Kern Schools Upgrade Brings Outcry, Media Coverage
A system upgrade at the $1.5 billion Bakersfield, Calif.-based Kern Schools Federal Credit Union caused frustration early this month among some members who claimed they could neither access their accounts nor reach service representatives for help.
However, the credit union and the NCUA said that members were fully warned of the upgrade and no problems occurred during the conversion.
To help prepare members for its switch from a legacy system to Fiserv Inc.’s XP2 core processing platform, the CU provided information via mailed upgrade kits and conversion handbooks, e-messages, an online system preview, YouTube videos and in-branch fliers and signage, CEO Steve Renock said.
Members were also told to update their passwords, and 30 vendor staff along with added CU staffers were assigned to help members with their account settings during the transition, added NCUA spokesman Todd Harper.
The CU planned for a closure on Saturday, April 30 and Monday, May 2 but decided to open on May 2 due to a smooth conversion, Renock said. Members were given uninterrupted access to their funds through ATMs as well as their debit cards and personal checks, he added.
But on May 4 and 5, Bakersfield TV news station KGET reported that members had trouble accessing their accounts and reaching service representatives, which led to a swarm of members seeking in-person help at a downtown branch.
Member comments on The Bakersfield Californian newspaper website and www.cutimes.com complained of online account glitches, such as missing transaction history information and unsolicited account privacy changes. And calls by Credit Union Times to Kern Schools’ main phone line May 6 resulted in a busy signal or a wait time of about 30 to 45 minutes to speak to an operator.
Renock said while Kern Schools did not experience any system or data integrity issues, the conversion did result in abnormally long wait times in the CU’s branches and communication center as well as on its live chat.
"With a conversion of this magnitude, questions and concerns will always arise," Renock said. "Members have responded positively to our system upgrade, especially the new features on our new online banking system. Our priority remains to provide the best member service we can to each and every member. We believe our members recognize that even with the challenges we’ve faced together, our main goal is to address every single one of their individual concerns and get through this conversion successfully."
NCUA's Harper said no abnormalities were reported during the conversion, which the agency monitored from its early stages. He said call volumes returned to normal on May 5 and the majority of calls came from members who failed to reset their passwords. The CU also opened a training center at its main office where members can receive one-on-one instruction on the new system, he said.
"Credit unions converting systems typically have heavy member call volume, particularly when there is an action required by the member, such as a password reset," Harper said. "In this case, the conversion went smoothly, it is just a matter of the members adapting to the new system."
Fiserv also denied any system malfunctions. Naseer Nasim, X2 segment executive for Fiserv, said the conversion to the XP2 account processing system was as smooth as any the company has experienced.
"It’s a communications issue with their members," Nasim said. "It was one of the best conversions we can remember."
Harper said member service disruption and errors can occur when CUs do not properly plan and test conversions, but that this was not the case with Kern Schools FCU.
"Kern Schools FCU took every precaution in planning and testing this conversion," Harper said. "As a result, they have had no service issues related to data integrity, only those normal issues in assisting the members with their user settings."
He said the long-term consequences of member complaints should be minimal for Kern Schools FCU.
"The credit union is highly member service-oriented," Harper said. "NCUA expects the credit union to continue to have success in the Bakersfield community."
Renock said the new system provides members with enhanced products and services, streamlined branch transactions and enhanced online banking and will allow Kern Schools FCU to "handle the more complex nature of its business today and for years to come."