I have a thing for service. I want to feel appreciated for the business I give to a company, and I want the employees to add value to my experience and the product or service I obtain. I want our members to feel that appreciation and value added service when they do their business here. But what does that look like and how do we make that happen? So, my wheels started turning and I set a meeting with one of my team members. After a lot of excitement and a couple hours of me talking non-stop and sharing my vision for a world class service program, she was all in!
So, where do I start? After doing a lot of research and talking with other credit unions, it was time to build a plan to make it all happen. I determined that the key areas of focus were on developing service values, empowering our employees, investing in our employees, and effectively measuring our level of service. I’m not just talking about putting a program together, but allowing service to drive how we do business and creating a world class service culture. With the support of our senior management team, I was ready to share the vision!
I knew it would be important from the very beginning to have team involvement and participation from the staff. We had the kick-off meeting earlier this year with 39 of our team members in various positions from all of our locations. From this group, we formed focus groups and research teams that supported our 4 key areas of focus - service values, employee empowerment, employee share, and service measurement. The service values are the foundation of the service initiative. These values need to display collectively how we serve our team members internally and members externally. From this, we will be creating service standards as well. The employee empowerment group will help create an environment that makes our employees feel that they are valued, make a difference, and ensures that our team members have the information needed to make decisions. This will allow us to create a better service experience for members and be able to provide solutions at every point of contact. The employee share group will help create an environment to support and develop employees. The service measurement group will determine the best way to measure internal and external service by using our expectations from the created service values.
I expected the development of this initiative to take 1 year. The time line started in January with brain-storming and putting a presentation together to present to Senior Management. Once the members of the focus groups were selected, we brought them all together for a training session on the overall goal and broke it down into the specific topics per focus group. They worked in their groups from January to June. I met regularly with the focus groups and all team members were kept informed about the progress via the portal. Final research and proposals were presented to Senior Management for approval in July. Once decisions are made about what recommendations we will move forward with, training programs and further development will begin. Some of the recommendations were 11 service value statements, daily line-ups, mentoring program and a Pay it Forward recognition program. In addition to what the focus groups accomplished, a communication plan and an accountability piece will also be created.
Providing great service is really what the credit union philosophy is all about. Being able to determine member needs, building relationships, providing beneficial solutions, and enhancing the financial lives of our members. Service is the ultimate form of sales- done the right way. Having a level of service that becomes our best form of advertisement, will increase sales, increase services per household, increase the number of members, increase employee and member satisfaction, and my list could go on and on! My hope is that our service initiative isn’t just implemented at IHMVCU, but that it is something that can be applied at many credit unions to provide members and employees world class service.