ABNB Federal Credit Union

Leading the way in digital banking innovation

Stephanie York, Digital Solutions Manager
Financial Institution: ABNB Federal Credit Union
Location: Southeast Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina
Asset Size: $700+ Million

As digital banking continues to engage a growing number of consumer and business users, financial institutions (FIs) are seeking modern solutions to meet user demands. Legacy systems can’t offer the speed, security, and extensibility to compete with popular consumer apps and those developed by Megabanks.

ABNB Federal Credit Union knew their legacy systems were holding them back from leading the future of digital banking. Among other strategic goals, their mindset for innovation made them interested in a complete member experience make-over. Feedback from their membership base sparked their desire to become a leading-edge digital-first banking provider, “leapfrogging” the competition in the words of their President and CEO. They knew they would need to find a technology partner to help them get there. Stephanie York, Digital Solutions Manager at ABNB explains how the Alkami Platform enabled them to act on their innovation strategy by providing them a future-proof, holistic, omni-channel UX for their existing and future retail and business members.

How long have you been an Alkami client?
Stephanie York: ABNB has been a client since March 2020.

What was the initial problem you set out to solve with the Alkami Platform and what did you hope to achieve?
SY: We had an antiquated system and interfaces that were limited in functionality that couldn’t support our aggressive long-term growth plans. We didn’t promote our mobile app because there were so many better choices and we received complaints about how clunky it was. Our members had to deal with system instability and minimal functionality that hampered their ability to do business with the credit union. They couldn’t originate ACH transactions, and they couldn’t access a message center or access things like financial wellness. We wanted to enable our members to do more while significantly enhancing the user experience at the same time.

On our end, we also wanted a cloud-based solution as opposed to on-premise, and one that more easily integrated with other technology partners. Our previous closed proprietary solution was sub-standard and couldn’t get us to where we wanted to be.

How did you set out to solve the problem?
SY: With a project of this magnitude, we started with our standard RFP approach, which included input from all our departments for requirements gathering, vendor reviews, vendor interviews, and onsite visits. Alkami presented an overall solution that encompassed a cloud-based structure, better integrations to our core, optical storage, key third-party vendor partnerships and an open API structure. Additionally, Alkami provided a consistent online and mobile banking user experience that well positioned us for future growth as we expand our geographic footprint and member base. We knew we needed to provide a total member experience makeover or face falling further behind our competitors.

After launch, how did you know you had reached a new level of digital success?
SY: We experienced rapid and easy enrollment – adoption of our new digital platform by members was a breeze. We also saw our message center boom, especially during the pandemic as members relied more heavily on digital connections to ABNB. With the new system in place, we can send documents back and forth to members and significantly lighten the load on our call center. Due to the open nature of the Alkami Platform, we were able to empower members to do more than ever before, from simple online enrollment in digital banking to ACH transfers, mobile deposit, budgeting, reviewing their FICO credit scores, aggregating accounts, connecting to external accounts and more with API integrations. The overall experience is far more stable than our old system, and it’s contained in a user-friendly interface that meets our brand standards.

On our previous system, we were limited in our ability to understand and track member satisfaction. With the Alkami Platform and its Apptentive integration, understanding our members and receiving their feedback is easier and much more accurate. On iOS, we’ve had nearly 18,000 rating opportunities presented to members, and more than 20,000 on Android. At this point, we can better quantify the positive or negative member experiences and hear directly from them on what they like and focus more attention on areas of concern to improve their experience.

Overall, what led to your success?
SY: We were vigilant about every step, from testing to training through the official rollout. We continuously notified our members using every available channel of communication about the impending system upgrade and provided detailed step-by-step instructions for first-time logins to the platform. The detailed information we sent to members before go-live made all the difference in the world. They were very well prepared and excited for the launch. We also focused on training our staff so we could assist members if they needed help getting started.

We also followed an iterative process with Alkami for planning the big conversion weekend. It was a very involved, complex process, but Alkami’s partnership paired with our corporate culture that encourages a balance of work, family, and other competing demands, got us through it.

One crucial aspect of our success was our ability to tap into our peers via Alkami’s client community portal, Midas, and talk with them early on in the process. These connections provided us with terrific insights and ideas on how to better execute our project plan. We received great advice and counsel that really helped our communication strategy, like providing continual content and updates on what to expect and how to communicate effectively with members leading up to this major change in systems.

What differences have you seen in your number of digital users?
SY: We originally estimated 35k users in our first year with Alkami, but already, at month 10, we have seen around 43k users – a 23% increase in less than a year, and of that number 75% are mobile users.

When we completed the system upgrade, we didn’t expect as many members to engage right away, because they were used to the previous digital banking experience which caused a great deal of frustration. We expected around a 20% adoption rate after the first week, and we ended up at 60% which far exceeded our expectations!

Our app ratings significantly increased over those with our legacy platform. Our iOS ratings are currently at 4.8+ stars since going live. They had been at 2.6 stars prior to launching on March 9th. Our overall Android star rating has remained strong between 4.59 – 4.77 since going live.

What tools have helped you the most on your digital success journey?
SY: We’ve found the Training Videos & User Groups on Midas, Alkami’s client community portal, have been the most valuable. Also, that we can find community members with our same product mix and then reach out to them has been incredibly helpful. It’s been great to have resources like that for our team where we can easily research topics and explore questions that we have, as well as connecting with peers to seek best practices and get their insight.

What advice would you give peer FIs to experience similar success?
SY: Whatever the amount of time you think you might need to clean up your data, you should double or triple it. It’s important to have frontline staff begin cleanup of member data in person or over the phone at least a year prior if not more. Also, be sure to spend time on your bill pay integration to ensure that the member transition is seamless.

In addition, create a formal team to focus on the project and support them in every way possible. For instance, we created project champions and made sure that we publicly recognized their accomplishments to other staff members every step of the way.

Empower your training department and be ready to embrace change! I recommend that clients set up a war room to support staff, field/triage issues as they come in, and expect a huge influx of support calls to the call center.

Finally, communicate with members continuously about upcoming changes months ahead, not too early and not too late. Prior to our conversion, we connected with Navy Army Credit Union, who went live with Alkami the year prior. They said to focus on giving members as much information as you possibly can and do it multiple times in multiple ways, so they don’t miss the information. Their advice really made a difference, so much so that our members were asking us what time they could log in to the new system because they were so ready for a positive change!

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