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Peer networking: Can you afford not to be involved?

Often it helps to meet with fellow users out of the corporate environment

Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan Fisher’s personal mission. Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan Fisher’s personal mission.

Vendors, with few exceptions, are not as transparent as they need to be. They serve a highly regulated industry, charge significant monthly dollars, and they are very sensitive to customer dissatisfaction.

They are absolutely not going to call a bunch of you guys together and ask you:

“What are we doing wrong?”

Are you kidding me? Not going to happen!

More importantly, they are definitely not going to publish a newsletter for everyone to see titled: “This is what went wrong this month. We just wanted you to know.” Of course not!

Getting together with peers

But bankers need to talk about technology the way it really works in the real world. A growth trend is toward independent peer networks that are either vendor centric or institution centric (by region or size). Their focus is on the common topics and questions facing everyone. These groups are not designed to slam the vendor as much as to share common experiences and common solutions.

At a vendor-sponsored user group meeting, prospective customers are often included. The purpose is to set up another sale. Current clients are not supposed to be asking tough questions, as that may stir things up.

Here is a list of questions that can be viewed by your vendor as “not user group friendly” and which bankers should be asking, in some format—they all come under the category of “Has this ever happened to you?”  

1. What has been your experience with the help desk at X vendor?

2. Did your internet bank go down last week and did you ever get an explanation?

3. Did your user internet password expire and when you called on Saturday for help was there no one to call?

4. To make it worse, did you know that when the internet password expires our customers can’t use their mobile app?

5. Our clients don’t use internet banking. Do you know of a vendor that has a mobile app that is standalone?

6. Were your DDA statements mailed twice and was it the customer who told you? And the vendor charged you twice for the statements and the postage?

7. Our mobile banking app was offline and we had to wait until Monday for the vendor to respond. Does anybody know a vendor that has a mobile app that we can reset ourselves or has a help desk that is available 24-7?

A gathering of fellow users

Peer networks can serve as a beneficial arrangement to share, collaborate, and brain-storm. You are not giving up secrets, or breaking a nondisclosure agreement, but you are sharing some of the things you have faced in the past and how you resolved them. You can also offer reassurance, and confirm that you were not the only one to have that problem.

A peer network can be an important tool at your disposal to manage current issues, creating strategies to compete with the big banks in your market, and to get new ideas.

All of this is beneficial and comes at no charge with the exception of meals and travel expenses.

A face-saving forum

Finally, you can use the peer event to test out other ideas in an environment filled with friendlies. There you can introduce a concept or approach without getting slaughtered by your co-workers.

(Yes, that happens from time-to-time, I admit it.)

In a peer environment, you can obtain immediate feedback affirming that it is a great idea and somebody in the group has tried it and it worked or .... yeah, you know what I mean.

In any event, face has been saved and you will not be humorously ridiculed for what you thought was a good idea, but in reality, turning out to a ridiculously bad one.

Peer networks, they can give you the scoop, keep you informed, and save you from yourself! They’re worth the investment, make it!

—The Wombat!

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at [email protected] or at 701-293-6222.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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