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The Rise of the Digital Branch

The Rise of the Digital Branch

True digital transformation is an investment that pays dividends.

March 23, 2018

Read the full article at Kony.com

Today, more than any other time in history, technology is interlocked with banking. Customers are gravitating to the digital channels, and not just millennials.

Going digital is just as much a lifestyle choice as a generational choice. Some people simply prefer to shop, buy coffee, communicate, and bank on their mobile devices or computers. To keep pace with innovation, credit union leaders must embrace this new digital trend and be agile and dynamic without compromising security or operations.

ORNL Federal Credit Union, based in Eastern Tennessee, has about 160,000 members, 30 physical branches, and a call center. A growing portion of our members rarely visit a branch and prefer to transact digitally.

We know if we don’t provide robust digital banking services to our members, another organization will. Many years ago when we first implemented digital banking, the issue for us was not whether to do it, but how to innovate quickly enough with the greatest amount of relevance and flexibility.

With this as a backdrop, ORNL Federal made the difficult decision in 2014 to switch digital banking providers. While our previous provider gave us a useable first iteration of a mobile banking app, we had outgrown them. They were slow to upgrade and boxed us in to limited options.

This decision was not about buying software. It was about investing in a strategic digital transformation with profound ramifications on member satisfaction, channel efficiency, and internal business processes. We needed a partner who was relevant in the industry, agile, and future-minded.

Our perspective and approach to digital banking is not all or nothing. We know we need to optimize all of our delivery channels: physical branches, call centers, ATMs, mobile, and online. We want to make it easy for our members to do business with us.

Some of our members want a blend of those options, such as having live interactions without going inside the bank. For them, we offer drive-up interactive teller machines (ATMs with tellers).

We do not have a strategy to move away from physical channels. Instead, we’re focused on adding choices that help members be more efficient.

We now allocate members who primarily transact with us via digital channels to a specific cost center, similar to the way in which we allocate members to branches.

When we evaluated physical and digital branches, we discovered digital channels are our largest branch. As we add and monitor the evolving ways members transact with us, we allocate time and resources proportionately to each cost center.

Innovation continues to be the driver. In 2017, we saw 30% growth in mobile enrollment and a 16% increase in online enrollment. Our mobile app now has 70,000 enrolled users, up from 26,000 when we began our digital transformation.

Our members are giving us feedback that confirms our digital strategy: “You’re listening” and “You finally got it.”

True digital transformation is an investment that pays dividends. Choosing the right partner is central to the success of digital transformation.

After a thorough vendor evaluation process, we selected Kony Inc. For us, this was the right choice.

It really matters who you choose to be your digital partner, so select well. It can be the best—or worst—decision you can make. Click here to learn more about our digital transformation.

DAWN BRUMMETT is senior vice president/COO for $2 billion asset ORNL Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge, Tenn.