Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to Our New Blog

Welcome to First City’s new blog page.  The purpose is to put out information that will enhance the financial lives of our members. We’ll also tell you what you need or want to know about the credit union, and the service that we provide you.

We want this blog to be interactive.  Your feedback is always important to us.  So if you have comments, suggestions, and even complaints we want to hear them.    Our goal will be to respond to your feedback within one business day.

As the Director of Corporate Communications, I will moderate this blog.  Many of the entries will be from me, but other First City staff will be involved too. 

So, here goes with my first entry:

A Service Breakdown

This is the story of a service breakdown.  A service breakdown is when our goal of providing superior member service breaks down.  This is never acceptable to the First City team, and we work hard to minimize and resolve these issues.

On Friday, April 30, we had such a breakdown.

April 30 was a county payday, and many of our members are county employees.  Plus, it was a Friday.  Paydays and Fridays are always busy in our branches and on our phones.  It gets busier if they fall on the same day.  And it gets really busy if they both fall on the last day of the month. Even under the best of circumstances, when everything is running smoothly.

April 30 was the day the LA County payroll system changed, which caused some issues related to the automatic payroll deductions of our members who are LA County employees.  As a result, our phone center and Payment System departments experienced an unusually high level of calls from county employees.  We understand that other county credit unions also had heavy call volumes that day as a result of this issue.

On top of that, the previous evening, our online service provider launched a security update to their home banking service.  Over the years we have had hundreds of program updates, almost all of which involved minor changes that most users are unaware of.  This update was different.

It’s my habit to log into home banking first thing each morning to make sure that everything is running smoothly. When I logged-in that morning, I saw a series of new questions and screens that I found confusing.  I knew, as a daily user, that if I was confused, it was possible our members would be too.

I immediately called our online banking provider to get a clear understanding of the situation, and what members would need to do… and then sat down with our phone center manager, so she could provide instructions to her staff, which was getting a lot of calls from confused members.

It truly was a “perfect storm:” a payday; a Friday; the last day of the month; county payroll changes; and a less-than-optimal home banking system update.

Our home banking providers’ reaction was swift and helpful. They walked through the issues with the phone center and our IT staff.  We worked together as a team to ensure the solution we implemented would give our members the most up-to-date and user-friendly—and secure—home banking experience available.  

Unfortunately, over the weekend, the confusion caused some members to get locked out of their accounts because of multiple invalid log-ins.  As a result, Monday and Tuesday were also heavy call days, from rightfully frustrated members.  We were able to walk them through the new screens, and get them back up with their accounts quickly and easily.

Speaking for the entire staff at First City, we apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have presented to you. Our goal remains to provide you exceptional service for your financial needs, including the convenience of secure home banking services.  

Tom Thompson
Director of Corporate Communications
First City Credit Union