4 CXOs Talk About What Today’s Member Experience Looks Like

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges and opportunities as well as changed some priorities.

 
 

For the past few years, credit unions have been striving to view the user experience from a whole new lens — that of the member. 

To maximize the quality and convenience of the member experience at every touchpoint, these cooperatives have expanded offerings for personalized service virtually and in person. 

The charge has also led to the rise of the chief experience officer. At the end of 2019, CreditUnions.com asked several CXOs about the opportunities and challenges they saw for 2020. Read more in the article “7 CXOs Opine On The Member Experience.”

And then everything changed.

Now, CreditUnions.com has revisited some of the respondents from that first round of interviews to get a deeper look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things in their shops. Here’s what they had to say.

I think our culture will benefit from the tremendous teamwork we’ve seen throughout the crisis. It’s ironic that we might be closer today when so many of us have been isolated in our homes.

Deb Vollmer, Chief Experience Officer, Langley FCU

Langley Federal Credit Union

Deb Vollmer has been with Langley Federal Credit Union ($3.2B, Newport News, VA) for 16 years and a senior vice president for the past seven. The credit union added CXO to her title approximately two years ago to formalize those responsibilities.

What have you learned about the member experience since the pandemic began? 

Deb Vollmer, Chief Experience Officer, Langley Federal Credit Union

Deb Vollmer: I’ve learned that nothing works without great people committed to and focused on helping members. If the goal is clear, everyone will rally to do what needs to be done.

Also, I think our culture will benefit from the tremendous teamwork we’ve seen throughout the crisis. It’s ironic that we might be closer today when so many of us have been isolated in our homes.

How has the pandemic changed the way your credit union does business? 

DV: Our organization is far more agile than we ever thought. We quickly adjusted our business model to serve members from the safety of their homes and moved from having no employees remote to essentially the entire back office remote in just days.

We implemented an appointment concierge service last fall and had been encouraging members to make appointments instead of walking in and waiting to be seen. We changed that to phone appointments only, which enables members who need to talk to branch personnel to do so at a time convenient for them.  

We closed our lobbies, and our contact center call volume grew by 57% in the first week. We equipped our branch teams to help answer those calls, which essentially doubled the size of our contact center. Our wait times on the phone are better than ever, so service has not suffered in that regard. 

Refine your credit union's response to COVID-19. Visit CreditUnions.com’s Ideas In Action: Pandemic Response for articles, webinars, and policies concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.

GTE Financial Credit Union

Pedro Diaz joined GTE Financial Credit Union ($2.2B, Tampa, FL) as CXO a little less than one year ago.

What have you learned about the member experience since the pandemic began? 

Pedro Diaz, Chief Experience Officer, GTE Financial Credit Union

Pedro Diaz: Members, just like everyone else, love a proactive approach. 

How has the pandemic changed the way your credit union does business? 

PD: We pivoted quickly to making outbound calls to members to let them know we’re here for them and to ask if there’s anything we can do for them. It’s not a sales call; rather, it’s a call to let them know we care and are here to answer their questions, address their concerns, and help them navigate these turbulent times.

Amplify Credit Union

Stacy Armijo joined Amplify Credit Union ($1.0B, Austin, TX) as CXO in July 2018.

What have you learned about the member experience since the pandemic began? 

Stacy Armijo, Chief Experience Officer, Amplify Credit Union

Stacy Armijo: We’re learning a lot about how we can do things differently for our members. 

How has the pandemic changed the way your credit union does business?

SA: We’re now requiring anyone who visits a branch to set an appointment so we can ensure we don’t have too many people in the lobby at one time. 

One of the most common reasons for an appointment is to get an instant issue debit card. We didn’t begin this practice because of convenience, but even in routine times no one likes to wait an unspecified amount of time for their debit card, so perhaps that’s a practice we should keep.

Currently, we require any teammate who can conduct their job remotely to work from home. This includes our contact center — since we have a cloud-based system — and we’re not seeing degradation of member service. That makes me wonder whether we can make some of those positions 100% remote and turn that into an employee benefit.  

One phrase I’ve found myself saying often throughout this pandemic is that although no one chose to be in this situation, we shouldn’t ignore the gifts it might give us. Those are two gifts we’re reflecting on now, and I expect there will be more as time goes on.

What’s in that name? CreditUnions.com regularly features the holder of titles that reflect new roles and priorities at today’s innovative credit unions. That includes Charlie Allen, vice president of member experience at Christian Community Credit Union. Check out this article and video about her. And click here for more “What’s In A Name” features about other emerging roles.

Callahan & Associates

Alix Patterson has been with Callahan & Associates for 22 years and in her current position for the past three years. Her title was changed to CXO in 2019.

How has the pandemic changed your thinking about the member experience for credit unions?

Alix Patterson, Chief Experience Officer, Callahan & Associates

Alix Patterson: Creating the perfect experience isn’t as important as creating a genuine one. 

On a recent virtual roundtable with call center executives, one of the attendees asked how others were ensuring employees working from home could help members without personal interruptions. The general consensus was you can’t. You just embrace it. 

How has the pandemic changed your thinking about how Callahan engages with clients?

AP: Instead of hosting in-person roundtables with amazing food and beautiful boutique hotels, I’m hosting virtual events from my 10-foot by 10-foot study with a cat napping on the chair behind me. They don’t equate — but the personal connection and sharing of ideas is still at the heart of what we’re doing.

We’re all trying our best. My teenage sons have wandered into my study mid-event and only half clothed (luckily the bottom half!). I’ve had participants show up with their bearded dragons, with dogs and cats, and with kids and spouses. We’re making more intimate connections because we’re getting a glimpse into who we are outside of the office, too. 

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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