By: Dean Young, EVP, Chief Experience Officer
In an increasingly digital world where countless dollars are being invested in technology, human interaction remains a crucial conduit to authenticity. Though mountains of research exist on the subject, few people require evidence to appreciate the value of making and maintaining human relationships. We know, instinctively, that the people who help us solve problems big and small, and provide a sounding board for counsel have the potential to add goodness to our day. For credit unions, CUSOs embody the quintessential bookends on the digital-to-human experience.
How, then, do we define the power of the human experience, and what can credit unions do to improve the member experience? To answer this question, we have to look beyond traditional market differentiators such as product, price and location. If the end goal is to develop long-term competitive and financial success, we must start by examining the basics of good human interaction and applying three important principles; the first and second, I am going to discuss today. The third principle, and perhaps most important, will be discussed in my next blog post in the coming weeks.
Principles for Improving the Member Experience:
1) Shift the focus of service from cost reduction to experience enhancement.
Where some companies view service as a “cost center,” PSCU views it as tangible desire – something we want to do, not something we have to do; we encourage others to share this view, knowing that a shift in perspective can veritably alter outcomes. Sure, efficiency has its use, but it isn’t always well-suited to solving members’ problems. And in taking steps to improve the member experience, credit unions must focus on finding ways to delight existing members.
One of the great challenges for financial institutions is that they can have a roving eye – a general focus on the members they don’t have, rather than the ones they do. Now is the time to place strategic importance on the value of your current members, and the contributions of your service representatives, who essentially serve as ambassadors of your brand.
2) Grow member-facing teams to be proactive, not reactive.
If the one thing we can always do better than the competition is improve the member experience, why don’t we? One of the quickest and easiest ways to exceed members’ expectations is to train your member-facing staff to identify and resolve member issues before they become a problem. This can take on a number of forms, from FAQs and forums, to knowledge base and instructional videos. Perhaps most notoriously, it can simply mean picking up the phone to call and check on members when certain events within the community are publicized to have impacted wellness.
When Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle this past October, one of our own PSCU Service Executives jumped into action, giving us a real-life example of this philosophy in action. One of our Owner credit unions, Panhandle Educators, was without power and had no means of making contact for help. Our service executive used social media to find one of their employees and extend an offer of assistance. Within minutes, their President & CEO was in contact with our service executive, thanking her for her proactive outreach and taking her up on the offer for assistance. When applied properly, this not only helps you stay engaged in your members’ conversations, it engages with them in a way that builds loyalty and decreases support calls.
It’s easy to see that anyone can do big things right; it’s the small things that differentiate your credit union from competitors. Stay tuned for Part II of my blog on improving the member experience in the coming weeks! I look forward to connecting with you again and sharing the final principle for how hyper-relevant service builds loyalty and trust.