Why does everything in my life come back to the member experience?

Why does everything come back to the member experience? 

A coaching professional shares insight from a customer encounter gone wrong.

June 27, 2019

Why does everything in my life come back to the member experience? 

I’ve spent the better part of my professional life focused on developing skills that lead to building loyalty and relationships, so I have a keen perspective.

Here’s an example. Several friends switched to a new gym and encouraged me to take advantage of a free trial with a personal trainer. I figured, why not? The gym was immaculate and well-equipped.

So, the trainer … let’s call her ‘Ursula’, greets me with a firm handshake, but not a lot of eye contact. She spends the first few minutes telling me about her experience and her passion for Pilates. She waves her arm dramatically towards the spacious gym area equipped with lots of machines and says, “Let’s go upstairs so I can show you my Pilates studio. I’m thinking, ‘What about me? I thought I was here to be introduced to the gym, not your personal passion. After seeing both the Navy Seal training area and the Pilates studio she says, “You should do both Pilates and Navy Seal training.”

Anyone who knows me is laughing right now. We’re about 20 minutes into my 30-minute appointment and I’m not sure when she is going to ask me about me and what I hope to achieve, because I can tell you right now, I’m not a candidate for Navy Seal training.

For me, this was a customer experience nightmare. Yes, this was a gym and most credit union people are much nicer and smile more. But are they making any of these same mistakes.? Do they have a clear understanding of what the member needs and expects? Have they asked conversational, inquisitive questions to gain a greater understanding of the member, or do they spend more time talking about products than real life? And lastly – if we know the answers to these questions what are we doing about it?

Here are three easy tips for managers to ensure member-engaging staff are equipped and focused on delivering an experience that builds trust and delivers on your promise.

  • On-the-job observations. Plan at least two hours every week to observe member interactions. Position yourself in a way you can observe employees at the same time and then move to another group. Prepare a worksheet with three characteristics or good habits you are looking for and make notes specific to what you hear the employee say and what you saw them do.
  • Coaching. Using your observation notes, provide an impartial overview of what you saw and heard. Ask two key questions:

1. What do you think you did well?

2. What would you change? 

Give the employee several minutes to respond to each question. Acknowledge and encourage relationship-building behaviors.

  • Practice. Right now, in this coaching session based on your observation, walk through the scenario allowing the employee to experiment with new strategies to increase positive outcomes.

Repeat this scenario at least once a month to build a culture that engaged members rather than making them feel like their being spoken to.

Jayne Hitman, national relationship manager, CUNA Creating Member Loyalty