Successful community banks tend to grow through acquisitions, as much as anything else. This pattern is no different for Portland, Ore.-based Umpqua Bank. However, like its counterparts both large and small, the $8.3 billion-asset institution was faced with the problem of running multiple systems, baggage from these purchases, while trying to on-board the acquired banks' customers into its online banking platform.
According to Katherine Gebert, VP and e-banking product manager in product strategies at the bank, it all started in November 2004 when Umpqua acquired Humbolt Bank. It seemed easy enough. She says the acquired bank was using the Fiserv ITI platform. Umpqua was familiar with using these Fiserv systems since its core banking application was Fiserv Premier, so it was able to absorb the other bank fairly painlessly.
"Umpqua used these systems previously and had expertise to just bring them in so we could complete the integration of these customers into Umpqua without disrupting their online access," Gebert says.
The actual conversion began in 2005 but was delayed by the growing bank's next acquisition in July 2006 of Western Sierra Bancorp and then North Bay Bancorp in June 2007. These acquisitions would help grow Umpqua Bank, but also served to delay its goal of having a unified online banking platform.
The result, according to Gebert, was that Umpqua was running four different online banking systems using three different bill pay services for five distinct customer groups (consumer and business) from its acquisitions.
The challenges of dealing with the multiple online banking applications not just included issues with technology and customer support, but marketing as well.
"Attempts to increase enrollment were thwarted by not having marketing collateral (in print or online) for each system," explains Gebert. "We were very generic and unable to play up the specific benefits of each to ensure the customer wouldn't get a different online product than the key benefits sheet they saw at account opening."
It was time for a change—and that meant more than just combining everything into Umpqua's existing online banking platform, with which it was not completely satisfied, Gebert says. Therefore, the bank launched an RFP with all the primary online banking vendors in the first quarter of 2007. This was before Fiserv acquired CheckFree and CheckFree acquired Corillian. And, ultimately, the bank selected what became the Fiserv/CheckFree online banking offering—Voyager Consumer Banking.
"Fiserv had the fullest customer-facing and bank-use feature set and best roadmap, it was most flexible for future innovation and Fiserv product evolution shows commitment to delivering on their roadmap," Gebert relates.
Also, Umpqua was a Microsoft shop, running business applications and data management on SQL servers. Since Voyager was based on the Microsoft .NET Framework, the data migration could be done more easily.
"After project kickoff, we learned about the Fiserv Premier SOA interface," Gebert notes. "It provides an additional functional interface between Fiserv Voyager and our Fiserv ITI core banking platform. Our Fiserv/Corillian team helped work through the interface with our Fiserv/ITI team. We also retained our original ITI real-time interface for some basic functionality like real-time balances."
However, Umpqua halted the project at one point to rethink its approach to how the customer relationship relates to online banking.
"After receiving conversion files from one of our systems, we discovered the relationship key was a larger issue than anticipated and it warranted the delay," Gebert says. "Throughout the project, Fiserv's actions and behavior made it clear this was a joint effort, but working through the relationship key issue together confirmed that our success was their success."
With this hard pause, the project implementation time went to 10-and-a-half months, from the original eight months for which Umpqua planned.
Like many banks its size, Umpqua opted for a hosted solution, but with the option of bringing it in-house if such a move was warranted. This was mainly to keep from taxing the bank's existing IT resources. Still, the bank purchased more dedicated servers that now reside at the Fiserv hosting site. Furthermore, additional software was required, such as licensing the Fiserv Premier SOA platform and expanding Umpqua's licenses for Fiserv document distribution, something that allows Umpqua to send e-mails to customers enrolled in paperless statements.
In addition to Voyager, Umpqua also purchased the Relationship Manager customer support module; Report Manager, which allows the bank to run regular reports that summarize customer status, feature usage and transaction totals; and Campaign Manger for targeted marketing. Fiserv provided training for Umpqua staff for all three modules.
"The focus of our associate training was conversion experience and new features of umpqua.online banking," says Gebert. "We wanted our stores to see and understand what their local customers would face at first log in. Prior to our live date, we conducted several webinars and made a recorded training session available to all associates."
Since there were some differences in each conversion wave, Umpqua posted all customer communication, an internal focused FAQ and customer-facing answers, and a wave-specific presentation on its intranet.
Umpqua's new, unified online banking offering went live on Dec. 15, 2008. It was a phased rollout, however, which began with a small pilot using the bank's employees. Then it started with the smallest group of customers (less than 3,000). The next wave occurred several weeks later and involved 37,000 customers.
"Using Report Manager, we were able to track hourly login success and make adjustments in our online messaging and in our customer contact center," Gebert notes. The third wave was approximately 8,500 consumers. Before starting analysis for the final conversion, however, Umpqua was presented with an opportunity to purchase the assets of a local bank and its conversion resources were shifted to the acquisition project.
The final wave consisted of 2,000 small businesses.
"Some of the efficiencies gained [from the conversion] are not necessarily easy to measure, like customer support," Gebert says. "Since we converted over 50,000 users, most of the support calls are related to conversion and not necessarily about using the new online system. Only seven months since go-live and fewer months since most conversion waves is insufficient to accurately measure any relationship growth realized. The first meaningful measurement will be at the one-year live mark when some of our activation and adoption programs will just start to kick in."
Gebert says this project helped forge the bank's relationship with Fiserv further. As Umpqua plans for 2010, it is considering adding some of Fiserv's newer functionality to the Voyager online banking platform. The bank also continues to make minor changes to the online offering as a result of customer feedback.
The goal is 40 percent penetration of online banking among Umpqua's customer base.
"Voyager online banking will help us double both our online household and bill pay household penetration," Gebert comments. "We'll use Campaign Manager to help build an online relationship with our customers—not just deeper banking services, but sharing information they might find compelling that is part of the Umpqua brand, such as spotlighting our Local Heroes."