I am presuming that since you are reading this you are a credit union employee. Whether your title is Board Member, CEO or teller, I bet you have a distorted sense of how members actually perceive service at your credit union. Why? Because you are an insider, which creates a situation best summed up by this quote from a recent article on Selfies in The Atlantic:
“The image you have of yourself in your mind is not quite the same as what actually exists.”
So about that selfie article. The actual title is “Why Selfies Sometimes Look Weird to Their Subjects.” It explores why, for about 90% of the population, self portraits taken at arm’s length with a smart phone appear as jarring distortions of reality to subjects themselves. The premise of the article is that people’s perception of what they look like is based on an image that is flipped – which is what one sees when looking in a mirror. Selfies, or rather the camera applications used to capture a selfie, present subjects as seen by others (in other words, images that are not flipped as in a mirror).
What we see in any self-portrait, at least from our perspective, may not appear to look like us at all – though from the viewpoint of others these self-images look exactly like us. So, who is “right” when it comes to whether the image is “correct?” Perhaps more importantly, what does this have to do with credit unions?
Let’s go back to the main point in my opening paragraph. You likely have a distorted sense of how members actually perceive service at your credit union because you are an insider with an insider’s view of reality. You’re looking in the mirror, so to speak, and this could be a problem.
When I was a credit union member service representative I was allowed to make deposits simply by handing my cash or check to a fellow representative for processing (and a quick supervisory override). I never had to find a parking spot during my lunch break to make my deposit. I never stood in line. I was never perplexed by the check hold policy. I never even had to wait as I could simply ask to be provided a receipt later on. My view of the service process was clouded by my flipped, inside-out perspective and experience.
Consider this visual. A credit union executive strolls through a call center or lobby and observes credit union employees diligently working to process member requests. Staff members are smiling, members are tucking paper receipts or copies of loan applications into their pockets … all appears to be running like a well-oiled machine. Inside-out, everything looks great. But here’s what the executive can’t readily assess: how it all looks from the member’s point of view. Sure, a transaction has been processed, an application completed, but perhaps the member saw the experience as clunky, inefficient, maybe even dehumanizing.
In this very real scenario, who has the correct perspective? The insider viewing the assembly line-like efficient completion of member requests, or the outsider counting the minutes left of their all-too-short lunch break? Reflecting on the selfie comparison, what is right (and real for that matter) is what the member sees.
This holds true for members experiencing credit union service electronically. One virtual branch we audited in connection to a recent project offered members the very convenient ability to apply for loans online – no need to visit a physical branch. However, the connection between product pages and application was a “dumb” link, meaning that even when a member clicked on an “apply now” button referenced on a specific product page (such as on a credit card page), the application was not “aware” of the product of interest. From the insider point of view, a member can research a product and apply online. Great. From the member’s point of view, to apply for a specific product requires choosing to apply for the product in two different areas that present product choices in two different ways. Not so great.
In this day and age perhaps one of the greatest challenges to credit union insiders is not to become overly enamored with the selfie point of view. Practically speaking, however, how does one a avoid this mistake?
Consider this closing paragraph from the selfie article:
“People who take a lot of selfies end up feeling a lot more comfortable in their own skin because they have a continuum of images of themselves, and they’re more in control of the image. Flipped or not flipped, the ability to see themselves in all these different ways will just make them generally more comfortable.”
Credit union insiders can take the same advice albeit with a bit of a twist. Rather than delving into an exploration of internal-perspective-based self portraits, insiders should seek out opportunities to see the institution in different, outside ways. This may mean internal mystery shopping, intentionally completing a specific task using the institution’s electronic resources, talking to members about how they saw their interaction with the credit union – anything to get outside of the insider view. You may be surprised at what you see.
The selfie article is available via the link below.