To discuss Summerland Credit Union’s adoption of digital technologies, we spoke with Bruce Parry, eBranch & Marketing Manager, and CEO, Margot Sweeny.

Business Overview

Summerland Credit Union was founded in 1964, first opening its doors in Lismore. It is a mutually owned institution, with all profits returning back to its members. Summerland now offer a wide range of services including loans, saving and investment options, insurance, online banking solutions and cards, with 13 branches across NSW and QLD.

Summerland place importance on building and strengthening local communities, and as a result actively seek opportunities to become involved with community organisations and events throughout the year. They are Bronze Partners of the NSW Government Sustainability Advantage program, offering products that encourage and support environmental sustainability.

How have your customer needs been changing in the face of digital technologies and how do you measure this?

Our customers are now expecting a greater shift to online and particularly mobile banking solutions. They expect to access their information at all times for their own convenience, which is often outside of standard business hours. We have also found that they expect to be able to speak to or email a knowledgeable staff member at any time. Furthermore, there is growing expectation from our customers to handle more of their affairs themselves via online platforms.

We are able to measure the percentage of our business completed electronically which helps us track our customer needs. We currently offer internet banking facilities to customers within all of our branches.

How has Summerland Credit Union and the industry as a whole adapted to the changing customer needs?

We have a significant focus on the use of digital technologies. Some examples include the receiving of faxes into our email system, accepting memberships to the credit union online, the opening of customer accounts online and loan processes through internet banking. With the growing trend in mobile banking across the industry, we now offer the most popular transactions to be completed from our customers’ smartphones. The emergence of smartphone banking means we need to ensure we stay in line with regulatory requirements. For example, fraud prevention becomes particularly important.

Elizabeth Barry, 93.

Elizabeth Barry, 93.

Elizabeth Barry, a 93 year old member from Coolangatta, was one of Summerland’s first online banking customers. “It’s so easy, everyone should use it”, she says. Elizabeth advocates that online banking shouldn’t be off limits to elder members of the community. “IB is not just for the young ones; in fact, older people who have limited access to transport or find it harder to get around should use it”.

Summerland also use social media platforms to engage our customers. Our profiles on Facebook and Twitter share discussions on a range of community issues, not just our products and services. This helps us develop strong relationships with stakeholders and give back to the community. As you can see below by exerts from our Facebook page, we use our social media avenues to get behind local issues and research.

Posts taken from the Summerland Facebook page.

Posts taken from the Summerland Facebook page.

We also ensure we keep our ICT systems up-to-date, meaning we can always provide efficient customer service to our customers. Our recent call centre overhaul was documented in a case study by NEC.

The Summerland call centre received a full overhaul by NEC in 2011.

The Summerland call centre received a full overhaul by NEC in 2011.

What changes do you predict for the future of your organisation with the implementation of the NBN?

We see the need to get more of our staff involved in social media as a communication means. We currently use Facebook and Twitter to engage with our members and the general public. However, we want to expand the number of staff members that can be involved in this conversation, and make sure this is present across all of our business divisions.

We are also developing the implementation of digital screens in our branches, that will allow us to control the material displayed from a central online location.This will also allow us to provide more interactive material such as video for our customers. We currently print all our posters, which then need to be manually distributed to our branches, so there is obviously a lot of flexibility and efficiency to be gained through the technology. The NBN should help make these frequent data transfers more efficient and reliable.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies? (Answered by Summerland CEO: Margot Sweeny)

“Summerland has taken on the challenge of implementing a number of web technologies to improve our business. By implementing more of these technologies, we’ve been able to reduce our internal costs and provide a range of services and facilities which our members have enthusiastically taken up allowing them to do their banking at a time & place which suits them.

It’s also enabled us to implement environmentally advantageous practices which are an important aspect of a socially-responsible business in our region, and which contribute to reducing the amount and cost of our waste  . Through social media, we are improving our engagement with particularly our younger members who value the immediacy of this communication. I’d recommend other businesses consider how the implementation of a range of web technologies would benefit their business sustainability.”