Omigosh! We need more people!

Sound like a familiar request? If you are growing – or want to – it most likely does sound familiar. Perhaps it is time to consider some moves to make your current team more productive without adding new employees


If you followed last month’s advice in an article entitled, Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About!, you’re having members say “yes” to your sales initiatives.  Glad to hear you got that done. Now the question turns to how your team is handling these new requests.  All this new growth and providing better service stuff leads to increased activity throughout your organization.

Increased activity means your team is busy. They may even be stressed and have presented you with a nice request to add new staff to handle the load.  But wait, there’s a better way.  Could this be a time to focus on operational excellence?  You bet.

What are we talking about?
Growing your credit union is an excellent objective – albeit, one that is a bit of a double-edged sword.  Growth also brings more activity, more requests, more new accounts … more of just about everything.  To handle this, many organizations’ response is to increase headcount.

When you get right down to it, if you grow your revenue line by 15% and grow your cost line by 15% to handle that business, not much is gained.  To make it really work, you have to gain “economies of scale” on the cost side as a result of your growth.  To do that, you need to become more efficient in your operations.

The cost of people is the largest single cost component of almost every credit union – in many cases roughly 50% of the operating expenses. One might conclude that an obvious place to start is to work on the productivity of that asset.  The question now becomes: How can you get more production from your staff (without, of course, just working everyone harder)?

So how do you increase productivity?
The answer lies in the old adage “work smarter, not harder.”  “Harder” implies more effort, more elbow grease, more activity.  “Smarter” means smooth, knowledgeable, easy.

Last month our examples were three engaged employees – armed with information at their fingertips – who were able to offer up a new recommended service or product that expanded the relationship with a member.  Let’s suppose they were successful – and a new bill pay service, a directive to rollover a future maturing CD, and a new checking account were requested.  How easy is it for your team to implement those things?

Most organizations rely on a series of systems, checks, e-mails, and telephone calls to get a request implemented.  But what if there was a way to easily capture the right information while speaking with the member and get it routed to the right place in the organization for fulfillment – or maybe even to completely automate some of those fulfillment activities?

If every employee faced with some form of member-driven request had tools that let them handle that request with a few clicks and keystrokes, how easy and smooth would that be? Let’s revisit the conversations that Sue, Morton, and Laura are having with our members and find out:

  1. Member Jones thought Sue the Service Representative had a great idea to enroll in bill pay and wants to know what the next step is?  Sue quickly looks at the sales campaign information and sees that Ms. Jones needs to enroll herself – but also notes that she can send the enrollment page link in an email.  She says, “Ms. Jones, you can easily enroll online. May I send you the link to the enrollment page at your email address?”
  2. Morton the Member Representative helped Member Gonzalez recognize that he has a CD maturing in the next three weeks.  Morton is able to ask Mr. Gonzalez a few quick questions about what to do when it matures and record these instructions on a service ticket – which will lie dormant and pop into view in the Account Services department two days before the CD matures with the member’s instructions right there. And nobody needs to make a phone call to find out what the member wants to do with the account! 
  3. Member Smith is in a branch talking with Laura the Lending Representative.  In response to Laura’s “… anything else we can do for you,” Mr. Smith announces that he has been looking to open a new checking account and wonders if it will take long to open one up. Laura clicks on the “open new account” link, asks Mr. Smith if his address information is still correct, and if he’d like the Regular Checking or Premium Checking account.  In the background a new credit report is pulled and a query to ChexSystems on Mr. Smith is processed. Both are OK and the new account is created.  The only question left is with how much and through what method Mr. Smith would like to fund the account.  The whole process takes less than two or three minutes.

These are simple examples of how a service activity (last month’s discussion) led to the sale of a new product or service.  More importantly, they speak to the ease and speed with which staff was able to implement the requested service.

Using technology as an enabling tool.
You can – and are – doing these things today.  But the real question is how easy and simple can you do them?  Do you send emails from one department to another?  Do you ask the member to contact another department?  Does the request go unfulfilled and you tell the member “somebody will be in touch with you?”  How much effort does it take to accomplish these things?

In each case, our employee simply and quickly executed the next task in implementing a new product or service.  In some cases, a few seconds at the keyboard completed the sale right there. In others, it required someone else to do something, but the next step was taken care of immediately.

Having the right tools at your disposal implies the effective use of technology.  Tools like fiVISION’s Relationship Management platform enable your employees to quickly and efficiently handle member requests.  What is that worth to you?  What if you could realize a 5-10% productivity savings on staff time and effort, while managing all your growth?  Do the math. I bet you would be impressed with the number – and you may not need those new people just yet!



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April 30, 2007


  • In Jamaica we grapple with these very same issues.Our strategic plans always focus ondelighting members so the experience is over the expectation. Thanks for the added ideas
    Brenda Cuthbert