In-Branch Kiosks Let Members Interact, Ask Questions, Get Interactive Demo's

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Alternatives FCU here is making it easier for members to ask questions of their board representatives, find out the latest interest rates, or just give their two cents worth about CU-related issues.

CEO Bill Myers said each of the three, seven-foot tall, non-computerized kiosks the credit union has installed includes two sides for advertising CU products and services, and a third side for a separate purpose.

A fourth kiosk near the reception desk, which faces the front entrance of the credit union's new headquarters, allows members to learn about and conduct home banking.

"Our thought was to use it to train members how to use our electronic services," he said.

But, it turns out, the computer in a box also allows familiar users to apply for loans, view their financial records and get copies of statements for free that would cost them if they asked employees to retrieve them.

Myers said the staff and board initially considered putting personal computers in the lobby for member use, but was discouraged by vendors who said it was much too risky. Anyone with even simple knowledge of the system could "screw it up," surf the net or cause security problems, they said.

This system that cost $7,000 and was provided by CityKi of Boston, Mass., has a face that looks like a personal computer along with limitations on how it can be used and extra buttons that make is easy for "my mother to use," Myers said.

Bomb Proof

"It's pretty bomb proof," Myers said. "And members can only go to the sites that we approve."

He said features include a touch screen, a keyboard and buttons to the sides of the screen for scrolling up or down. A rubber mat on the floor in front of it serves as a security device as well.

"When the member steps on the mat, the screen changes from a welcome message to start up mode. "As soon as the members steps off the mat, the screen is clean. Nobody else could find out the information that was there."

Myers said the long-term goal is to complement the computerized kiosk and outside ATMs for use at non-manned locations such as grocery stores.

The kiosk, along with the others, was added when Alternatives CU moved last August from a 7,000 square foot facility-with each half separated by a street-to a single office with 18,000 square feet.

Myers said so far, an average of five members per hour is using the computerized kiosk. "It isn't overwhelming and it isn't underwhelming," he said, adding that he hopes it new location near the receptionist's desk will make a difference.

"Before, it was in a place where people felt like others could see their account information," he said.

The non-computerized kiosks, on the other hand, are placed in a high traffic area, next to the teller lines.

The first serves as a "One Minute Activist" and includes a corkboard for member-to-member sales of items and services, a waist- high countertop and a basket for them to record concerns or ask questions about issues that directly affect the CU. One member letter is selected from the basket each month and highlighted for member discussion.

It also offers brochures about issues pertinent to the CU and paperwork appropriate to the members' needs, such as voter registration forms, he said.

Your Two Cents

"The second kiosk is Your Two Cents, where members can give us their gripes about the CU," Myers said. Forms with departments and managers listed help staff direct the information to the appropriate area.

Myers said this kiosk is where member surveys will be posted along with a box to deposit them.

The third kiosk is used for the Round Off program that invites members to donate their loose change (including the rounding off of savings dividends), which are donated to local charities.

Myers said he has been pleased by member usage, thus far. The kiosks also serve as a wall that divides a children's play area and the lobby.

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