SPOOKSDALE, Ariz.–Frightening member service. Scary internal practices. Vampire procedures that suck the life out of a credit union.
In keeping with Halloween, CUToday.info asked the credit union community for some of the most ghoulish things they have seen. Here’s are some Tales from the Credit Union Crypt in the first of a two-part series.
For Eric Weikart, managing director at Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., Halloween brings to mind stories of “varying degrees of scary.” But one of the most horrific things he has seen is credit unions making poor use of cash dispensers.
“Many credit unions invest in cash dispensers/recyclers at $30,000-plus a pop, but don’t integrate them into the teller system so they can’t take advantage of their intended purpose—to speed up the teller line,” he said.
Weikart said he was recently “scared to death” in a credit union that requires new members to have their paper Social Security card with them to open a membership.
“It took the same credit union 55 minutes to open a new membership, because they needed to enter same information—name, address, social—in five systems to get the account open,” he said.
And if that does not frighten those who understand the increasing importance of efficiency today, Weikart, added: “One credit union has paper signature cards. So in order to check a signature, employees need to call the branch where the account was opened, they fax the card to the requesting branch. The same credit union also uses a typewriter to type both signature cards and safe deposit box access cards.”
Somewhere in Transylvania lies a castle. And in this castle something is hidden away from all to see during the light of day, says Kelsey Murray, product evangelist at Akcelerant in Malvern, Penn.
“Men, women, children—and in particular financial institution employees—fear greatly this thing, and will look to avoid it all costs. No, not a vampire, I’m talking about service activities, the pariah of financial institutions,” she explained (with perhaps a hint of fear in her voice).
Customer/member satisfaction is moving up the priority list and is one of the most important metrics for a truly member-centric organization, said Murray.
“Even two years ago first-call resolution and answer speed were not recognized as important,” she said. “Service activities may seem overwhelming at first, but the long-term results will make the effort worthwhile. Recalling the truism ‘customer service is the heart of one’s business,’ don’t drive a stake through that heart by treating service activities like Count Dracula.”
For John Hyche, SVP and principal at Level 5, Atlanta, he has a personal story that is a terrifying tale that would make any branch manager shudder.
Hyche recalls how his 83-year-old mother was treated by her credit union when she tried to deposit a big stack of savings bonds that she accumulated.
“My mom and my sister went to deposit (the savings bonds) at the credit union, and the credit union decided that this was an unusual transaction that required assistance from a member service representative,” recalled Hyche. “They signed in and waited their turn. The MSR met them and asked them how he could assist. They said that they wanted to deposit the savings bonds, to which the MSR responded that the teller could handle the transaction. All they had to do was endorse the bonds and present them to the teller. Mom and my sister dutifully endorsed the bonds—a stack about two inches thick—and then stood in line to speak to the teller.”
Hyche said that when they approached the teller with the stack of bonds and told her that they wanted to deposit them, the teller said, ‘We can’t do that! Don’t you know it’s Monday! Look, there are already (two) people waiting in line!’ You’ll have to come back tomorrow, after 10 a.m. if you want to do that.”
Jim Giacobbe, president and CEO at United Solutions Company, Tallahassee, Fla., recalls a frightening time in the late ’80s when he worked as a trainer for a core data processor.
“I was on my first job at a credit union in Cedar Springs, Georgia,” recalled Giacobbe. “The system was an old Digital PDP system with a console that you sat behind. I was sitting at the console posting share drafts when suddenly the system halted.”
Giacobbe said the project leader on the job was a “large scary woman” who didn’t speak much.
“I remember her rounding the corning to the computer room and rushing at me like a linebacker,” he said. “I jumped up and braced for impact when she pulled up inches from me and shouted in a loud guttural voice, ‘What did you do!’ Apparently, if you accidentally kicked the plug out of the console back in the day the system halted. I scampered to the floor, plugged it back in, and steered clear of the project leader. Thankfully she let me live to train another day.”