Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

3 Easy Ways To Ensure Your Customer Service Doesn’t Suck

Oh, the customer, or member in most credit union cases. They’re both essential and the bane of your existence. They love your low rates and community-centric mission! But they also can’t stand that you serve Seattle coffee rather than Columbian in your branch. What’s wrong with you heathens?

Ok, so I may be exaggerating. But, for those of you who have worked with members, not by much. People can be, shall we say, trying. That does not mean you can discount a valid complaint or ignore a reasonable question. Like Disney Cast Members, you must address every member with a smile, a courteous reply, and a satisfactory resolution. (Side-note: Cast Members are not allowed to say, “I don’t know.” It’s part of why their training is so intensive. They either must know the right answer or be able to connect the guest with the right person instantaneously. What’s your policy?)

The title of this post promises three easy ways to ensure your customer service doesn’t suck. And, because I believe in serving you, my readers, that’s exactly what I’m going to deliver. There will even be a follow-up post where I review a few recent support interactions of my own and you can be the judge of how well they were handled. Ready?

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start:

1. Respond Promptly

Every time. To every member. No matter how ridiculous their question or comment may seem.

What I mean by prompt varies depending on how the member is reaching out. If it’s in person, I don’t suggest waiting 2 days to answer. That makes for an awfully uncomfortable face-to-face. Here’s a list of my maximum reply times based on medium:

  • In-Person: 3 seconds
  • Chat: 5 minutes
  • Phone: 10 minutes
  • Twitter: 15 minutes
  • Facebook: 1 hour
  • E-mail: 24 hours
  • Owl: 3 days
  • Messenger Pigeon: Never. Because they’re extinct.

Making a member wait beyond these times does nothing but upset them beyond their original concern.

2. Ensure Your Reply Is Relevant

If a member asks you about opening a new savings account, would you reply with instructions for setting up a 401K? No, because that’s dumb. Yet I see it all the time, especially on e-mail support replies. In the rush to achieve #1, getting a quick reply, sometimes the point is missed. Don’t do that. Take the time to understand what your member is asking. If you need, respond with a question clarifying their own. “Let me make sure I’m understanding you correctly. You are looking to build savings with a new account here. Is that correct?” It shows you read/listened to their question and then cared enough to ensure you’re getting it right.

Addressing a question they never asked is arguably worse than never responding at all. It implies carelessness and a “whatever” attitude to getting your members the help they requested.

3. Follow Through To Resolution

Once you’ve begun the conversation, it doesn’t end until your member says they are satisfied or the issue is resolved to your best ability. It is quite frustrating to start a discussion, only to have it end prematurely because the company stopped answering or gave a generic “resolution” statement.

Getting to a resolution has a few steps when you’re not the one able to do it. The first is straight-up attention. Show you understand their question. Second is diligence in action. If you know they need to talk to someone else, don’t waste their time not transferring. Third is making sure that transfer works. At least 25% of the time I am transferred on phone support, the line disconnects. And then it’s back to square one. The best companies keep the first agent on the line, connect and introduce me to the other person, and then make sure everything is ok to turn the call over. Accountability for everyone. And this personal touch does not go unnoticed by your member.

What if the member is saying things, perhaps publicly, that you’re not liking? You still have to politely reply until the problem is resolved or moved to another medium. Short the most loathsome of Internet trolls, people are willing to come to a mutual agreement. Be the more mature party.

And that’s it! Three easy ways to ensure your customer service both doesn’t suck and also rocks your members’ socks! Here’s the tl;dr of it all:

  1. Respond
  2. Be relevant
  3. Follow through to resolution

What were some recent member service challenges you encountered? And how did you resolve them to everyone’s satisfaction? Curious minds want to know! Share in the comments for all to see.

New Tech Alert! “Hey Siri, Pay My Electric Bill”

This is a CUbit.  In case you haven’t seen one before, these are my out-of-schedule short posts highlighting breaking news.

Today, Apple released a beta update for iOS (software powering iPhone and iPad).  There were the expected improvements and feature additions (hooray, an easy way to find my AirPods!), but something else snuck in.  Something which can change the entire credit union industry overnight.

Apple added bill pay capabilities to Siri.

Yes, with only your voice, you can pay a bill or check on the status of a payment.  Instead of opening an app, finding Bill Pay, trying to set a new one, finding out you can’t do it on your phone, going to your computer, entering the information…etc., now, just say, “Hey Siri, pay my cell phone bill.”  Or, “Hey Siri, did Dave ever pay me for that dinner?”

This functionality is now in beta as part of SiriKit (the API which powers integrations into Siri services).  If your banking platform service is not diving in to the documentation headfirst, tell them get on it!  And if you manage your own bill payment system, ask your IT to begin looking at what it will take to have your members paying by voice upon its release.

What are you waiting for?  Get to it!

Gaming & Your Credit Union

Originally published on CUInsight.com

“Savings aren’t a game!” In many ways, you’re right. Given the abysmal level of deposits for most Americans, comparing it to Mario Cart (N64 version, obviously the best) doesn’t seem proper. But what if you did treat it like a game?

It’s not a new concept. Known as “gamification”, the idea is that by making it more akin to a game rather than a chore, users are more likely to participate. Think of going for a run. Many people don’t enjoy putting feet to pavement and will make any excuse to avoid it. But what if you were part of an adventure and needed to outrun a hoard of zombies? Their rotted fingers are nearly scraping your back…pick up the pace!

Come to think of it, I’ve written about this before. Here. And here. That app, by the way, exists. It’s called Running with Zombies. I don’t use it, because everyone knows the best way to deal with them is a shotgun, shovel, and old records. Bonus points if you got that reference (no, I’m not a Walking Dead fan).

So instead, as the previous post discussed, of puzzling your members through a convoluted rewards program or other service, get them in the game! Just by reframing their credit union relationship as levels in a game, you’ve upped the excitement and understanding levels. They’re no longer a Double Platinum Diamond Preferred member, they’re a Castle Defender! Defenders serve the crown, so they pay no ATM fees and reap the highest interest rates available. Of course, the proces of getting there has to be evolved as well.

For this, I’d suggest a brain storm session with your team. And a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Why this game? Because it’s the best puzzle adventure/level growth game ever made. Also, your staff will have fun. And the N64 will probably remain in your branch. Tell me that won’t encourage people to stick around.

How do you create a gamified credit union without it being tacky or feeling like an afterthought? That brings us to (cue deep announcer voice): Big Data! Yep, that essential concept emerges again. This time, it’s going to help empower your members with useful analysis of their own data. Combine the appeal of sports stats (as in, their own financial relationship’s metrics) with playing a video game (as in, progressing through towards goals). Interestingly, it has to be their own data, and not estimated metrics. A recent study found that some Fitbit users actually gained weight while using the activity trackers. It is believed that participants believed the averaged metrics so strongly that they didn’t just listen to their bodies. If you provide useful data, useful suggestions can follow, ending with beneficial results.

Look at that. Once again, we come around to the inescapable conclusion: When you frame your services around the specific needs of your members, engagement, excitement, and loyalty will increase.

Image credit: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2012/05/review-mario-kart-64-wii-virtual.html

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