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Samaha & Associates Senior Consultant Tom Black Featured in Credit Union Business Magazine: “Elevating the User Experience of Your Front Line Employees”

May 28, 2019

Credit unions often emphasize the need to provide a superior member experience, especially when it comes to using new technologies. However, many credit unions ignore the user experience of their own employees.

It is important to remember credit union staff can subconsciously reflect their own positive or negative user experience back onto members. Eventually this will directly impact the member experience.

Consider the fact that most credit unions have more than 100 different types of technology solutions, and many of them are extremely complex. To offer credit union members their own great experience, credit union staff must be familiar with numerous systems: member-facing solutions, back-office systems, printing devices, cash dispensers, check readers, employee portals, a variety of compliance requirements, security challenges, and often technology associated with member relationship management and cross-sales tracking.

This puts a lot of stress on credit union staff.

To add to the complexity, many of these systems were not designed to work together. Rarely is there a central command center or unified workflow methodology making sure these disparate solutions function seamlessly and efficiently. So the staff becomes the glue that merges these technologies together. This puts the burden of dealing with all these technologies on the shoulders of credit union staff, which can crush employee morale. The risk of having frustrated employees is very high.

Most credit union leaders may not even be aware if there is an issue with staff members’ user experiences. Here are some red flags they should look for:

  1. The first and most obvious is high turnover. This impacts a credit union’s ability to deliver a good experience directly to members and raises onboarding and training costs dramatically.
  2. Longer than expected wait times at a call center is another warning. A high drop-off rate can signal members’ problems may be going unresolved.
  3. Longer than expected times associated with opening a new account. This is particularly troubling since it may actually hamper a credit union’s efforts to increase membership.
  4. Too many manual processes even when automation is available in the marketplace is another indicator that staff may be frustrated. Nothing destroys a user experience more effectively than an outdated manual process that disrupts workflow.
  5. The most glaring result of a bad user experience is when staff avoids using bothersome new technology and struggles to find work-arounds that enable them to keep doing their jobs. This means the ROI associated with the new technology may never be achieved until the credit union has made changes.

Here are several best practices for fixing the staff’s user experience after problems have been identified by a credit union’s leadership team:

  1. Inventory core-related subsystems that involve working with third-party solutions. These are the weak links in the user experience chain that may be the source of the trouble. Test workflows and see if data moves smoothly from one system to the next.
  2. When choosing technology vendors, make sure the decision is driven by their ability to work with other vendors’ solutions. Do not assume all the technology recommended by a single core provider will work well together. This is a very common and costly mistake.
  3. When evaluating the effectiveness of an individual technology, credit unions should not assume the system itself is the problem. For example, sometimes when a credit union has a slow new account opening process, the credit union’s core system – not the technology solution being used – could be what is slowing things down. Making adjustments to the underlying core system can often improve the overall workflow.

Keep in mind that most major core systems are much more capable now than when you went live. Chances are that over the years, your credit union has added custom code, manual processes, and disparate third-party solutions that are no longer necessary. However, if a credit union has kept current on enhancements, followed all the best practices, and still finds unacceptable friction between employees and systems, they may need to consider either a reconversion to their most current core release and supporting modules, or a marketplace review that looks at core alternatives that may be a better fit for your credit union’s business goals and objectives.

Since many credit union members now rely almost exclusively on digital channels and rarely utilize the call center or set foot in brick-and-mortar branches, it is critical that enterprise technology provides an engaging experience for everyone.

A common mistake made by many credit unions is to make too many changes all at once. This can overwhelm staff, who may find their ability to process change to be outpaced. Making incremental adjustments using a multi-step bridge plan is a much more effective way to provide the best user experience—for members as well as for staff.

Samaha & Associates is a nationally recognized consulting group that works collaboratively with financial institutions to assist in the improvement of business processes by optimizing efficiency and increasing revenue opportunities. Specializing in vendor contract negotiations, core system conversions, and mergers, Samaha & Associates expertly executes each respective project by exceeding client expectations. For more information visit