PITTSBURGH, Pa. – US Airways Federal Credit Union staffers were spending lots of good valuable time cleaning up bad e-mail addresses, but an add-on to the credit union's core processing system is changing all that and more. The 84,000-member, $640 million CU is one of the first USERS Inc. clients to deploy the company's e-Mail Services module, which the credit union it says is now helping to save money, improve security and expand the credit union's ability to market new services swiftly and selectively. "People change their e-mail addresses on a regular basis, and our member base – being part of the airline industry – is very transient with lots of regular address changes, too. With 23,000 home banking users and 3,500 signed up for e-statements, keeping up with all the changes was a huge undertaking for our Electronics Services Department at in our electronics was huge," says Kevin Dougherty, vice president of information services Assistant Vice President of Technology at US Airways FCU. Now, when an e-mail address kicks back – which can happen from 10% to 25% of the time – the e-Mail Services module produces alerts in the Online Banking and in internal support systems. This ensures that the member is informed about the bad e-mail address credit union's database notes that and sends out an alert that lets the member know about that the next time he or she contacts the credit union, whether it be over the phone, through online banking or at the teller line. U.S. Airways FCU is one of five CUs who have gone live with e-Mail Services since it was introduced in May, with two more soon to follow. Currently, it's only available as an in-house solution, with beta testing soon to begin on an ASP version that is expected to be released later this year, USERS officials say. From e-Statement Roots The company also is offering e-Mail Services Light, which is just for e-statement notifications. "e-Mail Services began as a response to the move to e-statements, but has grown dramatically in scope since then," says Randy Riesenberg, USERS' vice president of e-services. "New regulations required credit unions to notify members of the availability of an e-statement, and many credit unions looked to e-mail as the vehicle for providing that notification," Riesenberg says. "But USERS saw so many other opportunities for e-mail to reduce costs and improve service and convenience that we opted to develop a product that had much broader applicability than simply an e-statement notification tool." That functionality includes improved security by enabling a credit union to notify members immediately by e-mail of any changes to their account information, such as PIN changes, e-mail and home addresses, phone numbers and the like. That saves labor in mailing such information, and similar savings also come in the form of automating such functions as report generation. "For instance, in the case of PIN changes, you might typically need to pull a report to identify members who recently changed their PINs, export that data into a tool like Microsoft Outlook and then send a mass e-mail," Riesenberg says. "With the e-Mail Services software, the staff person no longer has to pull reports and export data to other applications. They can simply schedule the PIN notifications to occur automatically," he says. The software comes with a large number of pre-formatted alerts but also can be customized by CU staffers using the SQL query interface with the host. software such as that in Microsoft Exchange. The same goes for report generation and marketing messages. "Those kinds of activities used to be a huge tax on our internal Microsoft Exchange mail server system," said Lisa Fritz, manager of Internet Services at US Airways FCU. "It used to be something that had to be done during the night so we didn't take the chance of freezing the server because of all the demand. Now we do it on our separate machine and very quickly. It takes us only a half-hour to send out 25,000 e-mails where before it might have taken five hours of Exchange time," Fritz says. "It keeps us in bed at night instead of being up worry about how this will affect everything else," she says. As for report generation, the credit union no longer has to maintain separate member lists, replacing a system "where we had to take every person in PCU, our home banking system, and create a new Outlook contact for them, basically maintain two databases – one on our mainframe and one in Outlook. That's now been eliminated more," Dougherty says. He also says that the credit union has found "another channel for us to do marketing in what is basically real time. We can come up with who we want to target, run an SQL query, design our message and send it out." Setting up the system involved only a couple staffers and the savings promised to be considerable. "We've done three e-mailings to 25,000 members. Besides having more good e-mail addresses now, if we had to do that all by regular mail, it would have cost us $15,000 each. As far as ROI, we've paid for the product this year," Dougherty says. US Airways FCU currently is using e-Mail Services in its e-branch operations but is considering integrating it into its MCIF and profitability applications from Liberty and Raddon, respectively. "The more we can use the information we have to target our marketing the better," Dougherty says. "For instance, if we wanted to get our PCU users to use bill pay using CheckFree or another third party, we can simply query our database and target that market very directly. "We can also go in and see who's doing loan advances over PCU or over the counter, and target appropriate products to those members. We can do that with real precision and efficiency with this kind of integration," he says. "It just opens up the electronic channel to us in a lot of new areas." ?

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