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MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – From the simple question “How would you like to be treated,” TopLine Federal Credit Union has developed a training program that has helped staffers better understand their brand and the importance of its service reputation – all in one little red book. “What drove this was customer service training,” said TopLine FCU President/CEO Harry Carter. “We did what others have done – hired the consultants, filled the binders and our very strong training department scheduled classes very diligently – but although our service was good we felt it had to be special and consistently applied especially with a new community charter. You have to give members a reason to step into your credit union.” Carter says the consultants were very good but it came down to a choice of holding more courses or stepping back and developing their own program based on that one question. “Our staff has so much knowledge about member service and we all know what good service means to us beyond answering the phone or how to treat someone at the branch but when members need that extra something what works?” said Carter. “Because we are all very experienced consumers, we drew on how we want to be treated and how other successful organizations treat their customers.” Carter says after months of talking, a cross-departmental team came up with seven principles; Respect, Over-deliver, Prompt resolution, Follow-up, Ownership, Internal and Rewards, which were then made into a slim 20 page book that can now be found at every employee’s desk. Designed inhouse, the book includes note pages and a question and answer section to help translate the “golden rules” to practical use. Carter says once the team narrowed it down to seven ideas it wasn’t difficult to show how TopLine could set itself apart. For example over-delivery can be as simple as whoever that member contacted first will follow through. Even if the member had to be transferred to someone else, the original contact person will call to confirm the situation was resolved to the member’s satisfaction. From a practical standpoint Carter adds that it gives the credit union a second opportunity to speak and connect with that member while showing that you care enough about their experience. It must be working. A year after rolling out the Red book, member complaints have been reduced by one half and compliments have doubled by a factor of four. The book is the basis of every training from new hires to sales and promotional meetings. Role-plays are a big part of the training and employee newsletters feature Red book stories that serve not only as staff recognition but also keeps the principles top of mind. In addition, letters sent in by members are also featured and related back to the Red book principles. With a training department consisting of one, other staffers are tapped to conduct the training and Carter says it makes a greater impact for employees to see their colleagues teaching what they practice. Carter adds that the book itself is fun to have around since it is fresh, contemporary and nothing like a textbook. “It is not the `program or training de jour’ and three months later we try something else”, said Carter. “It’s not the 4-step program or colorful posters, but it is simply what we do everyday and the logic and naturalness of it has just been so successful for us.” [email protected]

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