Alex de la Cruz
news.cuna.org/articles/113032-challenges-accepted
Alex de la Cruz

Challenges accepted

‘What is a good member experience?’

October 6, 2017

Alex de la Cruz came to First Tech Federal Credit Union in Mountain View, Calif., almost four years ago searching for the next big challenge of his career.

His new employer obliged him with a task that had stumped countless others: Determine the cause of—and stop—the decline in members’ confidence and trust.

As de la Cruz found his bearings and acclimated to the culture of the $9.8 billion asset credit union, his research uncovered that many problems resulted from First Tech Federal’s rapid growth since its 2011 merger with another large credit union.

“Our product offerings and processes had accelerated to the point that we just needed to stop and catch our breath,” he explains. “We needed to ask ourselves, ‘What is a good member experience?’

“It’s easy to tout your dedication to good member relations; it’s another to make it come to life.”

With that in mind, de la Cruz built the case for a dedicated member experience team.

“I believed there was a lot of insightful member feedback in our various databases that the credit union had neglected to truly leverage and alleviate member pain points,” he says.

‘Empower your staff to deliver good experiences.’

De la Cruz recruited team members who know data, are comfortable analyzing it, and—just as important—are good communicators.

“I wanted people who could correlate member data with real-world problems for our major stakeholders across all credit union divisions,” he says.

De la Cruz has since accepted another challenge. As senior vice president of retail, he aims to keep First Tech Federal’s 41 branches in eight states and Puerto Rico relevant places for members to plan and dream well into the future.

In addition to leveraging his former team, “You have to get out there if you want to uncover real pain points,” De la Cruz says. “So I spend half my time on the road, either in a plane or rental car. You gain a lot of critical insights from working shoulder-to-shoulder with those serving our members.”

His formula for a successful credit union?

“You don’t need gold-plated branches or artificial intelligence to man your contact center,” de la Cruz says. “It all comes down to how you prioritize and empower your staff to deliver good experiences, and knowing when to simply slow down and do the right thing.”