Nice to meet you: The new definition of service

“We provide great customer service.” From advertisements and website mission statements, to sales presentations and trade shows, we’ve heard this message from companies in every industry more times than we can count. But what does service really mean to consumers today?

It’s a standard for those of us in the credit union industry to say service to our members is our No. 1 focus. After all, it is, and it should be. But what does that really mean? Specifically, how does your vision of service translate into results for current and potential future members? Will your service message result in an increase in membership?

Great service is no longer just about saying ‘hello’ and smiling when someone walks into your branch. (We’ve been doing that for years!) Many of our competitors in the financial services industry have already recognized the importance of friendly in-branch customer service and are making improvements. And even if you have your competitors beat with a great branch experience, are you really winning the service battle for members? Maybe not, as your member’s definition of service has likely changed.

The New Meaning of ‘Service’
Service has moved to being defined by consumers as 24/7 access across all channels. They want what they want, when they want it via mobile, web, branch or phone. When your members reach out for help, they need to experience your commitment to service across all of those channels.

For example, you may have the latest and greatest mobile application out there, but an important metric of success is what users encounter if they run into an issue. What do they think if they call you at 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening only to receive an automated voicemail response that no one will be available to provide assistance until 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning? And it’s not as helpful as you may think to direct them to your website in the interim. In today’s service environment, your member probably visited your site to do their own troubleshooting before ever calling you. Would this translate into a great service experience in their mind? Probably not.

The Credit Union Advantage
The advantage for credit unions is our long history of service to members. This gives us a built-in advantage over other financial institutions. It’s our job to not only meet evolving consumer expectations of service, but also to help educate the millions of people out there about just what makes credit unions so unique. And one of those differentiators should be that we are available to our members when they need us, in the channel in which they want to engage with us.

The question all of us in the credit union industry must continually ask ourselves is, “Are we aligned with the member’s definition of service expectations?” This means ongoing assessments across all your channels, as well as considering how you measure up against the competition. Identify where the gaps are and create a roadmap for improvement. In what areas do you need to invest to create the service current members demand and for which future members are looking? It’s easy to say but hard to execute when you are confronted with day-to-day business challenges. The gap may seem insurmountable when some of your competitors are the largest financial institutions in the country and have the resources to make huge investments in service delivery.

The Power of Partnerships
Service is an area where you should leverage your partners across all channels to develop an overall plan to address the new definition of service.

In addition to handling inquiries on a variety of financial services, PSCU’s Total Member Care™ call centers help credit unions communicate effectively with their members about conversions, mergers, EMV upgrades, home banking conversions and regulatory changes. All services are available 24/7/365 to ensure maximum satisfaction and loyalty. PSCU partners with its Member-Owner credit unions to provide an exceptional level of service to their members.

Just as the landscape in payments is rapidly changing, the definition of what it means to serve is also evolving. When a member engages with you across all channels, can you confidently say your service is superior to what they would receive from another financial institution? As you plan for the future, make service a part of every strategic discussion. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and not only retain current members but also expand your membership as you help them meet – and exceed – their new definition of service.

Jack Lynch

Jack Lynch

Jack Lynch oversees PSCU’s operations service delivery to credit unions including implementations, project management and CU Learning. Jack has over 25 years of leadership experience in delivering operational services, ... Web: Details

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