The Importance of Member Service and Effective Communication in Building Trust Services Relationships
A senior executive reported to a colleague that an employee who had transferred to her department had displayed the credit union movement's motto of "People Helping People," going above and beyond the member's expectation when handling a mistake in his checkbook. The member felt that the stellar service he received, only carrying a modest average monthly balance, proved that the credit union employees served their members passionately and possessed a great deal of knowledge.
That's exactly the point--it doesn't matter how modest or large the balance, eventually all members need some type of financial planning. Whether it's to work with an unexpected windfall, an early retirement package, the sale of property or being pro-active about saving for their golden years, it is important to treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect. You never know who knows your next boss, or who will be responsible for your next sale.
You never know when the member you are helping today will need your services in the trust or estate planning departments. If your employees demonstrate a willingness to consistently go above and beyond expectations for your members, your members will trust that your credit union can fulfill all of their financial needs large or small.
Key components of building relationships include having interpersonal skills, the ability to relate to people, discovering people's interests and making people feel important. Relating to People
"What's in it for me?" Sound familiar? It is a popular theme today. In order to effectively relate to people, you must have a basic understanding of human nature. When you know why people do the things they do, and when you know how people will react under certain conditions, then you can truly relate to people. In order to understand people and human nature you have to recognize people for what they are--not what you think they are or what you want them to be. People's Interests
That's simple, generally people are interested in themselves, not in you. Self-interest is not a negative trait--it is a great trait. Your ability to perceive this in others will enable you to deal successfully with them. How many times have you spoken with someone who kept bringing the subject back around to what they were comfortable discussing? Use this knowledge about people as a tool to identify the following: o What a member finds important. o What motivates a member (recognition, rewards, money, etc.).
o Information about a member's hobbies or interests.
o If a member is having personal problems (i.e. going through a divorce, a child in college, taking care of small children or an elderly parent).
Everyone has a desire to be acknowledged or recognized for something. As you develop and build relationships, learning ways to make people feel important is crucial. The more important you make people feel, the more favorably they will respond to you. Here are some tips:
o Listening to someone is just about the best way to make them feel important.
o Applaud and compliment someone when they deserve it.
o Use the person's name when you are talking to them--it really helps the person feel good about you.
o If someone is waiting to see you, acknowledge the person. If they have to wait, let them know you know that they are waiting.
o Remember important events and dates (anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, hospital stays, births, deaths) acknowledge them with an appropriate comment, card or gift. Another key step in creating good relationships is to master the art of listening. There is probably nothing that will help you as much as this will in your lifetime. People like people who listen to them and seek them out. Not doing so can leave others feeling less important. A good listener always winds up far ahead of a good talker in people's affections toward them. This is because a good listener always allows people to hear their favorite speaker: themselves. Who to Hire?
The select employee groups that need trust or estate planning are not limited. All people in all professions have a need for estate planning; anyone owning property or having income meets the criteria. The types of individuals that should be hired to staff a trust/estate department should possess at least one or more of the following attributes or skills:
o Strong people skills to win the trust of members;
o A NASD license or a solid background in estate planning;
o An understanding of legal documents associated with estate planning; and
o Some knowledge of tax and legal consequences of each aspect of estate planning
While all of the things mentioned are important: developing and maintaining good relationships, providing excellent service and hiring the right people -the most important element is to always keep the credit union movement's philosophy in mind, "People Helping People" and execute that flawlessly.