How to screw your members (and get away with it)

How was your last visit to the DMV? Did you walk right in, waltz up to an open window, renew your license, and leave within five minutes? How about your trip to the prescription counter at your neighborhood drugstore? If you did, please forward me your secret. Forbes magazine lists shoddy customer service as #6 in the top ten of consumer complaints.

You may not mean to screw your members.  In fact, you probably want just the opposite. But when you turn a blind eye to service standards and focus on growth despite poor service, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Your members have made a conscious decision: “Hey, I’m going to trust you with my hard-earned paycheck. I’m even going to do one of the most vulnerable things a human can do—share my finances with you—so I can borrow some of your money.”

What do they often get in return? A loan officer who can’t be bothered to return a phone call. A teller who is too busy snapchatting. A team leader who is too task saturated to recognize there’s a problem with either one of those scenarios. How’s that for a “thank you” to those members who have chosen you above any of the dozen options within a few miles of your branch?

Businesses are losing $62 billion per year due to poor customer service. (To put it in context, that’s up $20 billion since 2013 or a 210% increase in just four years.)

Here’s some additional perspective for you:

  1. If a member follows up multiple times regarding the same issue, this is often considered “multiple problems” because it takes separate amounts of time to contact support and get a resolution.
  2. Bad service enables small single problems to turn into multiple larger issues. Too often the opportunity to fix the initial issue is missed. The risk of members leaving is already scary enough, but a large base of price sensitive (read: I’m totally in this for myself) mass transit to another financial institution is a given.
  3. When I was a radio DJ, statistics showed that no more than 2% of your listeners would pick up the phone and call in. The same holds true for unhappy members. Most of your members won’t bother contacting you when they run into an issue. Instead, they’ll sit in silence, holding a grudge. To make matters worse, they will not even consider you the next time they need a loan.
  4. A recent survey done by American Express found that while 46% of Americans say they always tell others about good service experiences, more people say they talk about poor service. In fact, 60% said they always share the bad experience. Plus, they tell nearly three times as many people. Good news: You’re getting that coveted “word of mouth marketing” for free. Bad news: It may be costing you dearly.

What’s the true cost of turning a blind eye to poor service?

  • 86% of consumers said they’ve quit doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience.
  • 51% of consumers admitted they’d only try to contact support once before giving up on a purchase.
  • When asked about why they’d given up on a company’s customer support, 73% of customers cited incompetent (and rude) replies as their primary reason.
  • Loyal customers are cheaper to retain and are willing to spend more. 78% of them will recommend your product to others after a great experience.

Think you’re doing great when it comes to service? While 80% of companies believe they provide a “superior customer experience,” only 8% of customers agreed.

My advice is this: before you start budgeting for marketing in 2018, understand how much opportunity might be lost due to poor service. Does your member experience truly live up to what you think the experience is? So much focus is being put on growth at credit unions that current members are being overlooked. “But we already have them!” Yup. But do you have all of their business? Could you be earning more by treating them well and asking for additional ways to serve? Remember, you’re serving a member, not a life sentence. Learn how to enjoy your work.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: yourmarketing.co Details

More News