How Credit Union Call Centers Can Make Members Feel Important

Plus, additional takeaways from the first day of the 2016 Credit Union Call Center Conference.

That the 2016 Credit Union Call Center Conference takes place in Las Vegas is perfect. Here’s why:

This morning, I woke up early to jog down the Strip. Still on East Coast time, I was lacing up my sneakers earlier than I had planned. Before most (okay, half) of Vegas was awake. The casino floor at Harrah’s (the conference venue) was empty, as was much of the Strip. But not all of it.

Casinos run the length of the Strip, and they stand in all shapes, sizes, and opulence. But that’s not what I noticed.

In front of the Wynn, two workers were touching up the paint on a temporary wooden overhang used to protect pedestrians from construction. Minutes later, in front of the Hilton, a man was wiping down the insides of a large plastic newspaper stand with 15 different compartments.

To me, these seemed like irrelevant details, though that’s wrong. There are no irrelevant details not in Vegas. 14 of the world’s 25 largest hotels are located on the Las Vegas strip, and 42 casinos call the Strip area home, all of which combine for billions and billion in revenue each year.

So what I thought an irrelevant detail, hotel and casino earners see as a part of the overall experience that is the Entertainment Capital of the World. It’s not busy work. It’s good customer service.

That’s where the call centers come into play. Here are three additional takeaways from the 2016 Credit Union Call Center Conference.

Make Me Feel Important

Opening keynote speaker Barry Maher is the author of Filling the Glass: Real World Tactics and Reality-Based Motivation for Increasing Productivity and Job Satisfaction, an influence for his presentation.

Maher moved through the assembled conference goers presenting his points through interaction. Early, he asked a man to stand up. They stood chest to chest while Maher attempted to push the man (solidly built and maybe twice Maher’s size). Maher made no progress, justifying his failure by saying, when we push against people, they push back.

In sales, that’s bad leadership. Rather than push, leaders need to get people moving in the same direction. That’s how to reach goals.

But how? He quoted Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, on how she would get her employees aligned and moving in the same direction.

Treat everyone as if they have an invisible sign around their neck that says, Make Me Feel Important,’ he said. That’s what the credit union call center can do: make members feel important, even on the phone. We’ve come a long way from Verizon Wireless’ old hold message: Because we value your business, please stay on hold.

That’s like saying, Because I value your money, please give me your wallet,’ Maher says.

But credit unions have a responsibility to make their employees feel important as well. That’s called motivation, he says, quoting the U.S. Army’s Be All You Can Be slogan as an excellent example.

You want to motivate your employees, he says. Show them the vision you have for what they can become.

Member Relationships Are The Result Of Many Successful Interactions

After Maher, Mike Baker, president of the KIVA Group, a CRM provider for banks and credit unions, spoke on understanding the member experience.

Don’t treat members the way you want to be treated, Baker says. Treat them how they want to be treated, paraphrasing a famous Disney customer service axiom.

Well, how do they want to be treated? Baker identified three service tenants that members value and not just in a call center: alacrity, accuracy, and attitude.

In 2016, though, credit union touch points with members are greater than they’ve ever been. Members can interact with the credit union in-branch, online, on their mobile phones, and through phone calls. So now the credit union challenge is to offer a great experience on the member’s channel of choice. Baker asked and answered three questions trying to get to the bottom of this.

What internal steps can be taken to ensure a great experience in an omni-channel world?

  • Consistency
  • Personalization
  • KnowYourMember
  • Easy access to data
  • Surveys
  • Opt-out live support

What steps can be taken to raise a credit union’s level of member experience management?

  • Hire the right skills
  • Set key performance objectives
  • Measure and reward
  • Onboard staff and members
  • Mentor and coach your team
  • Encourage friendly peer competition

What can credit union’s do today to improve member experience?

  • Align technology to support business objectives.
  • Recognize and reward team members for great performance.
  • Deliver the same great experience to your members across all channels.

How To Get More Discretionary Effort

After lunch, Richard Hadden, author of Contented Cows Give Better Milk, made the connection between a credit union’s work environment and its profitability.

Creating a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things you can do for your bottom line, Hadden says.

According to Hadden, companies with great workforce reputations like Starbucks, Disney, General Mills, and others typically outperform the stock market and national GDP growth, as well as post lower turnover rates relative to peers.

For example, while supermarkets post 86% annual average turnover rates, Walgreens sees 16%%; similarly, annual average turnover for fast food restaurants is 110%, while Chick-fil-A sees only 55%.

So what gives these companies a workforce advantage over others? It has to do with something called discretionary effort, Hadden says. That is, the increment of human effort the expenditure of which is at the sole discretion of the worker, he says. In other words, this is what people do because they want to, not because they have to.

The gap between personal capability and minimum requirement is the most profitable morsel of effort your employees can give to you, Hadden says. The organizations that get more of this more often make more money.

What companies should understand, Hadden offers, is that work is contractual but engagement is personal. It can’t simply be written into a job description. To drive higher levels of it, employers must give employees five things: meaningful work, caring and authentic leadership, growth and development potential, appreciation, and autonomy.

Today, it can be harder to engage. According to Hadden, in 1950 the average job tenure was 19 years. In 2014, it’s just 4.6.

We don’t marry our jobs, we’re just dating, he says, quoting a friend’s assessment of his own career. Therefore, employers like credit unions need to make dating as pleasant as can be.

Everybody in your organization is hungry for something, he says. As a leader, your job is to find out what they are hungry for.

Also From The 2016 Credit Union Call Center Conference

  • Call Center Training And Key Performance Indicators

  • Call Center Metrics And Orientation Goals

October 17, 2016

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