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.