By Jeff Rendel
Member service continues to evolve through technology – mobile banking, artificial intelligence, analytics, and even robots. Yet, with the many experiential and efficiency gains provided via technology, are there elements of member service that should not be automated?
In listening to scores of credit union executives – representing many states and asset sizes – two themes emerged: service is about a human connection, and a member’s time is valuable. Let’s explore.
Service is About a Human Connection
While do-it-yourself and automated channels can serve most routine transactions, particular interactions with members should not be mechanized. Executives shared that technology allows members to go about their normal financial lives – making deposits, paying bills and friends, and transferring funds – but for more intricate matters, members become advice seekers. In short, members still prefer having people available to help solve problems.
At times, members look for resourceful solutions to service complications and seek out other humans. Escalated service issues, significant life events, unrecognized transactions, fee disputes, and large financial decisions are just a trickle of events where an automated attendant can’t replace a human connection. Service is often about understanding and assisting with the emotions of a member matter; and, it’s practically impossible to automate and “decision tree” sympathy and empathy.
A Member’s Time is Valuable
For all of the cost savings and efficiency gains that come from automation and giving members more control over their own experiences, gaining access to a member service professional should be just as easy as using your credit union’s app to apply for a car loan. Most members will seek self-service options initially, but when they need to consult with an expert, a never-ending phone tree or “Email Us” message diminishes the experience you want to provide for your members.
Instead, executives shared that trapping members in a digital transaction can weaken the member experience.
“The ability to effortlessly pivot to a person allows our members to achieve the service they require, at a time when it matters most,” shared a long-time CEO. “Our data confirms that our members use self-service most of the time, and usage continues to grow. It also shows that when our members need us ‘face-to-face’ or ‘ear-to-ear,’ their ability to instantly reach someone (Press “0”), increases their experience and loyalty.”
In short: when members call, it’s not for a transaction. It’s for pressing advice, consultation, and support.
Expression of Service
Technology is magnificent: it enriches our members’ experiences and streamlines our credit unions’ operations. While it allows members to connect “to” the credit union, at times members need to connect “with” the credit union. Occasionally, members need the value of interacting with a professional to resolve a challenge, prepare for a financial highpoint, or tend to an unforeseen episode in life.
Our ability – and commitment – to connect and be easily reached is an expansion and expression of service in real-time for real needs.
Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy. For info: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jeffrendel.com.