Frank Diekmann's column in the Sept. 17 issue of the Credit Union Journal referenced bloggers on the Internet who had written, "I hate my credit union." I'd like to add my own personal perspective. Apparently these individuals were incensed about having to stand in line waiting for what seemed to be an eternity to process their financial transaction because credit unions have failed to staff appropriately.
Sometimes we are all guilty of not staffing properly for "peak" times, but even I have witnessed long lines at unusual times of the day and or week. If only consumers and, in our case, "members" had some idea how many hours (remember, of course, that time is money) credit unions spend in developing technology enhancements. Researching market trends, analysis, preparing data for open discussions, decision rendering, beta testing, investing, and the subsequent "tweaking" required in most if not all of our technology enhancements can be quite extensive.
These bloggers best illustrate the behavior of members today (some, not all) who run in the opposite direction of positive change and who complain the loudest.
It's these same members who stand in line to cash a check (how about ACH deposit?), make a withdrawal (how about a proprietary ATM?), who transfer funds to make a loan payment (how about audio-response?), who get a LOC advance (how about an ATM card, or home banking?), check their balances/transfer (how about free PC home banking), stop by to order personal share drafts (how about free automated bill pay, free debit and ATM cards, ordering on-line?).
I even read once where financial institutions "intentionally keep lines long" to motivate their customers/members to seek alternatives such as technology.
Maybe more tellers and employees are the answer, but then again we may have to incorporate commercial banking philosophy whereby we have a "fee/charge" when you step up and make your transaction request. Until that occurs, we're left with occasional long lines and legitimate technological alternatives many of which are free! Excuse me, free to the consumer/member because of competitor pressure, but not free to financial institution's bottom line.
John S. Thornton, President/CEO
FEDCom Credit Union
Grand Rapids, Mich.