Attracting new members is a big challenge but keeping them may be a bigger obstacle.
Even though the $3.5 billion Mountain America Credit Union grew its membership from 182,098 to 319,361 from 2003 to 2008, the West Jordan, Utah-based cooperative understood that if it wanted to hold on to those new members, it needed to modernize its voice of customer efforts.
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Five years ago, MACU’s VOC program included mailing a survey every other year to all members, getting feedback from them via tellers, loan officers, or call center reps, and reading letters from members, said Dennis Bromley, senior vice president of member development and engagement at MACU. However, the VOC program made it increasingly difficult to keep tabs on what its growing membership thought of the credit union’s products and services.
“Being a larger credit union, we offer a lot of different products and services, plus we have more touch points,” Bromley said. “If we didn’t give members the opportunity to tell us how we were doing, we could be missing a lot of opportunities.”
In 2008, MACU launched a VOC software service from Allegiance Inc. of South Jordan, Utah. The Web-based VOC enables credit unions to centralize, coordinate, analyze and act on member feedback more quickly and more efficiently than member feedback from snail mail surveys or frontline employees, according to the company, which serves nearly 50 credit union clients.
In addition to enabling credit unions to distribute transaction and relationship surveys to representative samples of their membership, VOC, through one of Allegiance’s tools allows credit unions to rapidly spot and resolve member issues, improve services and watch for opportunities to cross sell products.
There are hundreds of vendors who offer VOC solutions, said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Waban, Mass.-based Temkin Group, a customer experience and consulting firm. He noted VOC can be particularly useful to credit unions because it can help them constantly improve their member experience, which can be a key competitive differentiator.
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“The reason why credit unions have been able to compete against the large financial services firms is that credit unions have been able to deliver that sense of personalized service,” said Temkin.
Credit unions can never be complacent about that delivery because big banks are spending a lot of money and energy to understand customers to provide tailored services, Temkin offered. If credit unions are not noticeably better than banks, it will become harder for them to compete, he added. While VOC platforms can enable executives to monitor what members think of the quality of products and services through quantitative surveys, some say capturing and analyzing those comments are one of the most valuable features of the service. At MACU, for instance, they began to see more remarks about opening its branches on Saturdays.
“When you start to see multiple comments about the same topic from different members, it helps you focus on that issue,” said Bromley. “So we opened our branches on Saturday and I believe that helped increase our member engagement score," which was around 79 before Allegiance VOC and is now 82.45.
Tom Alter, senior vice president of research and development at the $1.5 billion Genisys Credit Union in Pontiac, Mich., said VOC service from technology firm CFI Group in Ann Arbor, Mich., led to more member interaction and cross-sell opportunities. Very often, members will make a comment about a product that they didn’t know the credit union offered, he noticed.
“In today’s world, people just don’t have the time to read about everything we offer on our site," Alter said. “So when members ask about the product, the VOC system will send an email to the branch manager to contact members within a specified period of time.”
After using a VOC service with another vendor for three years, the $780 million 3Rivers Federal Credit Union in South Bend, Ind., is transitioning to a second VOC platform, said Jim Johnson, vice president of member services at the credit union. He said he expects the new offering will provide more capability and flexibility and a feedback tool for members who visit the credit union’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
“We think the new solution will help us take care of problems right away (and) track trends over time from member comments or concerns,” said Johnson.