Member Services: Perception + Reality

Members are at the very core of Credit Union identity. Banks have customers, Credit Unions have members. It is no surprise that the topic of “member services” is one of the most important discussions at all levels of CU management and staff.

Some common responses to the question, “What makes your member services great?” might be:

  • We have great products.
  • Our staff is enthusiastic and treats members like family.
  • We take care of our members.
  • Our membership is growing.

There is little argument that branches and branch employees are a critical component in the member services experience. Even with the increasing popularity of digital channels, the branch is still where most member relationships start and expand. CUs and their employees generally take pride in the quality of member services that they provide. While perception of member services is important and hopefully accurate, how do you measure it and ensure consistent delivery?

It is not coincidence that successful sales organizations, call centers, trading floors and sports teams are constantly measuring and looking at their performance. Not what happened last year or last quarter, but what is happening now. Human nature is to act on what is front and center in our attention. As much as we all wish there was less advertising in the world, moving up someone’s attention ladder works.

While analytics are not a warm and fuzzy subject, the ability to gather data and increase understanding can be of great benefit –sometimes in surprising ways. For management, analytics are typically viewed as a way to better understand how the organization is performing. With regard to member services, many CUs conduct periodic surveys to get a sense of what members think about the quality of the services. That is important to know, but the time required to conduct, analyze and act on survey data is generally too long to feel relevant to branch employees.

For most branch employees, analytics are simply not something they ever think about and that is a missed opportunity. Branch employees are the point of the sword and actually much of the blade when it comes to delivering member services. Delivering quality services on a consistent basis over time comes from a well-run organization that is operating efficiently. Promotions and incentives can increase excitement in the short term, but they are not sustainable.

Consider analytics from a different angle. An often overlooked benefit is that analytics are a way to shape how employees perceive their own work and their role in the organization. Analytics are an opportunity to interpret the organization for its employees and influence their perception. Ask yourself the following question.

Would you rather have employees think about their performance and role in the organization once a year during their review, or every day?

Accomplishing this objective means meeting several needs.

  1. Visible and accessible. A billboard only works when consumers see it frequently. If it is tucked out of the way it will have very little impact. The same is true for analytics.
  2. Relevant. The metrics being measured and presented must be meaningful to the employees being asked to consider them. What is relevant to one group of employees is not interesting to another. A lender needs to see closings, weighted yield, problem loans, etc. An operations manager needs to see staffing, workload and volume by service (teller, platform, etc.). An analytics engine should deliver different sets of information to different groups of employees.
  3. Understandable. Good analytics should not just deliver information, they should make a point. Each chart, table or report should highlight something that the employee ought to be thinking about. Ideally, the main point is made on first impression, without requiring a deep dive into the numbers.
  4. Evolving. All analytics get stale, regardless of how well presented and targeted they are. In fact, the more frequently they are viewed, the more frequently they need to change. If there is nothing new then employees quit looking.
  5. Efficient. When the objective is to increase productivity, the last thing any organization, or employee, needs is an increase in overhead. Data gathering must be automated and transparent with respect to the employees.

Delivering targeted, relevant, immediate and accessible analytics to branch employees encourages them to think about performance frequently and that awareness becomes an inherent part of the operation. There is little question that when employees see and think about their performance, and the CU’s performance, on a consistent basis they will deliver a more consistent result. That is the reality for quality member services.

David Basri

David Basri

Mr. Basri has been designing and implementing software and process improvement for financial institutions for over 35 years. He has worked with, and gained experience from, over 500 institutions both ... Web: Details