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March 2, 2021

How Credit Unions Master Member Satisfaction

How do leading credit unions find the right mix of people, process and technology to make their members happy?

How do leading credit unions ensure member satisfaction?

A few years ago, the US financial services industry woke up to the fact that the satisfaction of the customers we serve was becoming increasingly important. Today, every industry is cognizant of this fact and millions of dollars worth of annual technology investments are going to increase customer satisfaction.

Technology is an important tool, as evidenced by the increased borrower satisfaction that we’re seeing with digital lending. But that’s only part of the equation. Mortgage Cadence has long held that there are three factors to success in the mortgage industry: people, process and technology.

When it comes to the people factor, credit unions may be our best example. Their approach to customer satisfaction -- which in their world is member satisfaction -- is exemplary.

To find out more about how these institutions approach this critical part of the business, I spoke with three long-time Mortgage Cadence customers who were also recently made the Forbes’ list of America’s Best Credit Unions in 2020: General Electric Supervisors Association (Gesa) Credit Union, Richland, Washington; Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU), Seattle, Washington; and Baxter Credit Union (BCU), Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Going the distance for members when things go wrong

The first rule of member satisfaction is that no one expects the institution to do everything right the first time. It’s when something goes wrong that credit unions have a chance to shine.

“What really defines us is how we behave when we aren’t perfect,” said Randy Wacker, Vice-President of Mortgage Lending at GESA. “That is what shows our members what our values are. We aren’t perfect, but when there are problems they must be addressed by people connecting with people. It’s not about email.”

Wacker recalls a deal in which the water was turned off to a property attached to a loan GESA was servicing due to an unmade irrigation payment. It was the credit union’s oversight and front line workers knew the team had to move quickly to solve the problem.

“Due to COVID and the restrictions it placed on our business, we issued a cashier’s check and hand delivered it the same day,” Wacker recalls. “I didn’t make that call. It was someone three levels below me who was empowered to make it right. She went over to the branch and resolved it. It was the right call, she knew it and had the power to address the problem.”

Putting the community first

Many businesses will say that their customers come first, when credit unions say that about their members, they tend to back it up. The proof is in the mind of the member.

“Our members feel that we put them first,” said Lorraine Stewart, Senior Vice-President at BECU. “They know it’s one of our core values.”

They know this, in part, because of the credit union’s actions in the community.

“We’re very active in our community,” Stewart said. “We support it through our BECU foundation, which offers scholarships for kids that are going to college. Our ‘People Helping People’ initiative supports our member’s chosen nonprofits, including social justice initiatives. They know we are here for the long-term.”

Making members feel at home

Time and again in my interviews with the nation’s top credit union executives, the conversation turned to making members feel comfortable with their financial lives. This can be difficult because as Jill Sammons, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy for BCU pointed out: “Buying a home is the most significant experience that our members go through with us.”

The points to the jovial and empathetic style of Herbert O. Behrens, the Vice-President of Mortgage Lending at BCU. “He’s hyper member-centric,” she said. “Herb doesn’t appear to feel stress, even when we’re experiencing overwhelming loan volume he would never let you know it. Herb cares deeply about the member experience.”

Much of that experience comes back to technology, but never without a personal touch.

“Our ability to identify an intersection between the human and the digital is critical,” Sammons said. “We recognize how important self-service and flexibility are to how our members want to do business. But when they want to have a live interaction, we have to be able to enable that as well.”

It means never forgetting that business, even financial services business, is not about technology. It’s about people.

“It’s something we talk about that is easy to say but hard to do,” Wacker said. “For us, it comes down to: ‘Do the right thing.’”

By Cate Dalton, EVP Customer Advocacy at Mortgage Cadence

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Media Contacts

Mortgage Cadence:
Megan Martin
EVP, Marketing
(516) 480-6765