Whenever major structural and cultural changes are made to an organization, there are both advantages and challenges. The same goes for creating a sales environment in a culture of service and helping at credit unions. We are experiencing both the benefits and drawbacks of restructuring our organization into sales, service and support roles at Aspire, but so far, the rewards have outweighed the disadvantages.
Compliance Complexity, Product Complexity. We’ve all heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”. With the expansion of our product offerings and the complexity of complying with the massive quantity of federal and state rules and regulations, it is difficult, if not impossible, for any one person to do a great job at “all of the above”. Under this new structure, credit union employees have the opportunity to excel at their individual jobs while achieving higher production numbers and better member satisfaction scores.
Right Brain vs. Left Brain. Sales and support require the use of both sides of the brain at once. The left brain is very analytical, rational and objective. It tends to look at the parts of a puzzle. The left brain is well suited for service related functions. These tasks are process oriented and require a certain level of detail. The right brain, on the other hand, is more holistic and intuitive. It looks at the whole problem when developing solutions. This side of the brain is very oriented towards selling. It’s rare that you get a person that is highly functional in both right and left brain activities. It would be like finding an accountant that successfully sells used cars on the weekends – and enjoys it! This organizational design splits the right brain and left brain people into two separate, but complementary camps. Just as with your own brain, you can’t function very well without both halves. Since they each have distinct roles, they usually work well together. Employees are generally happier in this model because they are not trying to be someone they are not. Instead, they are able to focus on what is important and more natural for each of them individually.
Simplicity. Our employees can now focus on their specialty and become experts in a more narrow area of focus. They can’t get away from all of the regulations, but they only have to concern themselves with those regulations that affect them and their functions at the credit union. They are becoming more expert in their main areas and are producing a higher quality of work. Conversely, they must depend on their coworkers and teammates to also understand their respective job functions. All employees are able to support and compliment each other by being experts in their specific roles. Thus, training is simplified as well.
This approach requires a great deal of interdependency. This is not a go-it-alone system. We are all counting on everyone else to hold up their part of the deal. There’s no room for the Lone Wolf in this structure. Teamwork and consistency in delivery are essential for a smooth, positive member experience.
Members will be transferred to various departments as they raise questions. This requires expertise in the art of the hand-off. Members must understand we want them to get the best possible service and that our experts are going to take care of them.
Service people must be tuned in to sales opportunities. A simple member service request or comment by a member may be a sales opportunity in disguise. Service people have to be alert and pick up on verbal cues from our members whether the member is making a comment about one of life’s predicaments such as “My car broke down” or asking a simple question like “What’s my balance?” Member needs must be explored and exposed.
There are certainly challenges to this type of organizational structure, but the benefits to our employees and members are well worth it. By simplifying each person’s job function, we are creating experts that members can rely on for timely, accurate information. As a result, our employee morale is consistently improving and our member satisfaction ratings are increasing as well. By helping our employees become better positioned to serve our members effectively and efficiently, we’re creating both happier employees and more loyal members in the process.