LATHRUP VILLAGE, Mich.-Technology has been leveraged to raise service levels at Michigan First CU, while saving staffing and new construction costs at the same time.

MFCU regularly measures service results, and those numbers have been rising steadily over the last four years. Much of that is due to its reliance on technology that allows members to serve themselves. At least two MoneyWorks Banking Centers are located in each of the CU's nine branches, as well as coin counters and kiosks that share product information. CEO Michael Poulos said the electronic service options keep members who like to serve themselves happy, while also taking transactions away from tellers.

Besides friendly staff, serving members quickly boosts service ratings, reminded Poulos. "The main things that irritate people are rude service and lack of speed or attentiveness. The self-service options allow our tellers to wait on fewer members, which improves their service speed and attention to the member."

One of MFCU's corporate objectives is to make sure members never wait in teller lines longer than seven minutes, which it accomplishes 94% of the time. Teller line speed is checked regularly-during the four busiest times in a day, MFCU employees hand members standing at the end of the teller line a card with the time stamped on it, and then ask the individuals to turn in the card when they reach the teller window.

"We give them a small gift, like a mug or a pen," Poulos said. The account services team speed is checked, as well, to make sure no member waits longer than 10 minutes. The credit union hits that goal 94% of the time, according to the CEO, adding an automated system verifies the timeliness.

Of all the self-service technology MFCU offers, the MoneyWorks Banking Centers make the greatest bottom-line contribution, insisted Poulos. MoneyWorks permits members to perform the same transactions tellers provide. In addition to cashing checks to the penny, members can tell the machines the mix of bills they want for a withdrawal, choosing from $50s, $20s, $5, and $1s (Credit Union Journal, March 15). MoneyWorks also requires no envelopes to deposit cash or checks, and allows members to insert up to 50 bills or checks at a time for processing. They permit money transfers to fellow Michigan First members, accept loan payments, and display account history. The machines cost about $55,000 each.

MoneyWorks transaction activity continues to rise. Since they were implemented at MFCU in 2006, transactions have risen from 168,000 annually to 243,000 in 2009, with transactions on pace this year to hit 312,000.

Since 2006, MFCU members have increased from 55,000 to 82,000, and credit unions assets have grown from $320-million in assets to $570 million. Poulos said MoneyWorks machines have played a big role in the CU's ability to grow without adding a great deal of bricks and mortar, as well as staff. In MFCU's three locations in Meijer stores, MoneyWorks machines take the place of tellers, and have handled 51,000 transactions through June 2010.

As CEOs consider adding more self-service technology, Poulos said they have to think beyond the next month's financial statement. "They have to think longer term. Bricks and mortar cost a lot of money, a lot more than these machines. Let's say putting MoneyWorks in our branches saves us from building one branch over the next five years. That's probably a $2-million savings."

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