Case Study: Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

  • pffcu-300-transparentPolice and Fire Federal Credit Union (PFFCU) partnered with Robert C. Davis and Associates (RCDA) to improve member satisfaction and credit union performance.
  • RCDA implemented sales training and coaching programs for PFFCU and continues to build upon their foundation of continuous improvement.

RCDA has an ongoing relationship with PFFCU that began with delivery of customized sales training and coaching programs starting in the first quarter of 2013.

Initial Challenge

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union had a large and successful contact center, with more than 65 full-time employees handling more than 5,000 calls per day. The marketing department at PFFCU is very skillful in identifying which Members qualify for additional credit union products and services. Not only does PFFCU market to these Members by mail, they present these offers on-screen to the Member Service Representatives (MSRs) whenever a member calls.

However, PFFCU had one challenge and two main goals going in. The challenge was that offer acceptance rates in the call center were only 11 percent. The first goal was to grow loans by 6 to 10 percent. The second goal was to grow membership, deepen member relationships and improve sales without compromising an already very high Member satisfaction rate.

Approach

Phase 1

Having completed an intensive site visit and observation before the project, RCDA discovered that PFFCU already enjoyed many best practices within the Member service center. The organization was aligned well with RCDA’s Quality Conversation methodology from the outset. RCDA customized The Quality Conversation for training classes, coaching, and materials to support the sale of PFFCU products and services to Members calling for inquiries such as verifying transactions or checking balances. The program was branded Member Connect. The approach, still in place today, includes an enthusiastic greeting, full discovery, and transition to a sales process with an emotional connection and a sense of genuine interest. The process encourages Members to share about their finances, interests, and goals, setting the stage for a compelling offer.

For example:

  • MSR: “While we wait for the computer to pull up the information you requested, let me ask…Many of our Members are telling us that they are paying high interest on their credit cards. Who do you have your credit cards with now?”
  • Member: “I set one up with Target a year ago, and boy was that a mistake!”
  • MSR: “I understand. What interest rate do you pay on the Target credit card?”
  • Member: “It must be close to 30%!”
  • MSR: “I have great news for you! You can transfer your balance from that high-interest credit card to the Police and Fire Federal Credit Union Visa card. We will give you a low ___% interest rate until __________, and then a very low variable ___% APR, and this will save you a lot of money over what you are paying now!”
  • RCDA also included a robust process for overcoming objections. For example:
  • Member: “I don’t need another credit card.”
  • MSR: “Of course you don’t need another credit card. What I am suggesting is replacing your high-interest card with a PFFCU card at a better rate and better terms.”

Initial Results

From January to May 2013, PFFCU’s offer acceptance rate improved from 11 percent to 26 percent (a 136-percent increase) and its booked loans were up from 6 percent to 15 percent (a 150-percent increase). From January through May 2012, before the RCDA program, PFFCU sold 4,476 loans. After the program, for the same periods in 2013, the number of sold loans was up to 5,149. The loan growth exceeded PFFCU’s loan growth goal by four percentage points.

Loan Activity

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Phases 2 and 3

Given the success of Phase 1, PFFCU asked RCDA to expand and adapt the Member Connect sales training and coaching program to its mortgage loan department with Mortgage Advisors (MAs) and Assistant Mortgage Advisors (AMAs).

From 2013 through 2015, Phases 2 and 3 grew into an ongoing partnership with RCDA:

  • Workshops, refresher training and booster clinics across the enterprise to improve sustainability and proficiency with topics covering overcoming objections, Member motives, prospecting and goal-setting.
  • Adapting and delivering Member Connect to PFFCU’s consumer loan department and underwriters.
  • Creating and delivering an intensive coaches certification program.

Confidence, Job Satisfaction and Sustained Results

PFFCU employees have expressed greater confidence and satisfaction with their own jobs through Member Connect. They bought in to the necessary training and coaching that helps them go the extra mile and sustain improved results over the long term. As evidence, here are some survey responses from the employees about Member Connect:

  • “It was very useful and informative.”
  • “I loved the detailed examples and lots of practice.”
  • “The most important benefit to me was learning how to handle objections by giving a compliment.”
  • “Informative. I was able to add things to improve my conversations.”
  • “Thought it was very useful in improving our overall interaction with Members.”
  • “Positive and enthusiastic.”
  • “It was positive reinforcement that I do good work. It also gave me good ways to improve on what I do.”
  • “I thought it was helpful. I was reluctant at first, but I think some info in this training will help me in my job.”
  • “The most important benefit to me was not to put up road blocks when initially speaking with members.”
  • “I will take away the skills from this program and apply to my daily tasks. I know it will improve my performance. Thank you!”
  • “Beneficial. Learned useful tips on handling Members and how to be more open minded and receptive to change.”
  • “Most important benefit was time management and asking probing questions of the member to better gain an understanding of their wants and needs.”
  • “It was a positive reaction. This training will improve me at work, better serve members.”
  • “I hope this training will help me be the best Advisor I can be and apply it not just in work but also in personal aspect as far as organization.”
  • “I appreciate PFFCU’s effort to help me build my skills and allow me to help our Members in a new way.”

An Indelible Part of the Culture: Withstanding Even a Core Conversion

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In its last activity report for 2015, RCDA observed that Member Connect has become an indelible part of the culture and has sustained positive results over three fiscal years in Membership, mortgage and consumer loans, and revenue. Financial performance and Member service experience scores have remained exceptional, even as PFFCU completed a major core software conversion in 2015. The core conversion was necessary to accommodate the credit union’s growing business. The conversion impacted core systems and all Member facing interfaces. PFFCU began MSR training in January for a May rollout, and it included 80 temporary MSRs to accommodate the expected increase in Member inquiries. Additionally, PFFCU suspended marketing and sales activity during the conversion to heighten focus on Member needs during the rollout. Average loans per month dipped predictably in 2015; but very interestingly, they not only recovered in 2016 but recaptured lost ground and returned to their established growth trend from pre-conversion activity. Throughout the entire core conversion process PFFCU deposits and loan balances continued their upward trends – a testament to PFFCU leadership ownership of an intentional coaching process and the resultant cultural behavior changes that have seamlessly intertwined Member service with sales growth.

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