A thoughtfully crafted staff experience plus a well-designed member experience equals a productive experience for everyone.
Customer service (or customer experience) engineering has become a core principle in the evolving design and operation of branches and remote delivery for most credit unions. Today, senior staff often includes CX managers with significant influence over all aspects of credit union planning, products and services, branch and virtual delivery, policies and procedures, staffing and staff training, and branch design.
One of the most effective tools used to create high performance CX strategies and modes of operation is customer experience mapping. Mark Weber, CEO and chairman of CUES Supplier member Strum, Seattle, a marketing agency that works within the financial services industry, explains the process:
“Our customer experience mapping work with huge credit unions like Vancity in Canada ($18 billion, Vancouver, British Columbia), and BECU in Washington ($19 billion, Tukwila), has found substantive changes to your model require a highly collaborative team ... engaged in redefining banking. The collaborative processes we employ engineer every detail of your member experience, HR, operations, IT systems, investments, lending, mobile and technology ... together with member onboarding to drive enhanced member experiences, higher profitability and to simplify banking at every step.”
Weber mentions the need for a collaborative approach to CX planning. This logic also extends to staff experience planning—to create a highly productive experience that increases member acquisition, retention, product usage, account growth and profitability. Combining CX and SX engineering can lead to increased wallet share and help build ongoing relationships.
The key is to develop a powerful experience for members and staff that is founded on a “user-designed brand experience,” says Weber. Every element of the experience must support the brand. Every piece of furniture and its placement, staff positioning and member traffic patterns, technology locations, merchandising and messaging, lighting, colors, materials and physical location must relate specifically to your brand and experience goals.
While the focus of CX is on member interaction and response to the branch environment, the staff experience is often overlooked. Unfortunately, I have seen a number of good branch prototypes underperform because the staff experience was not considered a high priority, or because staff and branch management were not enthusiastic about the new model and CX processes. Staff operate the branch. While branches remain the primary reason most profitable members join and stay with the credit union, we must ensure top performance from this expensive delivery channel.
After completing member experience mapping through all delivery channels, credit unions should return to the beginning and develop parallel staff mapping to align each step of the process, including remote delivery channels. This will help ensure that every process and goal is supported by your staff’s actions. It also provides an opportunity to understand how the CX experience impacts staff and what will enhance their performance and job satisfaction.
Staff are your advisory and sales team, brand promoters and ambassadors, at work and off. They need to be motivated on an ongoing basis to embrace the brand experience and their part in its success. Here are a few steps that can help.
- Change staff titles to better reflect what you want them to do. Should “branch manager” be the title, or would “coach/CX manager” be better? “Teller” or “member service representative”—or “member advocate”? We have seen a title change enhance staff’s perception of their importance and increase member engagement.
- To keep them invested in the new processes and branded branch platform, front-line staff members can be included in the CX and branch design process and then employed to train other staff and share the brand story. Staff focus groups can be held with surveys to share feedback and what’s been learned. “Brand camps” can engage staff emotionally in the new brand and explain how the story will be told through advertising, merchandising, the branch, their member service and member relationships.
- This applies to back-of-house staff as well. Total brand immersion means everything staff touch and see is on-brand. Including staff efforts in the brand identity tells staff they are as important to the credit union as members. This might mean upgrading materials to match the lobby, fresh flowers and fruit in the lunchroom, or an outside seating area for both members and staff. It could even mean designing a lunchroom with a similar look and feel, messaging and merchandising as your branches.
As Weber says, building a powerful on-brand delivery model “requires a highly collaborative team process.” So does delivering an ongoing highly productive staff and member experience in the branch. Give the staff experience as much importance as the member experience, and you will see excellent results.
Paul Seibert, CMC, is an independent facilities and real estate consultant under Paul Seibert Consulting, Seattle.