A member story from Neighborhood Credit Union illustrates how credit unions turned 2011 into a great year.
I occasionally receive emails from credit union leaders and employees telling me about an initiative or action that defines the credit union movement. Off the CUff readers always respond positively to such posts, encouraging the system to uphold its cooperative vales.
Here is a member story from Cherie Brown, the Member Services Center manager at Neighborhood Credit Union ($296.1M, Dallas, TX):
“I received an escalated call from a member that made it immediately clear she wanted to vent her frustrations. She asked that I “pardon her language while she B*TCHED for a moment.” I gathered some basic information from her and invited her to speak her mind.
Her complaint was in reference to a stop payment error. The member had authorized a stop payment in October and the credit union subsequently returned her December payment as well because the stop payment was still in effect.
The member wanted to verbalize her frustration because the latter returned payment placed her account into foreclosure. She was already running three months in arrears and dishonoring the latest payment changed the account status with CitiMortgage.
She had spoken to three CitiMortgage employees, including a supervisor, and they all confirmed that her only options were to remit payment for all back payments and late fees. Her payments in arrears totaled more than $5,800. Because she didn’t have the resources to make the payments, she was going to lose her home and not have a place to live. She flippantly remarked that neither Neighborhood Credit Union nor any other company would refinance her mortgage.
I asked the member for her permission to contact CitiMortgage on her behalf. She assured me repeatedly doing so would be a waste of time and her only options were to refinance the home or have NCU loan her the money to make the back payments. Finally she agreed to provide the information, despite her conviction that she already knew what the outcome would be.
I was somewhat hesitant to make the call to CitiMortgage because of the information the member shared with me and because of third-party privacy laws. Nevertheless, I phoned her mortgage company and conferenced the member into the call. The member provided consent for CitiMortgage to speak with me and declined to remain on the line for my conversation. The CitiMortgage representative was nice and helpful. She explained the reason CitiMortgage hadn’t provided the member with additional options and she gave me the mailing address to remit the December payment.
I followed-up with the member to obtain permission to cut a check from her account and she reluctantly agreed. She was reluctant because in the past CitiMortgage had said one thing yet did another, and she didn’t have confidence CitiMortgage would apply the payment to her account upon receipt.
I continued to follow-up on the check to confirm the payment. It finally cleared the night of Dec. 15, and I immediately contacted the member to let her know the check had cleared, which could be a strong indication CitiMortgage had applied it to her mortgage.
It was a pleasure to resolve this situation and be able to move it from a highly confrontational interaction to one that restored a member’s housing. I was even able to improve her situation a bit because I also covered $35 in late fees that we would have charged even if we hadn’t returned the item as a stopped payment.”
Taking the time to solve problems one member at a time speaks to the values of the credit union system. Judging by preliminary fourth quarter data, consumers identified with these values in 2011and helped to make it an exceptional year for financial cooperatives.
I know credit unions have best practices and phenomenal member stories to share. Keep sending your testimonials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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