Some programming savvy and a slick piece of software are helping the IT staff at Alabama Telco Credit Union make its Topaz signature pads do more than just record signatures at the teller line, its chief technologist says.
They also perform member relationship management tasks such as asking members whether they have a car loan with another institution or would be interested in a home equity line of credit. They even helped raise the opt-in rate for overdraft protection as the Reg E deadline loomed by asking members if they would like to keep that service.
Of course, not all questions are relevant to all members, and no one likes to be asked the same question repeatedly, so the software also checks in with the core processing system to keep track of who was asked what and when, said Justin Orr, chief information officer and vice president of information technology at the $500 million Birmingham credit union.
Orr and his staff are using the PowerOn customization tool from Symitar, the core processor of the 52,000-member credit union. He said it only took marketing and IT staff a couple of weeks of part-time work to prepare the signature pad deployment.
"Our marketing department was initially looking for a way to easily ask members if they had a car financed with another financial institution," Orr said. "We identified the signature pad as a point of contact that could present this question during routine transactions."
The result was enhanced, targeted cross-selling capabilities, with responses tracked in the Symitar Episys database that marketing staff can run queries against, Orr said.
PowerOn uses scripting language and an intuitive user interface to enable credit unions to create user-defined queries and automate manual tasks, helping to meet changing business requirements, the company said.
"The IT staff at Alabama Telco really takes time to listen to what their end users want that can help me be more efficient and better serve their members," said Sandy Parker, the credit union's Symitar account executive. "Then, they brainstorm on how they can use the tools they have to deliver what they need."
Orr said the software extends the capabilities of his programming staff while enabling them to meet the requests of their colleagues in marketing and other business units.
"Now, when someone wants an enhancement, we don't have to call our core processor and tell them what they want and go through the prioritization process, where we have to wait until it gets to the top of their list," he said. "If there's a good business case for spending the time, we'll just write the code ourselves."
That was the case recently when the credit union was deploying a third-party lending system. Orr and his team didn't like the way it handled form signatures, so they wrote their own code involving the signature pads.
That self-help ability has been particularly important for time-sensitive tasks. For example, during the TJ Maxx breach, Visa gave the credit union an Excel spreadsheet with the list of affected cards "and not much else," Orr said. Using PowerOn, he and his staff were able to write a script that went inside the core system, found the members with those card numbers and wrote letters alerting them to the breach.
Along with helping the credit union comply with Reg E, Alabama Telco's IT team has been busy lately converting the membership of smaller credit unions after mergers, including two in a period of just a few months last year, Orr said.
"In two to three months, working on it during down times, we were able to get the database and other information we needed mapped out and used scripts we wrote and other macros to push the new information into our system and merge it," Orr said.
That was a long-term project, relatively speaking. The Reg E scripting, which pushed the opt-in or -out question to the Topaz pads' display, took one programmer only a week to get ready, and "that wasn't working on it full time," Orr said.
"[PowerOn] has been very powerful for us," he said. "We've knocked out some impressive code and it's really made our department look great."