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Northern Credit Union

Back in 1955, a group of New York Air Brake employees founded Northern Federal Credit Union in Watertown, New York. Today, Northern Credit Union serves around 30,000 members via a serving the underserved charter and the support of more than 185 SEGs. They operate seven branches spread throughout a tri-county area in upstate New York. Each branch leverages a state-of-the-art video conferencing system that allows mortgage lenders, investment/financial planning experts, and consumer lending specialists to assist members throughout the remote branch network from the credit union’s headquarters in Watertown. Such a sophisticated system requires an equally sophisticated appointment scheduling platform, which is why Northern Credit Union chose to partner with Better Branches Technology, the recognized credit union industry leader in delivering branch visitor queuing, appointment handling and workforce management solutions.

Denise Lariviere, Vice President of Member Solutions at Northern Credit Union, led the team’s pursuit of a scheduling platform that could be paired with their robust video conferencing system known as Smart Office. Lariviere was more than qualified for the job – she has over 15 years of hands-on credit union operations experience. She recalls, “We considered six or seven vendors initially but quickly pared it down to our top three candidates. After further due diligence, it became clear that Better Branches had the premiere technology and most impressive customer service levels.” Northern Credit Union took a somewhat unique approach in their vendor selection process by involving their front line staff – those employees who would actually be using the software – to assist them in the decision making process. Lariviere notes, “By avoiding the ‘top down syndrome’ this methodology aligned with our corporate culture by assuring buy-in from our staff. They were engaged at every step and contributed greatly to the success of the project.”

The credit union initially implemented three Better Branches’ Better Lobby modules: Video Meetings Queues, Branch Appointment Calendar, and Main Service Queue. According to Lariviere, “the rollout was smooth and successful with minimal hiccups.” The training was also streamlined due to the employees’ previous involvement in the system selection process, and Better Lobby’s highly intuitive interface. “Our employees are thrilled with the new system and our senior leadership team has been quite pleased with how Better Branches has enhanced our member experience and optimized our branch staffing needs,” enthuses Lariviere.

The credit union also appreciated Better Branches flexibility in customizing their software to accommodate their need to schedule not only people, but also the physical rooms in the branch that house the video conferencing equipment. Lariviere confirms that “Better Branches has been extremely responsive to our particular needs and is currently designing a new Calendar Synchronizing feature that enables rooms and staff to be coordinated.”

The credit union now has a very granular view of who is waiting in which branch; which rooms are in use; and who is serving whom, thereby minimizing member wait times and taking member service levels to new heights. The next step for Northern Credit Union is to add two other popular Better Branches modules: Self Check-in Kiosk and Mobile Appointment Booking Tool. Lariviere is excited to move forward, “Better Branches has superb project management skills and they have consistently met every expectation and deadline. We are confident they will be just as organized and responsive when we roll out these new projects.” She concludes “working with Better Branches has been a great choice for us and we look forward to a long partnership with them.”

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