I recently called one of our business partners, the Raddon Financial Group, to inquire about an issue we were experiencing. As I did so, I was absolutely struck in awe with how Vickey, their operator/receptionist answered the phone. It wasn’t so much what she said—it was how she said it.
Her tone not only was friendly—it was enthusiastic. It conveyed that she was thrilled to talk to me and that I was her number one, top priority. She even engaged me in conversation, genuinely asking about my day.
What’s even more amazing is that Vickey consistently answers the phone that way. I have never had a bad phone experience with her (and I call Raddon multiple times a month).
When asked about why Starbucks was so successful, Dave Olsen, Starbucks Chief Coffee Guru (yes, that’s his real title), said, “everything matters.” And he is right. Everything matters—even how your employees answer the phone.
Here’s an example for our credit union. At Neighborhood Credit Union, our brand tagline is “World-Class Service. Neighborhood Convenience.” So our member service center is trained to answer the phone, “We’re having a wonderful day at Neighborhood Credit Union. How may I help you?” That greeting sets the right tone for our members and our organization.
But you can recite a script all day long—the key is how you deliver those words.
Here are five tips your employees can use to improve their greeting:
(1) Bring energy—It’s not just the words you say, but how you say it. When answering your phone do so energetically. Act like there is nothing else in the world you’d rather be doing right now than talking to the person on the other end of the line.
(2) Be consistent—Referring to the story above, I’ve never heard Vickey have a bad day. I’m sure she has, but the key is she never communicates that on the phone. Of course, the key with consistency is to be consistently good!
(3) Engage the member—Don’t just transfer the call but ask how their day is going. Genuinely talk to the member in an interested way. Of course, you have to be careful of the long-winded members but maybe your time is just what they need.
(4) Talk clearly and slowly—I admit: I’m a fast talker. So when I answer the phone I have to remind myself to be clear and slow down. Your employees have to do the same thing; do not rush through the member greeting.
(5) Smile—When all else fails, smile! Even if they cannot see you, if you are smiling members can tell. Some people even put the word “smile” on their phone to remind them to answer the phone with a smile on their face.
And when it comes to smiling, I always smile when I call Raddon. Why? Because I get to talk to Vickey. Hopefully your brand is so strong that people want to call your organization just because of how your employees talk.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a leadership summit sponsored by CUNA Mutual. One of the speakers was Dave Colby, chief economist for CUNA Mutual. He regularly publishes the Credit Union Trends Report (a must read for any credit union executive).
He addressed strategies credit unions could use to conquer economic and marketplace uncertainty.
“Credit unions have managed through 20 recessions over the past 101 years,” Colby said. His point was that credit unions can actually thrive during these challenging times but that we need to employ specific strategies to do so. His suggestions included:
(1) Trust Factor
“In a time when no one knows who they can trust, leverage your trust factor,” Colby said. He emphasized a key differentiator now is trust and community. He recommended going back to the “people helping people” philosophy. The sense of community to emphasize is local ownership, local control and local decisions. In other words, leverage your credit unions local nature to build trust.
Colby recommended that you begin with a strategy that focuses on your team. Specific questions he said credit unions should ask include, why are we here and what’s our business. The biggest takeaway was that many credit unions say their greatest asset is people, yet how are they taking care of their employees financially? Do your words match your employees’ pocketbooks?
“Members are looking for guidance, solutions and credit with reasonable terms,” Colby said about lending. When it comes to deposits he said, “some members need to learn how to save, others are looking for asset preservation.” In other words, focus on your existing members first: both their lending and savings needs. He recommended finding loans to re-write and promoting “thrift” as a debt alternative. He suggested credit unions promote “diversification”: that your members should diversify their savings portfolio.
There are three things credit unions should celebrate, Colby said: your member successes, community investments and employees who made a difference. “Let your community know how you make a difference,” he added. Colby specifically cited a credit union that encouraged its employees to increase the members’ cash flow (through refinances, higher savings rates, etc.).
“In their strategic planning sessions, credit unions need to be forward looking and ask questions about their members,” Colby commented. “Who will your members be in five years and what will they need five years from now.” Credit unions that focus on planning now will define their success going forward.
So credit unions that build trust, encourage their people, focus on key products, promote loans and savings and conduct a strategic plan will overcome the current economic environment.
Note: For you really “hip” readers, the “jump the shark” term might be old. In fact, you can argue that jumptheshark.com jumped its own shark now that it is affiliated with TV Guide. However, the phrase is still used today and hopefully this blog hasn’t jumped the shark!
Several years ago the term “jumping the shark” was coined. It was originally used as a defining moment when you knew that your favorite television program had reached its peak. The instant you knew that from now on, it’s all downhill.
Like when Fonzie jumped the shark tank on his motorcycle in Happy Days (episode 91, in case you’re curious). Up until that point, Happy Days was a top 10 show, was well written and received numerous awards. However, soon after that episode, Richie left the show, Fonzie got a girlfriend and the show gradually lost its success.
“Jumping the shark” eventually worked its way not just into TV, but also life and business. Now “jumping the shark” refers to when anything (TV show, fad, person, business, etc.) is beyond its pinnacle and started its decline.
Jumping the shark even applies to credit unions. Here are seven signs your credit union might have jumped the shark: