What began as a merger-driven rebranding in 2008 became a chance to innovate as Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Commerce Bank transitioned to TD Bank, a subsidiary of Toronto-based TD Bank Financial Group (US$494 billion in total assets). "Although we initially planned a simple logo change for our Sunrise Report, as the rebranding progressed our team realized it was an opportunity to update the service and address customer requests," explains Richard W. Burke, Jr., SVP of cash management, of the account balance statements that the bank provides to commercial customers each morning.
With less than three months before Commerce would officially become TD Bank on Nov. 1, 2008, Burke approached his existing report provider. "In addition to an improved visual design we wanted to leverage the Internet for alternative delivery of the fax-based service. But we were uncertain our existing provider could fulfill what we envisioned by the deadline," he recalls, declining to specify the vendor.
Since time constraints prevented an exhaustive RFP process, after evaluating other leading vendors in the space, TD Bank turned to a familiar provider. "A significant selection criterion became partnership quality," comments Burke. "A vendor becomes a partner when they have a history of sitting down with you, without a sales sheet in front of them, to learn about your business. In this case, one of our file transfer vendors, Online Banking Solutions [OBS, Baltimore, Md.], had taken the time to build such a partnership. So we knew it offered an ASP solution, Online Messenger, with the features and functionality we wanted. And the company's historical performance gave us confidence it could meet the deadline."
Just a month before the cut-over, work on designing the new reports began. "The new visual design took less than a week," Burke reports, adding that development and testing of data mapping and deployment mechanisms occurred over the following two weeks. "All along the way we communicated with our customers about the pending change." The enhanced Sunrise Reports launched Nov. 1 without a hitch.
Data for the reports is extracted from the accounting system on TD Bank's mainframe and delivered to OBS by secure file transfer protocol (FTP). Since the OBS solution accepts data files in most formats, the implementation didn't require any changes to TD Bank's existing data extraction routine. After the data file arrives at OBS, the Online Messenger engine normalizes it into XML code for delivery via the appropriate channel -- in TD Bank's case, fax or e-mail. Then TD Bank's Sunrise Reports are populated and sent to customers from the OBS fax and e-mail servers. TD Bank can check status at any time by logging on to the solution's Web-based interface.
The only real implementation challenge, according to Burke, was lack of an automated profile creation utility, which OBS was unable to develop due to the tight turnaround. "So we re-created customer profiles manually," he says. "In the end, manual creation provided some excellent experience for our service staff with building and maintaining customer profiles that is useful going forward."
Nonetheless outcomes have exceeded initial goals. "Customers without an online banking service can now receive the report as a secure, password-protected PDF e-mail attachment instead of via fax," asserts Burke. "Plus the OBS solution includes a delivery audit trail. This allows us to proactively contact the customer when a delivery fails. Operationally, resending a lost or failed report no longer involves manually printing and faxing -- it's all point-and-click. And we've consolidated vendors, further eliminating inefficiencies."
Customer retention also has improved. "Customers have told us they are pleased with the redesign and with the new delivery option," Burke reports. "This supports our growth strategy, which includes improving retention by valuing customers regardless of size. We know our smallest customers can have influence over very large opportunities."
The positive customer feedback convinced the bank to implement the OBS solution at its TD Banknorth division, which also will be rebranded to TD Bank in late 2009. And the OBS deployment is likely to spread within the organization, says Burke. "We're definitely discussing it with other units, such as government and small-business banking, as an alternative mechanism for delivering information to customers," he relates.
"Sometimes challenging projects are made easiest when you build on an existing partnership," Burke notes. "Often multiple unforeseen benefits can be derived."
Case Study SnapshotInstitution: TD Bank, a subsidiary of TD Bank Financial Group (Toronto).
Assets: US$494 billion (TD Bank Financial Group).
Business Challenge: Improve customer satisfaction by upgrading commercial accounts' daily statements service.
Solution: Baltimore-based Online Banking Solutions' (OBS) Online Messenger secure transaction information exchange platform.
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