It’s early morning and I am sitting in a local restaurant awaiting breakfast. It’s one of those small places that serves great iced tea, has a nice selection of breakfast choices, and offers free wifi, so I come here often.
Not surprisingly, the same staff are working today as the last several times I was here. Add the sunny brisk fall morning and you have the recipe for a perfect start to the day.
But wait, there’s more…
After about 10 minutes of sitting at a table waiting for the usual delivery of the menu and request to take my order, I give up and walk up to the ‘To Go’ counter, because it becomes clear that the usual table service is not happening today. My simple order for a veggie omelet with no home fries and no toast, accompanied by a large iced tea with lemon, is placed and everything seems on track…though I am tad annoyed at having to stop processing my e-mail to walk up and place the order.
Payment is made and I am promised prompt delivery of my omelet to my table (the place where I wanted to be when I placed the order). I wait for a moment expecting the iced tea to be given to me, but as the fighter pilot would say, no joy.
Upon asking, it is prepared and handed to me without the lemon I requested. My request for a lemon draws a long sigh and delivery of the requested lemon placed on the cup by the fingers of the young woman who just took my money and delivered my change. Gee, did I also ask for a hit of H1N1 with that?
OK, I am being a bit dramatic here to make a point, and here it is: It’s almost always the little things that create a bad service experience, and for repeat customers those little things are defined based on past experiences, as well as experiences with other businesses that provide similar services.
The real problem in this little story is not the need to walk up to the window to place the order, nor is it forgetting the lemon or delivering it with the less than clean fingers…it is the inconsistency in the level of service being provided and the mismatch with my expectations…the combination of which moves this particular establishment lower on my list of places I might go for breakfast. You see, having been here several times in the last month, the one consistent thing that I have experienced is a total lack of consistency in service from visit to visit, even though the same people are delivering the service.
And that brings me to the question for credit union leaders to consider: How consistent is your service? After all, you generally have the same people delivering service to the same members visit to visit, and sometimes your members visit different locations. But rest assured they always expect the same level of service they have received regardless of which branch they visit or who serves them.
If you can deliver great service and make it consistent, you’ll win their commitment to doing business with you. If not, they will explore other options and find reasons not to continue doing business with your credit union.
ACTION ADVICE: Consider having mystery shoppers visit each of your credit union branches for a few weeks to help you evaluate the consistency of your service delivery. Learn what’s working and what’s not working, then put everyone who touches the customer through a training program to make it work every day at every location every time, and watch your member satisfaction soar! (Then leverage the stories of those satisfied customers to bring in others who are not satisfied with the inconsistency they are receiving at other financial institutions).