SAN DIMAS, Calif. - It's great to grow, but not at the expense of the clients. That's the philosophy the $14.8 billion WesCorp is trying to maintain with new methods of measuring its performance in serving credit unions.
"Back in the early `80s I came on board to create a marketing area for WesCorp. I came back here a couple of years ago to look at what damage I wrought. The interesting thing to me is WesCorp still has its cultural commitment to service quality," said Steve Powell, senior vice president of strategic services for WesCorp. Powell rejoined WesCorp two years ago after leaving the corporate in 1985 when he served as marketing manager. Powell said WesCorp wants to make sure it is sticking to its roots of service quality as it has continued to grow into the nation's largest corporate, excluding U.S. Central. The best way to find out if service levels are where they should be is to get close to the members and see what they think, said Powell. At press time, the corporate released the results of its Service Quality 2000 customer service report. The survey, which was mailed to all WesCorp members last summer, received a 38% return rate. It shows that WesCorp is doing a lot of things right in its members' eyes. Overall, three out of four WesCorp members are satisfied with WesCorp. The corporate scored high in areas like rates on Market Daily share accounts, term investments, check images, funds transfers and others. But the survey also pointed out some shortcomings. It found that WesCorp has work to do with mid-sized CUs. "Small credit unions and large credit unions are both very happy with us. Medium credit unions need some more assistance. We're shooting in both directions and we're kind of missing the middle," said Powell. Mid-sized CUs typically face different challenges than large and small CUs in the investment arena. Small CUs tend to have simpler investment needs, while large CUs have the expertise on staff to make sophisticated investment decisions. Mid-sized CUs fall in the middle and as such often require more investment assistance, said Powell. WesCorp's Internet account access solution - WAVE - scored lower than most of its services. The corporate is planning to release a new version of WAVE soon that it hopes will be better accepted by members. One thing members said they didn't like about WAVE was that it had excessive security measures on some of the features. WesCorp members also said there was room for improvement in structured investments tailored to their needs. To alleviate this and other service issues, WesCorp is implementing a new segmented marketing approach. Anything that is "segmented" in the credit union industry tends to raise eyebrows, but Powell stressed that the segmentation won't be done along asset lines. Powell said WesCorp clients will be segmented based on level of business sophistication. "There are plain vanilla credit unions that are very large. They don't need the same level of service as a sophisticated smaller credit union," said Powell. Powell said the corporate will likely segment its credit unions into anywhere from three to six groups. Each group will be marketed to and serviced based on their unique needs. WesCorp plans to do ongoing "non-intrusive" surveys of its members to measure the effectiveness of the segmentation. The corporate is also going live with a CRM solution to better profile its member CUs. WesCorp is becoming more focused on member service, said Powell, because it doesn't want its strong growth curve to hinder its long-established service culture. "We're going to make it a structural issue. You won't gain any new business if you're not delivering the right kind of service." With more and more corporates moving to national FOMs, Powell said competition is obviously a factor in wanting top-notch service levels. He said word of mouth can go a long way in attracting new credit union business, and losing business. -firstname.lastname@example.org