Using The Senses For Member Experience

by. Jenny Pollastro, Edge Federal Credit Union & The Cooperative Trust

Think about the last time you interacted with a company. Would you be able to say that business created an experience for you? How would you define a member experience in your credit union? In a climate where budgets are tight, rates are at rock bottom, and consumer relationships have evolved into a murky mix of multi-function interactions, how do we as credit unions compete with the big banks and other financial institutions? The answer lies in the importance of creating that experience, drawing on all five senses to create that emotional connection that makes you stand out from the national bank next door.

Our senses help us interpret our surroundings and our experiences; they drive the emotional responses we have. Our members’ perception of our brand is what keeps them coming back to us…or sends them packing. What are your members seeing when they walk through your door or browse your website?  The uses of color, symmetry, movement, lines all create subtle responses in our brains. Use McDonald’s as an example. It is no accident that red and yellow are the main colors in their designs. Red has been noted as a color that makes people feel hungry.

Branches that are decorated in neat lines and more calming colors lead your member to think of them as a safe and secure place to store their hard earned wages. Body language also plays a huge role in human interaction and those visual cues coming from your front line or lending staff can make each member experience that much better or worse. A member with fraudulent transactions on their card will respond more positively to an MSR who is standing up straight and at attention as opposed to the teller whose body language suggests this is an interruption of nap time and not a priority.

Think about the sounds you hear when you enter a business’ branch. The inflection and wording of the greeting you receive automatically sets the tone for the entire interaction. The music or silence that provides the backdrop to the every day sounds of keyboards, phones ringing, and staplers also tells you something about what type of company you are doing business with. We recently attempted to make use of door chimes to alert staff to movement at each of our entrances. The chime was so loud and grating (even muffled with cardboard) that members expressed alarm at the new addition to their credit union experience. While understanding of the extra security it provided to staff and members alike, most members found it off-putting and informed staff that it made them feel uncared for. To the staff and the members’ relief, the door chimes don’t sound off anymore.

When our members walk into a branch their main concern is typically centered on some financial transaction. Chances are most members are not going to notice if the lobby has a neutral smell, but they will notice if the smell is unpleasant or extremely different. Our sense of smell is tied directly to our limbic system, which is directly related to our emotions. It isn’t necessary to pump in specific smells like some stores or business but being aware of how the smell of coffee brewing or freshly-baked cookies could put your members at ease and give them the sense that they can slow down and ensure their needs are all met is just as necessary in today’s market as offering remote deposit and real time debit transactions.

In the credit union’s case the details are in the delivery of services and service. Think about the electronic channels that your member’s may use to “touch” your credit union. Make sure your members get the same experience through every touch point. If your frontline staff is upbeat, organized and on top of things but your online presence is outdated, more stoic, and difficult to navigate, the consistency of the experience is lost.

It all boils down to awareness. As an industry, institution, or staff, are we creating memorable experiences for our members? To set credit unions apart from other institutions, it isn’t all about creating brand new products. It is about presenting what we have in a new way that makes our members and those who are not yet members feel as though credit unions are the place to be. Using sight, sound, touch, taste and smell in just the right blend can really boost the member experience above and beyond “just banking”.

Jenny Pollastro

Jenny Pollastro

Jenny Pollastro is a loan officer at Edge Federal Credit Union and has been with the credit union for 4 years. Jenny is also a member of CUANY’s Young ... Details