Okay, that’s not entirely true. This branch will have walls– firewalls, and lots of ’em. (And my apologies to Pink Floyd, but your song was playing as I wrote this.)

I’m happy to finally share with the world that we are building an Online Branch. This is a project I have been working on for a long time and now that it is underway, I feel like I can talk about it and share my experiences with you moving forward.

If you Google the term “Online Branch,” you get over 9 million iterations of what others have defined it to be. I can only speak to what Verity’s Online Branch will mean :

It will mean a new website.
It will mean a new online banking system.
It will mean a better user experience for our existing and soon-to-be members.
It will offer ways for members to do more online and on-the-go.
It will mean I will not be taking a vacation until sometime in April 2009…
Basically, Verity’s Online Branch will present our website, online banking and our relationships with vendors in a seamless, cohesive way. Think of veritycu.com as the entrance to our Online Branch. The challenge lies in emulating the “conversation” usually found between our members and our branch staff. I believe we’ve aligned with some good folk that know a thing or two about making websites user friendly, but let me expand on my bullet points listed previously:

It will mean a new website.

In March 2009, expect to see a new website. It will look different. It will offer visitors the ability to customize how they interact with us. I promise to post images of what’s coming later, but right now, it is just too early. There is still much to be done in the background before we get to the pretty, functional stuff. Look for future posts on this.

It will mean a new online banking system. This took almost two years of research, demos, interviewing, more demos, and negotiating. We’ve finally found an online banking system that offers stability and security along with the feature functionality our members have been asking for. Selecting a new online banking system is not an easy process– it has to integrate with our current systems. It has to have great support (both technically and vendor wise) behind it. My next post will list some of the new functionality you can expect in the new Online Branch.

It will mean a better user experience for our members and soon-to-be members. Imagine being able to find information faster and easier. A better search function. The ability to open an account online and fund it real-time. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It will offer ways for members to do more online or on the go Imagine getting all of your notices, statements and tax forms online. Imagine checking the balance of your checking account on your mobile device.

It will mean I will not be taking a vacation until April 2009. There is a lot to do. Right now. there are weekly phone calls and meetings to work through the process of configuring, building and testing. I’m working with my teammates at Verity who are experts at what they do: account opening, member relationships, IT, training and marketing so we can try to emulate (as much as possible) the physical branch experience. Communicating what’s going on to staff and members is going to keep me busy, too, and this post is my first of many. Ask me a question and I’ll try to answer. Like I said, we are very early in the process so there may be things I can’t divulge.

Besides this blog, I’m thinking about creating a Twitter account just for Online Branch updates. What do you think? Would you follow me?

Laurel McJannet

No biography available for this author.

18 Responses

  1. cupcakev says:

    do it. twitter. i can’t wait. i’m not a member…yet. but i am seriously thinking about becoming one!

  2. Lou says:

    This is something we looked at doing…but aren’t able to because of the cost, and also because our little town isn’t quite as tech-savvy as we need them to be. Out of 40,000 members, we have begged, pleaded, and cajoled 10,000 to move online. The rest are content to do things “old school” (branch visits, checks, and everything PAPER!! arrrgggghhh!) As that changes, we expect to move in this direction as well. Good luck! I’m a fan!

  3. Ann says:

    Are you planning to have interactive contact between customer and VCU personnel?

  4. Laurel McJ says:

    Hi Ann,

    One of the features we are looking forward to offering is “co-browsing.” This would allow our reps to browse with you as you navigate through Home Banking or show you how a specific function works. This will also be helpful when you need to troubleshoot an issue. For example, if you get an error message after trying to do a certain transaction, we can follow along and gather the info we need to get the issue fixed immediately.

    Other interactive contact, such as chat and text messaging, is on the docket for the 2nd half of 2009 once the new Online Branch is launched. However, we’ve already begun a light discovery phase, looking at demos and researching vendors that provide these services.

  5. Maggie says:

    Hope you are adding the ability to link other customer’s bank accounts to their Verity account. Right now it is a drag to have to drive to a branch (not that close for me) or mail a check to make a deposit. Would really like the ability to link my other accounts and be able to transfer my $ that way. Thank you for all your work on improving the site.

    Maggie

  6. Abigail Barden says:

    I find this quite depressing. My husband is 66 and I am 65. We are only slightly computer literate and probably won’t improve with age on that. We still are having difficulties with some of the changes that were made with the implementation of the current website. So, having to adjust to another one that needs to be customized so we can use it will be really hard for us. I assume this is wishful thinking, but it sure would be nice if you could have a “simple” version for people like us that only does really basic stuff. Thanks for listening.

    P.S. I’m sure my daughter will love the new site as will others in her generation.

  7. Laurel McJ says:

    Maggie: actually, we will have the ability for members to transfers funds between Verity and other financial institutions via ACH. This option will be available within online banking. Right now, you can “move money” between financial institutions by using Money HQ, which is a free service within our free online Bill Payer.

    Abigail: Thanks for your post—but please don’t find this change “depressing.” This change is for the better and not just for the younger generation, but for all users beginning to advanced. Rebuilding our website and online banking to create an Online Branch will enable us to make navigation easier and more user friendly for everyone. To ensure this usability, we are having a focus group next week to discuss how members and non members use financial services websites. You should know that three of the participants are in your age range, so I hope this gives you assurance that we are looking to improve our online services for all, not just for some. I’ll continue to post updates as we make progress—thanks for commenting and please keep in touch!

  8. keith says:

    I am excited for this change! Since I’ve switched from BECU, I’ve been a little disappointed in the online banking system in place here. It’s not as nice as theres, and of course, doesn’t have mint support. I have been keeping my BECU account because moving all those bills over would be a chore but maybe the new system will be nicer.

  9. tim spofford says:

    First, congratulations Laurel. It sounds like a big deal and I look forward to it. Enjoy looking forward to your April vacation.

    Second, although I’m always interested in new toys – including those I handle my banking with – I’m a bit apprehensive because I think the current system is very good. I even changed my banking back to Verity because the online system for the credit union I joined when I moved to Oregon was SO BAD compared to Verity’s (current) software. So, we’ll see.

    Third, I seem to remember that Verity’s online banking became available in 1999 or 2000, and that the current software followed a year or two later. It’s probably time for a complete refresh.

    Last, for Abigail, please don’t let it discourage you, much less “depressing.” I’m the same age as you are. Just give yourself permission to play with it and if you can’t do that, allow me to give you permission. (You can’t break anything.)

  10. Laurel McJ says:

    Hi Tim! How’s my favorite online member? 😉

    I appreciate the preliminary congrats- this is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

    If you like our current online system, then I am pretty sure you will like the new one. In particular, I’m looking forward to unveiling the new website because we will be taking advantage of new technology and best practices that make browsing easier for any user, whatever their skill level. Of course, you can’t be everything to everyone, but we will try our best. I’ve been through 3 website rebuilds and 2 online banking systems and this will be the first time we will be involving more in-depth participation with our members through a focus group and a member pilot group. I truly believe that the process we are going through to create our Online Branch is going to payoff both for our members and Verity.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tim. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in participating in my pilot group, would you? I’ll be sending you an email…

  11. David Balatero says:

    I would be interested in participating in a pilot test group for Verity’s new online system. I am a software engineer, and might be able to provide some good feedback about the new system. Thanks!

  12. Joann says:

    Hi, I would like some enhancements in the bill pay. Could we have a memo line when paying a bill like on a paper check? Also could we see when a payment has actually cleared? A few times I have experienced a creditor not receiving a payment and didn’t know until months later.

  13. Gary Boots says:

    Hey! I will be excited to see the new website. I have been a member since 1975. You guys are wonderful. You couldn’t drag me to a bank.

  14. Jayne says:

    So… it’s getting closer to March. Just curious when we might be getting a peek at the new site/online banking.

    I just joined recently and can’t wait to see what the redesigned one will look like.

  15. John McGovern says:

    I can’t wait for the new banking system to be deployed. I hope we will be able to get some integration with Mint.com also. I made the switch from WaMu back in September and to be honest the biggest pain points are the online banking and the fact that I lost my single snapshot view of my finances I had with Mint. Let me know if you need any more people in your pilot group. I have helped deploy a number of new online banking systems including the one WaMu switched to not even a year ago.

    Best of luck! John

  16. Chris Mayer says:

    I’m excited to know what will be happening in March. Haven’t heard anything more about it. We’ve been using online banking for quite awhile now and are especially happy with it since we’ve been travelling around the U.S. We could have gone with one of those “big guy” banks, but liked the “hometown” feeling we’ve always had with Verity. We’ve been members since 1991, have closed our “big guy” bank accounts and are happy to be a part of Verity.

  17. Sean Varney says:

    Is this new set up going make us more compatible with Mint.com?

  18. Laurel McJ says:

    Hi Sean,

    We will still have the same core system behind the new online banking system, but until Mint.com replies back to me about Verity’s participation in Mint.com, I don’t know if we are compatible with their set-up. I couple of weeks ago, I visited their site to put in another request. I posted a screenshot on my twitter account, verityonline because the link to create a request didn’t work.

    All I can say to members who want Mint.com capabilities is to keep making their wants known by filling out Mint.com’s online form. I am.

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