Consumer habits continue to evolve. Options for financial services have expanded well beyond what I would have ever imagined when I began my career. Today billions of dollars are invested in technology to improve the consumer experience. Yet with all of the attention being paid to digital channels and mobile banking strategies, one aspect of the equation remains vital to successful member engagement — consistent, quality service experiences.
According to a study by PwC, while price and quality are generally top of mind for consumers as they make purchasing decisions, 75 percent of respondents cited positive interactions as influential in their banking choices.
Since the beginning of the credit union movement in the early 1900s, quality service has been a touchstone of the industry’s philosophy — “People over Profit” — impacting every aspect of the business model. As a result, credit unions routinely surpassed banks in consumer satisfaction rankings. But with recent efforts to transform the customer experience, banks’ satisfaction rating overall has reached the same level as credit unions at a score of 81, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Credit unions get slightly better scores for in-person service, service speed and call center satisfaction.
Attracting and retaining membership continues to be a top priority for just about everyone. As service expectations change, here are a few things that can create exceptional experiences to reinforce your “people first” reputation.
Maintain a consistent, purposeful member service culture
To succeed, everyone in the organization must be focused on doing the right thing for members at all times. Keep in mind, your front-line service personnel have a tremendous opportunity to initiate long-term relationships by understanding members’ most pressing financial needs and questions, and presenting your credit union’s solutions in a confident, caring and consistent manner.
Start by hiring people who have the personality and attitude to carry out your service philosophy. Then, make sure product decisions, service delivery options, staffing and procedures are based on the members’ best interests — not institutional preferences or preconceived opinions of what you think they want and need.
Empower staff to provide excellent service experiences
Involve employees in discussions regarding how to best serve your members and encourage their experienced-based input when making decisions on new products and services, or changes to existing procedures. This will create a more collaborative environment where everyone has ownership in how your institution functions. Plus, it will greatly enhance morale.
Provide the resources necessary to support member service
It can be challenging to keep everyone up-to-speed with product updates or new offerings when employees are dealing with multiple responsibilities, or when turnover complicates your ability to keep informed employees on the front line. A professional review of your existing employee training can uncover potential knowledge gaps or personal biases that you didn’t know existed, or thought were too insignificant to address.
By establishing a strategy that includes on-site and online training resources to support the different learning styles and work schedules of your employees, you can increase the overall knowledge base, as well as employee confidence. Also consider off-site opportunities that allow employees to step away from day-to-day duties and interact with industry peers to gain additional knowledge about possible new initiatives that could work well in your situation.
In today’s competitive environment, capturing your members’ business for the long term requires a combination of technology and an on-going commitment to maintaining a highly skilled, caring staff. If doing business with your credit union is positive and beneficial, members are more likely to continue their relationship with your institution and willing to share their experiences with others.
From Volume 14, Issue 2 of Perspectives, the official magazine of the Cornerstone Credit Union League. For more advice on improving member service and recovering lost revenue, including overdraft best practices and compliance, contact JMFA at (800) 809-2307.