Are Credit Unions Suffering from Growing Pains?

The AFi Credi

The American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that members are migrating from banks to credit unions.

Credit unions have high member satisfaction rates, but studies have shown that with the growth from migration of customers from banks to credit unions, member satisfaction in some cases has fallen.

A report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index published on December 11, 2012, showed that higher fees at banks, including the $30 million consumers paid in overdraft fees in 2011 and planned increases in monthly ATM fees, have driven the migration.

Nationally credit unions grew by 1.3 million members in 2012, nearly twice the previous year’s growth, to a total of almost 100 million members. This is reflected in statewide and local markets across the country. For example, Colorado credit unions added 40,000 members and boosted their market share to 26.6 percent. And in Charlotte, N.C., Charlotte Metro Credit Union has grown over the last 30 years from just $5 million to $300 million in assets and nearly 40,000 members.

High member satisfaction, but falling

Although bank customer satisfaction has risen by 2.7 percent on savings, checking and loan services, the ACSI report suggested the rise was due to dissatisfied customers leaving the banks. Credit unions still have best-in-class member satisfaction and set the bar for most industries when it comes to customer satisfaction. But according to the report, 2012 membership growth at credit unions came with a 5.7-percent drop in member satisfaction. Could this indicate that credit unions have been growing too fast?

Credit Union Logo

Not necessarily. Credit Union Growth Strategies, a course book published by the Credit Union National Association, states that during periods of growth “credit unions must take care that they have adequate capacity to maintain a high-quality member service experience. For example, if members routinely must be put on hold when they contact your call center, that is both a sign of the call center’s popularity with members and the need to upgrade its capabilities.”

A viable growth plan and the world-class member experience

The key for credit unions is to evaluate their capacity for growth and devise a viable growth plan that includes process changes and needed expansions. According to CUNA, this will not only maintain excellent service or take it to an even higher level, it will also boost employee enthusiasm and buy-in when it comes to executing the growth strategy.

Robert C. Davis and Associates, a call center consultancy that serves credit unions, agrees. “We’ve seen that being empowered to deliver a world-class member experience makes employees more enthusiastic and satisfied in their work,” said Bob Davis, president of RCDA. “The buy-in level among supervisors and member service representatives is high when we bring in a process change in the call center that boosts member satisfaction and makes it easier for employees to reach their goals,” Davis said.

Enter the Quality Conversation

The Quality Conversation Call Flow

The Quality Conversation Call Flow

The process change that RCDA has implemented for client credit unions in conjunction with their strategic growth plans is based on what Davis calls the “Quality Conversation.” It involves training and coaching call center teams to show genuine interest in members and evoke an emotional response using a robust call flow that leads member service representatives through the greeting, full discovery, solution, overcoming objections and an assumptive close.

Using the Quality Conversation approach in their call centers, credit unions have made the member experience more enjoyable, conversational and centered on member wants, interests, needs and goals. Supervisors have learned how to sustain the new practices through coaching and modeling. And results have been very positive.

Growth without pain

Not only has the member experience improved with the Quality Conversation, so has financial performance. Credit unions using it have seen a dramatic rise in auto loans, mortgage refinances and mortgage loans. They’re seeing more members make the credit union their primary financial institution. One credit union doubled its offer rate and increased booked loans by 20 percent in just one month.

So with adequate growth planning and implementing the Quality Conversation at member call centers, credit unions are proving that they can meet member growth without the pain of falling member satisfaction rates. In fact they’re seeing the opposite—and reaping the rewards.

For more information on the Quality Conversation for credit union call centers contact Bob Davis direct at 678-548-1775 for a free consultation, or visit our Credit Union Industry page.