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Beyond Expectations

Last night my wife and I took my father and his wife out to dinner for her 85th birthday. Not exactly and everyday occurrence, and an evening that we hoped would be special.

Looking for something different than the usual fair, we checked out online menus for a few places and settled on a new eatery in a neighboring town.

Having eaten in restaurants owned and managed by both of the owners of this new place, we set our expectations relatively high and headed out for a special birthday dinner.

We were not disappointed. (more…)

Opacity is Not the Solution

It never makes sense for a business to try and hide something from its stakeholders. The costs are simply too high, even if it is never found out.

Secrecy flies in the face of the way we operate today…in a world where everyone feels entitled to know everything, where there are open discussions online that are free for anyone to join with the click of a mouse, and where people expect businesses to do the right thing.

Enter the recent Toyota situation… (more…)

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: The Key to Improving Member Service

KEY QUESTION: How effective are your dispute resolution procedures?

THE SITUATION: While reviewing my online business account bank statement recently I discovered an error in a debit card transaction–a restaurant charge had been posted that was $4 more than what my receipt showed that it should be.

MY INITIAL ACTION: When the error was discovered a call was placed to the bank and I was informed that I would need to come in and fill out something called a ‘Dispute Resolution Form.’ (more…)

Inconsistency Destroys Satisfaction

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).

Simple is Always Better

Stop and think for a moment about your most recent satisfying experience as a customer.

Got it?

Now grab a sheet of paper and jot down the things that made the experience satisfying and memorable. Don’t struggle to come up with something out of the ordinary, just list the things that brought this experience to mind.

Finished?

Review your list and ask yourself the following question: Were any of these things really that hard to do?

Chances are the answer to that question will be no. In fact, if pushed a bit further you might say they were relatively easy to do, that they were actually very simple.

The point?

Simple sells, and that may be the most important thing to teach everyone in your credit union. The simpler you can make it, the better it will be understood by your members, the easier it will be for them to say yes to it, and the more of it they will utilize.

ACTION ADVICE: Review every product and service you offer, every member touch-point and make sure it is as simple as possible; if not, simplify it today!