RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A credit union that gives someone a title like "vice president of quality" is saying it's serious about member service, and that's just what Altura Credit Union has done.
That's Ann Riley's title, and working with Kai Buckner, the CU's quality administrator, they oversee a program that uses technology to gather about 800 member "inputs" a month from a variety of channels and put that data to work.
Based on a concept originated by the Ritz-Carlton hotels, the $800 million institution instituted a program about four years ago called Total Accuracy for Service Quality (TASQ) after new-account surveys indicated that accuracy was of the highest importance.
A feedback mechanism to get that information to the employees who could do something about it was the missing element, so the TASQ program now allows staffers to submit member input through the CU's Symitar core system, Internet Explorer-based internal Web site or Outlook e-mail.
The form identifies the member, the nature of the problem and the context in which it occurred and is then sent to the staffer who can deal with the situation. Buckner and Riley also watch for patterns.
"It's about the process not the people," Riley says. "It could be something like, I walk into a branch and tell them I didn't get my ATM card and it was promised to me a week ago. That's something that can be tracked to see where there was a breakdown in the process.
"If we made a system too difficult for employees to use, for instance, we can make it simpler so they don't repeat mistakes that caused a problem. It's all about improving the process."
The credit union has about 106,000 members and averages 32 million to 34 million transactions a year.
Member concerns and complaints have covered a wide range of issues and resulted in changes that include:
oAltura now reporting payment history to credit bureaus weekly rather than monthly after members complained about paid-off loans not showing up on credit reports; oAdding the ability to view pending transactions and holds on the credit union's online banking site at www.alturacu.com; and oEliminating the 25-cent point-of-service fees for ATM card purchases. To encourage employees to gather the feedback from members and use the forms to send it in, monthly and annual awards are given for superior service and contests are held, including one that just generated nearly 2,500 member inputs in a single month, Riley says.
Employees also participate in feedback groups and receive a weekly newsletter called "TASQ Top Picks" that features the top issues of the previous week and how they were resolved.
The TASQ system also generates reports that provide grist for monthly meetings among senior managers.
"We know about 80% of our complaints are caused by about 20% of our issues, so being able to get the focus on the big things helps us focus where our efforts need to go, where we can have an impact and make the most difference," Riley says.
And the system provides an easy way to see if progress has been made.
"If we get fewer complaints or they've stopped, then we know we've improved something," Riley says. --firstname.lastname@example.org