Crystal Long, CEO of GECU shared her thoughts about their branch transformation initiative utilizing NCR Interactive Teller at the core of their strategy.
Q–How many years has GECU been utilizing the (formerly Ugenius PTM) NCR Interactive Teller solution?
A–We implemented the first Neighborhood Center utilizing this technology in 2011. GECU was the first credit union in Texas to bring the new technology to life in our branches. We provided a new member experience and our members adopted the “Personal Tellers” quickly.
Q–Why was it important for the CU to move forward with this technology?
A–We are continually working to offer our members the services and convenience that meets their lifestyle. The new technology helps us offer more convenient locations, expanded hours, and the same great face-to-face teller service.
Q–What was it about this solution in particular that led you to purchase it?
A–Face to face communication, ease of use, and the ability to offer expanded hours.
Q–How many devices do you currently have?
A–GECU has expanded our Neighborhood Branches utilizing personal tellers at six branches and a seventh branch is opening late this summer. We currently have a total of 18 personal teller devices across the six branches.
Q–What was the deployment strategy for the Interactive Teller solution?
A–GECU’s strategy was to thoroughly test the technology before opening, ensure employees were well-trained on the new technology, and have staff to help educate the members. As we deploy Neighborhood Branches, we are measuring employee and member feedback.
Q–Do you have a mix of models? Drive-ups vs. lobby units?
A–We are currently only operating lobby units. They have been well-received by our membership and we will continue to offer them.
Q–Who were the decision makers brought together within the CU to develop your strategy?
A–GECU’s Senior Management Team.
Q–How many video tellers do you employ in the teller call center?
A–We have 18 personal tellers supporting the Neighborhood Branches throughout our network. Working from a centralized location, our personal tellers always provide the same great personal service that you would receive face-to-face.
Q–What are the hours of operation for your ITMs?
A–Our Teller Center operates Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00p.m.
Q–How important was a ROI analysis when determining to move forward with this solution?
A–Very important!! Our strategy is long term and primarily impacts our service and delivery channels. We are working towards reducing wait times and the number of transactions conducted at our traditional branches. The long-term strategy includes developing more ways to conduct business from many different channels.
Q–Were your projections correct?
A–The volume of transactions conducted at our new neighborhood branches has surpassed projections. However, we have not yet experienced a reduction in transactions conducted at the traditional branches. Rather, the Neighborhood Branches are creating new growth opportunities for membership and for our GECU branch employees.
Q–How has implementing this solution affected your ability to compete in your market?
A–We are in a growth mode. The convenient locations (close to home/work/retail) for our members with extended hours is a factor. In addition, we are utilizing our new branches to introduce higher levels of technology and on-board our members on using our remote delivery services. Since this new strategy was implemented (24 mos. back) we have added 5 new locations and plan to add an additional 3 to 4 locations in in the near future.
Q–Can you attribute your growth to your ITM strategy?
A–Our Service and Delivery Strategy includes Neighborhood Branches utilizing the new technology and is definitely a factor in our membership and product growth.
Q–Have you increased your member base and asset size?
A—Yes we have.
Q–Do you still have traditional tellers?
A–Yes. Our Neighborhood Branches utilize this technology and GECU continues to offer traditional teller services at several of our branches. At this time we are not considering this technology at our traditional branches. We have a large adoption rate and measure member experience daily. The results are positive and we will continue to add this technology to our new, neighborhood branches.
Q–How did this solution affect the morale of the credit union?
A–There is a lot of excitement from our employees regarding our branch expansion strategy and introduction of new technologies. Employees are embracing the new cross-training opportunities and ways to serve our members.
Q–Was it difficult for your staff to adapt to the change?
A–The new technology was an exciting transition for our employees. Our personal tellers are well-trained in the new technology and provide superior service for all our members’ questions and transactions.
Q–We’re you concerned about member adaptation?
A–We were optimistic that our members would like the technology and the convenience, and we were correct. The new technology has been well-received by our members. GECU is proactive in educating our members on how to use the technology. Once we show a member how to use the Personal Teller, they have very positive feedback. We believe it’s because the Personal Tellers are face-to-face employees that can help them with the added benefit of more convenient hours that may fit their lifestyle better.
Q–How did your competitors react?
A–This is a new technology that we brought into our community to better serve our growing membership. Our competitors have attended many of our grand openings and have been impressed with the new technology.
Q–GECU has been a real leader in the area of branch transformation. You’ve been adapting solutions and strategies that go far beyond just modernizing the way a branch looks. What, if anything, has surprised you about implementing the ITMs as part of your branch transformation strategy?
A–The success of our new, Neighborhood Branches is surpassing projections. We knew our members would appreciate the extended hours each of our neighborhood branches offers, but what we didn’t expect was it to quickly surpass transaction numbers in the short time since implementation than other financial institutions that have a larger quantity of ITMs and have been in use much longer.
Q–What advice would you offer to other financial institutions that might be considering video tellers?
A–Engage your employees and members, over communicate, test thoroughly, and ensure the design and surroundings of the locations are state-of-the-art and pleasing to your customer or membership base. Listen to feedback and take action steps based on that feedback.
GECU is locally-owned by its more than 315,000 members. GECU has locations throughout El Paso, Socorro and Horizon City and offers online banking, Mobile Apps and over 32,000 free ATMs as part of its nationwide surcharge-free ATM Co-op network. GECU hosts free financial education seminars throughout the year to promote financial literacy in our community. GECU, with more than $2 billion in assets and nearly 700 employees, is federally insured by NCUA.