout, the VSC team grew from eight full-time agents to more than 20 and has tripled since rollout less than a year ago.
Since their users and staff have been placed under stay-at-home orders, the roles of ICCU’s branch team users, from call center and operations to loan or deposit processing have all changed. ICCU trained dozens of different positions to work with their users via virtual chat and video.
“Don’t just ‘bucketize’ staff,” Matt McEwen, ICCU’s Director of eCommerce suggests. “Don’t assume that your tellers can only perform teller tasks. Or if you have an operations team, don’t assume that they should only do operational tasks. You have to think outside the box. When we closed our lobbies due to COVID-19, we took a look at all our roles and positions and quickly adapted by training, shifting, and encouraging team users to participate in every role, expand their knowledge, and answer the phone or video calls. We’ve taken our Virtual Service Center from 10 people to 60 just by thinking outside the box on roles and positions — and by putting our members’ needs first.”
When ICCU first launched their VSC, they promoted extended hours and reached out via email to all users to educate them on how to engage with the Virtual Service Center, leading up to a traditional marketing campaign aimed at their entire usership. To reinforce their support for their users during lockdown, ICCU quickly assembled a communication campaign that involved emails, social media, radio, and TV ads.
Hearing from Users Themselves
In early stages of use, ICCU users were already expressing appreciation for the ease of use provided by the Virtual Service Center. In the past month, ICCU has learned that their users love that they can still connect with their team personally.
Since ICCU’s vision of the branch of the future is a humanized digital experience, they measure their results in positive experiences and stories from their users. Since relying almost entirely on their VSC, ICCU has received page after page of positive feedback from users, including these quotes:
- “What a great service. The app is so well done and streamlined. Very impressed with ICCU. I will be banking with ICCU for a long time.”
- “This was a great service that I will continue to use. Thank you.”
- “Idaho Central Credit Union hits another home run!”
Internally, the ICCU team experienced increased efficiency and developed additional relationships with users when the VSC launched. Using their business banking capabilities and their VSC experience, ICCU has grown in other areas by providing an as-close-to-normal banking experience for small business users as well. ICCU was able to add hundreds of new business accounts while helping them through the recent Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. McEwen said, “That would not have happened if we did not have this feature! We were able to not only help them with much-needed business saving loans, but also because of our Virtual Service Center, add their new deposit accounts and never slow down!”
ICCU has learned how powerful the branch of the future really is — allowing users to bank anywhere how they need to in a humanized digital experience.