Avoid striking out with members

Don't strike out with members

Falling short of members’ expectations can damage your CU’s reputation.

July 26, 2017

We all know how critical member service is to the overall impression and brand experience of our credit union. Your members have high expectations for service. And when your credit union falls short, the aftermath and lasting impressions can be hard to overcome.

When members come into the credit union with a complicated or unusual problem, they might expect a few bumps in the road.

But when a member’s simple request becomes complicated or inconvenient, the credit union’s reputation and member service expectations can take a hit through the eyes of the member and everyone who hears their story.

And remember, perception is reality.

CU FrontlineNot long ago, I went into a credit union and asked for a change of address form. That simple request prompted an unfortunate series of events.

First, I had called in advance. I asked how long the process would take and staff assured it would only take a few minutes.

To play it safe, I made an appointment. When I arrived, no one else was in the lobby or waiting to be served, yet no one on staff met me until 20 minutes after my appointment.

Second, the address change process took almost 30 minutes. The member service representative (MSR) blamed a slow computer, took a quick call, and forgot my driver’s license on the copy machine.

When I asked for my license back, she tried to make a joke by saying, “I planned on keeping your license for my entire life. I just had to have it.”

Finally, I received a call several days later asking me to come back to the branch to sign my updated membership card because the MSR forgot to have me sign it while I was there for my first visit.

And this was for a simple change of address procedure that was only supposed to take a few minutes.

Now we’ve all had rough days at the office, when it seems like nothing is working out in your favor and simple tasks become more difficult.

But commit to making sure these delays and stumbles are a rare occurrence for your members when they visit the branch, and acknowledge and apologize for any shortcomings in their experience.

To ensure your members get the level of service they’ve come to expect from your credit union, remember these tips:

  • Never set expectations you can’t meet.
  • Communicate with members, especially if a delay arises due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Remember our members aren’t an interruption of our work, but the purpose of it.
  • Remember our members are people with feelings and emotions, just like us.
  • Be mindful our members aren’t dependent on us—we’re dependent on them.
  • Remember our members are the lifeline of our credit union.

JOHN MacDONALD is the business development manager for CUNA and performance consultant for CUNA Creating Member Loyalty.

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.