Ensuring Service Excellence: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Wright-Patt Credit Union’s new member advocate position will help the credit union identify how it can continually improve member service.


Wright-Patt Credit Union ($2.7B, Fairborn, OH) serves more than a quarter of a million members throughout the Miami Valley area of Ohio. The credit union, which promises to help members “Save Better, Borrow Smarter, Learn a Lot!,” is a firm believer in rewarding members for their loyalty and paid out $6 million in patronage dividends earlier this year. At $15,537, its average member relationship is nearly three times that of its state peers.

The credit union focuses on providing service excellence, and its strategy to create a great member experience is paying off. Its annual membership growth as of June 30, 2013, was 10.7%. That’s more than twice the growth of credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets and those in the state of Ohio, which grew 4.4% and 2.94%, respectively.

In this Q&A, CEO Doug Fecher discusses why Wright-Patt is creating a director of service excellence and member advocate position within its human resources department.

How does the credit union track service excellence currently?

Doug Fecher: We primarily use Net Promoter Score (NPS) through Member Loyalty Group. However, we also augment that data with subjective information. For example, we watch the number of member questions that come in on various topics, the number of complaints, etc. to get a general feeling of what is on our members’ minds.

Why did you feel the need to create this new position? 

DF: All of us at Wright-Patt Credit Union, including the board of directors, feel service is what differentiates us. In fact, our strategic plan is focused on competing based on providing an excellent member service experience. Member service is in everyone’s job description and comes from different areas throughout the credit union, but no one had a role that was 100% dedicated to managing the service experience. This position will help give us perspective on the experiences we are creating based on the member’s point of view instead of the organization’s standpoint.

What are some of the key expectations for the director of service excellence and member advocate?

DF: There are three key areas this person will oversee. First and foremost, we want them to help us define our service standard in writing. We have pretty high NPS scores already because we hire nice people, but the definition of what good service is has been largely left up to individuals. Currently, there is no company-wide standard for what good service looks like at the credit union. If you look at Ritz Carlton and other successful companies who are known for their service, they all have a specific standard, and that is what we are looking to create here.

The director of service excellence and member advocate will also assist the organization in training the defined service standard so every employee knows what it is and how to execute it. Some of the training will be performed by other managers and some will be provided by the candidate that fills this position.

Lastly, the position will be tasked with measuring the credit union’s results. This includes NPS, but it’s more than that. We hope to create a database of member inquiries and complaints so we can monitor data such as how long it takes us to resolve issues on average and improve processes.

Who will the new position report to?

DF: The position will report to the vice president of human resources. Everyone thinks of service as how we interact with the member, which is actually the second piece of the equation. The first part of service is: Do we have processes set-up properly? The processes our employees have to go through affect member service. By having this new position report to HR, they will be able to see the whole view of how the people, technology, and processes work together across the organization. It also ties well into the training piece of the position and ensures the director of service excellence and member advocate does not have any ownership interest in the processes or organizational areas that can affect service.

Why do you feel having someone outside of the branch or direct service channels is important?

DF: We wanted someone who does not have a dog in the hunt so they can avoid getting caught up in existing processes and just focus on how processes can be improved. It’s human nature to get defensive when someone is critical of your area or your process. Therefore, a manager of a process is prewired to think about that process from a different perspective — we want this new position to see the process solely from the member perspective. This is where the advocate piece comes from and will allow us to be objective about how we can improve.

What type of experience or skills are you looking for in this person?

DF: We’re finding the healthcare industry has positions that are similar to what we’re trying to create. So it is likely we will bring someone in from outside the credit union or banking space. This was surprising at first, but it makes sense as people are sensitive about their money just like when it comes to their health. Having some outside perspective and service standard and advocacy experience will help ensure this new position is squarely on the member’s side and can find wrinkles in our processes. Some of the skills we’re looking for include the ability to analyze technology and processes, effectively train staff, and assist with leadership development.