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Virginia Credit Union’s Customer-Centric Website Empowers its Members

Virginia Credit Union (VACU) transformed its website into an interactive and educational user destination with Pantheon and COLAB

Summary

Business Outcomes

  • The new website drove 32% year-over-year growth in click-through rates to lead forms, which led to a 42% increase in web-based revenue
  • Six months after launch, website revenue grew by $3 million a month
  • Percentage of revenue derived via the website rose from approximately 18% to 30% 
  • High security, availability, and uptime dramatically improved UX and digital campaign performance - saving 15 to 20 hours a week

 

Challenges

  • The website wasn’t contributing to revenue and growth goals, and it suffered major performance issues, frequent downtime, and lacked support for digital marketing campaigns 
  • Poor user accessibility wasn’t inclusive of all audiences or in compliance with standards like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Slow backup and recovery put business continuity at risk 
  • Failure-prone workflow put new tool and application deployments at risk

 

Approaches

  • VACU worked with COLAB to choose the right CMS and architect the new website from the ground up 
  • COLAB brought in strategic partner Pantheon for its secure SaaS WebOps platform and advanced tools
  • Created an accessibility-focused design system to improve the user experience and achieve compliance
  • COLAB leveraged Pantheon’s high availability architecture and robust backup and recovery

 

Why Pantheon

  • Robust WebOps platform safeguards VACU’s website with 24/7, 365-day availability and supports its sophisticated financial services and educational resources
  • Pantheon’s advanced software tools enable developers to build and deploy new functionality more productively
  • The proactive support team works with COLAB and VACU whenever needed to resolve any issues that arise

 

Introduction: Virginia Credit Union

Richmond-based Virginia Credit Union (VACU) has $4.57 billion in assets and has served customers for over 90 years with affordable banking services, loans, mortgages, and free financial education. 

The credit union serves 308,000 members with its 24/7 online banking portal. Uptime and excellent digital delivery are critical to VACU and its members. 

However, an underperforming website was failing both members and the marketing team. 

Challenge: Legacy Website not Meeting Revenue and Growth Goals

The website had a litany of serious issues. Subpar accessibility threatened compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). And the website’s limited services forced customers to visit or call physical branches even for simple requests. It also lacked consistent branding, and an outdated CMS kept the marketing team from even changing menus, let alone implementing multi-channel campaigns.

The website also suffered major performance issues and frequent downtime, which frustrated customers and the credit union alike. Business continuity was another major concern: The backup system was slow, and recovery was cumbersome with manual processes and minimal verification. New software developments would cause unexpected errors, making for risky upgrades.

Eric Berkman, Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics at Virginia Credit Union, said, “There were performance issues, including backup and recovery challenges, which created operational challenges for us as an organization. It made for a less than optimal member-facing experience, and that is not what we’re in business to do. We’re here to serve and delight our members 24/7 and get them the help they need to become financially confident.”

The marketing team presented its business case to the internal strategy committee: Moving to the cloud could be done safely and efficiently. New infrastructure and a new CMS would solve all current website problems and grow with the business.

Upon the committee’s approval, VACU tapped Richmond-based COLAB, a digital empowerment agency specializing in strategic design and development of websites and cloud-based applications. At first, VACU asked COLAB to shore up the website just enough to keep the lights on. They also strategized with COLAB over how an entirely new site could look. 

Approach: New Website Platform Opens a World of Opportunities

Upon project approval, VACU asked COLAB to architect the new website from the ground up. The project included an all-new host, purpose-built site, Drupal CMS, and infrastructure. A simplified member interface would help credit union customers, and the built-in ease of use would allow marketing to manage the new system confidently. 

COLAB went to work, transforming the website to deliver a modern, customer-focused online experience. Eddie O’Leary, President and Founder of COLAB, said, “The project was not only about fixing what was broken. It was about creating a platform that empowered VACU to provide an excellent user experience and better serve its customers for years to come.”

Drupal was their new CMS choice for its simplicity, enterprise-level functionality, and design capabilities. O’Leary added, “Drupal was very easy to manage and grow. It allowed us to strategically plan data structures and design systems, so we had both efficient day-to-day operations and an easy path forward.” 

COLAB brought in their strategic partner Pantheon, a leading WebOps platform that enables marketing and development teams to drive results and create memorable digital experiences, to replace the outdated hosting system. The new platform enabled version control, Upstreams for repeatable configuration, Multidev and Dev-Test-Live environments, and Drupal content management. O’Leary said, “When we create enterprise-level workflows for deploying code and push features out, we deploy a strong QA process for authorization and pre-live testing. Pantheon tools like Dev-Test-Live and Multidev are critical to the process.” 

Compliance was achieved through design, including colors and font sizes, and the development of appropriate accessibility features recommended by SiteImprove. COLAB and Pantheon also partnered to customize a high availability system, critical for highly regulated organizations like financial services. The Pantheon SaaS platform provides a highly secure and compliant WebOps environment with strong website security, secure core updates, protection against denial of service, immutable code, and much more. 

Given VACU’s business continuity requirements, COLAB recommended that they adopt Multizone Failover. The multi-zone solution enables full failover and failback in the event of a zone outage, bolstering customer experience and credibility in a seamless way to the VACU team.

The flexible CMS supports sophisticated digital marketing tools. For example, the website presents visitors with interactive experiences, customizing the visit based on user choices. 

We now have full control overwith our connected environments and workflow, which allows us to confidently change things and develop something new when we need it. For example, when COVID hit, we had to build new content and launch new messaging. If we didn't have the infrastructure and the revised workflow that we do now, it would have been very time-consuming to do, and we had to get updates to our members in a matter of minutes on certain days as things were changing so fast.

Eric Berkman, Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics at Virginia Credit Union

Why Pantheon: Rapid Development via Connected Workflows 

Pantheon’s robust WebOps platform is ideal for the Drupal CMS and dynamic digital marketing, and it safeguards VACU’s banking portal with 24/7, 365-day availability. Pantheon software tools also enable developers to create new member tools and function efficiently and securely. 

With its unique infrastructure and capabilities, Pantheon’s enterprise-grade security gives VACU the peace of mind it needs to deliver awesome customer experiences online. 

O’Leary said, “Drupal on Pantheon was a liberating experience for VACU. It freed the IT team from supporting a legacy system that was burdensome for everyone. And it provided the marketing team with the power to strategically shape their messaging and the user experience.” 

Whenever the team had questions, Pantheon was immediately available with expert support. Berkman said, “Being able to get in contact with the folks at Pantheon and COLAB, and knowing that they care about our success, is extremely important to us.” 

Results: Fast-Growing Revenue

Since launching in 2019, the redesigned website has produced 32% year-over-year growth in click-through rates to lead forms. Completed lead forms drove a 42% increase in web-based revenue. Six months after the site launched, the credit union saw a $3 million per month revenue increase from the website. 

The percentage of revenue that VACU derives from its website is 29-30%. The volume on the legacy site was closer to 17-18%. The revenue percentage has almost doubled since it moved to the Pantheon Platform and continues to grow. 

Uptime and performance metrics dramatically improved, and Pantheon’s native platform security protected against intrusion and data loss. High availability has kept confidence high and greatly improved its members’ online experiences. 

The web admin lead on the VACU team saved 15 to 20 hours a week versus the prior system, while detailed reporting capabilities built greater credibility with stakeholders. Time savings and new functionality also freed up the marketing team. 

When it came to building the new site and migrating, we had the right team, the right partners, and the right technology so our members can get what they need in as frictionless a manner as possible. And since the new platform also freed up our marketing team, we have time to creatively innovate and drive improved results for our members and our organization.

- Eric Berkman, Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics at Virginia Credit Union

Read the full case study here

 
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