Building a New Search Engine

In the 21.05 release, we introduced a brand new search engine as part of the new Xpress Teller system. We also introduced the new search into the Member Inquiry tool, replacing the existing global search feature. The idea was to deploy the new search to a much a wider audience so that we could give it a better shakedown with real-life users in the field.

How the New Search Works

Similar to the search on the CU*BASE home page, the new search has a single input field where you can enter any data about the member and look for that data across key data points, including new ones such as driver’s license, email address, and online banking username.

To accomplish this, the new engine uses a completely different mechanism for searching. We pull data from many different tables into a new table called a view. When a search is performed we look at everything in that view.

How is the data gathered for the new search engine that’s used by Member Inquiry and Xpress Teller?

For something relatively unique like a phone number or email address or driver’s license number, the search will find a small number of matches. When searching for a name or portion of a name, the search will return any record where that text is found in any of those data points.

Why Develop a New Search Engine?

The idea was to address some of the long-standing weaknesses with our existing global search engine.  Almost every month we would get an Idea Form asking for yet another search input field. Let me search by driver’s license!  I want to search for a phone number!  Let me enter a member’s online banking username! (In fact, we’ve already received ideas on several more additions; see What’s Next below.) Because we had nearly a dozen screens with individual search input fields, it was unmanageable to keep revamping those screens and programs every time a new idea came along. It was time for a more comprehensive, browser-style search.

In addition, with our existing search, names with suffixes (Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.) were always pushed to the very bottom of the list, making it easy to choose a father’s account when because you didn’t realize the son or grandson was also a member. The new search engine strips off these suffixes for the purpose of searching only, then sorts results using the full name with the suffix, so you see dad, son, and grandson listed closer together.

The idea was to make the search as flexible as possible, while allowing for future expansion and enhancements with minimal disruption and programming investment to make changes.

What’s Next?

Based on early feedback, here are some of the things we’re considering for the next phase of enhancements:

  • Changing the standard search process from “OR” conditions to “AND” conditions. With this change when you search for two words, the results would show only records where both words were found on the same record, instead of showing a records with either word as it does now. Project #56516 is in development.
  • Making it easier to find company names by refining how organization names are searched, to better handle the way these records are stored in the database. Project #56516 is in development.
  • Creating a workflow configuration where you can define how you want searches to work for Member Inquiry and other places where the new search is added in the future (remember that Xpress Teller workflow controls only control Xpress Teller searches).
  • Adding selection options for “all words match” and “any words match” or “exact phrase matches” so you can refine the search parameters on the fly.
  • Adding “select all” and “unselect all” buttons to the Advanced Search window so you can quickly check/uncheck all of the boxes. Project #56512 will be implemented with the GOLD update on June 6, 2021.

Here are things CUs have also asked us to consider adding to the data points being searched:

  • Street address
  • Card # for closed cards
  • VIN#
  • Include data from closed accounts/memberships files

FAQs about the New Search Engine

Why am I sometimes finding the primary owner only and other times the primary and secondary owners (such as joint owners) when I use the Xpress Teller search feature?

What results will I find if I search for member John Smith in the Xpress Teller Search screen or Inquiry Search screen? What might be a better strategy to find this member?

How will the new search work when it comes to hyphenated names, or names that end with something like Jr., Sr., II, and III?

Why would you use the Advanced Search feature in the new search engine?

How can you tell in which field a number was found in when using Xpress Teller Search and Inquiry Search?

Why might I not find a joint owner or co-borrower record in the Search results on Xpress Teller Search or Inquiry Search?

Help Us Refine Our Design!

With this project we’re resetting the foundation for another decade of evolution, so we’re already gathering ideas for future enhancements.  Leave a comment below if you have ideas.

Also, to read other early feedback on the new search engine, view the comments posted on the Xpress Teller kitchen page, or view the feedback from the 21.05 beta-test credit unions on the Beta Pool page.

Your chef for this recipe:  Dawn Moore

June 4, 2021

17 Responses to “Building a New Search Engine”

  1. Meghan Chenoweth

    Regarding the new search fields in “Member Inquiry,” it would be a big time savings if there was a “select all” or “unselect all” OR even default to no options being selected when you open the “advanced search” fields. Thank you!

    • Dawn Moore

      Yes, that’s already on our list to consider for the next phase, along with adding something to workflow controls so you can set up your defaults, similar to how you can set up defaults for Xpress Teller searches. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. David Brubaker

    While I appreciate the simplicity of the new search, the inability to search by Last AND First names together creates some serious efficiency issues. If I have someone with the last name Miller (let’s use Michael Miller as an example), I have to hit the page down button approximately 140 times to get to the Michael Millers in the search results. Sometimes we get checks from members without account numbers on them, and we have to use the name to find the account. Is there any way for us to select which search system we want to use?

    It also would have been helpful if we would have been alerted in the 21.05 release notes that this new search would be going live in Inquiry (I expected it was only going to be in Xpress Teller based on the release notes).

    Thank you.

    • Dawn Moore

      Thank you, David. We hear you; we’re definitely considering different ideas for handling name searches. The beta CUs commented that they loved the search by phone number, email address, driver’s license, card #, and so forth, but that searching by name was proving to be too expansive.

      Also, I wanted to apologize about the release notes – the announcement was in there at one time but during one of our draft updates we inadvertently deleted that paragraph, apparently. This was mentioned during release training and had been on our Kitchen page for the past six months or so. I’m sorry for the confusion!

  3. Debbie Kratzenberg

    I used tool #1775 on each branch to uncheck some of the search criteria as the advanced search is now on Inquiry. We are not yet using Xpress Teller. When I review the configuration the items are unchecked, however the folks in the branches still see all criteria options as available. What am I doing wrong? Thank you.

    • Dawn Moore

      Correct – Xpress Teller workflow controls are for Xpress Teller searches only. At this point there is no central config for the advanced search feature used by Member Inquiry, but we’re working on creating one.

  4. Debbie Kratzenberg

    When using Inquiry, I find it very difficult to go to the right handed column “Which Is Owned By” for the actual member and account number that I’m looking for. Normally you read from left to right so a big change. Was there a reason for not placing the results on the left as in Phone Operator and the old Inquiry? Thank you.

    • Dawn Moore

      The results are always in the left column (those columns are exactly the same as they have always been, actually). We only changed where we’re looking when we do the search. The new search looks in many more places than before, including both the primary name on an account and its joint owners. That’s why you’ll see words that match your search criteria in the right-hand column when you enter a name or part of a name.

      As mentioned in my other replies, we’re thinking about ways to better limit name searches in particular. It’s a tricky compromise. We wanted to solve the long-time problem of how names with suffixes (Jr., Sr., and the like) always fell to the bottom of the list and often got missed, and we are happy with how that came out. We also had the idea that a joint owner could walk up to the teller line, give the name of the primary member on whose account they wanted to perform a transaction, and you could easily find either that member or the joint owner’s name. That does work, but that flexibility is proving to be a little TOO flexible for other day-to-day searches.

      We still believe in the power of a more comprehensive search engine, so we appreciate the feedback as we continue to hone and refine!

  5. Karen Browne

    Advanced Search Option – I like the idea of workflows and defaults in the advanced search. The ability to have the fields in the advanced search to match exactly would be helpful. Currently our staff is using phone operator as an easier option for common names, which is not ideal.

  6. Michael Sutton

    For member Inquiry, I use a lot of searching for accounts with the last 4 digits of cards. With the new search function I have to de-select many check boxes or I get a lot of search results.
    Are there plans to give permanent preferences for searches or a way to quickly enter the information without having to check or uncheck boxes?

    • Dawn Moore

      As you can see from the other new Kitchen page referenced above and my previous answers, we are looking into several improvements to help you narrow the number of hits. I don’t know yet what method we’ll select, but we appreciate the feedback.

  7. Renae Wittlieff

    I agree with David Brubaker, the new feature is very difficult to get to these common names and others. Having an option key for the new version for when you need it would be better then forcing all of us to use the new version. I to do many name searches and find this time consuming. Thanks, Renae

  8. John Theobald/Day Air

    Understand that CUA is working on a fix for new search feature (i.e. inefficiency searching by name)…but when is a fix expected? Are we to wait until the next release?

    • Dawn Moore

      The programming changes turned out to be surprisingly tricky! The programs were turned in for QC testing just this week. We are still slating them for the 21.10 release but are going to try to get them in earlier if we possibly can. We appreciate your patience!


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