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SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County’s Credit Union is serious about putting member service first and has the GUST-O! incentive program to prove it. “We wanted to show employees that we weren’t just talking about service being a priority, but recognize and reward those employees who go out of their way to support and demonstrate that part of our vision,” said OCCU Senior Vice President of Retail Services Lynda Hill. “Our program positively reinforces the value of exceptional service with immediate recognition.” According to Hill “walking the talk” meant providing employees with the tools they would need to succeed from comprehensive training programs required for all new hires to expanding programs based on job function. In addition, front-line associates also participate in a Mystery Shopper program, which Hill says offers real-world feedback and rewards those associates who receive 100% positive reports. The credit union also launched GUST-O!- which stands for Greet the members, Use their name, Smile and Thank them for their business- Members First incentive program. Through the program associates are encouraged to nominate fellow co-workers who consistently go out of their way for members or staff. One or two monthly winners are then selected and rewarded for their efforts with $250 in cash, a qualification entry for the annual Grand Prize reward, recognition in the monthly employee newsletter, and their photo on a monthly themed poster displayed throughout the organization. In addition to the monthly awards, the program provides immediate rewards – a GUST-O! “Buck” worth five dollars – when a fellow associate witnesses an extraordinary act of enthusiasm and care in helping members and co-workers. Hill says at the end of the year monthly winners are then evaluated based on their full contributions over the course of a year. “Consistency is key,” said Hill. “It is not about just a one time attention to service. We are rewarding those associates who have been really remarkable in providing service, helping their peers, adhering to our core values and taking ownership to find solutions rather than passing the buck to someone else.” For the first two years the grand prize reward was use of a new car for a year and $20 a month in free gas. Since then OCCU polled staffers for grand prize ideas and travel rewards received the highest response. So this year’s winners- Senior Lending Representative Ruthie Gonzalez and Branch Supervisor Suman Sami – received a pair of first-class tickets to Hawaii with luxury accommodations, a week of paid vacation and $1,000 in cash. Hill says she’s most pleased with the solid results – member satisfaction increased from 89% to 92.5%, and conversely members who reported dissatisfaction with service was reduced from 8.2% to 4%. In addition to conducting monthly member surveys, OCCU ensures members are provided an even more detailed annual member survey. Constant promotion from emails and flyers, to monthly themed posters at branches keeps associates enthusiastic about the program all yearlong. Recently some 99 employees were nominated for awards and $13,685 in GUST-O! `Bucks’ were distributed. In order for GUST-O! to work, Hill says there must be buy-in from the top and managers have to make the time to notice and nominate associates. “The only challenge initially that I heard from management level individuals is that they were struggling for time to nominate someone,” said Hill. “So we had to work with changing that to this is one of our responsibilities and we have to make the time to participate in the program.” -m[email protected]

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