If You Build It (They Won't Necessarily Come)

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Launching a new system is the easy part. Getting people to use it is harder.

Take the Product and Service Module of SECU Michigan's electronic portal. The employee bible for consistent sales information won two awards this year for the $760-million CU, nabbing Best Practices awards at both the CUNA Technology Council Conference in August and a portal users conference in March.

But only about 50% of SECU's front-line employees were using the Product and Service Module as of April, eight months after they were trained on the technology, according to Noreen Schafer, project and data management consultant.

"I think the challenge to get employees to use a new technology is about fear," said Schafer. "Change causes fear in some people. They fear that they no longer have knowledge in a particular area and that they have to start from scratch."

Employees were eschewing the module and resorting to the old trick of asking branch managers for help with sales questions, she said.

Buy-in was even worse at Orange County's CU (OCCU) in Santa Ana, Calif. The real-time status of ATM trouble-tickets has been available online for one year, but EFT representatives never took advantage, according to Terry Pierce, assistant vice president, EFT at the $800-million CU.

Representatives simply "weren't familiar with the E-Access capability," said Pierce.

Instead, EFT representatives were inclined to pick up the phone and call the ATM monitoring company for an update, she continued. "Employees were making phone calls to EFMARK's central dispatch to open call tickets or follow-up on call tickets," Pierce explained. "Then the dispatchers would call us back when they have information from the ATM servicer."

But E-Access "saves a lot of time" tracking problems on the 17-machine fleet, which performs about 50,000 transactions per month, Pierce said. "It's so easy to log-in at the website and open an ATM call ticket and follow through with the problem, the servicer's ETA, and the resolution," Pierce explained. "It's all online and available at your fingertips."

The ATM online monitoring and reporting system system, E-Access, is provided by EFMARK Premium Armored. The Westmont, Ill.-based firm focuses exclusively on servicing ATMs.

Change is coming one employee at a time, Pierce said. Two representatives are now using the ATM management system, while the remaining six are being trained, Pierce said.

"Employees are using E-Access much more now that I'm pushing it," said Pierce. "An employee was astonished to see the information that is readily available from the website."

Likewise at SECU, Schafer is tackling low usage by visiting the branches and spending up to 15 minutes with each front-line employee to review the Product and Service Module. She also stayed behind to watch employees and members interacting.

"This gave us the opportunity to help instruct front-line employees where they could find answers to their questions or who to go to for the answers or to add that information to the Product and Service module," said Schafer.

Schafer said that SECU is using that employee fear to bolster performance. "What we've done is to individually help the employee find success in the new technology. Each new success they have creates more confidence in using the technology the next time."

CUJ Resources

For info on this story:

* Orange County's Credit Union www.orangecountyscu.org

* SECU Michigan at www.secu.org

* EFMARK at www.efmark.com

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