Case Study: Open Technology Solutions
OTS Fulfills Its Promise of a Superior Digital Banking Experience
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Staying innovative: setting a mobile first vision
While recent health and economic crises have underscored the importance of putting digital efforts at the center of credit union member acquisition and retention strategies, the demand for mobile and self-service offerings has actually been growing for many years. Open Technology Solutions LLC (OTS), a Credit Union Service Organization located in Centennial, CO, recognized this change in member needs several years ago.
Formed in 2003 in partnership with Bellco Credit Union and Bethpage Credit Union, OTS has since expanded its portfolio to include SECU of Maryland and formed S3 Shared Service Solutions as a partner CUSO. OTS has put its spirit of innovation in delivering best-in-class solutions that transform its partner credit unions’ digital services delivery models.
This future-looking approach to providing members with a frictionless experience, across the channel of their choice, guided OTS as it launched a new digital banking platform for the three major credit unions that it serves.
“Back in 2015, we recognized that the shift to a ‘mobile first’ world was impacting almost every facet of people’s everyday lives,” said Jeffrey Staw, Chief Innovation Officer, OTS. “We needed to ensure our partner credit unions could deliver an exceptional mobile-first banking experience to members.”
The only way for OTS to meet its mobile-first goal was to upgrade its digital banking solution to a single platform that was capable of delivering a superior digital and mobile banking experience. This implementation, however, would be complex and require the right technology partner to meet the challenge of addressing the needs of the entire OTS portfolio.
A better mobile banking experience: selecting a new digital platform
OTS is one of the largest consortiums in the credit union space, and it’s imperative that they stay ahead of the technology curve. Recognizing the shift in demand for more mobile and digital services delivery, Staw and his team realized they needed to be at the forefront of digital banking technology. “We couldn’t afford to be at the back of the line; we needed to be fast movers,” he commented.
OTS’s original digital banking system was built on de-coupled systems that delivered a different experience on mobile and desktop channels. The desktop system was built in-house, and the mobile experience provided by a third party was lacking. Most importantly, members could not easily toggle between the channels of their choice to complete a transaction.
Based on utilization data and member experience feedback, it was clear that OTS could offer a better mobile banking experience. In 2015, they set their sights on migrating to a robust platform that could support both desktop and mobile banking with the same features and benefits. Choosing a partner to work with made the most sense, as building an in-house system would be too taxing on internal resources and max out R&D costs. After an exhaustive search, the Alkami Platform rose to the top as the ideal selection.
“My team and I support a consortium of credit unions that, combined, serve over one million members and manage more than $19.7 billion in assets. So, making any technology changes—especially one this impactful—has serious implications,” Staw said. “We were encouraged by the functionality of the Alkami Platform to deliver a superior experience, as well as its similar mobile-first mindset. Also, we liked that we would be on the ground floor as Alkami honed its solution, giving us the opportunity to be true partners.”
Getting digital right: seamlessly migrating members to an enhanced platform
The Alkami implementation included converting multiple systems over to a new platform for roughly 500,000 of their business and retail credit union digital banking users. OTS was encouraged by Alkami’s commitment to reducing risk as much as possible throughout the process.
“We needed to use all means possible to protect the member experience during this transition,” said Staw.
In order to preserve the member experience—and prevent overwhelming its contact center—OTS took a phased implementation strategy. This plan took several months of planning between the OTS and Alkami technology teams, and included multiple/separate waves of users across all three partner credit unions.
“When we started the implementation, we didn’t know exactly how many users would be converting, so we had to plan for a massive number,” Staw commented. “Alkami collaborated with us seamlessly on a phased approach that helped us reduce the stress on both our call center and members.”
Ultimately, the implementation was a success and the phased approach enabled OTS to minimize risk and isolate problems for smaller segments of members before they became bigger issues for all users. This was critical, as it meant troubleshooting and resolving a few issues at a time versus hundreds, making the entire process more manageable.
Seeking long-term synergy: digital banking features that align with value streams
In addition to its overarching digital banking and member experience goals, OTS has identified several value streams, or long-term goals for success. These are crucial capabilities identified by the CEOs of its partner credit unions as essential to their success in today’s digital economy.
Specific features of the Alkami Platform have enabled OTS to deliver on these value streams:
- Software Development Kit (SDK) allowed OTS to develop its own, customized account opening feature. The Alkami SDK and associated tools enabled OTS to integrate critical data that ensured seamless integration, delivery, look and feel.
- Money Movement provides the opportunity for members to have the flexibility of real-time payment methods and channels. The integration of Zelle means that members can quickly, safely, and easily send and receive money with more people, regardless of where they bank. This feature has increased overall member satisfaction and utilization, while ensuring deposits stay within an OTS partner credit union versus a third party.
- Member Service that exceeds member expectations is critical in the branch environment and the online/mobile experience. Members have the ability to interact with their credit union—and complete transactions—through any channel they choose, at any time. With a chat option and push and text notifications, members have access to a personalized experience that builds loyalty and increases satisfaction.
- Secure Experience is delivered through multiple layers of security, including monitoring, reporting prevention, and threat assessments. This limits the amount of risk to OTS, its partner credit unions and its members.
In keeping with its desire to stay on the leading edge of technology, OTS has been working closely with Alkami to continue to invest in solutions that enhance the member experience. For example, they’ve recently integrated the digital communication platform, Glia, which they hope will help bring the “in-branch” experience to members’ remote interactions.
“With the addition of the Glia platform, we have been able to offer members ‘virtual branch visits,’ which we anticipate will have a significant, positive impact on our contact center,” said Staw. “Members can now use the Glia chat feature to get quick answers to banking questions, which reduces the number of contacts to our message center and reduces the amount of back and forth between members and contact center staff.”
Importantly, with digital banking services now at members’ fingertips, interactions with the OTS call center have shifted from addressing daily banking tasks to personnel working on more complex, valuable banking issues. This has resulted in an improved member experience, as well as cost savings for OTS.
Measurable results: delivering on the promise of mobile first
- Online banking users have increased to over 760,000, a 32% increase since launch
- Mobile app score ratings across both iOS and Android have increased from 1.83 to 4.72 since launch
- Over the past two years, logins have increased by 58%
The Alkami Platform has brought mobile banking to the forefront for OTS, giving members the experience that they want right at their fingertips. “We’ve been especially impressed with the results that Alkami’s mobile app has been delivering,” said Staw. “Members don’t even need to use a desktop if they don’t want to. Everything they need is accessible via their mobile device.”
Going the distance: a new vision for the future
As a result of its successes, OTS has revised its vision for the future. “When we started on this journey, we were focused on delivering an enhanced digital experience to our members,” said Staw. “This has now expanded to encompass a three-year vision: by the end of 2022, we will engage our members with exceptional value and seamless, frictionless, personalized service delivered across the channels of their choice.”
OTS is proof that no matter how complex the process or the project, it is possible to deliver a superior digital experience to members through careful planning and thoughtful execution.