7 CXOs Opine On The Member Experience

The credit union leaders discuss opportunities and challenges and what they resolve to see happen in 2020.

 
 

The expansion of digital offerings and the growing expectations of consumers who use them puts unprecedented pressure on credit unions to keep up with competition or risk irrelevancy.

It’s great for credit unions to offer better rates, of course, but in today’s low-rate environment, service experience is where cooperatives can really step apart from the pack. That experience, however, must go beyond knowing when to say “please” and “thank you” at the teller line. 

A better service experience involves understanding with what the member struggles and meeting that need, whether it be protecting them from fraud, helping them establish a budget, or making banking easy regardless of their chosen channel.

To create a truly superior user experience, credit unions must focus on what the consumer sees, thinks, and feels in every encounter and every transaction. To tackle this imperative, a new executive role has emerged — that of the CXO, or chief experience officer.

At the dawn of the new year, CreditUnions.com asked several of them about opportunities, challenges, and resolutions for 2020. Here’s what they had to say.

Deb Vollmer has been with Langley Federal Credit Union ($3.0B, Newport News, VA) for 16 years and has served as a senior vice president for the past seven. She says CXO was added to her title approximately two years ago to formalize those responsibilities.

Deb Vollmer, Chief Experience Officer, Langley FCU

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Deb Vollmer: Implementing a member experience measurement system using surveys and other data sources that will gather feedback at key moments across multiple channels and touchpoints in the member journey. Data will be available through a member experience dashboard, making leaders throughout the organization aware of trends as they emerge. 

Additionally, key negative experience indicators will be identified with the potential to integrate into a contact management system to enable a rapid response. We’re excited to have a full-time employee devoted to the MX process to lead this endeavor.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

DV: One of the first steps in the process described above will be to identify and implement a member experience feedback management tool. We’ll evaluate industry-leading tools during an RFP and implement the best tool for Langley. We also recognize how important a great CRM is to improving the member experience, so we plan to replace our current platform in 2020 as well.

Accomplishing all this in a timely manner to effect change in 2020 will be a challenge. 

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

DV: Put the members’ experience at the forefront of everything we do. See things through their lens as we roll out new products and services or make changes to our current products.

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.

Jared Freeman, Chief Experience Officer, Leaders Credit Union

Jared Freeman joined Leaders Credit Union ($435.7M, Jackson, TN) as the credit union’s CXO approximately 18 months ago. 

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Jared Freeman: Raising awareness in other departments that everything they do can impact the member experience. It takes everyone to provide a superior member experience on a consistent basis. 

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

JF: We need to better use our CRM to refine the “small touches” of the member experience. Additionally, with so much growth in the credit union, we need to ensure our team members are trained to improve our member experience. 

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

JF: Simplify and automate all processes as possible.

Tara McQuillen has been with Discovery Federal Credit Union ($145.4M, Wyomissing, PA) for 13 years. Her title changed to CXO a few months ago to reflect the evolution of both her job and the credit union she serves.

Tara McQuillen Chief Experience Officer, Discovery FCU

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Tara McQuillen: Empowering and engaging our employees to ensure they have adequate training, skills, and tools to deliver great member experiences. 

We’re dedicated to creating an experience culture that will allow our members to accomplish their goals and objectives without friction, and our employees are key contributors to the process. During the past several months, we have been assessing and developing our credit union culture in addition to reviewing our processes and procedures to make it easier to do business with us. 

We’ll further transform our culture in 2020 to allow us to deliver the best member experience at every touchpoint.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

TM: One of our biggest challenges is to streamline our members’ omnichannel experience. We’ve invested in a robust data analytics program, we’re revamping and implementing a robust online and mobile banking solution, and we’re researching options to redesign our branch to incorporate state-of-the art technology and interpersonal design concepts. 

We want to offer members an array of channels and let them choose how and when they want to do business with the credit union. All of these different touchpoints need to offer a seamless experience as we energize our credit union culture and brand. 

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

TM: To leverage data analytics, culture, branding, and cutting-edge technology to give our members a holistic approach to banking. 

Learn how UNFCU and All In FCU journey map the member experience. Then check out these 5 Ways To Provide A Winning Member Experience.

Pedro Diaz, Chief Experience Officer, GTE Financial Credit Union

Pedro Diaz joined GTE Financial Credit Union ($2.2B, Tampa, FL) as CXO in mid-2019.

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Pedro Diaz: Ensuring that all members always experience the best service and value. We’re taking a three-pronged approach: training on integrity selling, holding teams and individuals accountable, and leveraging our real-time member surveys for daily coaching.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

PD: Eliminating the variability among community financial centers. Our three-pronged approach will help us do that.

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

PD: Bringing in an incentive plan for 2020.

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

Stacy Armijo, Chief Experience Officer, Amplify Credit Union

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Stacy Armijo: Helping our members get to the answers they seek faster. The first way we’re doing that is by overhauling our online resources that address commonly asked questions. We’re using a platform with better search functionality and breaking content into smaller, more digestible chunks while applying what’s worked for us in marketing to member service. 

We’re also transitioning to a new phone system that will ensure our agents immediately know with whom they’re speaking, removing some of the friction of a cumbersome authentication processes without sacrificing security for members.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it? 

SA: Seamless integration across systems continues to be the biggest challenge in creating quality experiences for members. Delivering the capabilities our members deserve requires many different systems, and we must weave them together with a clear eye toward scalability. 

Gone are the days of thinking that a credit union has “branch members” or “digital members.” Today, every member wants their digital interactions to seamlessly translate to their branch and phone experiences, and vice versa, sometimes simultaneously. 

Behind the scenes, that requires dozens of systems working together in ways they never have. Making that happen is a big challenge. We’re tackling that by leveraging expanded functionality within our new core banking system and ensuring we have more front-line voices helping us make back-office decisions. 

Our goal is to confirm that the assumptions we make in system design reflect the reality on the ground, which requires close collaboration between technical teams and member-facing functions. 

I’m fortunate to have a strong partner in our CIO. Together, we formulate strategies and define operating philosophies. This not only creates well-rounded ideas but also sends a clear message to our teams about how we should work together to implement ideas. 

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

SA: “If it doesn’t integrate, it’s off the list.” That’s an excerpt from our upcoming 2020-22 strategic plan, and it reflects our commitment to choosing, configuring, and supporting systems in ways that can scale as our credit union continues to grow. 

That means no more manual workarounds or systems that sit out on their own (technical) islands. Although this commitment is likely to limit our ability to chase bright shiny objects, we believe it’s a mindset that’s crucial to creating and sustaining the next phase of our success.

Learn from the experiences from five credit union frontrunners in analytics in “Expert Advice From Analytics Debuts And Do-Overs.” Then, check out these quick takes on a whole other kind of core conversion, that from a banker, in “Expert Advice From Recovering Bankers.”

Lisa Palma, Chief Experience Officer, Blackhawk Community Credit Union

Lisa Palma joined Blackhawk Community Credit Union ($622.7M, Janesville, WI) in 2011 and has been its chief experience officer for the past five years.

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it? 

Lisa Palma: Adding business intelligence data to our employees’ toolbox. We’re currently in the process of installing BI software that will give us unique insight into our membership and the communities we serve across the state of Wisconsin. It will generate growth strategies for us because we will be able to anticipate and identify next logical solutions for members. 

This will provide our team the opportunity to shift to a proactive service model. For example, we are the No. 1 mortgage lender in Rock County, and we want to help more people build their dreams and buy homes. BI data will help us recognize those opportunities. In 2020, we will begin using the software and conducting a deep dive into who our current and potential members are and translate that into how we can better serve them.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it? 

LP: Integrating technology into the member experience. We’ve implemented convenient technology such as instant issue cards, faster payment options, electronic forms, and texting, and we’re continuously improving our mobile banking app. However, technology does not replace people and relationships. The challenge is in how to use these resources to make both member and employee experiences better and easier. 

We measure our customer effort score and how much work it takes on the member’s behalf to do business with us. We want to reduce barriers and time to deliver new products and services so our members can easily stay on track with their financial goals. In 2020, we will map the processes that are most important to members, ensure new technology is incorporated into our highly personalized level of service, and train our staff. It’s one thing to install new technology; it’s another to maximize it and integrate it seamlessly into the member experience.

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

LP: Spend more time examining social trends in other industries that can crossover into the credit union industry. We always want to be relevant and a meaningful part of our members’ lives.

Linda Moneymaker is a 37-year veteran in the financial services industry. She managed e-commerce at Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union ($542.0M, Palmer, AK) before assuming the chief member experience officer role a year ago.

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it? 

Linda Moneymaker: Improving member service by expanding hours of operations via virtual services through our contact center and interactive teller machines. We’ll also explore expanding branch locations.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it? 

LM: Our biggest challenge is to use new technologies to offer products and services that are of high quality, reasonably priced, and easily understood.

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020?

LM: Stress our core values in serving our members and our communities. Telling “our story” — which has been the same for many years and what differentiates MVFCU — will be a focus for the member experience team in 2020.

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

Alix Patterson, Chief Experience Officer, Callahan & Associates

What’s your biggest member experience opportunity in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

Alix Patterson: Mental load. Our software is powerful and can do so much, but 80% of the time, a user just wants to answer a question and get back to their day job. 

For example, if a user wants to find out if their credit union is outperforming or underperforming the market in key performance metrics or wants to identify growth leaders in their marketplace, how can we make it easy for them to not only answer their question but also see what other questions they should be asking. That’s our opportunity.

What’s your biggest member experience challenge in 2020? How do you plan to address it?

AP: Complexity, deciding what to tackle first. 

What is your No. 1 business resolution for 2020? 

AP: Keep our focus laser sharp on our end user. Don’t get distracted by squirrels — those fun new projects that seem cool but don’t offer real value. We need to always ask: What problem are we solving?

These interviews were edited and condensed.

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