Your culture is on the front lines of member experience

Companies have long known that they must compete on the quality of the member experience. The ones that do the best job in providing an excellent member experience have higher revenue growth and profitability than their peers. When members are delighted with their involvement with a company’s brand, they become advocates for it, tend to be less price sensitive, and return time and again for an assured great outcome.

Members, however, are also more emboldened than ever to share both positive and negative feedback, including sharing stories with others both in person and through social media. Dissatisfied members will abandon a brand without providing the company with any useful feedback; they just leave. Many who leave damage the brand through complaints across multiple forums. Even more concerning, dissatisfied members tend to tell more people about a problematic experience than delighted members tell about a good one. Yet, member churn due to poor service is usually preventable, often by simple company outreach and effectiveness in resolving an issue at the first engagement.

Creating the ideal member experience depends on your company’s vision, values, and organizational culture. The member experience arises from your people and the efficacy of your technology in the myriad of person-to-person interactions in which your company engages a member. The customer debacle suffered by Southwest Airlines this past December due to weather and an antiquated crew scheduling system is worth noting. Employees were prevented from communicating their availability to company management for them to be able to solve flight delays and cancellations. Southwest’s unions, including pilots and flight attendants for years had complained about their outdated systems. Executives failed to make the IT investments required to prevent this meltdown. When leaders ignore important information from those on the frontlines, their organizations pay the price, short term, and long term.

Studies and surveys reveal that the majority of employees at most companies do not have a sound grasp or a robust understanding of the organization’s vision for the ideal member-experience. They do not see what it looks like, nor how the vision applies to the performance of all aspects of the business. A business cannot produce exceptional results without its people having a thorough awareness and alignment around its member-centric vision.

The member-experience vision that defines your brand must be clear to everyone in the organization. Senior management must take the lead. This is not a top-down exercise; it is a bottom to top exercise as well. Communicating a member-experience vision as a directive that is emailed from senior management will never work. Senior management must lead an interactive process that engages employees by their participation in developing and refining the vision. Employees come to understand the member’s experience vision through their own data gathering and analysis. They utilize digital tools and human contact to unearth an in-depth awareness of the members’ needs. They contribute their ideas on how to improve it. Beyond data gathering, stories and anecdotes should be collected and shared that tell how member trust was increased and how a great experience was created. Stories illustrate the vision in ways that numbers cannot.

Organizational culture must elevate the value and importance of a member centric viewpoint. Employee input into the process and their empowerment to do right by the member results in broad ownership of the vision. People do best when they understand what behaviors are needed based on evidence they helped to collect, values they helped to define, and strategies they helped to develop. Technologies, learning programs, data collection, analysis and processes all create and reinforce a member centric culture that supports the vision.

Senior management and boards needs to protect members assets by delivering a jargon-free cybersecurity risk discussion that’s centered on business, financial, and operational context into the boardroom – so the entirety of the board is engaged. A unified cyber risk assessment approach is critical to achieve real cyber resiliency, and it must be done now as we are not winning the cyber war. Credit union boards need to augment their cyber expertise with timely information, prescient insights, on-demand cyber governance oversight support, and in-boardroom education twice a year on cyber hygiene best practices to protect the organization, employees, and its members against ever-increasing cyber threats.

All employees should act to improve the member experience at every turn. Front line employees make the member’s experience smooth, seamless, and superb. Moreover, a member-centric mindset must permeate the entire workforce. For example, although engineers and technical service providers may not interact directly with members, given that digital interfaces are critical, the technical staff truly are on the front lines. They are as important to member-centric action as those in direct human contact. With cyber risk front and center today, the engagement of tech experts becomes even more critical, requiring clear strategic communication and ongoing dialogue with the management team and boards.

Leadership must remember that the member’s experience arises directly from the employee’s experience within the company. To have a healthy member centric culture, checking in with your people is as important as checking in with your members. Very much like acquiring member information, a strong data foundation results from surveys and conversations with your employees. Digital tools are available that regularly assess your culture’s status by providing real-time employee feedback. Management needs information that tracks employee sentiments and their execution of the member experience vision. Your employees impact member retention and loyalty every day at work, so ensuring their success at this is critical.

Stuart R. Levine

Stuart R. Levine

Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture. SL&A ... Web: Details