Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: member service (page 1 of 2)

Is Selling In Your Credit Union Culture?

“We’re a service organization, not a sales culture.” I’ve heard those words from a number of credit unions. Too bad they’re wrong.

Ahh!! Put down the pitchforks and torches! Please, at least for a moment! Those credit unions were incorrect about one half of their statement. Of course they should remain a service organization. That’s what makes a credit union, well, a credit union. But no sales culture? Everything is sales.

  • What you eat for breakfast is sales,
  • If you choose to read my posts is sales,
  • Every decision is sales at its core.

What many credit unions have in mind when they hear “sales” is the aggressive “used car salesman”. You know, like this guy. (Which happens to be Kurt Russell from the 1980 film “Used Cars”.)

Kurt Russell Used Car Salesman

I’m in sales, and they’re a horrible representation of it (but he’s a great actor). I’m also professionally trained in a sales system which insists upon clarity and respect for all parties. As my sales coach used to say, “sales is a noble profession”. We don’t look at a bad driver and say, “drivers are all terrible”. Except here in Florida, where they are. Besides that, generalizations distort the truth.

Your credit union can deliver world-class service while being a sales culture. In fact, the latter supports the former! An MSR truly connecting with members learns about them. Their goals, their needs, their worries. This considerate MSR can suggest Payment Protection Insurance on a loan to someone who is worried about their family being burdened by a loan if they can’t work. Sure, they’re selling a product, and the credit union is making money (as should the MSR), but the member feels better served and more secure. They’ll remember how your credit union helped, especially if they need to take advantage of the policy.

Curious as to where to start? The Missouri CU Association shared their guidance with NCUA as a step-by-step process.

The other side of the discussion is a member who was not sold at all. They closed a loan and were “sold” nothing. Congratulations, your staff served the member by not selling them any additional services. Then, three months later, their car is totaled. Without GAP coverage, they now owe $4000 to make up the difference. Are they:

  1. Angry
  2. Disappointed
  3. Really pissed
  4. All of the above,

…with your credit union? You were serving that member, yet never told them there could be a large gap between what their car is worth and what they owe? That’s not service! Your lack of a sales culture could have changed this person, and their family’s life, for the worse.

Having a sales culture based on honesty and up-front discussions with members creates a win/win scenario. Members are happy to be offered services which may fit their needs (and can easily say no once informed). They’re thrilled when these services are used and they save money as a result. You’re a real life-saver in these cases. Through it all, your credit union makes more money, enabling you to offer more community services, lower rates, and better fulfill your mission.

Knowing what you do now, will you adopt a sales culture?

When you do, in the words of Dumbo, “Don’t just fly, soar!”

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Image credits: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20500000/Dumbo-in-Kingdom-Hearts-walt-disney-characters-20542266-786-568.jpg, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081698/

How Would You Rate This Experience? (Part 2)

This is a continuation of 3 Ways To Ensure Your Customer Service Doesn’t Suck.

Every interaction with your members results in one of three ratings:

  1. Exceed expectations. (Impress)
  2. Meet expectations. (Satisfy)
  3. Miss expectations. (Disappoint)

Like you, I’m all about exceeding expectations. But it’s tough to do all the time. Let’s take a look at some recent customer service experiences and see what can be gleaned to increase your proportion of #1s. Click the company name to see the experience.

Florida Blue
There was a billing issue with my health insurance, so I reached out for a solution. 24 hours later (an eternity for Twitter), they suggested switching to e-mail. I did so, wherein their reply said they would follow up. A week later with no response, I wrote back. Now they recommended a phone call, which, despite a long conversation and the agent saying it should work, I had no such luck. Their conclusion: The problem is a problem. Work around it.

Rating: 3

 

Intuit
I submitted e-mail feedback for their Mint app on a basic improvement. Their reply came in 3 hours and appeared to be a real person. However, their response had nothing to do with my request, so either it was a bad “machine learning” auto-reply or someone who didn’t read. Two more frustrating exchanges until they seemed to grasp my request, passing it along to their app development team.

Rating: 3

 

Comcast
They feel like a different company whether contacted by phone, in-person, or over Twitter. Also, every person gives a different story, sometimes blatantly lying about system issues or policies. Their Twitter team is the only one which tries to follow through to resolution. For my billing issue, they helped get it resolved…to an extent.

Rating: 2 (anytime they don’t burn down your house is a good support experience)

 

JetBlue
I had two separate issues for them to address. One was a delayed flight, and how it was handled. We eventually got to our destination, but with more frustration than needed. I e-mailed the tale, and they replied with an apology, explanation, and a travel voucher for future flights, no questions asked. Another experience came during a flight, where their in-seat entertainment failed (for me and the row behind). A crew member had us all enter our information in a tablet to send out a voucher. It never arrived. I asked over Twitter a week later and was told it was on its way. Another week later, no luck. I wrote back, and they issued it manually within 10 minutes. Their systems faltered, but the people were empowered to step up.

Rating: 1

 

BrightStar Credit Union

I’ve written about my credit union in the past. They’ve had challenges, and still have a ways to go. However, they are on an upward path. The app security issue? Fixed. Twitter replies arrive a bit sooner. Even phone hold times are 10 minutes or less (yes, that’s a dramatic improvement). But it was with my recent vehicle loan refinance where they shined (Get it? Bright…star? “Yes, I’m a natural blue.” – Dory). The evening of my vehicle purchase, I completed their online forms. Two days later, I had a personal reply from my now-dedicated MSR. I shared all necessary paperwork, information, and signatures. All questions and interactions were answered within a day. If not for waiting on the original lender, she would have had my refinance done in a few days.

Rating: 1

 

What can we learn from these experiences?

  • Florida Blue‘s problem was a lack of follow-up coupled with a technical glitch that no one knew existed (or how to fix).
  • Intuit either used a bad keyword checker to auto-generate replies or their support team has an inability to read the most basic requests.
  • Comcast…who knows. They have so many conflicting systems, departments, and people. It feels built to under-deliver. Don’t let your credit union get that complicated.
  • JetBlue has built their reputation on great service, and even when things go wrong, they are on top of it. I should also mention, that last interaction with them was on a Sunday evening.
  • BrightStar has come a long way. They’re still not my PFI for a few reasons, but I’m happy to have my auto loan with them. It was everything a member experience should be: Timely, personal, and clear. Oh, and they helped me get a great rate.

I read somewhere that all customer satisfaction surveys are meaningless if they don’t ask this one question: Would you recommend this product/service to your friends or family?

Well, what would your members say?

Image credit: http://media.idownloadblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/customer-satisfaction.jpg

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 chat bot, 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)

It’s not 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. One day, I’m certain this will no longer be the case, and all systems will talk to each other in the background, so you could ask Siri (remember that post?) to transfer money from one account to another, explain the tax implications of your specific IRA contributions, and what the score is for your favorite team. But we’re not at that point…yet. And look who spoke too soon…we’re actually getting awfully close.

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!!!

Patience, my young Padawan. A fancy chat bot 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. They just 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.

For the rest of us, the AI which makes the most sense, if less “sexy”, is the Big Data side of AI, the machine learning. Here, you have solutions which can analyze a member’s credit (beyond the report) and offer a rapid loan decision with high rate 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. You know it as the fingerprint sensor on your phone, but facial recognition is also commonplace on new Windows 10 computers, while retina scanners are the “top level” of security at large financial institutions.

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”, simply being the corridor for other companies’ information.  You hold the money, but your members use other company 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”.  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?

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