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SAFE Credit Union - Better Workgroups

Credit unions are deluged with member service requests coming at them from every angle: in the branch, over the Internet and via the telephone/call center. The challenge is how to effectively capture, track and quickly resolve these issues from the front office to the back office and everywhere in between. With over 112,000 members spread over its 14 branch network, SAFE Credit Union knows all to well the challenges involved in providing superior member service to each and every member. Their commitment to member service led them to work with San Francisco-based Better Branches to develop an innovative and compelling solution called Better WorkGroups.

While SAFE CU had an existing software package from a very well known vendor in place to help with member service requests, they found that it lacked many of the features that their employees needed to do their jobs well: host integration, workflow, reporting, ease of use, and much more. So they turned to Rick Poulton, President of Better Branches, and challenged him to help them develop a powerful end-to-end solution for contact management and automated work process control. Because of his 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and information technology, Rick and his team were able to come back in short order with a Windows based prototype. Dave Pope, Vice President of Information Technology at SAFE CU says that "the prototype was really well designed and had excellent workflow, but we really needed a solution that was browser-based and had close integration with our host system." To his delight, Dave recalls the results: "Better Branches quickly came back with a revised prototype, developed in .Net and the results were impressive."

With close cooperation between the credit union and the developers at Better Branches, their long 'wish list' of items was incorporated into Better WorkGroups. Features such as contact management, alerts, notifications, escalations, audit trails, easy customization, intuitive workflow and tight host integration all combine to solve real world problems for the 300+ employees at the credit union. Mary Vogan, Assistant Vice President of Share Services at SAFE CU, confirms that "Better WorkGroups has worked out great for us. Our employees have really embraced it and are using it everyday." Statistics back her up: under the old system there were only 2300 tickets logged in all of 2004, but in just two months of using Better WorkGroups, the employees have input over 1400 items into the new system.

One factor that is contributing to the success of the rollout is the fact that the application is browser-based and uses Internet Explorer. From an IT perspective, this makes life much easier for Dave and his staff - they don't have to perform desktop to desktop installations or maintenance. Plus there are no issues with desktop licenses, and Dave is pleased to find that "Because of .Net and the way the application was built, Better WorkGroups has super fast response times for all of our users, even those at remote branches." Meanwhile on the Operations side, Mary loves it too since in her words "it is so easy to use that training is a breeze. In just a few minutes our employees are up and running and they really like using the system."

The credit union's call center is one department that has enjoyed significant productivity gains by utilizing Better WorkGroups. They are using it internally to cut down on e-mails and they can now keep notes for themselves on various member interactions. Mary points out "now that everything is stored in Better WorkGroups it had has made life easier for everyone." In addition, Better WorkGroups is directly integrated with the host system and the vast majority of inquiry transactions normally requested can be accomplished without leaving the WorkGroups application. Mary adds that "our Accounting Manager loves Better WorkGroups and our branch managers are finding new ways to use the system all of the time. It has really reduced inefficient e-mails and voice mails."

Another dynamic aspect of the, soon to be released process module, is its intuitive workflow. For instance, when a member reports a lost or stolen credit/debit card, Better WorkGroups automatically spawns three tickets that are routed to three different departments that need to respond quickly to the situation. When an employee in each of the three departments opens the ticket, they are prompted step by step to follow the proper procedures to resolve the issue. The result is that no details 'fall through the cracks' and there is a complete history and tracking of the ticket from beginning to end. Additionally, training is minimized, especially for new workers, since they can't inadvertently miss a step. To ensure the timely completion of more complex service events, tasks that are not completed on time are escalated to other staff for special handling. Dave explains that "it is a very intuitive process that minimizes the number of steps needed to accomplish a task, and it is a rock solid implementation."

While SAFE Credit Union put a great deal of thought into designing a system that would cover all of their member service needs, their exact workflow may not fit other credit unions' unique situations. Having thought of that, Better Branches has designed the Better WorkGroups processes to be fully customizable. According to Dave, "Better WorkGroups can be easily changed to match the workflow and processes of any credit union." Mary confirms this: "a business person with no technical background can add and change rules and create new templates." She adds that "if you do need assistance, Better Branches is right there to help you." The end result is that Better WorkGroups has delivered a powerful process driven - and paperless - solution that has allowed SAFE Credit Union to deliver much better service to their members.