MACU Puts 'Tech Champions' In Branches

WEST JORDAN, Utah-Mountain America Credit Union has appointed a "technology champion" in each of its 76 branches to oversee operations.

The program was spurred by two reasons," said Rob Cummings, MACU's SVP-online and mobile banking. "First, the ongoing member expectation that they be able to do everything online and, as such, we needed a way to educate our branch personnel about our technology products so they can effectively field the steady increase in member questions."

The second reason, Cumings said, is the result of the $3.4 billion- asset credit union's redefined technology product strategy that focuses technology products and solutions on members' vision of attaining financial goals. "We needed a channel to explain the value to our membership," said Cummings. "We found that once members were given a brief demonstration, they became frequent repeat users of our technology solutions."

While the credit union has 76 branches in five states, it also has a service center and an educational services department. Each location has a dedicated champion selected by the branch manager from among employees based on a list of qualifications that include being a highly engaged, motivated employee who is passionate about and uses the credit union's technology products.

"The champions have a technical aptitude and an ability to excite their co-workers," said Cummings, adding Mountain America has 1,150 employees and more than 400,000 members. "This set of qualifications has yielded tech champions from all different branch roles from tellers to loan officers to operations supervisors and assistant managers."


Champions In Training

Once a branch manager has selected a "champion" the employee visits the corporate office for a full-day training session on the CU's products and various program operations. The new champion also participates in weekly operational calls and monthly product calls.

"The champion is then given responsibility to teach and excite the rest of the branch about our technology products through Tuesday morning technology trainings. This is a branch-wide "Tech Tuesday" program where everyone in the branch wears technology shirts and talks to members about technology," noted Cummings.

Before the program officially started, a six-week pilot program at 10 branches was undertaken to determine which aspects of the initiative were successful and which presented challenges. "From the pilot we made some adjustments, including increasing the focus in the selection process on highly engaged employees and ability to excite others over pure technical aptitude," said Cummings. He added that technology champions aren't considered "tech support;" rather their role is to generate advocacy and excitement about technology products and educate members and employees on best practices.


Branch Usage Measured

Cummings said Mountain America measures monthly branch level usage growth of all technology products, particularly those that accomplish one of three things: increased engagement with the credit union, reduced operational costs and additional product usage.

Top tech performers are then engaged to teach under-performers. When it makes sense, he said the deft champs will approach branch managers about identifying new technology champions.

"For our employees, they now understand our products and have incentive to help our members understand them," said Cummings. "For our members, they are starting to see the value of technology products, which are delighting them in many ways, from seeing their overall financial picture at a glance, to avoiding the drive to the branch, to instant access to their money, and to a steady stream of new products and features designed to help them reach their goals and dreams."

The branch-level technology champions are being challenged with continuing to ID new branch-level needs to ensure online and mobile product strategy and development teams remain connected to membership needs.

"Likely as we reach a fuller vision of our future products over the next 18 to 24 months, it will drive more members into the branch seeking input on recommendations and options they receive on reaching their goals, and our technology champions will be there to talk with them," said Cummings.