The Art and Science of Follow-Up Calls

Don’t miss an opportunity to create value, avoid problems, and deepen relationships.

September 16, 2013

My father worked for a Chevrolet dealership when I was growing up. During his tenure managing the service department he proposed a follow-up call program for the service advisors.

He suggested they call their recent customers to find out if they were satisfied with the work done on their car and how they were treated during the process. The service advisors thought he was crazy.

Nevertheless, the dealership implemented the program and, interestingly enough, won top honors in customer satisfaction for years to come. That was 25 years ago.subscribefrontline

I’m amazed that follow-up calls aren’t more of a priority and common practice in credit unions. The argument that “we don’t have time” or “the members don’t care” doesn’t hold water.

Don’t miss an opportunity to create value, avoid problems, and potentially deepen relationships.

Successful follow-up requires careful planning and attention to detail. Keep these five tips in mind:

1. Tell the member in advance you'll follow up

As you end your initial interaction, sell them on the benefits of subsequent contact. For example, “to ensure they’ve received their debit card and it’s been easy to use.” Or, to “make sure the first direct deposit hits their account as planned and give them peace of mind that their funds are available.”

Your goal is to help the member avoid problems (such as “I didn’t get my debit card,” or “I’ve tried to get my online access set up and gave up”) and demonstrate that you and the credit union truly are committed to exceeding their expectations.

2. Clarify the when and where, and put it on your calendar

Confirm the best time for the follow-up call and whether to use the member's home, work, or cell phone number. Assure the member the call will be brief.

Put the contact in your Outlook or other calendar so you’re reminded of your promise.

3. Prepare for the call

Make the call a value-add for the member and you never know where it might lead. To prepare, review the member’s profile and your notes from the interaction. What did they sign up for? Which other services do they have or lack? What topics did you discuss in your last conversation that might be worth addressing soon?

If your credit union tracks member interactions (think customer relationship management system), check if they’ve contacted the credit union for any reason. By taking five or 10 minutes to prepare for the call, you can be efficient and come across as professional and competent.

4. Assume they won’t remember your promise to call

When the member answers, be prepared to quickly identify yourself and the purpose of your call, then pause. Give the member a second to process and prioritize this interaction. Then remind them this will only take about 5-6 minutes of their time and ask if this is still a good time to talk.

Keep in mind:

5. Invite them back

This call can be the bridge to future business. If you uncovered a need in your last meeting but the timing wasn’t right to discuss it, revisit the issue: “You mentioned that your son was heading for college. Have you given more thought to how you’ll cover additional expenses he’ll likely have?”

By confirming the need you avoid the “dialing for dollars” approach that can turn off members. If the need exists, schedule another meeting to discuss how the credit union can help them. They’ll appreciate your proactive assistance.

Not everyone will accept a call. Some might prefer that you email or text them.

Honor that method of follow-up and consider how you’ll use these five steps to create a value-added experience for the member.

Follow-up calls can be an important tool in staying connected with your members. By making this a regular practice you can help members avoid problems and enhance their loyalty to you and the credit union.

CARLA SCHRINNER is implementation manager and senior master trainer for CUNA’s Creating Member Loyalty program.

(Via Credit Union Front Line)