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CU System
CUs bumpy system upgrade a lesson for all
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (5/6/11)--Credit union employees--from CEOs to member service representatives--fear system conversions, for a lot of different reasons. Kern Schools FCU’s experience this week is Exhibit No. 1. Bakersfield, Calif.-based Kern Schools FCU began what CEO Steve Renock termed “a major, major conversion” Friday, changing over its core processing, online banking and loan servicing systems. The credit union was closed during its usual Saturday morning hours, and members couldn’t log on to their online accounts through Sunday. The credit union was scheduled to be closed on Monday, but the technical end of the conversion went well enough for Kern Schools to open its doors Monday morning, just 15 minutes later than usual. Then things began to unravel. The credit union was swamped with calls from members with problems logging into their accounts. Long lines formed at branches. A local television station did a story with outraged members who couldn’t access their accounts or speak with credit union representatives. Renock didn’t speak with the television news crew on camera, but he told News Now he believes the problems were somewhat overstated. First, he said there were no issues with data integrity or security, always chief concerns in any system conversion. Second, he estimates that 40% to 50% of the calls were related to password or username issues. “People were seeing things that they hadn’t seen before,” Renock said. “It was more a matter of familiarity. They were getting locked out of their accounts.” As examples, he said members weren’t sure what to use as their user names, which they didn’t have with the previous system, and the names of joint account holders are now listed on accounts--a feature that members requested. Part of the problem was members had grown very used to the old system. The credit union hadn’t done a conversion in 20 years, said Renock. “It was old,” Renock said. “We had to run so many patches to offer members all the services they need today. And it was expensive. This change will improve our expense ratio. And at end of the day, I think the members are going to like it better because we’ll be able to provide more services to them.” The credit union worked with its core system provider Fiserv to communicate the changeover with members, offering information online, including tutorials, and creating a 10-page brochure, Renock said. Renock said he anticipated some confusion among members--the credit union was fully staffed and no employees were allowed to take vacation during the conversion--but not to the extent that it occurred. “Could we have communicated better? Probably,” said Renock. “We could have explained the new system in more ways, in more places. We worked jointly with Fiserv who have been through this many more times we have, and they’ve been great through all of this. But right now, we’re taking our lumps.”


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