Making the decision to implement a core conversion can give credit unions a lot to deal with. Among the issues to reconcile is what—and when—to communicate to employees. Certainly employee engagement is important. Helping staff know what to expect can go a long way toward maintaining productivity and facilitating good, ongoing service to members.
Here are 10 things to tell credit union staff members when undergoing a core conversion:
Holding regular meetings is helpful so that you can keep employees updated in small chunks. Each week, let them know what key changes will be coming so they are not blindsided.
Focus part of your weekly meetings on the aspects of your conversion activities that will directly impact how your employees do their jobs.
Clearly identify what members will experience during each phase of the conversion. This is especially critical for people in member-facing positions.
Whether a change impacts employees or customers, let your staff members know how to work around any change or downtime in system functionality. Never just leave them wondering or sitting around with no options to get things done.
When telling staff about what things will change, also highlight what will not change. It can be reassuring to know that some things will be kept the same, but it will also prevent questions about changes that really are not even part of the process.
Any time that a part of your system will be unavailable, even just for a couple of hours, your staff must know. Be as specific as possible about when the downtime will begin so that employees can plan their work accordingly.
Similarly, let staff know how long any lack of system availability will last. Again, this can help team members plan their work and also communicate appropriately to members who may have similar questions.
If a delay occurs, let your employees know as soon as possible that the downtime may last longer than originally expected. Proactive notification goes a long way toward preventing additional problems.
Be as detailed as possible when giving instructions on new systems or features. This will get people working efficiently sooner and keep morale and member satisfaction up.
Your employees will have questions along the way. Make sure they know who to go to in order to get those questions answered.
There really can be no substitute for good communication when undergoing a major change like a core conversion.
Your employees are essential assets for your credit union, and keeping them informed goes a long way toward keeping them with you. When you cultivate engaged employees, you also cultivate satisfied members.
The differences between millennials and boomers, or even Gen X’ers, cannot be emphasized enough. One area in which this can be seen is consumer credit. Today’s young adults approach credit very differently than their predecessors did. In general, millennials shy away from credit and instead opt for the “pay-as-you-go” cash method.
Bankrate notes that only 37 percent of people under 30 have credit cards compared with 65 percent of people over 30. NerdWallet adds that 31 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 34 have never applied for even one credit card. There are several factors influencing young adults’ limited use of credit.
In 2009, Congress signed into law the Credit CARD Act, which placed firm limits on the marketing of new credit to college students. No longer could just anyone get a credit card. Persons under 21 must either verify sufficient income or have an approved co-signer.
One of the perks of a credit card is the ease with which items can be purchased. Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with debit cards, which offer them the same level of simplicity.
In general, millennials place less value on things like purchasing or renovating homes and more value on everyday health, wellness and enjoyment. They are content to spend more of their income on organic foods or local microbrews at hip grocery stores and less on new car loans. How this may change as millennials age will be an interesting trend to watch.
Certainly today’s young adults have heard more than their fair share of horror stories about consumer credit gone bad. Many of them have even witnessed their parents’ or other relatives’ financial disasters impacted by credit problems. As such, they are understandably more hesitant to get into debt than older consumers. This is akin to how people who lived through the Great Depression were averse to throwing things away or purchasing items they did not need because they had witnessed firsthand what it was like to not have enough.
While caution regarding credit can be a good thing, it is something that can actually hurt consumers in certain circumstances. When the day arrives that a millennial does finally want to buy a house, obtaining a good mortgage will be hard with little to no credit history.
Helping 20-something’s find the balance between just enough credit and not too much credit is something that today’s credit unions can and should focus on. They can simultaneously reward prudent behavior while educating consumers about how to protect their future creditworthiness.
Millennials have reached banking age en masse and today represent a large portion of potential members for credit unions. Competing against traditional banks for this segment’s business can be done but only with the right approach and intention—and it all starts with really knowing the audience.
Millennials choose what institutions they do business with in large part based upon who engages them the way they want to be engaged, where they want to be engaged and with what they want to be engaged. This, by and large, means online in some form.
Following are examples of what millennials want from a financial institution:
These features are seen by millennials as something basic that any credit union should have. Those that do not offer these online services—or that charge for them—will be quickly off the radar to a millennial audience.
This logical extension of online banking should come as no surprise to credit unions. But, beware—mobile banking does not simply mean access a credit union website on a smartphone, tablet or wearable. It means accessing a credit union mobile app on those devices. Via this app, members should be able to check balances, transfer funds, make deposits and pay bills at a minimum.
Where are millennials? Online. That can be on a website, on social media sites or on social messenger apps. Delivering customer service via all of these vehicles can be a superb way to show millennials that credit unions really understand them—and that is precisely what millennials want and need to know.
Despite what some people think, millennials are very open to mentorship. Not satisfied with the status quo, they thrive on asking questions and respond very positively to those who answer them with respect.
Credit unions can take a mentorship approach with this group in two ways. One is by hiring millennials and making the commitment to be an excellent employer. By doing this, institutions can cultivate ambassadors in the form of millennials.
Another way of doing this is by offering useful financial education targeted to millennials at their phases of life—in college, recently out of college, etc. These would be best delivered in an online forum and should be marketed on social media, via blogs, videos and other avenues where millennials will find them.
At the end of the day, millennials are looking for value. This should come in the form of actual services as well as added value such as education. Credit unions that offer this combination of benefits will find millennials coming their way.
Technology is constantly changing before our eyes—even missing a few weeks of tech news could contain the latest info on the development of flying cars, or a sneak peek of Sony’s new gaming console. We’re in a similar situation with the software running on our desktops, phones, and tablets; they are constantly changing.
Update notifications are all around us, but why? In most cases, the changes are just improvements to existing features. However, sometimes updates fix major problems and bugs, and they’re implemented to improve the stability and security of the application or program, which makes you think twice about ignoring the notifications.
Credit unions experience these updates to their core software on a regular basis; however, if a credit union is using old core software, these “updates” can be a real pain. Updates require users to download and install the changes, which takes time. It’s also standard procedure to manually check for updates, which is cumbersome in and of itself. In addition, software updates take up space on the server, and if users fail to install, their credit union will suffer.
Ignoring updates may prevent customer data from remaining secure or reliable. The older the software, typically the less developers are interested in upkeep and maintenance. The original developers may not even be working on the software anymore to develop necessary security patches that keep cores safe. Given the sensitivity of the data stored in credit unions’ core software, data can’t afford to be compromised.
Another problem with running old core software is that credit unions may run into compatibility issues with newer technology. As credit unions continue to invest in more recent technology, they may find that an out-of-date core creates compatibility concerns as systems don’t match up.
For those in the credit union industry, efficiency is key. Utilizing old core software means that features and functionality won’t be as proficient as they could be—ultimately hurting productivity.
New software tends to offer users more options and more opportunities to customize to meet their specific needs. Older cores remain less flexible, meaning that the user interface isn’t as navigable or effective.
Inadequate Disaster Recovery
Without a plan in place, credit unions with old core software may find themselves in a real predicament when disaster strikes or their server crashes. Where will data be stored and will there be any potential data loss? How long will it take before data can be accessed? If the answers to these questions are: yes, there may be data loss, and it may take longer than even a few hours to access, credit unions can expect to have some very frustrated members.
Poor (or No) Customer Service
A solid support staff is key to any great business—software shouldn’t be any different. Old cores may have a limited customer service staff to rely on, or even worse, none at all. So where do credit unions turn for technical assistance? Old developers? In-house IT staff?
At the end of the day, an out-of-date core at your CU prevents you from providing an efficient tool to employees and offering a secure product to members. Having current core software is the bottom line—and it’s vital to the bottom line of your credit union. Not only is your data more secure and reliable with a current core, but credit union employees will be more productive and efficient with core software that runs smoothly. This ultimately translates into great service and improved member satisfaction, which is what it’s all about.
You know those times when you’re working on something real important? Your eyes are glued to that computer screen and your fingers are furiously clicking away at your keyboard as that ominous deadline approaches. It mocks your desperate plea for more time as it creeps up with undeterred determination. Then it happens.
The blue screen of death appears. You know what we’re talking about—your computer just froze and you haven’t saved in hours.
You pray that with a restart, a recovered document will appear. But what if doesn’t? Back to square one.
Yet, what if getting back to square one isn’t quite that simple? The same hopelessness can be felt among credit unions without an adequate disaster recovery plan, except they’ll have a lot of frustrated members to deal with, not just self wallowing because they didn’t hit save.
This could have been the case for Pocatello Teachers Federal Credit Union (now ISU Credit Union). This $17M CU started a June day just like any other—then their core software server stopped working unexpectedly and all access to the system ceased.
With the CU manager at lunch, the rest of the staff started gearing up to deal with the most pressing issues—hand-writing receipts and dealing with members who were understandably less than happy with the situation.
When staff reached Credit Union CEO, Melanie DeLashmutt, on her lunch break, her initial concerns centered on the potential loss of data and accommodating potentially irritated members. Turning to her data processor for help, she immediately called us.
DeLashmutt asked for our assistance with the situation. With a little diagnosis from our support team, it became clear that the server was the problem. CUDP then contacted the manufacturer, and although the system was under warrantee support, the manufacturer indicated that it still might take several days to diagnose and resolve the problem.
Unlike a frozen computer, how do you deal with the potential loss of an entire credit union’s data? What’s more, how do you deal with the challenge of putting a credit union’s business on hold for two to three days? Well, you turn to your disaster recovery plan and hope that the time, effort and money you put into it will now pay dividends.
Fortunately for Pocatello Teachers FCU, CUDP offers, as an available support feature, one of the very best disaster recovery systems in the industry for a very nominal cost. Even though Pocatello Teachers FCU operates an ‘in-house’ deployment of CUDP’s processing system, CUDP replicates all of their credit union’s data to two additional off-site locations, in real time. Once CUDP had been made aware of the situation, they quickly invoked the disaster recovery plan and setup an access to the replicated data at one of the off-site locations. Within 45 minutes of receiving the call, CUDP had established a secure connection for Pocatello Teachers to their replicated data and the credit union was back to business as normal without losing any transactions.
In retrospect, CEO Melanie DeLashmutt, stated “When our server crashed, I feared the worst—lost data, angry and frustrated members, irritated employees, etc. But CUDP had us up and running in less than an hour—with absolutely no data loss. It was really quite amazing!” DeLashmutt went on to add that in all her years in the credit union industry, she had never experienced anything like it.
Hit the save button for your credit union—invest in a comprehensive disaster recovery solution.
Change is good. Change is exciting and optimistic, but change can also be worrisome, stressful, and disconcerting to say the least. A client of ours recently experienced the range of emotions that comes with any change as they converted to our CUProdigy Core Processing System.
Idaho State University Credit Union, which possesses about $130 million in assets, made the transition to our core software earlier this month. In addition to converting to a new core, ISUCU simultaneously merged the members and assets of Pocatello Teacher’s Credit Union as well. Though this was a daunting task for everyone involved, this undertaking was successful due to excellent cooperation and teamwork from the staff at Idaho State University CU and the CUDP conversion team.
Idaho State University Credit Union CEO, Robert Taylor, praised the recent conversion: “Good job and thanks to everyone for their diligence in helping our members this week during the conversion. If this was your first core system conversion, you may not fully appreciate just how well this conversion went. …this was by far the easiest conversion I have ever experienced…my hat’s off to CUDP for how quickly they responded to unforeseen errors that were fixed immediately.”
As a leading provider of credit union software and support, we are excited to add ISUCU and their entire staff to our CUSO. It is our main goal to successfully bring new credit unions onto the CUProdigy System and watch as they offer improved member experience and increase their level of service. Across the board, change proved to be a good thing– this conversion was a total success!
-Craig Peterson, Director of Marketing, CUDP
CUProdigy is in the unique position to help Credit Unions ‘Advance Beyond’ by providing a core processing platform that puts the member experience first. CUProdigy empowers credit unions with a comprehensive solution that is both robust and scalable.