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. We needed to deploy the new search to a much a wider audience than just Xpress Teller so that we could give it a better shakedown with real-life users in the field.

Why a new search engine?

The new search engine was intended to solve some long-standing weaknesses of our current global search and to give us more flexibility for adding new search options, such as searching for a member by phone number, by email address, or even by online banking username. Almost every month we’d get an idea for more places to search, and it simply was not practical to keep adding more and more input fields to the old style search.

So we built a new table called a “view” which pulls together information from many different tables and is then used when searching.  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.

What’s next?

After initial deployment in the 21.05 release, it was clear that while the new search options such as phone number and email address were a big hit, the results when searching by member name were disappointing. We made a number of early tweaks that helped a little but the results were still not what we were hoping for.  So it was back to the drawing board.

Project #57125 (currently in development and being stated for the 21.12 release) will change how the search works for both Xpress Teller and Member Inquiry.  The key change is that the screen will now have two search input fields instead of just one: One for use when searching for a member name, and a second one when searching for anything else. That way we can greatly simplify the technique for finding names, but keep the flexibility (and smaller screen footprint) for other search criteria.

For the name search, we’ll be adding a drop-down on the search screen for including individuals, organizations, or both. So if you’re looking for a individual person’s name, you can exclude organizations with similar words, further reducing the number of hits.

We’re also planning to expand the existing Preferences feature available on the CU*BASE home page to allow each employee to define how they’d like their default searches to behave, reducing the need to use the Advanced Search button for every search.

We have high hopes for this new technique, that it will give us the best of both worlds – a flexible engine that can expand and adapt in the future, while still making it easy for your employees to find members quickly and effectively.

Your participation has made the difference!

As always, it’s feedback from users that help us refine our design and work out the kinks. A project of this magnitude is intended to reset the foundation for another decade of evolution, so it takes the input from many different voices to hone in on a design that works well for everyone.

Leave a comment below if you have ideas! (Some things CUs have already asked us to consider adding to the data points being searched include Street address, Card # for closed cards, and VIN#.  We’ve also been asked to include data from closed accounts/memberships files.)

Your chef for this recipe:  Dawn Moore

FAQs about the New Search Engine

Explain how the new search engine works when it comes to searching for a member name.

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?

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?

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

 

Updated
September 7, 2021

20 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!

    Reply
    • 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!

      Note added 8/12/2021 – this change was implemented on June 3

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Note added 8/12/2021 – Select/unselect all buttons were added June 3 and additional changes implemented August 11; see additional comments below

      Reply
  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

    Reply
    • Dawn Moore

      We hear you, and we’re working on it!

      Note added 8/12/2021 – changes were implemented 8/11/2021; see additional comments below

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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!

      Note added 8/12/2021 – changes were implemented 8/11/2021; see additional comments below

      Reply
  9. Dawn Moore

    We implemented some changes for online credit unions on Tuesday morning, August 10 (read the AnswerBook item here https://kb.cuanswers.com/cuanswers/ext/kbdetail.aspx?kbid=5095) with the hope that they would make name searches easier. After some early feedback (thank you, Teresa, Kim, and Chalora!), it looks like some people are still having trouble.

    One thing to try is if you are searching for a member by name, and you have all of the advanced search boxes checked, make sure to enter both a first AND a last name for your search. If those are your settings and you only type one name, the search engine seems to stall and not know where to look, apparently (we’re working on that…).

    Also, if you only have a last name, you should remove the checkbox from the First name option in the Advanced search. What people are seeing, though, is that sometimes it’s necessary to remove the checkboxes from all of the advanced search options and only check the Last name field in order to search by last name. That was not our intention, but it does seem to work a bit better.

    Rest assured we’re still working hard to try to figure this tricky problem out, but perhaps these tips will help in the meantime!

    Reply
  10. Dani Lane

    Having not seen the alert, I thought I was losing my mind! ;-) When I choose Search (F1), if I don’t click on Advanced, all the boxes are checked and I get just a few results when I search for a last name. (And not all the primary members are listed. In my particular search, there are definitely two accounts missing from the search.) But if I go in and uncheck all the boxes and then just check Last Name, I get all the results for that name, including the ones I was missing. That seems backward to me. Having all the checkboxes checked should get me the most results, right?

    However, if I check first and last name boxes, I get a concise result.

    Is there any chance that our settings could be saved? In other words, if I check just the last name box, it could save that setting until I change it?

    I do like the search options under Advanced. ;-)

    Reply
    • Dawn Moore

      Appreciate the feedback, Dani. Yes, it is weird that selecting fewer options gets you more hits. I wish I could explain it better but it’s all tangled up in how we store member names in the same fields for both individuals and organizations, I think.

      I do have plans to allow you to set up default Advanced Search settings for Inquiry someday. Right now the only place you can set defaults is for Xpress Teller, but those aren’t used by Member Inquiry. Your idea about at least saving your settings until you change them (right now it only remembers them until you exit the Inquiry program) might work, too. We’ll give that some thought. To be honest, every idea is on the table right now as we try to figure out the best of both worlds – the new search excels at searching for almost everything except for member name! We obviously don’t want to lose the new ability to search by email address and phone number and everything else, but the name searches are proving to be a sticky wicket still.

      Reply

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