Old Adage is True in Service: Say It with a Smile
LAS VEGAS -- When communicating with members, the verbal communication is likely the least important to a first impression, according to Stacey Hanke, executive consultant for 1st Impression Consulting, Inc.
Hanke cited research that showed that the verbal part of communication only accounted for 7% of the impact concerning believability of each communication. Vocal inflection on the other hand accounted for 38% while visual was a whopping 55% of the communication.
"With inconsistent messages members believe what they see rather than what they hear," Hanke said. So if a member service representative says they are pleased to help the member in a deadpan voice, it is not sending the right message.
Hanke suggested that credit unions treat each member as if they were the very last member they had. "How would you treat your one last member standing?...You have to be able to serve your customer in a way your competition is not willing and able," she said.
When considering member retention, about half of all financial services clients leave within the first six months of a relationship, according to Hanke. About 68% of them leave because of "an attitude of indifference" toward them.
Therefore, credit unions need to break through by "touching the emotion." Actually listen to what the member has to say and take the opportunity to offer relevant products. Hanke advised for credit union front-line employees, "Don't be interesting. Be interested."
Throw logic away, Hanke said, because "people do things based on emotion." Credit union members will stick with you--or not--based on how you make them feel.
Credit union management needs to establish a specific standard and be consistent about enforcing it and tweaking it, Hanke said. For example, emphasize what you can do for the member: 'We cannot get your credit card to you until Friday' versus 'we can get your credit card on Friday.'"
These standards also need to be constantly tested in practice by video taping member service interactions so tellers can see the frown on their faces for themselves--they will never believe you if you just tell them that.
Finally, just when they get good and comfortable with the standards, modify and improve them. This will help keep them fresh and fresh in employees' minds.