Top 15 post: Ashley Kohlrus

Mapping the Member Experience

A member recently sent an email praising one of our employees and listed the many attributes I spoke about in my CUES video entry. She said the employee ‘made me feel as though I was her only client’ and it was the ‘first genuinely real banking relationship I have ever experienced.’

She added something that really struck me: ‘it's true, everything, even attitudes, do trickle down from the top.’

How true that is! The vision and leadership of Allegacy’s CEO, Ike Keener, and our senior management team, is critical to the success of the organization’s focus on member service and my new role as Chief Experience Officer (CXO). One of the benefits of my job is having a seasoned CEO where I gain advice and mentorship. Keener, who earned the Mark of Excellence and CU Person of the Year for NC, provides leadership, innovation and commitment to the credit union movement.

In 2006, Keener envisioned a collaborative business model which allowed me, as an HR leader, to implement the Synergy Wheel model, bringing Allegacy’s products and services together centered on the mission of ‘helping members make smart financial choices.’ 

Many internal initiatives have been launched to ensure employees and leaders are engaged in the cultural changes.  Employees have embraced sales and service training, service promises, internal communication, and HR initiatives that support the culture.  Allegacy believes that culture drives results; in which, a wholehearted commitment to the culture will yield outstanding business results.   

After serving many years in branch management and human resources, my role as CXO is the perfect platform to redefine member service and experience as well as continue to build upon a strong internal foundation and employee experience.

Adding an external focus to my responsibilities, I recognized one of the keys to success is to ensure employees understand the importance of every member experience and remain engaged as a part of the evolution, just as they have been with the internal synergy culture.  Every employee has an opportunity to participate in improving the member experience and share in the organization’s success. 

My first project as CXO is ‘Mapping the Member Experience.’ It comes on the heels of an external marketing campaign launched in 2011 sharing with consumers how we are ‘Unlike Your Bank.’ 

The project takes groups of employees through all delivery channels and identifies what impressions we create along the way and where impressions may be enhanced.  We are evaluating our products/services/programs, talking with members, empowering employees, and really listening to determine where can continue to improve—inside and out. 

The first location targeted was our ‘flagship’ branch. We are building a model of people, processes, and procedures that Allegacy can replicate at other locations.  Currently, a core team of employees is evaluating the 22 touchpoints that a member experiences to create an impression of the branch.  The team consists of a cross-section of senior leaders, managers, non-managers, front line and support employees.  Kickoff meetings began with activities that demonstrated how ‘blind to what needs change’ we can become when we don’t ‘remove the blinders’ it impedes our ability to see what a new (or existing) member may experience every time they visit. 

Working through 22 touchpoints is a large task so the team has prioritized the top ten with greatest business return and created additional support teams to assist with improvements this year.  In coming years, we will replicate this process enterprise-wide (credit union, investment group, commercial services, benefits and real estate company) with new core teams for each delivery channel.

To set ourselves apart, the way we make members ‘feel’ will be our key differentiator and allow us to deepen member relationships. We recognize that Allegacy offers products and services similar to most financial institutions and there is an ever-increasing range of ways a member/customer can interact with their credit union/bank.

Allegacy has invested $1M on our culture and further commits to investing in the member experience to drive business results. ‘Mapping and defining the member experience’ is an exciting time for Allegacy. We realize in order to distinguish ourselves we have to be passionate and fully engaged with our members.

Allegacy exists to serve our members.  I’m honored to lead this ongoing initiative and consider it more of a calling than a career.  This journey is part of a vision that will positively impact lives. We will measure success both financially and how well we live out the mission as we deepen our passion behind what we do and how we do it.

Ashley Kohlrus, Allegacy Federal Credit Union