Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

A substantial differentiating aspect that will win the financial services game is based on how you execute the fundamentals


You may be just old enough to remember this phrase – or you may just be a college football junkie and recall that “three yards and a cloud of dust” was how sports writers described Ohio State University’s philosophy and approach to winning football games. If you Google this phrase, all of the top results point to the epic Ohio State football teams of the ‘60s and ‘70s and their legendary Coach Woody Hayes.

Woody Hayes was also controversial figure, but you can’t take from him the results that he and his teams achieved. During Coach Hayes’ career, Ohio State was 205-16-10 in the Big Ten, won four national championships, won 13 Big Ten titles, had 56 All-Americans, and three Heisman Trophy winners. But, perhaps more importantly, Coach Hayes was a great mentor. Some of his assistants were Ara Parseghian, Lou Holtz, Bo Schembechler, Bill Mallory and Earle Bruce – all who went on to garner great success as head coaches in their own right.

Preparation and perfection were the keys to winning the Ohio State way. The not-very-sexy but very fundamental “blocking and tackling” capabilities of Ohio State made them the most dominant college football power of the time. This team played to their strengths, which resulted in its extended success.
Blocking and Tackling for Credit Unions. Many articles cover fun and exotic new revenue ideas, building sales cultures, streamlining in-house processes, enhancing staff productivity, and new products loaded with bells and whistles. Most of these topics focus on sensational, innovative technologies that may help you meet these goals.

But are you overlooking the basics? Playing your strengths? The strength of credit unions is how you serve your membership. There’s not much differentiation in today’s staple of financial products. Most credit unions also have similar interest rates, similar technology offerings, similar in-house structures, etc. So a substantial differentiating aspect that will win this game for you is based on how you execute the fundamentals.

The blocking and tackling equivalent for credit unions is how knowledgeable you are about your members and how responsively you can handle their requests. Let me suggest two pieces of equipment that can help your team make the right plays on the field.

1. Contact Management. Boring, right? Wrong. The single most effective tool you can have at the disposal of your staff is something that helps them easily record the essence of an interaction they have with a member. Make sure your tools accomplish these goals:

    1. Easy to capture – If it’s not easy, staff won’t use it.
    2. Always available – Contact management has to be ubiquitous to be useful – is yours browser- or internet-based?
    3. Enterprise-wide – When somebody captures a note in the Call Center, is it instantly available when that member walks into your 12th Street Branch? (Or better yet, when they call you!)
    4. Can report on it – Knowing why your members are talking with you can help you analyze and improve your operations.

2. Service Request Management. The next step in contact management is capturing requests and getting them quickly resolved. Serving the member involves capturing information at one point and getting it routed to another spot for resolution.. Having a ticket management platform in place can ensure that requests don’t fall through the cracks. Make sure your tools accomplish these goals:

    1. Get the right info on the spot – If the back office has a chance of resolving the request quickly, you have to be able to nail down the essential information when you are working with the member.
    2. Auto-route to the right place – You should not have to think about where the request goes, it should just go there.
    3. Escalation and Management Visibility – Your team handles many items every day. What capabilities exist to help them manage the workload in front of them?
    4. Share status – The member may check in on your progress. Is how you’re doing easily shared so the team member who answers the phone can answer the question?
    5. Can report on it – Knowing what your members are asking you to do can help you analyze and improve your operations.

At the end of the day, how you serve your members and handle their requests will determine your success in the marketplace. It is a lot more than “wearing a smile” or just being pleasant. It has to do with how much your entire credit union knows about this individual member they are talking with right now – and how quickly you can answer what they are going to ask you. After all, they did call/walk-in/email/chat with you for a reason.

So how would your credit union team stack up in executing the fundamentals? Do you have the tools to be Ohio State?

Use of effective contact management tools – like fiVISION’s memberWORKS – can help your credit union be knowledgeable and responsive fielding member requests. This will build strong member relationships AND save you money at the same time. If you want to find out how contact and service request management has made life easier for some of your peers – contact me and I’ll share some of their results with you. For more information call 317.612.3350 or visit us online at



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