New Look, New Feel, New Response To Site

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Seven years since launching its first website, Baxter Credit Union is offering a new look, a new feel and many new options for its online users. Among the new features: five different languages, SEG-specific branding and customized cross-selling.

The redesign took about a year to complete and was prompted by surveys through which members expressed a desire for such things as easier navigation tools and access to more financial history, for starters, said BCU's Michelle Bloedorn, VP of Marketing, and Jesse Bruns, eServices Manager.

"The new website was created for several reasons," Bloedorn said. "To service and market better to our members, strengthen a popular delivery channel, provide convenient self-service tools and consistency among our communication outlets."

The user-friendly website offers online banking with access to shares, loans, credit cards and a convenient bill payment system. It also offers online applications for new membership as well as products such as mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.

The duo said a few clicks of a mouse also brings up member credit scores, pre-approvals and educational materials.

Presently, 21% of BCU's members link into the website monthly. The goal, Bloedorn said, is to increase that percentage through future marketing promotions.

The initial launch included notices to 35,000 members via e-mail, statement stuffers and advertising on plasma screen televisions within the branches.

Testing The Service

BCU, with $1-billion in assets and 115,000 members throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, launched the site in June, a month after giving it a test run with about 500 of its most active website members. Some members were additionally called into a test center to conduct business online and in front of video cameras.

"We had a list of 15 or 20 tasks that they could accomplish and watched as they went through each one," Bloedorn said. "We were able to identify areas that were difficult by their facial expressions and responses."

For example, Bruns said, members showed frustration when trying to locate a click-on calendar intended to aid in scheduling transfers. Apparently, the calendar was buried below the page and difficult to move. A bit of adjusting took care of the problem, he said.

Bloedorn said the wording throughout the pages is more informal than the previous site and less product oriented, focusing instead on how a particular product or service will affect a member's well being.

With each online message comes the convenience of online applications, Bruns said.

"We ask for the business on every page," he said. "All pages that discuss loans have the online loan application right there."

With a new website infrastructure, the website can support multiple brands and languages. Presently, there are four separate brands and two languages available-English and Spanish-Bloedorn said, adding that 20% of the CU's membership speaks the latter.

Each of four SEGs has its own customized website for employees that includes its own logo and content pertinent to its users.

"With the new infrastructure, we can make different offers on each website," Bruns said. "However, the core engine that drives the websites is the same."

Additionally, the site will allow offers to be made to specific members, Bloedorn said.

"For example, if we want to pre-approve you for a loan, we can make that offer particularly to you and flag it on the mainframe," she said. "So every time you log into that page, you will be able to see that offer."

She said the offers are not at all like "offensive pop-ups that get in the way of doing business." Those interested can simply respond online.

Bruns said a "robust content management system" provides the ability to better manage multiple sites and bring up new brands quickly.

Bloedorn said the look and feel is consistent with all communication channels as created by BCU's marketing strategy.

"The images and copy were well-thought out and chosen as an extension of our overall marketing strategy," Bloedorn said. "For example, our Spanish website has images that were chosen specifically to appeal to our Hispanic market. The copy of the Spanish website was also written specifically for our Spanish-speaking members."

Reduced Time

Feedback since the launch has been positive, Bruns said, noting that post-launch, statistics show that members aren't spending as much time on the website as with the previous site.

"That's an indicator that it's much faster and much easier for them to get in, conduct their business and get out," he said.

The duo said they expect to continue to monitor the site and track all marketing efforts and online statistics to ensure the members get what they need.

"Thankfully, we got excellent feedback," Bruns said. "We were very pleased that our members responded so well."

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