Denise Dionne is the head teller at Navigant Credit Union’s Scituate branch. If you’ve ever been to her branch, you almost definitely know her – and she almost definitely knows you. If you haven’t, swing by sometime. She’s great.
Just last month, Denise celebrated her six-year anniversary as a Navigant Credit Union employee. Here’s how she got here – and what she thinks has changed (and stayed the same) in the industry over the course of her career.
What brought you to Navigant Credit Union?
Before joining Navigant, I was employed by another bank for a long time. At that point in my career, I thought I would retire there. But then I noticed things starting to change. It didn’t feel as though we were servicing the needs of our customers as well as we used to. The job felt different, less personal – and that was concerning to me.
While I was still in my old job, I kept seeing Navigant’s advertisements in the local newspapers. At the time, I was in the market for a home equity loan – and I had started the process with the bank at which I worked. The process was taking forever. So I decided to take a shot and check out the local Navigant Credit Union branch in Central Falls and see if they could help me.
As soon as I walked in, I could sense a difference. The branch was well-staffed, and everyone – the employees, the members – just looked… happy. I worked with a friend of mine who happened to work at Navigant to start the equity loan process – and, a few days later, I was approved. Up until that point, every piece of my banking business was with my previous employer. After that first experience, I moved everything to Navigant.
As a member, I found myself visiting the branches more and more often – and every time I went in, the experience was the same. You’re met with friendly faces who remember you; members pop in just to say hello. Navigant made banking feel like a conversation between friends. That went a long way for me. As a member, I felt valued.
I wanted an opportunity to work alongside the people that made me feel good about going into a branch. I wanted to make members like myself feel valued. So, I applied for a job – and here I am.
How was the transition when you first started?
It was easy, to be honest. Because I was working with people who share my values and my passion.
In my interview, I told the regional manager that I had more energy than any 20-year-old; that I could run circles around anyone. When I started, I realized everyone has that energy. It’s infectious! Everyone I’ve met within the organization goes out of their way, every day, to get things done for the members they serve. We’re the can-do people in the banking industry, and we’re proud of that.
You’ve been in the financial industry for nearly 30 years. What’s changed? What’s stayed the same?
It’s funny. We actually just opened up a time capsule that was created around the mid-80s. Just about everything in it is now obsolete. It had the physical food stamps, which have been replaced by EBT cards. It had those municipal savings bonds for entities like, say, the turnpike authority. We certainly don’t sell those anymore.
My favorite: The time capsule had the canvas bags – the ones that we used to use to ship money around. You had to use special cords, and crimp the money in a specific way, stow it away in the canvas bag, and ship it off. That was how we sent money. How funny is that? I remember, at the time, a crazy idea was that eventually we’d get to a point that those canvas bags of cash would be delivered by a drone. I don’t think any of us could even imagine the rise of smartphones and PopMoney and Venmo!
Do you think members miss the “old way” of doing things, or are they mostly on board with the shift to the technology age?
We certainly have plenty of members who want nothing to do with mobile banking. But those folks are getting more and more rare. I think the banking technology has just made things so simple and so convenient that it’s difficult for even the most resistant-to-change members, to avoid. One trend that we’re seeing more of: We’re seeing a lot of members come into the branch to ask us to help them learn how to use the mobile banking tools.
What’s stayed the same?
The value physical branches bring to the member experience hasn’t gone away. This is not a mobile banking versus brick-and-mortar argument; it’s not a one-or-the-other scenario. Both options are healthy, and I strongly believe they’ll continue to coexist in the future. Even though members can do more on their phones, we’re not seeing a dip in the amount of people coming into the physical branch locations. A lot of that is a testament to our people – but I like to think there’s a community element to it as well.
As a teller, I’m no stranger to the jokes about our jobs being taken over by robots. But if you have a complicated question about your account, do you really want to ask Siri? Are you really going to sit there and ask Alexa to walk you through the first-time homebuying process?
What’s new on the community front? Any fun volunteer projects coming up?
Always! That’s one of the best parts about working here. New employees learn from day one that it’s not just about banking. We are a local organization that’s committed to improving the communities we serve. That commitment comes straight from the top; our leadership team encourages every employee we have to take time away from the office every once in a while to give back to a cause you care about. They understand that if we want to do business in the neighborhood, we need to be all-in.
Recently, we worked on a project to build a barn-themed playhouse for a little boy struggling with cancer. He wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up – so we worked with local artists and craftspeople to give him his first office!
Who’s your favorite member?
Come on. How can I choose?