Christian Community Credit Union ($663.2M, San Dimas, CA) was an industry trailblazer when it dedicated a position to the member experience four years ago. The role started out at the assistant vice president level before evolving into a vice president position two years ago.
Charlie Allen, who previously oversaw member services for the credit union, was singularly qualified to hold the role responsible for leading the charge to deliver a consistent member experience across all service channels. In fact, the credit union created the position for Allen.
Today, Christian Community looks closely at the everyday interactions between employees and members to uncover ways to improve processes at a department level. And Allen is there every step of the way.
“Two years ago, I began going into each of the member-facing departments to see what members and our own team were experiencing firsthand,” Allen says.
This systematic approach has contributed to a significant increase in the credit union’s net promoter score and reviews. For those members who are unhappy, the credit union tracks and addresses pain points via an online request tracking system.
Here, Allen talks about her priorities as the vice president of member experience, what her day looks like, and how she defines success in her role.
Why did Christian Community dedicate a role to member experience? How has the role evolved?
Charlie Allen: We were one of the first credit unions to create a dedicated member experience position. Initially, we wanted to develop and apply standards of service across all our delivery channels, everything from in-person and phone interactions to online, chat, general emails, and mailers.
It started as an assistant vice president position, but we changed gears about two years ago. We added another element and made it a vice president position. That’s when I started going into the departments to see more interactions firsthand. Our goal is to better understand what our members are experiencing and identify opportunities to improve those experiences for members and our team members.
What are your areas of responsibility?
CA: My main area of responsibility is currently working with our consumer side of our business. I take a deep, process-driven approach to identify concrete ways to improve the member experience.
Christian Community also has departments that serve our ministry and business members. I’ve recently assisted that team with reviewing and updating forms to simplify and streamline the ministry new account process. I get the opportunity to partner with managers of the departments and work directly with their staff. It’s a collaborative effort.
How did you tackle your responsibilities for this new role?
CA: I started with our member services area, which includes the call center, branch staff, and support services. I began by buddying up with the resident expert or supervisor, then I sat with every employee.
I literally pulled chairs over and spent one to four days, depending on the role, with each person. I was interested in learning their current processes, how they interacted with our members and prospective members, whether we could streamline processes for staff ease and member convenience, and if everyone in the department was following the same process to build consistency.
Depending on when an employee started and who trained them, they might not have learned how to do the same job in the same way. If someone discovered a faster, easier way of taking care of a member, that knowledge wasn’t institutionalized to benefit the entire area.
CU QUICK FACTS
Christian Community Credit Union
DATA AS OF 06.30.19
HQ: San Dimas, CA
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 0.4%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 1.7%
Talk more about how you dug into those individual roles.
CA: I asked each employee a series of questions to discover how they felt in their own job:
- Was everything documented?
- What did they find difficult?
- How could we help?
- What training was needed?
- What prevented them from serving the members?
After conducting interviews with the entire team and formulating my own observations, I met with the department leaders, the resident expert, and our COO. We recapped statistics, difficulties, and the fulfillment of member needs. Then, we assigned people to update or enhance procedures and training and added additional touchpoints or anything else that was needed to implement these opportunities to improve.
What qualifications make you a good fit for this job?
CA: The experience I had at the credit union made me uniquely qualified for this position. I’ve been here 22 years. I started at the front desk and worked my way through almost every position in member services within about five years. Then, I started in leadership. I know the role each position plays within the credit union. And, as someone who’s been there personally, I understand how to serve in each position.
I work closely with the managers to develop goals for employee development. We’re all working together to grow the credit union.
What does your typical day look like?
CA: I typically spend three to four days per week sitting side by side with an employee in a designated area, noting opportunities to improve our processes.
As the member experience person, I also co-interview everyone who’s going to be talking to our members and work closely with our managers to set goals for member-facing staff.
How do you track success in your job?
CA: In the past few years, we’ve implemented a system that helps us keep track of different tasks such as referrals, new products, welcome or event calls, and pain points. If anyone expresses a concern, it gets sent directly to me so I can act on it or pass it along to the manager of that area to resolve.
Overall, success means providing a consistent experience. We’re not done yet; however, as we’ve focused on the member experience, we’ve seen more positive member reviews online and a significantly higher net promoter score.
Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
CA: I report to the chief operating officer. No one reports to me. I work with everyone, so I like to say that I have the best job in the house. I don’t participate in performance reviews, but I work closely with the managers to develop goals for employee development. We’re all working together to grow the credit union.
How do you stay current with topics that fall under your role?
CA: I read a lot of books. I also attend the Callahan roundtables on member experience and other industry events. Many of our vendors now provide member experience tracks during their conferences our online banking and phone system are two examples. I spend most of my time in-house with our various departments, but attending several conferences every year and reading keeps me abreast of industry trends and best practices.
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