Alexandra Gekas, VP of Marketing & Engagement, Callahan & Associates
Member experience has been important to credit unions since the beginning of the movement, but evolving technology necessitates a stronger game when it comes to stellar service.
Fortunately, credit unions have historically scored well in consumer satisfaction results. Temkin Experience Rating, which ranks customer experience based on thousands of consumer surveys, gave credit unions an 83% in its 2018 rankings. By contrast Chase, PNC, and U.S. Bank, all earned a ranking of 75%.
Despite that difference, credit unions can’t rest on their laurels. Competition from banks as well as fintechs is fierce and getting fiercer. Organizations are investing in their experiences — according to Gartner, more than 40% of data analytics projects will relate to customer experience by 2020 — which means credit unions must invest in their member experiences, too.
This poses an important question: What do consumers want?
In simple terms, consumers want it easy — they want easy account opening, easy service, and easy access to money while on-the go.
They also want their overall experience to be special.
The challenge many credit unions face today lies in developing a formal approach to take their member experience to the next level. Here are some key do’s and don’ts for formulating a winning experience strategy.
1. Don't Confuse Service With Experience
If a credit union provides great member support and service, that means it provides an exceptional member experience, right? Not always.
Member service is an important part of member experience, but the two are not interchangeable. An institution can provide service that goes above and beyond in the call center and branches but have a rudimentary, complicated, or just plain poor online application.
Member experience includes all the touchpoints a current or potential member has with the credit union. Map out every one of these touchpoints to avoid focusing on one area of the member experience at the expense of the others. And if one touchpoint needs help, then pay it some attention.
2. Don't Make Member Experience A Side Project
Some credit unions designate positions or entire teams to focus solely on member experience; however, many still spread the responsibility across multiple people and departments. So, what happens when there is no internal champion responsible for driving strategy forward? Oftentimes, improvements become a side project that sit on the edge of someone’s desk.
Increased demands for member service combined with limited resources to tackle challenges stunts progress in experience improvements. This is why it’s important for credit unions to devote resources to experience efforts. Establishing a dedicated managerial role is worth considering.
It's a member-obsessed culture that will differentiate a credit union from its competitors.
3. Do Create A Member-Obsessed Culture
Even a dedicated member experience staffer or team can’t go it alone. The entire organization must adopt a member-first culture; however, it’s a member-obsessed culture that will differentiate a credit union from its competitors.
Sure, building this kind of culture takes time, but small steps go a long way in instilling a member mantra. For example, bake an expectation of winning experiences into the organization’s value statement to ensure employees understand the importance of service from day one.
USAA, which is known for its exceptional experience and culture, sends employees through empathy training to give them a better understanding of the bank’s large military customer base. It has even gone so far as to bring in drill sergeants and serve the ready-to-eat meals consumed by service members in combat and field conditions. A bootcamp onboarding might not be the best fit for every credit union, but the core of USAA’s logic is sound. It is showing employees what it is like to walk in their member's shoes.
To provide its employees with a better understanding of its military customer base, USAA sends employees through empathy training — and even "basic training."
In its efforts to promote a “customer-intense” focus, Chime sends member feedback to every employee via chat with the goal of underscoring the importance of transparency and helping all staff members understand the voice of the customer. The new, completely online player in banking also takes road trips across the country to visit account holders in their homes. According to Zach Smith, the company’s vice president of product who presented at the Fintech Product Summit in San Francisco this past spring, such visits help Chime identify pain points in the user experience and better understand the needs of customers.
Member feedback is crucial in identifying pain points, and relying on a single source or survey doesn’t cut it anymore. Credit unions need a holistic perspective gathered from feedback across multiple channels, such as social reviews, chat, call center logs, branch visits, member interviews, and more. Post-transaction surveys that capture immediate feedback on member interactions — such as a new account opening or loan application — are useful, too. Trends within this feedback will indicate, for example, whether the credit union has consistent long wait times at a specific branch or a mobile app that crashes and are a golden ticket for identifying member experience pain points.
4. Do Be Memorable
Clearview FCU divides the member experience into four pillars that address more than 50 touchpoints. It's part of a strategy to engage and delight members.
According to Forbes and Accenture, 33% of consumers who ended their relationship with a company last year did so because the experience wasn’t personalized enough. Small elements of personalization can make a big difference in the overall experience.
Capital One adds “Happy Birthday” to the account holder’s home screen on their big day. Online pet supply company Chewy refunded a purchase and sent flowers when a cat owner returned expensive cat food after her cat passed away. That’s a wow experience that showed the organization cared during a sad moment in its customer’s life.
Of course, to capture these memorable moments, employees must really listen to members. In its “We Care” program, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union ($9.5B, Universal City, TX) practices proactive listening, which helped it identify the opportunity to send a personal congratulations to a member that mentioned his daughter was getting married.
“Our members have told us just how much the card brightened their day,” shared Carla Engelke, the credit union’s assistant vice president of member experience. “The effort we put into this program is small in comparison to the pleasure our members receive.”
Bottom line, an organization can offer the best service and technology available, but if it isn’t providing moments of exceptional service, it won’t stand out among the crowd.
5. Don't Attempt To Fix It All At Once
With multiple touchpoints, rapidly changing technology, and competition for member attention, tackling member experience can feel overwhelming. A full strategy takes time and effort, but this this checklist will help any credit union get started.
Member Experience Checklist
Hire or select an internal member experience champion.
Build a team to support the effort.
Add onboarding elements that showcase the organization is member- first from day one.
Compile a list of common pain points from all channels, including social, branches, the call center, and surveys.
Rank pain points by importance — frequency and value.
Select the most important pain point, then map the member journey to identify where the roadblocks occur. Develop a task force to tackle those roadblocks. This can’t be done in silos.
Repeat for other pain points.
Find touchpoints where the credit union can add moments of wow.
Listen, learn, and continue to evolve.
Focus on moving forward. Alleviating the smallest bits of friction from a process or touchpoint can make a notable difference, and even incremental improvements, when combined, make a winning experience.
This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.