By Ray Birch
MECHANICSBURG, Penn.—As the financial services industry rushes to embrace digital service delivery, one credit union is going in a whole other direction, sending representatives to members’ homes to discuss banking needs.
The $4.3-billion Members 1st FCU here has introduced a new personal service for members called “My Concierge.”
The service provides access to a dedicated team to help members and prospective members with all aspects of their financial needs, ranging from accounts and loans, to lines of credit, future retirement planning, insurance, and numerous other consumer and commercial products—but with an on demand, “at your service” approach, Members 1st told CUToday.info.
“We’ll meet with members whenever and wherever they want—at their home, at their office, or at the credit union branch,” said Michael Wilson, chief marketing officer.
It’s a move the credit union believes not only gives it a competitive edge in the local market, but also gives people an option for more personal service as more “impersonal” electronic banking takes hold all financial institutions.
“When we look at how the industry is changing; so much of it is going digital,” said Wilson. “That's great for the basic transactions. However, we also recognize there's a lot of people who get frustrated trying to communicate with a bot or AI, for example.”
Wilson emphasized Members 1st built its business on strong member relationships.
“While we have sophisticated digital delivery channels, we never want to lose that personal touch,” said Wilson. “So instead of connecting a member with a bot, were are connecting them with a real-life, highly mobile person, who can come to them on their time and on their terms.”
Wilson said members have the option to chat with a member of the My Concierge team over the phone, via email, text or chat. He also emphasized the service is for all members, no matter how much money they have on deposit or how much in loan balances.
“We recognize the large commercial banks may have pockets of similar services, but they are for elite, higher-wealth customers,” said Wilson. “What we're looking to do is provide a highly personalized level of service for all members. We feel that will really differentiate the credit union.”
3 Different Areas of Focus
Wilson said the team of 20 My Concierge representatives is divided to serve three different areas of business—local organizations and associations, businesses, and then mainstream members.
“We do a lot of work with nonprofits, so we want to be able to help them with their needs and give them the consultative approach, as well,” said Wilson.
Members 1st, explained Wilson, has a wide range of offerings outside of traditional banking services, including insurance products and wealth management. He said the My Concierge team has been trained in all areas of the credit union’s business, but more important, each team member has a dedicated support person ready to serve them in all lines of business—including a dedicated underwriter and loan officer—so they are never without an answer to members’ questions.
“They may not be an expert in an area, such as wealth management or insurance, but their support person is,” Wilson said.
Appeal to Small Business
Wilson believes the service, which launched three months ago, has greatest appeal with small business owners who wear several hats.
“They are the CEO, CFO, marketing director…they are very busy and we believe that when we come to meet with them, on their terms, we are providing a service that is truly helpful to their business,” said Wilson.
Wilson said representatives will meet with members at almost any hour of the day, “within reason.” The team is not required to work out of a branch.
“They can set up shop wherever they want,” said Wilson, who noted the team is distributed evenly across the credit union’s geographic markets. “We did not want them to be restricted to the antiquated model of driving to and from work every day. In fact, that would limit their ability to reach more members each day.”
How Team Was Chosen
The team is comprised of 50% new hires and 50% staff repurposed from a business lending area.
“Interest in the service has been very good since we started the program,” said Wilson. “We will add staff as needed.”
The team was chosen, first, said Wilson, based on their personality.
“We feel that people with a very positive personality who are geared for member service are the ones we want on the team,” said Wilson. “You can’t train those kinds of skills, they are innate. So, you have to spot the right person and then if you need to train them on products and services, fine. This is a high level of service we are offering—the same level of service you get from the hospitality industry.”
Minimal Additional Costs
Weaver said the credit union did not do any cost estimates for the highly personalized service, but said that any additional expense incurred from all the travel is expected to be minimal, especially when compared to the business the team is expected to bring in.
“Yes, we know everyone is moving to digital delivery, and we have that as well,” explained Weaver. “But we believe the digital channels will serve the transactional needs of our members, and then when they really need to speak with someone about larger financial needs, they will use the concierge service. We really think this will differentiate us in the market—an impeccable level of service.”
What about branch traffic?
“While we certainly love seeing everyone at the branch, we know it's not realistic for everyone if they're working, busy with the family…to come to the branch,” added Wilson. “We want to make our concierge-level service available to them when it's convenient for them, on demand.”