Top 15 post: Chris Ferguson

The added value in your #1 asset

Too many times we find ourselves trying to have the most compelling interest rates, the most innovative services, the most creative marketing campaign, or something else that differentiates our credit union from the hundreds of other financial institutions in our market.

At FORUM CU, we have many impressive services such as our recently introduced online banking system, complete with PFM tools and mobile apps, and mobile remote deposit.  With shared branching, our members have access to thousands of branches and ATMs.  However, it is challenging to compete against the big bank marketing budgets.  That is where Service Revolution is impacting and will continue to impact our credit union.

Since January 2012, we have been working to migrate FORUM’s culture from transaction based to service experience based.  Many initiatives have been implemented since that time to intertwine Service Revolution into our daily routines.  When you walk through almost any one of our offices, the effects of Service Revolution are very apparent.  Our ACH staff created a team motto; the Collections team developed their own mission statement; Service Revolution signs are seen in branch break rooms; and our member service contact center has our four components of service displayed on a wall poster.  Scrolling through our internal social networking site, you will see a wide range of employees that have posted messages thanking and recognizing their coworkers for outstanding internal and external service.

The point has now come to take Service Revolution to another level.  Since its inception, Service Revolution has been driven by a team of six credit union officers charged with creating a service experience based culture at FORUM.  We have reached a point where we feel we must involve more employees who are closer to the member experience.  And, we want to challenge a new leadership team to deliver fresh perspectives and ideas, to further engage front line staff members, and to continue to strengthen our service experience based culture.

An application has been created and posted on our intranet so that all employees have the ability to apply to be a part of the new Service Revolution leadership team.  To communicate the purpose for this team and encourage employees to apply, a video was created and posted to YouTube.  Posters have been hung at our corporate headquarters and branch locations with a QR code linked to the video.  Notecards (with the same QR code) and candy bars are being distributed to all employees to foster excitement.  Everything has an ‘all American’ theme with red, white, and blue incorporating Uncle Sam stating, “We want YOU for the Service Revolution team!” 

Another Service Revolution initiative that is moving forward is a new tool that emphasizes consistency.  We are focusing on the Retail Delivery staff as we build uniformity among product knowledge; policy and procedural knowledge; our approach toward sales production; and the understanding of the four service components at FORUM CU.  To support this initiative, a Monday morning webinar has been created in which all Retail employees will participate.  A structured outline was created for the webinar so every session will contain reviews of one service component and one existing service; communication of any new or revised policies or procedures; and a sales production tip. The outline and recording of the webinar will be archived on our intranet site for future reference and documentation.

FORUM CU members involved in interactions with employees are being engaged differently as their input is requested through several feedback survey channels.  Recently we stopped asking members if we were friendly, accurate, and knowledgeable, and we started asking them if we engaged them with a positive attitude; if we fully listened before responding; if we took ownership of their issue; and if we placed their needs above the needs of all others.  These questions assess the specific components of FORUM’s Service Revolution, so their feedback is directly tied to expectations. 

While inside FORUM, it is clear that Service Revolution is creating a focus on service experiences.  However, to clarify this for our team, we must start to share the real impact it has created on the credit union and our membership.  Year-to-date, the credit union is exceeding goal for new members, loans outstanding, credit quality, and net income.  $129 million in mortgage loans have been processed this year, and 97% of the members assisted by the Mortgage team responded to our survey stating they would recommend FORUM CU.  We are proving that an unmatched service experience lead to a sale, and sales are integral components of great service experiences.

As we progress and introduce phase II of our Service Revolution, we will continue to identify the real impact we are having on FORUM and our members.  I plan to use Service Revolution to prove that credit unions can differentiate themselves by engaging employees to create unique and memorable experiences.  We may not have the marketing budget of a big bank, but with our outstanding service culture at FORUM, we won’t need it.

Chris Ferguson, FORUM Credit Union