Service as a Differentiator

Competition is fierce in the world of financial services and it is extremely important to measure service levels within your organization as well as your market area.


Competition is fierce in the world of financial services and it is extremely important to measure service levels within your organization as well as your market area. Credit unions will compete through member relationships and quality service delivered by a well-trained staff. Ongoing staff development supports service delivery and increased member satisfaction.

Have you ever wondered:

  • if members are treated in a positive and respectful manner?
  • how long members are left on hold?
  • how much time members spend waiting in teller lines?
  • if members leave frustrated and not fully satisfied?
  • how long it takes for members to receive a response to an email request?

Each of these situations can be service disasters for your credit union.

Differentiation today is more about the relationship than it is about the product or the discipline of selling. Most products are high quality and comparable, so first to market, innovation and relationships between the people involved quite often sells the service. Yes, your staff must have the skills. Yes, the organization has to be committed to a long-term cultural shift. But, more importantly, the management team has to be committed to establishing a culture that cares about each other and about the consumers they meet and advise. Trust is an important factor in the financial services industry and building relationships that will sustain competitive forces is paramount to your success.

If you’re wondering about these things at your credit union, your next question should be: What happens at the financial institutions down the street? Are our competitors providing a more positive experience than us, and how can I uncover this important competitive information?

These compelling questions demonstrate a desire to surpass service expectations of not only your organization, but your peers as well. Competitive Peer Analysis Reports support these initiatives and build relevant research to help you implement key quality service initiatives.

In conjunction with a competitive analysis, work to define what it takes to build a culture focused on relationships. It is not about checking accounts versus the competitions’ products. It's not often even about the price. It's really about the relationship leaders have with employees, and the relationship the employees have with the consumer. Although simplistic in concept, the manifestation of these relationships is critical in developing a strategy that fosters a "cradle to grave" or lifetime initiative and bond with the member.

This "building relationships" message needs to be directed primarily to the leadership of your organization, because they must make it happen with true dedication and the management skills necessary for appropriate behavior and feelings. Yes, feelings! In sales, it is okay to care about the highs and lows that are a result of winning and losing. In work environments, it is okay to care about the people you work with and to care about the work you do.

Ultimately, you need your members to think of your organization first when looking for financial services. You want your members to be treated to the best service experience in the area, because it is your differentiator and it creates commitment. It is not the products or services that create loyalty. In fact, it is your outstanding service and positive feelings that keep them coming back!

Do you want to ensure that you’re delivering the ultimate service experience that will differentiate you from your competitors?

  1. Do your homework – peer comparison measurement, such as competitive mystery shops, is an excellent tool and an invaluable source of information.
  2. Define your culture – built on internal and external relationships.
  3. Engage employees – through participation, training and recognition.

Measure your progress – evaluate your service levels on an ongoing basis through member surveys (transaction, new account, closed account), mystery shopping, member focus groups and feedback programs.

Tom Asacker, recognized author and speaker, explains customer attraction and retention well, "What they (members) care about is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence. So, if you want members, stop trying to make yourself feel good by focusing on your organizational needs and start focusing on making them feel good."

Exceptional member service is your key differentiator to the future!



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

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May 23, 2005



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