Digital Banking Success Through Authentic Bonds

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Corning, NY

Mark Hufnagel Mark Hufnagel, CIO at Corning Credit Union headshot

“Building relationships internally and with your partners, chasing a shared goal — that is the deciding factor in success.”

Mark Hufnagel, CIO
Corning Credit Union

Making the Choice

Mark Hufnagel, the CIO at Corning Credit Union, sat back in his chair after the meeting, tired and frustrated. Mark said, “I remember it like it was yesterday. Our online banking meetings were like playing the arcade game Whack-a-Mole. Chasing every new technology and feature that caught someone’s eye.” That’s when he said, enough is enough and he set out on a mission to define a comprehensive digital banking strategy. One of the first things that Mark realized was Corning’s current online banking platform and partner was not going to meet their long-term needs. The organization would need a new platform that was flexible, scalable and secure and a partner with a vision and technology roadmap that aligned with Corning Credit Union’s goals. Mark remembers that day well, “We immediately hired a third-party firm to conduct a comprehensive evaluation. We had five different companies come in to present their platform and vision for the future. We did a ton of due-diligence and ultimately selected Alkami.”

Mark knew this was a game-changing decision for the credit union. He told his executive team and the entire company, “Establishing shared ownership was the first step because it made the initiative a priority for everyone and it freed up resources that would be required to make it a success.” Forming dedicated project teams and assigning executive-level leaders to each team was next on Mark’s list. He quickly set up three teams: one for technology; another for operations; and a team for internal and external communications. The communications team would prove to be instrumental in the process. Mark said, “It sounds crazy, but right up front we said members won’t read or remember anything we share with them. But, we can’t focus on that. We still need to over communicate.” That they did. Corning started communicating early and often with members — in the branches, over the phone and online. Mark recalls, “Every interaction with a member would include something that would help them prepare for the change.”

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“Our internal discussions and meetings with Alkami were extremely valuable because they enabled us to get in front of potential issues. We were able to communicate and manage expectations. They ensured we were proactive instead of reactive.”

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Giving User What They Want

With the go-live date just a few weeks away, Mark said, “Setting expectations and focusing on small wins was critical.” In fact, Mark’s success metrics for those first few weeks didn’t have anything to do with new features or functionality. “We were focused on the basics, making sure it worked and performed well for members. And that is exactly what happened.” Mark went on to say, “Alkami’s platform and team performed at the highest possible level. They truly delivered.” With the launch behind him, Mark remembers thinking, “Now we can move forward and start maximizing the true potential of Alkami’s platform.”

Several months later, Mark said, “When you are launching a new digital banking platform, it’s easy to get caught up on the technology and performance metrics, but just like everything else in business, success comes down to people and relationships.”

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“We looked at a lot of technology vendors and while Alkami’s digital banking platform blew them all away, that’s not the main reason we selected them. It really came down to their people and the relationships we quickly formed with their team. Everyone at Alkami wants to build something great. They genuinely want to help credit unions and community banks serve their members. And that is vastly different from all the other companies we looked at.”

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