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Kristi Nelson
Kristi Nelson
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NCF Gets Personal With Internet Banking

National Commerce Financial Corp. wanted more than the typical transaction-based solutions being offered on the market. To give its customers a more personalized experience, NCF decided it had to build its own system.

When National Commerce Financial Corp. launched Internet banking at its three subsidiary banks, it wanted more than the typical transaction-based solutions being offered on the market. To give its customers a more personalized experience, NCF decided it had to build its own system.

"We felt that providing a personalized environment would add value to our customers," said Jeannine Beckstrom, director of e-commerce strategy at Memphis, Tenn.-based NCF. "We thought they would appreciate the content they found there and visit us more often."

Today, three years later, customers can not only maintain accounts and pay bills, but also get personalized alerts, track stock quotes, and view customized news and weather reports through NCF's personal financial center.

Despite its success with this self-created Web service, NCF began to consider outsourcing, as Internet banking providers developed more personalized solutions.

The goal was to continue to provide a superior e-banking product, but in a more streamlined, cost-effective manner. "We were an early adopter of personalized financial solutions," said Beckstrom. "We really liked the idea. Our customers seemed to really like it. And we wanted to be able to continue to do that, but maybe there was a way to do it better."

NCF found the answer with the Customer Center product from S1, Atlanta. The $20 billion institution has completed the first phase of implementation at its Central Carolina Bank subsidiary in North Carolina and South Carolina. Roll-out plans are already in the works at its two other subsidiaries, National Bank of Commerce and First Market Bank.

The costs incurred over the next three years will be lower than what NCF would have spent maintaining and enhancing its existing environment. In addition, the bank will have better control over content management. "We'll be able to focus more on the business of what we're doing, as opposed to building and maintaining the application," Beckstrom said.

One of the big pluses of the S1 product is that it allows non-technical employees to modify and maintain site content, which helps keep it more timely, fresh, and accurate. "The Customer Center allows us to offer that same type of environment along with our Internet banking in a single sign-on environment," said Beckstrom. But it does allow for improvements. "We'll get some expanded alert functionality, and we're very excited about the enhanced reporting we now have access to with Customer Center."

Because S1 has relationships with third-party content providers for news, weather and sports content, it can pass its rates on to financial institutions. That will eliminate not only costs, but also administrative headaches. "With the Customer Center, we won't have to maintain the relationship with those external content providers anymore," Beckstrom said.

The product also includes a community calendar feature, which NCF is considering for one of its subsidiaries. "One of the things we're hoping to gain is the ability to differentiate what our customers in different geographical areas within one brand see in terms of community-type information," said Beckstrom.

NCF has installed Customer Center on its pre-authentication site for Central Carolina Bank, and is almost ready to install it at National Bank of Commerce. The next phase of the project, due to be completed by year-end, is the implementation of the post-authentication Customer Center.

Once it goes live, the Customer Center will create new opportunities for customizing offers to meet individual customer needs. "We're very focused on this personalized experience, on being able to cross-sell and up-sell services based on that information," said Laurie Hood, S1's senior director of product marketing.

The degree of customization depends on the financial institution's ability to segment based on demographic information. That shouldn't be a problem for NCF. "NCF is rather aggressive with that, because they're focused on personalization and a customized experience. Other FIs are less sophisticated in that area," Hood said.

NCF hosts its Internet banking solution at its Durham, N.C. data center. But Central Carolina Bank's pre-authentication site is being hosted at S1 in Atlanta. As implementation progresses, all three of NCF's pre- and post-authentication sites will be hosted by S1. "

Outsourcing to the Atlanta host gives us a little bit more flexibility in terms of scalability," said Beckstrom. "We also think we'll be able to take advantage of new functionality as it comes online."

NCF is also deploying S1 Personal Banking and S1 Business Banking, both of which are integrated with the new S1 Enterprise Platform. Implementation is planned for the fourth quarter.

INSTITUTION: National Commerce Financial
ASSETS: $20 billion
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Deliver a personalized online banking experience at its three subsidiaries.
SOLUTION: Customer Center from S1
KEY QUOTE: "We felt that providing a personalized environment would add value to our customers."

- Jeannine Beckstrom, director of e-commerce strategy

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