Recently, I found myself in the market for a new hairstylist. After doing some homework, I landed on a salon with a great location and enticing service options.
Being brave, I said, “Any stylist. First available Saturday appointment, please.” They quickly booked my appointment. Super!
Haircut day arrives and I eagerly enter the salon, ready to meet my new stylist. She was friendly, greeted me by name and, best of all, acknowledged that I was new.
Everything was going great. With my haircut underway, another employee came over to my stylist and began to complain about her client who had just left. Suddenly, the experience turned sour.
This experience left me with a negative impression of not only these two stylists, but the entire salon.
As I sat there listening to her describe annoyances with her previous client, I felt more and more awkward. My stylist had several opportunities to “flip the switch” and stop the negative rant in its tracks by reminding her she was with a client, but she didn’t.
She let her co-worker ramble on, then started agreeing with her about the “annoying” questions and behaviors. I was incredibly uncomfortable but also incredibly trapped, with my hair only half cut.
This lesson that applies directly to your very important role on the front line: Every interaction with members shapes their opinion of the credit union.
Make a favorable impression at each of these stages:
1. The greeting. It can be so simple, yet have such a profound impact. Make eye contact, smile, and offer a pleasant greeting, such as, “How may I help you today?”
These seemingly small gestures can go such a long way with your members. This might also diffuse tense situations where the member presents you with a problem. Opening the door with a positive, open question allows the member to explain their needs and shows your willingness to help.
2. The introduction. Managing your finances can be stressful. Introducing yourself and your role can take less than 30 seconds but puts a member’s mind at ease.
If appropriate, take the opportunity to introduce the services the credit union offers that could further help the member, based upon the situation he or she has shared with you.
3. The time to listen. Acknowledge members by listening to what they share, and display open body language signaling you understand and are prepared to help them meet their financial needs.
Maintaining eye contact and nodding as they speak goes a long way toward building a relationship, rather than just participating in a series of interactions.
4. The audience. Life is full of frustrations and challenges. Be mindful that you aren’t discussing challenges you’ve had with members while other members are present.
This makes you look unprofessional and erodes member trust in the confidentiality of their business at the credit union.
5. The closing. Thank the member for coming in. Confirm any items that each of you needs to follow up on, and ask how you can help.
This gives the member an opportunity to react if they have additional requests, or to confirm that you and the credit union have met all of their needs. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way in showing your consideration of and respect for every member.
Treat each interaction as though you’re making a first impression. This will build deep, strong relationships with your members, and ultimately lead to a long-lasting financial partnership.
ABBEY MIDDLETON is the implementation manager for CUNA’s Creating Member Loyalty™. Contact her at 608-231-4055 or at email@example.com.
This article initially appeared in Credit Union Front Line newsletter, the monthly sales and service newsletter for branch staff and their managers. Subscribe now to the print edition or PDF version.