Article

Leadership Matters: Next-Level Skills for Front-Line Leaders

steps on chalkoard with skills spelled out
Jeff Rendel, CSP Photo
President
Rising Above Enterprises

3 minutes

Enhance member experience at the point of first and most frequent connection.

As credit union members’ and consumers’ expectations and options for financial services continue to expand, so must the member experience. How does a credit union further develop member service and experience skills when so many possibilities are presented? In listening to scores of credit union CEOs and senior executives, more than a few themes emerged for enhancing the next level of skills for the member experience. Let’s explore how your credit union can practically enhance the member experience at the point of first, and most often, connection—the front-line leader. These credit union staffers need to be supported so they can:

Be an expert. It’s a given that front-line leaders should know a credit union’s products inside and out. More important, though, is the ability to ask questions, determine potential solutions and make simple recommendations. It’s as down to earth as considering one’s self a consultant to members and helping each member achieve expected results. The expertise delivered to members demonstrates in-depth knowledge of issues and answers, positioning your front line as a trusted resource for members.

Be engaging. While a great deal of the member experience focuses on achieving results, it’s also pleasant to enjoy the human interaction. Communication skills, professionalism, individual focus, a personal touch and body language awareness come into play. The front line is often the only point of personal contact for members; an engaging experience displays respect and appreciation, generating repeat business and long-term loyalty. Every interaction with a member is an opportunity to increase the value he or she expects and deserves from the credit union.   

Be empathetic. Every member has a different story and need. Where one member applies for a jumbo mortgage, another member is checking a deposit balance daily until payday. Part of the member experience is seeking to understand where a member stands now, and helping the member the next step toward success, regardless of business value. The role of the front-line leader is to serve—in times of plenty and when budgets are stretched. Building lifetime partnerships with members involves serving members through all lifetime experiences.  

Be elastic. Odds are high that your credit union’s business model has changed over the years; and, odds are higher that it will continue to change with members’ changing expectation levels. While positions at credit unions may remain; roles, duties, hours and locations may change. It’s all part of upholding a business model that adapts with members. The better we are at changing and providing what members want, the greater the odds of members’ continued loyalty.

Be an entrepreneur. A business that is growing is one that is selling its products and services. Sales is a natural part of a business on the move. Entrepreneurial success takes an energetic, go-getter attitude that wants nothing more than the member to win with the value the credit union provides. Seeing every member interaction as an opportunity to help a member win leads to discovering where appropriate products and services help members most. Dismissing an opportunity to viably add value to a member’s financial and experiential well-being is effective neglect. When the member wins, your credit union wins. An entrepreneurial outlook and set of habits focus on success for every member, every time. 

For most members, most times, their primary interactions with a credit union are via technology. Yet, human interaction is still a large share of the member experience and business development cycle. Consider the insights above, from credit union leaders, as you hire and develop the first – and most functional – level of leadership at your credit union.

Jeff Rendel, CSP and president of Rising Above Enterprises, works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners. Reach Rendel at 951.340.3770.

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