Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: processes (Page 1 of 2)

Who’s Your BS Director?

Originally published on

It’s a requirement of every organization. They’re among the most important roles, ensuring all operations proceed smoothly!

Wait, why do you keep looking at me like that? What is it? BS? You know what it means. Oh, you’re thinking of that meaning. No wonder you’re so flustered!

BS is short for better systems. Because what else would it represent?

Imagine a BS Director. What would that look like? It’s no explicit role. They address auditing and accounting. They manage vendor relationships. It is even in their playbook to interact with members. They’re busy bees, learning as they go, continually developing BS for each action. They’re full of BS, and all they want to do is share it with others!

Good thing your credit union has no bad systems. Oh, but you do. Even if your member experience appears smooth as a glassy sea, there is some aspect where the waves pick up. It could be anywhere. Don’t worry, though. Your BS Director will help point them out, and suggest paths which navigate back to calmer waters.

And it doesn’t just have to be on the member-facing side. Maybe it’s way too much work getting that darn copy machine fixed. Or a certain regular action needs high-level approval, which wastes everyone’s time. It could be anything. BS Directors love variety.

Of course, as important as the BS Director is, they can’t do it alone. In fact, when did I ever say they were a single person? Your BS Director is every staff member (and sometimes even your members)! I know for a fact that many members of your team have great ideas. I’d bet some are sitting right now with suggestions which have never seen an executive retreat PowerPoint slide. BS Directors, everywhere you look! So why is it that we all don’t have BS oozing out of our very entities?

We don’t welcome it. Or, we let it be shared, then ignore it. At least where it doesn’t affect us or the bottom line of our organization. Maybe it was just inconvenient to bother at the time. Though, I’m sure no credit unions have ever passed on a good suggestion.

How do we ensure BS Directors in any role are respected and followed? By adopting a humble mindset: “Great ideas can and do come from all places. I’m open and eager to empower an environment of sharing!” Where your members feel welcomed to share how something would be better (and then see it adopted), it creates a tighter community. When your staff knows their feedback is taken seriously (they are the ones actually doing the work day to day!), you get those suggestions eagerly.

Can any of you remember a workplace where you feared repercussions for suggesting a better strategy? Or where the “best ideas” were from the boss, and the boss alone? Since most of us can, it’s our natural state. Your credit union needs to actively change that perception before people (members included) will be comfortable sharing. Let this article be your first BS Director. From here, in the words of Captain Planet, “the power is yours!”

TL;DR: Your members and staff have great ideas, but it takes a conscious shift to make people ok to sharing (and receiving).

Image credit: © publicdomainstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Pizza Place Incident

Originally published on

This post highlights what I’ve come to call, “The Pizza Place Incident”.  In reality, it was nowhere near as exciting as the title implies.  Or was it?  (Cue dramatic chipmunk)

Here’s how it’s going to work.  I’ll share the story first.  After each section, we will discuss the key points the restaurant missed and how you can avoid them at your credit union (yes, pizza and credit unions relate).

It was a rainy evening in south Florida.  Which, for those not from here, means, “between July and November”.  My family sought shelter and sustenance at our favorite local pizza shop.  Braving the tropical squalls in our trusty four-wheel-drive while SiriusXM played songs of sun and sand, we safely arrived, our only sufferance the delay of a few red lights.  Upon sitting at the lone remaining table, we steal a glance at the menu we know so well.  Only it’s different.  Prices crept higher.  Some choices gained a dollar or so, others more.  One in particular changed in an odd way.  Of course it happened to be my mom’s favorite meal.  Instead of just raising the price, the core items were now extras.  Like broccoli.  On a dish previously called, “Pasta With Broccoli and Garlic”.  How much?  $4.  The same, I should mention, as the cost for shrimp or chicken.  Yes, chicken, shrimp, and broccoli all carried the same up-charge.  When we asked the owner about it, their response was equally perplexing.  “Yeah, that’s the way it is.”

Did she end up getting the dish?  Yes.  With the broccoli.  But she was less happy about it.  Which brings us to our first lesson break.  Make sure to stand up and stretch.  It’s important to remain active throughout the day.

If you’re going to raise prices, you must add value, perceived or otherwise, that is worth more than the increase.  Otherwise, customers get angry and may leave negative reviews (you do reply to them all, right?) or seek out a competitor.  In this case, charging the same for broccoli as shrimp made it even more frustrating.

This wasn’t the only issue faced that night.  Another item we ordered was a large pizza.  Theirs happens to reheat especially well, making it great for future meals.  After taking far longer than it should, we asked our waitress on the status of the pie.  She begins to profusely apologize, as she served it to another table (who, oddly enough, didn’t turn it down).  They had ordered a small, and it was just coming out of the oven.  We could have it in lieu of waiting for a fresh one to be prepared.  Sure, pizza is pizza, despite fewer leftovers.  Our waitress, who raced around the restaurant the entire evening, managed to stop running long enough to explain it was her first night.  “They just don’t do things the same at this location.” (The owner has a few shops around the area).  Ah, ha!  Another lesson point to be made.  Let your slice cool for a moment while we do some learning!

When your processes are unpredictable or nonexistent, you make it challenging for anyone else to create a consistent experience.  I watched as the owner micro-managed every action of the kitchen staff, the front register, our waitress, the delivery guy, and the baker.  Worse, she gave conflicting instructions depending on when she walked by.  It was obvious no processes were in place, and, as a result, mistakes were made.

Consistency is essential.  There’s a reason every Big Mac, across the planet, comes out identically.  And, for those who eat such things, that is part of the appeal.  You know what you’re going to get.  It doesn’t matter if Jan or Steve is out that day.  Anyone can follow the process to prepare the same burger.

Despite the issues, we still had a delicious dinner.  Even the weather cooperated on the drive home.  But it was a night of lessons.

  1. Pricing: Your members want to pay less and get more.  That’s normal.  So brainstorm how you can deliver value throughout their relationship to rationalize any costs.  It could be a value-add fee checking account that helps protect members’ identities and more*, or inclusive services paid though outside relationships.  Consider what you can do to grow ROA (or return more to members and your community) without imposing NSF or other punitive fees.
  2. Processes: Too often, I’ve been interacting with a credit union (client or otherwise) and their reason for a random delay is, “Bob handles that and he’s really the only one who knows how to do it.”  Worse is, “Beth ran that, but she transferred to another credit union, and we’re not sure where she left things.”

Avoid “The Credit Union Incident” by following this guidance.  Beth’s replacement will thank you.

*Disclosure: My company offers such a service and produced a white paper to help credit unions determine if it or a similar solution might be a fit for their institution.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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

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

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)

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?

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