Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Shouldn't You Know That?"

143919712_226cf37a9e Last night, the girlfriend and I went on a small shopping excursion. We were looking to make some pizza to accompany our viewing of The Kite Runner. So on the way home we stopped at the closest grocery store to our apartment to pick up few things.

We scoured the isles looking for pre-made pizza crust (yeah, we were feeling lazy) and were unable to find it. So we went up to one of the deli workers and asked where we could find them. His answer was “uhhhh...that’s a good question, ask customer service, they’ll know.”

We couldn’t believe it. We went and waited at the customer service counter for a few minutes (which happened to be vacant at the time) until somebody came out of the back office to assist us. We were pointed in the right direction and were soon on our way home for a delicious meal.

It wasn’t until later that my frustration with this deli worker made me realize an important aspect of the member experience at a credit union.

It is so frustrating to be shuffled from one spot to another to find the answer to what you consider a simple question. How many times as a teller did I send people to member services to get an answer to something I probably should have known? It happened every day.

People don’t want to wait, even for a few moments, when they come into the credit union expecting an easy transaction. Those few moments can be the difference between service a member might tell a friend about and an annoying experience they complain about to that same friend.

Easy access to information should be a priority for credit unions. Consolidate all your information silos into an easily accessed and searchable system. Something that allows anybody in the institution to access the information needed to serve members in a single sitting instead of shuffling them to separate departments.

Financial institutions are not simple creatures. There is a lot to them, more than most people can memorize. It isn’t a matter of memorizing all the procedures, policies, and processes, but being able to recall them quickly. A streamlined internal network can allow your tellers to “recall” all that information in a timely fashion and keep the shuffling down to a minimum.

This can benefit your institution in several ways.

First, it keeps your members happy. If they can approach a teller with a question on their loan and get the answer without being sent to see a loan rep. it can make a significant impact in their morale while at the CU.

Second, it’s a great way to allow tellers to become familiar with all aspects of the credit union. It’s basically like on the job training if they ever make the choice to move up within the institution.

Third, it can minimize confusion between departments. I wont lie, sometimes wires get crossed and what one person tells a member is incorrect or in conflict with what they’ve been told at somebody else’s desk. Consolidating all that information in a single system can minimize the occurrence of crossed wires. It can allow you to give consistent information across all departments.

Creating a streamlined system for your information, files, and policies can enhance the member experience, familiarize your staff with the inner workings of the credit union, and create more consistency/fewer errors within your institution.

As a side note, just to toot my own horn, this marks my 50th post here on The Loop. Thanks to all those who have supported and enjoyed it so far!


Tony Mannor said...

Andy, I used to work retail and after a few weeks I could tell you within a few inches where every product in the store was located.

You spend 8 hours a day somewhere, you are stocking shelves, cleaning up spills, finding prices - you know where stuff is. I know exactly where the dough mix is at my local grocery store and I spend 3 hours a week there tops and I have never purchased it myself.

When you work someplace and you are the first point of contact for a member or customer, you job is not to catch and release.

If I didnt have an item that my customer was looking for, I would grab a phone book and start calling around to places that I knew should have that item. I would take that extra step.

I havent worked retail for well over a decade but I still live in the same town. I still see my old customers, they still remember my name and they wax nostalgic about what great service they got when I was at Officemax.

And all it took was a few minutes, a willingness to learn and a desire to solve a problem. We try to operate the agency that way and with that firmly in mind and practice,

I dont think I did anything special. But when I am out in "The World" and subject to "The Shuffle" I really appreciate those folks who take a minute to actually HELP me rather than push me on to someone else so they can continue their phone call or something else that is less profitable than helping a customer (member).

This is where lip service ends and credit unions can actually differentiate themselves from banks.

George said...

I agree with Tony. Even though I work in the back office, I can at least point a customer in the right direction. I know where to go to find most of the basic information.

At our bank, we have a something called "eForms" that stores all our documents and product information that any employee can get to. But the easiest place to go? Our bank's website, since it is easier to do a search there.

I think it boils down to whether you have an employee that truly wants to provide great service. In my experience, it's really not that hard to get to the information.

Andy said...

I totally agree that its up to the employee to actually get the info. Perhaps I could have found a better comparison than the deli guy, he just got me thinking.

I guess I would say that finding what you don't know, expanding your knowledge base, and knowing where to look for that info would be easier done if everything were organized in an intuitive fashion.