The Evolution Of Patelco’s Complaint Resolution System

A bigger team and new channels are just two of the advancements that help the California credit union better address member feedback.

Patelco Credit Union ($4.6B, Pleasanton, CA) has come a long way since originally featured the credit union’s budding complaint resolution program in late 2013.

Read How Patelco Credit Union Is Listening To The Voice Of Its Members.

Back then, Patelco had recently implemented a formal process to resolve and track member complaints. It also had expanded its complaint resolution program from one staffer dubbed the Voice of the Member who was responsible for resolving problems to a dedicated team of employees who handle member complaints.

Marla Lucas, Member Experience Manager, Patelco Credit Union

In this Q&A, Marla Lucas, member experience manager for Patelco, discusses how the credit union moved beyond its outgrown manual approach and implemented a formal scoring program.

How does Patelco collect member feedback?

Marla Lucas. The credit union has a formal program based on Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology that we’ve dubbed the Patelco Promoter Score. We survey our members after key points of contact. For example, if someone contacts our call center, visits a branch, or joins as a new member, it triggers a survey to solicit specific feedback from them on that experience. We send surveys on a weekly basis and include rules to prevent contacting the same members too frequently.

We also have a closed loop process, which means we follow-up with members who have rated us poorly or provided feedback about how we can improve. The system automatically notifies the appropriate credit union employee via email so they can contact the member to better understand and resolve the issue.


Data as of 09.30.15

  • HQ: Pleasanton, CA
  • ASSETS: $4.6B
  • MEMBERS: 294,708
  • BRANCHES: 37
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 8.92%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.60%
  • ROA: 0.83%

What system(s) does Patelco use?

ML:We use the Satmetrix system, one of the creators of the Net Promoter Score, to survey our members. Our participation in the Member Loyalty Group CUSO allows us to access that tool.

We have a measurement tool for social media as well. We primarily solicit feedback through the triggered surveys, but if a member contacts us through Facebook or Twitter, we communicate with the member wherever they chose to connect with us. We also have a tool for Yelp so we can respond publicly or privately, depending on the nature of the review.

How many Patelco employees focus on complaint resolution? What is your department structure?

ML: We’ve expanded from a single person focused on the voice of the member to a team that is three levels deep. I have a Voice of the Member specialist who reports to me. My title is Member Experience Manager, and I report to the Senior Vice President of Member Experience & Planning.

We interact a lot with other areas of the credit union, particularly the branches and call center but departments such as mortgages and online banking as well. We train all Patelco team members who follow-up with members to ensure the closed loop process is effective.

It’s not just about following up with members who rate us poorly, sometimes members rate us highly but their feedback is important, too. They often have ideas for specific areas where we can improve, so we follow-up with them.

What is an example of something Patelco has improved based on member feedback?

ML: When a member joins the credit union, they receive a member number. They also have an account number or numbers. And if they want to set up direct deposit with their employer, then they need a different number.

Through the Patelco Promoter Score program, we saw there was a lot of confusion regarding which one to use when logging in to online banking or signing up for direct deposit, so we made changes to clarify things.

We’re going through a digital transformation that will give us even more ways to receive member feedback and identify the root cause of issues.

Now when members log into online banking, they clearly see their member ID, account number, and longer direct deposit account number. It is front and center. We’ve also discussed the issue with front-line employees. When new members join, we avoid that confusion up front by making sure they clearly understand before they leave the branch or hang up with the call center.

Have you seen any significant score changes since implementing the Patelco Promoter Score?

ML:Yes and no. Since this is our first year with a formal NPS program in place, we don’t have a lot of historical information yet. It takes time to build up to the point where you have a truly representative sample. As far as the scores go, we now have a much more reliable sample size, which allows us to quantify the feedback and look for trends. This is true even at the branch level.

For example, we found that parking was an extreme challenge for members at two of our branch locations. Members were frustrated even before they walked in the door, which certainly exacerbated any other service issue that might arise during their visit, such as wait time in the branch.

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The program allowed us to quantify the member impact and made the decision to resolve the issue a no brainer. Now, we’re implementing a way to validate parking at these locations to improve the member experience.

We are also starting to look at the trends and the frequency in which members compliment or complain about the credit union. We’ve found we do a lot of things well, but there are some areas where we can improve and the program helps us pinpoint both.

What advice would you give other credit unions that want to implement or enhance a complaint resolution or member feedback program?

ML: Regardless of what you call the program complaint resolution, member feedback it is a journey. As you continue to receive feedback and technology advances, what the members are telling you will change. That means the credit union will need to continually evolve to remain relevant.

We still use our excel spreadsheet to track the members who write a letter to the president, and we still have some members who prefer paper surveys. But we find the bulk of members today email their survey feedback. We’re going through a digital transformation that will give us even more ways to receive member feedback and identify the root cause of issues. We’ll be able to get more data using our mobile apps, which we’re not able to do today.

The mediums our members use to communicate are changing, and we need to change with them. We want to communicate with our members wherever and however they choose to reach out to us.

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July 26, 2019

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