LEXINGTON, Ky.-In an effort to better understand its members and engage in new relationships, the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union (UKFCU) is in the process of upgrading its online banking portal to handle a wider array of transactions, services and administrative functions.

With 52,000 members, 134 employees, five branches and $475 million in assets, UKFCU, like all credit unions, is seeking to exceed member expectations. And that means meeting the challenge of keeping members, even when the field of membership can be transient.

"Member retention is very important and we realize people move away from Lexington for various reasons," said Vice President of Operations and Credit Kathy Begley. "We wanted to find a robust online banking service for our members to fit their banking needs."


Multiple Goals

The goal was to not only offer enhanced transactions, but also budgeting tools, account aggregation, bill pay, targeted marketing messages, as well as administrative functions to serve both member and business accounts. The undertaking was spearheaded by a project manager and six employees from the information technology, sales and marketing, and operations departments. The team took nearly a year researching six vendors and reviewing demonstrations and presentations.

"We ranked the list and narrowed it down to our three finalists. We then asked the three finalists for a second on-site presentation where again, we each individually scored them and we clearly saw our two favorites," recalled Begley. "The process of the final two also took some time as we delved into the companies' financials and called references."

Once the due diligence was completed, University of Kentucky FCU selected Alkami's Online Relationship Builder platform. The interface addresses the needs and preferences of each member, according to Alkami's president, Stephen Bohanon. With the application, members can personalize profile themes, dashboard applications, featured content and social media options.

"We are hoping to utilize this technology to better understand our members and engage them in areas we haven't before," said Begley. "Account aggregation should help us collect information and market to our members to help us gain more share of wallet with them. Ideally, this will grow services per household and allow for a more robust member experience at the same time."


Integrating Relationship Technology

When introducing a new technology platform, there are almost always various issues related to connectivity with the core system and the varied ancillary services provided by vendors. This was also the case for UKFCU.

"We are currently involved with writing and testing code necessary to provide critical member services like online account opening, loan applications and account aggregation," noted Begley. "Plus, we are taking this opportunity to upgrade our members' experience with ancillary services like bill pay and e-statements via the online channel. The impact on IT has been minimal to moderate."

While the project scope has required additional internal employee hours and resources, Begley explained Alkami has taken responsibility to complete most of the aforementioned tasks, with UKFCU providing input and direction from its internal project manager.


Employees In User Testing

In an attempt to gain a comprehensive understanding of the system from a member's perspective, several front-line UKFCU employees will assist in the user-testing of the platform. "These employees will also be able to serve as mentors once we go live. We will also roll out the new product to all employees early so they can become accustomed to it prior to our general membership," said Begley of the rollout later this year.

Additionally, there will be training for the administrative console to follow-up on member questions, audit and compliance functions and target marketing projects.

"While this technology is certainly not inexpensive," Begley said of the undertaking, "I believe the investment is necessary to remain competitive and offer our members exceptional service."

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