Sharmon Lenth

Providing one-on-one service

Members are mobile, but Sharmon Lenth believes personal service is key.

September 27, 2018

The 2,000 Coast2Coast Financial Credit Union members in the trucking and transportation industry need remote services.

That doesn’t stop the $20 million asset credit union in Tampa, Fla., from offering personal, one-on-one service, says Sharmon Lenth, president/CEO.

Sharmon Lenth

Click to enlarge. Lenth has a little fun while setting up a school supply drive at Coast2Coast Financial CU.

“We talk to our members. We answer the phone. We don’t transfer calls or place members on hold,” she says. “Members want to talk to someone they trust.”

Most Coast2Coast Financial members work for UPS Inc. in the Southeast. With “relentless schedules,” they like the credit union’s mobile services and responsive website.

“We stay up on all the electronic avenues for products and services—anything to streamline service,” says Lenth, who’s worked in credit unions for 33 years. “The easier you make it for the member, the better. We like simple; they like simple—whether the service is online, in person, or over the phone.”

‘Members want to talk to someone they trust.’

When she arrived at Coast2Coast Financial in 2011, its future looked bleak. Credit unions were merging or “kicking, scratching, and climbing their way back” from the recession.

Lenth analyzed branch transactions and the sizable mortgage portfolio. She renegotiated all vendor contracts. She closed two costly branches in Ocala and Seffner, turning to shared branching to serve members everywhere. But selling mortgages was ruled out because “selling the cream of the crop would be a kiss of death.”

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Coast2Coast Financial CU aims for a stellar experience whether in the branch or on the app.

To ease members’ concerns, she hired the “right people who embrace change and want to learn. Employees of small credit unions wear lots of hats. They needed to have a sense of urgency and a sense of pride.”

Lenth also rehired a popular former employee to provide a familiar face and voice members trusted.

Lenth leads by example.

“To be an effective leader, you must be right there with everyone, instilling confidence and empowering your employees. Owning those hats, wearing them with confidence, and helping members from start to finish results in happy, satisfied members.”

Educating members about the credit union’s benefits is important. “Every member’s situation is a one-to-one situation,” Lenth says. “We encourage members to talk to us first before they take a step down a possibly wrong path.