To get the job done, Simmons goes beyond partnering with its core technology vendor, Monett, Mo.-headquartered Jack Henry & Associates. It also leads the way. “Although we’ve created a strong bond, we sometimes push our vendor for things our customers are asking for,” Hunter says of the Pine Bluff, Ark. institution with $3.8 billion in total assets. “Then we serve as a beta bank to help bring things to market as quickly as possible.”
Case in point was the recent introduction of mobile deposit. After updating to Jack Henry’s redesigned core, the SilverLake System, Simmons added the mobile solution, goDough, in 2008 and mobile apps in 2010. The next logical step was mobile deposits. “We looked out over the market and could see larger competitors were beginning to offer this service,” says Hunter.
“But,” she continues, “we wanted it to operate as a single app, because we felt it would be a huge convenience for our customers. If we could introduce something that was secure and convenient -- we definitely wanted to be in that space.”
While Hunter admits her group was unaware of how others had deployed mobile deposits, “it just made sense not to force our customers to log into one app to check their balance and another to make a mobile deposit,” she says. “Everyone on my staff certainly knew we didn’t want another password.”
In early 2012 Simmons approached Jack Henry, which had recently introduced the Remote Deposit Anywhere (RDA) iPhone app. But, the solution wasn’t fully integrated with goDough. "After we signed the contract in May, we worked closely with Jack Henry to ensure customers had the best solution in a single app,” notes Hunter.
Upon completion of testing, the new app rolled out smoothly in September. “Because customers must be approved for mobile deposit, we anticipated a very slow adoption rate,” Hunter asserts. “Still, by the end of two months, approximately one percent of our mobile customers were already using the app.
[Don't Be Afraid of Mobile Banking Apps , see Olivia LaBarre's related story.]
If there’s been a challenge with this implementation -- or any other technology-driven channel -- for Simmons it’s been achieving management buy-in. “Because we’re not in a tech-oriented, urban market, it’s a culture change for our company,” comments Hunter.
“Also, we have an austere attitude toward spending money,” she adds. “This isn’t an unwillingness to make the investment – rather it’s about whether a new functionality will be long-term or will customers just move on to something else. Now that mobile is ubiquitous, it’s become an easier sell.”
Helping smooth the way is the minimal involvement required from IT. “Implementing and managing solutions ancillary to the SilverLake core is done by our department in collaboration with our online support team,” comments Hunter. “So there’s little additional work for our IT staff. That’s the beauty of working with the Jack Henry solution.”
According to Hunter, this benefit holds true even at scale. “We recently acquired two banks,” she says. “Even though we’re bringing in thousands of new customers, who were previously on two completely different technology platforms, it’s a non-issue for our IT infrastructure. And, the acquired banks’ customers are excited because we offer mobile products they didn’t have, before.”
CASE STUDY SNAPSHOT
Institution: Simmons First National Corporation (Pine Bluff, Ark.).
Assets: $3.8 billion.
Business Challenge: Maintain a consistent, seamless customer interface across all channels and banking units.
Solution: Vendor (City, State or Country); Product Name(s).
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio