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Member Experience Can Separate CUs from the Competition
Monday, April 15, 2013 8:15 AM

Now, more than ever, the member experience is what will set credit unions apart from the competition.  “You can’t control the economy or the stock market, but the member experience is 100 percent in your control at all times,” said Kelly McDonald in a presentation at Catalyst Corporate FCU’s Accelerating Success Conference in San Diego this week.

McDonald, who is the author of the recently released Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You, was one of five well-regarded speakers at the two-day conference attended by nearly 80 credit union executives.  Other topics presented included an Economic Outlook for Credit Unions, How Mobile Banking Can Increase ROI, Managing Liquidity and Other Critical Issues and Using Innovation to Move Your Credit Union Forward.

According to McDonald, in the past the member experience focused on politeness and responsiveness but has now been redefined with a concentration on speed, efficiency, accuracy and personalization. Credit union members now have more information, more choices and bigger voices.  Diversity also comes in many more forms, requiring credit unions to craft the member experience so that it is not just member service, but an overall member experience from beginning to end. 

McDonald said customer experience follows a “purchase funnel” that begins with “awareness” at the big end of the funnel and ends with “advocacy” at the other end. Along the funnel, there are other contributing factors to the customer experience including: opinion, consideration, preference, purchase and loyalty. Each step matters, McDonald told the audience. Although the process may be the same, “different consumers care about different things,” said McDonald.  “To determine what people want who are not like you, ask them, pay attention to trends and hire diversity,” McDonald added.  Solicit feedback through formal surveys, informal conversations with members and through feedback from front-line employees. 

Credit union employees can make or break a credit union’s business. Hire member facing personnel who can relate to the member demographic.  “You can always teach them the business, but not how to be a great person with a winning attitude,” suggested McDonald.  Important also to the member experience are empathic employees who are attuned to subtleties and are resourceful and solution oriented. 

McDonald also shared key generalities relevant to targeted age groups.  For the mature member, ages 68 or older, face-to-face communication is valued, as is personal attention. This group especially enjoys sharing their life stories. Baby boomers from ages 49 to 67 value professionals and information and want to “decide for themselves.”  Their kids and pets mean everything to them and they are highly attuned to “rights,” such as consumer rights and the rights of workers.

The Gen X group, from 36 to 48 years of age, are more informal, McDonald said, and prefer to be addressed on a first name basis. They are information junkies and expect technical excellence and timeliness. This generation also respects diversity, values community involvement and embraces mobility—especially apps.  It is important that they not “miss out” on anything.  Rounding out the age groups is the 19 to 35 year old Gen Y category.  This group prefers automation and machines over human interaction.  They expect customization, connectivity and selectivity. This group seldom carries cash, preferring to “swipe” instead.

According to McDonald, “Member expectations have changed from simply good, cheap and fast.  Although these three remain relevant, members now also require high quality and a full ‘member experience’ as well.”  Member satisfaction is key to retaining and growing credit unions, she said.  Nothing should be promised that cannot be delivered and every issue must be addressed, no matter how small.  With a focus on members and their overall satisfaction, McDonald believes credit unions are empowered to position themselves well ahead of the competition.