on the similarities between hospitals and credit unions

4:00 am Vampires

I just spent nearly a week in the hospital. I’m fine now, but let’s just say I wouldn’t wish gallstones and pancreatitis on my worst enemy. With an extreme case of boredom setting in, I started musing on the similarities between hospitals and credit unions. Both are large institutions created to make people’s lives better. Hospitals save lives, CUs save money. There are a lot of parallels.

But both also have some negatives that are virtually invisible to the people working there. If you’ve ever been an overnight guest in a hospital, you’ve encountered the dreaded 4:00 am Vampire.

Basically, doctors normally make their rounds first thing in the morning. This makes sense — they need to see who’s better, who’s worse, and figure out what needs to happen that day.

Doctors also need to see the latest lab results from blood tests during their rounds. Again, this makes perfect sense. However, it takes a few hours to send blood to the lab and get the results, even though the actual testing takes only a few minutes. Which leads to a nurse bursting into your room in the wee hours, turning on all the lights so he can see, and jabbing a needle into your arm at an hour when you should be dreaming happily. It just isn’t fair to poke needles into sick people at that hour.

Every step in the procedural chain makes perfect sense, yet in the end, it’s the patient who suffers from a significant and highly unpleasant disruption. The needs of the institution (three hours to perform and report two minute’s worth of blood tests) took precedence over the patient’s needs (a decent night of restorative sleep).

Are there any remaining 4:00 am Vampires at your credit union? You have to look close — they’re nearly invisible if you see them every day. And even members are prone to shrug and say, “Well, that’s just the way things are. I guess they’re just another bank.”

The point is, where are your products and procedures serving the institution instead of the member? It’s critical to be different and be better in these areas — not “just another bank.” If there’s anything you’re doing just because “we’ve always done this”, you might have a 4:00 am Vampire on your hands.

Here’s just one example: Can your members buy a car on Saturday afternoon?

Your members need car loan approvals and disbursements on Saturday afternoon, because that’s when they’re off work and have time to go car shopping. But the needs of the institution declare that almost all CUs are closed tight on Saturday. Why? The dealers and finance companies are open and making loans.

Still charging monthly service fees or NSF fees? Just guess how members feel about those.

It’s up to the marketers — put on your garlic necklace, gather up a few wooden stakes, and exterminate those 4:00am Vampires.

Brian Wringer

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