I walk into a fast food chain and order a salad. The man behind the counter is less than courteous. He does not greet me with a smile or reach out to shake my hand. He does not ask me questions about my needs. He simply takes my order as I tell him exactly what I want. “Chicken on the side, please,” I say. “I’m a vegetarian, but my dog loves grilled chicken.” The man looks up from the register, completely disinterested in my or my dog’s dietary choices, and asks “Would you like fries with that?” I decline, pay for my order, wait a minute or two for my food, and leave hurriedly when it’s ready for me.
This interaction got me thinking, what type of service experience are our members having when they call Aspire or visit our branches? For many years, we have functioned as order takers, much like the man behind the counter. We simply gave members exactly what they asked us for, nothing more and nothing less. However, unlike the man behind the counter, we took pride in the level of member service we provided. We always greet our members with a smile. We know their names before we pull up their account information. We know if they have children, grandchildren or pets. But in the past, we were not inclined to say “I’m glad I could help you with your withdrawal today. Would you like a loan with that?”
Do we, as consumers, have to choose between a pleasant service experience and interacting with professional salespeople who take the time to learn about our needs before recommending a solution? My Credit Union is proving that we can have both by evolving ourselves into a true sales and service environment.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous video blog, we’ve made some dramatic changes over the past three years to begin to create a sales environment in a culture of service at Aspire. These changes include the restructuring of our Lending Department into a Lending Sales Team where our Loan Consultants actively look for sales opportunities when interacting with our members, combining Member Services and Lending under the same leadership position and creating a Sales Coach/Trainer position. The next step in this process is to take these intermingled groups and create two separate but related functions designed to meet specific member needs: sales and service, with the requisite support functions.
As I much a mouthful of lettuce and Blue gobbles grilled chicken, I realize that when we were functioning strictly as order takers, we were actually doing a disservice to our members. Finding the best products and services to fulfill our members’ needs and help them reach their financial goals is the best member service we can provide! We don’t have to choose between top-notch member service and being effective salespeople. We can help our members by letting them know what we have to offer them and encouraging them to come to us for all of their financial needs, thus helping ourselves simultaneously by keeping Aspire profitable. Yes, we can have our cake… er, fries… and eat ‘em too!