When you enter the Black Hills Federal Credit Union building, you are greeted by friendly faces and the fresh coffee, lemonade and water add to the warm welcome. Robyn Miller is the Branch Manager at the Eagle Butte location, and during her 17-year career with the financial institution, she has overseen and her team through some big transitions.
Robyn grew up southeast of Lemmon and after graduating as a Cowgirl, she attended National College (now National American University) in Rapid City where she graduated with a degree in Secretarial Business. Her education continued with business management classes at Western Dakota Tech.
She started her employment with the credit union in 2002 and in 2008, she moved to Wall to manage that location. Four years later, BHFCU merged with the Cheyenne River Community First Federal Credit Union, which operated out of the basement of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority building.
For the next three years, Robyn managed both the branches in Wall and in Eagle Butte.
“It was tough, working long days. There were many thirteen-hour days. I felt like I needed to be at both locations all the time,” she said.
Then in 2014, the Eagle Butte branch got a new building and the next year, Robyn moved to Eagle Butte to manage the branch full-time.
The transitions over the years weren’t just about moving, there were other things that Robyn had to lead her team through, including the implementation of a new core system, online services, and offering a drive-through customer service window.
There were also some logistical hurdles that Robyn has worked through, including finding and hiring the right staff, which is not always an easy thing to do when operating in a rural location.
“It is a challenge. A lot of people have good jobs with the Tribe and so sometimes it is hard to recruit staff,” she said.
And of course, being in a rural area and operating in small communities does have its benefits, said Robyn.
“Rural communities are special because people know each other, which is an advantage to helping people. You get to know people personally, and get to understand their needs, which helps you. I think it’s great to have face-to-face contact. The customers trust and get comfortable with you,” she said.
That personal connection is important in customer service and some customers become so used to doing transactions with certain employees that they sometimes go out of their way to stand in line waiting for a specific teller, said Robyn as she laughed.
She also believes in the value of education and the importance of training. Every week, all her employees attend WebEx training on lending and tellering. It is vital for employees to keep updated with new laws, changes in regulations, and industry standards, said Robyn.
Education is not only for employees– Robyn offers free coaching about personal credit, how to build credit, financial responsibility and balancing a checkbook. These courses are available to for everyone, not just BHFCU employees.
In the past, she has partnered with Four Bands Community Fund and taught similar classes there as well.
“I wish it was mandated all across the U.S. for students to learn about credit managing and financial responsibility. They are important skills to know,” she said.
There is another big transition on the way for Robyn and her team—a new building is scheduled to be completed in the near future for the Eagle Butte location. This new change is a result of the rapid growth of the branch, and Robyn expects even more growth when they relocate to the new building.
“Sometimes it’s hard because I don’t feel like I get all of my manager duties completed like I should, I do a lot of loans and help out in the teller line when needed, but I strive to do my best,” said Robyn.