Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: member expectations (Page 1 of 3)

How Bath Mats Can Solve Your Credit Union Challenges

That’s it. All these articles, conferences (Ha! Remember those?), white papers, and trainings, and the solution was just getting bath mats.

How has no one told you this before?! The insight of a lifetime! If only it were that easy.

Where did this bath mat thing originate? Great question.

Insights From A Brewery

Our credit union chapter held an event at a local brewery. It was impressive how the community ideas mirrored between the CU folks and the beer team. You know credit unions focus on helping others. Interestingly enough, the brewery operated in the same way.

Brewer and Beer Vat

Most importantly, the brewery understood the value of addressing problems before they emerge. Which is where the bath mats come in.

Their bathrooms have blowers to reduce paper waste and keep it more tidy. Of course, what always happens under the blowers? All that water you just shook off your hands ends up on the floor. Which probably gets stepped in, spreading dirt and making the floor slippery.

That wasn’t acceptable to them. So, they preemptively solved the problem. By placing bath mats under the blowers. Go ahead, shake it off all you want. Water isn’t getting on the floor.

Back to our main premise: Bath mats were the solution. What about at your credit union?

Solving Problems Before They Happen

I shared that story to highlight an important idea: Issues don’t have to wait until someone complains to be addressed.

Look at your operation as a whole. There are a lot of moving parts. Plenty of places something can go wrong. What are you doing about it? Do you acknowledge these issues exist and fix as they show themselves? Or, do you think ahead and make quiet changes so they never happen again?

Preemptive solutions make for a smoother experience.

Look At Complaints…From Everyone

Problem and Solution Chalkboard

Members get priority. Obviously. When they have a problem, and it’s your fault, setting it right is your main concern. Once the member situation is resolved, you have completed phase 1: Solution. Now, you can move on to phase 2: Prevention.

What happened to cause that member complaint? Is there anything you can do right now so others won’t experience the same problem? Perhaps a description is worded in such a way that it can be misinterpreted. Or maybe training didn’t cover that specific scenario.

Address it now and spread that knowledge across your team. And then, progress to phase 3: Exploration.

This part is challenging but the rewards are massive: Higher member satisfaction and increased staff morale. Because solving problems your own credit union caused is less fun than helping members progress on their financial journey!

Steps to Complain, ahem, Improve

Issues Notebook
  1. Look at member complaints. Research support records (simpler if you have a unified ticket system, like Zendesk or similar). Find all the negative reviews on Facebook and Yelp. You’ve got them. The vast majority of businesses never answer. Be the exception. And then explain how you’re going to fix it.
  2. Use social media to discover members’ biggest CU frustrations. Seriously. Make it a fun contest if you want. Call it “CU Peeves” or something. Share things your own team can’t stand, then encourage members to rag on you. It’s like a roast, except you also benefit. Plus, you’ve just increased social media engagement.
    • At the end, let staff and members vote on the #1 frustration and then share how you’ve addressed it. I’m picturing banners in branches and on your website with member frustrations next to their picture (humanizing is important), alongside your solution.
    • Create a page showing how you’re making the CU better for everyone through these “small” improvements. It’s marketing, without feeling like marketing.
  3. Ask your staff. And listen. The “and” here is important. I’ve seen a lot of businesses solicit input from their employees on how to improve. It’s mostly quiet as they fear repercussions or ridicule. Or, they’re accepted, but no changes are actually made. Be open to criticism. Welcome it. Just how you did with members.
    • Your staff deals with your credit union every day. They literally know best its most annoying challenges.

Fix. Assess. Repeat.

You’ve done all these things. That’s awesome! I bet you discovered a whole lot of issues few in upper management ever realized existed. And now they’re solved for staff and members!

Blue Arrow Circle

You’re not done.

It. Never. Ends. This is a continuous process that must happen regularly. As staff, members, and technology changes, new challenges will emerge, too.

And maybe one of the things really is bath mats. See? I told you!

If Your AI Is Only For Chatting, You’re Doing It Wrong

“Ask Our Friendly AI!” Your credit union’s website is excitedly promoting their new chatbot, there to answer questions 24/7. “Cool, so how can it help me save money or time?”

Whether they admit it or not, that’s what your members will be thinking.

In some cases, such tech is fielding member requests without burdening traditional staff time. And their resolution rates can be similar to human representatives.

What are you waiting for? Get Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and friends to every CU! (HAL is not welcome, sorry)

Interacting in a Financial World

If only it were that simple. “AI” support agents are uniquely programmed to understand financial world terminology. Plus, computers don’t excel at interacting like a person, since we learn and process the world in a different way.

Chatbot

One day, I’m certain this will no longer be the case. (Update 2020: It looks like that day is almost here, as quality chatbots and other “smart” systems now exist to help your members!)

What may be even further off is having all systems talk to each other in the background.

Imagine being able to ask Siri (remember that post?) to transfer money from one account to another and explain the tax implications of your specific IRA contributions.

Then find out the score for your favorite team’s last game.

But we’re not at that point…yet. And look who spoke too soon…we’re actually getting awfully close.

AI for Serving Your Members

Readers know my passion (that’s 3 links!) for the “AI Revolution”. With its arrival, a lot of ideas are being thrown around on best use. Right now, the most common answer is: Everywhere!!!

Brain Split by Tech

Patience, my young Padawan. A fancy chatbot might seem like the natural first step, but let’s look at it from a member benefit perspective. If they have a question, they don’t care who/what responds.

Your members want a quick and accurate answer. If your team is currently able to keep members served quickly and effectively (through any medium they contact), then this may not be a fit for you at this time.

Unless you have unlimited resources, in which case, yes, do all of this at once. Just make sure you have top-notch project management to ensure the focus is always on the unified credit union goals.

Big Data

For the rest of us, the AI which makes the most sense, if less “sexy”, is the Big Data side of AI: Machine learning. Here, you have solutions that can do things quickly which would take enormous staff effort.

Machine Learning Innovations

Stained Glass Spiral
This is your data. Your AI can find the patterns.

For example, you can analyze a member’s credit (beyond the report) and offer a rapid loan decision with a high rate of accuracy.

You can implement systems to monitor patterns in spending to identify fraud the moment it occurs, saving the institution money and the member frustration.

Machine learning is also enabling security of the body, biometrics. That’s the fingerprint sensor on your phone. Or FaceID on your newer iPhone. It’s also the Hello feature on Windows 10 computers.

Retina scanners combined with other biometrics, a security card, and “something you know” composes the “top level” of security at large financial institutions (and government entities).

Speed. Savings. Security.

Three great reasons to implement aspects of AI in your credit union. A recent post about this topic ended with a wonderful quote:

“When a bank…effectively uses AI, they run more efficiently and are able to connect more effectively with a segment of the population that will never be replaced by machines: their customers.” – Mohit Joshi, Innovations in FinTech

Ok, ok.  I’ve given you way too much to consider.  AI, Big Data, machine learning, algorithmic analysis…yeah, I get it. Overwhelming when you just want to know, “can this stuff help my credit union?”

So, I had a realization right after writing this post. Remember that series I did about tech in the financial industry? As part of it, I mentioned that financial institutions are at risk of becoming “dumb banks” in the same way that ISPs are “dumb pipes”.

What I mean is that you are at risk for simply becoming the corridor for other companies’ information. You hold the money, but your members use other services to move, spend, invest, even check on their funds.

The same is the case here with AI.

There will always be a place for information as you manage it now: Raw account balances aren’t going anywhere.  But that’s “dumb data”.  The future is in “smart data”.

Owl Reading Book by Candlelight

Where your credit union and members can find patterns in spending, opportunities in lending, and personalized recommendations for minimizing debt (or maximizing wealth).

How will you become the “smart data” of the future?

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

Your members (for everyone else, customers). They make the credit union world go round. But they’re also not afraid to express their frustrations!

Coffee Beans Spilled From Cup

Yours love those low rates and community-centric mission! But they 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 is even 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 my maximum reply times, based on medium:

Man Looking at His Watch
  • 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?”

Your MSR, presumably

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.

Steps to Resolution

Getting to a resolution has a few steps when you’re not the one able to do it. Here’s a sample assuming they’re conversing over the phone:

  1. Give them straight-up attention. Show you understand their question.
  2. Provide diligence in action. If you know they need to talk to someone else, don’t waste their time not transferring.
  3. Make sure the 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. I love the “warm transfer”:
    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.
    Provide accountability for everyone. This personal touch does not go unnoticed by your member.

Addressing Public Complaints

Goose Honking

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.

Summary

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.

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