Five words that guide the most customer-centric companies in the land

Three decades of strategic advisory to credit unions have led to comparable engagements with the Fortune 500 companies that serve as current or legacy sponsors to many credit unions. Think Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Pfizer. Not only are the associated credit unions focused on exceptional service to employees/members, but the supporting companies are known for being among the most customer-centric companies in the country.

So, what elements of customer centricity stand out between the most customer-centric companies? Create a word cloud of terms that best describe each company’s focus for customers, and you will discover an image packed with terms of commitment to customers. However, five expressions stand out as the most common areas of emphasis among these companies highly regarded for their relentless attention to customers. Let’s explore.

Customer. For our sake, let’s switch and use the term, “member.” Members are the foundation, the solid footing of credit unions. No members, no deposits. No deposits, no loans. No loans, no income. You get the picture. Members drive everything. Place the utmost value on those who choose your credit union. And ensure every staff member, every day, appreciates the value of members. As a poster in the training room of a New Jersey credit union reads, “If we don’t take care of the member, someone else will.”

Experience. Quite simply, this is the feeling members sense as they interact with your credit union – in person, on a mobile device, via the contact center, in your marketing messages, through community involvement, etc. Experiences drive a member’s desire and decision to continue using your credit union, buy or borrow again, and be an excellent referral source. Create experiences that leave no choice but for members to return.

Service. A byproduct of being relentlessly attentive to customers, service is the ultimate driver of sales. These companies understand that marketing creates awareness, but outstanding service will drive a consumer’s willingness to continue listening and absorbing messages about the benefits of various products and services. “Serve first, sell second” is a common saying among these companies. Tend to the exact needs of your members and you will earn the opportunity to inform, consult, and ultimately sell. Service leads to sales.

Data. One size does not fit all, and customization is key when executing plans for customer- and member-centricity. Capturing, organizing, and learning from member data helps your credit union market more efficiently, serve more personally, and create a one-to-one experience every time. It’s the ability to continue serving one member at a time in a world where bigger can often overshadow the importance of continuing to get better. Use data wisely to continue this tradition.

Employee. As much as technology allows you to grow, deliver, and serve – all at scale – the true leaders of member-centricity are employees. Some staff members directly engage with members and others serve behind the scenes. Regardless of role, every employee ultimately contributes to member success. Deliver this message throughout your credit union. It is the difference between companies known and admired for customer-centricity and those who are not. Member-centricity as a strategy and pillar of culture help to steer your credit union away from the risk of commoditization.

It’s wise to learn how other credit unions serve members in a desire to become more member centric. But, members are also consumers using countless products and services from numerous customer-centric companies. As you commit to keeping members at the forefront of strategy and operations, consider how other companies do the same. The lessons you learn in and out of the industry can reveal new and enhanced ways to maintain a persistent concentration on members, building notable mind, wallet, and market share for your credit union.

Jeff Rendel

Jeff Rendel

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with credit unions that want elite results in sales, service, and strategy. Each year, he addresses and facilitates ... Web: Details