In These Times, How Do You Ensure Great Member Service?
This is the first edition of a new Credit Union Times feature, Vox Populi. We pose a question, and industry executives sound off on a timely topic.
The current question: "With all the current financial and regulatory challenges facing your credit union, how do you ensure that you are delivering first-rate member service?"
Everything we do has to come second to delivering great member service, so the idea that any challenge is going to change that is nonsense. We can’t control the economy or regulatory environment so all we can do and the one thing we can always control is the service we deliver to members. So you take all those challenges and figure a way to make it fit into your member service model. It may sound old fashioned, but that service has to come first, and you can’t let anything negatively impact that.
Congress has had a big appetite for consumer protection legislation, and the opt-in requirement for overdrafts is just one example of something in spirit being good but wasn’t thoroughly vetted and researched and because of the actions of greedy bankers, credit unions got dragged into the quagmire. For the average consumer who’s a credit union member, overdraft protection can be a safety net that can prevent inadvertently bouncing a mortgage or car payment. What we did before it went into effect was launch an aggressive awareness campaign that basically educated our members on what the new law meant for them and the benefits of opting in.
Director of Marketing
New York City
We divided the management team–one-third to deal with trials of regulatory burden, NCUA assessments and the effects of the downright nothing short of awful economy. The other two-thirds–business as usual: grow, expand, deliver new products, start new credit union services and don’t worry about the rest. If managers were left to tackle both, I am not sure we would have been successful. As a management team, we became very focused on delivering superior products through the lowest cost methods. I am quite confident that a survey of our members would conclude that they not only believe our service levels have improved but so has our convenience.
Wishing to reduce costs, the managers dedicated to operational efficiency sought to increase electronic statement penetration. The other two-thirds teams focused on the future, which included developing a complete suite of electronic services increasing convenience of delivery for members while saving the credit union tens of thousands of dollars. Unemployment levels in Michigan have caused us to focus on delivering member education products that provide them with opportunities to save their homes, finance their child’s education, or simply keep food on the kitchen table.
Our mission has always been to provide an environment that delivers high-quality products and services. We now have a heighted awareness that at any time and without much warning, an act of Congress may change our existence, and we must be prepared and ready to transform to survive.
Christian Financial Credit Union
We track what members want very closely, and we allocate resources accordingly. We know our members want more online and mobile services, and we are delivering. But we also know that a primary touch point is the telephone. We keep close tabs on that. If the phone queue gets too long–for us, that’s around two minutes wait time–we shift staff from other functions over to answering calls. That means supervisors, managers, senior managers, even me.
In the branches we also realized that members would be frustrated when they saw a long line to make a deposit but no line to talk to a mortgage loan officer. So now our message is that every employee on the floor in a branch can do anything. The mortgage officer can take your deposit.
Basically, what we try to do is listen to our members. My e-mail address is on the website and members know they can contact me and I will respond. Our philosophy is: If it lands on your desk, it’s yours to resolve and that includes me.
I also answer my own phone and, yes, calls do come in. I work to give that member what he or she needs.
We regularly hold focus groups to get more member feedback about what they want from us.
We could do less of this and add more to our net income. But our net income is healthy. What is better for our future is focusing on what we can do to keep member satisfaction high.
Liberty Bay Credit Union