“At most companies, average performers get an average raise. At Netflix, they get a generous severance package.”
—Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix


Let’s be honest. Many credit unions and banks provide just average service. We say we compete and differentiate on service but the truth is most financial institutions are average at best when it comes to giving knock your socks off, jaw dropping moments.

In a recent post (Marketing Audit Insights Reveal Common Areas of Concern), we noted that one insight from several recent marketing audits revealed the level of consumer service wasn’t as good as what management assumed it was.

Why the average service?

Probably because of the average employees. That may sound harsh but it also may ring true.

Financial institution employees rarely give BAD service. They are not going to cuss out a consumer, make faces at them or roll their eyes during a transaction. It’s rare when someone answers the phone at a credit union or bank with a mean tone.

However, bad service is not the problem. Average service is. If your financial institution is just giving what consumers expect (a pretty low bar) then you are not differentiating yourself from the hundreds of choices consumers have to do their banking. Most consumers see banking as a chore. Which is why your service is so important—if you can make banking fun and a great experience then you distinguish yourself from your competition.

When it comes to rewarding your front-line employees you are probably grading them on something like a one to five scale with three notating as “average.” So if they give “average” service (i.e., people aren’t complaining about them) then you probably give them a 3 or 3.5. But having a bunch of “3s” on your front line means you just have average employees.

And average gets you absolutely nothing.

While the above quote from Netflix’s CEO is striking, please note I’m not advocating you fire all your front-line staff. Rather, you should coach them up or coach them out.

One way to ensure you are not giving just average service is to foster a “wow” environment where you encourage employees to go above and beyond for consumers. For example, ask your staff questions like:

  • “What did you do to wow consumers today?”
  • “What did you do to live our brand today?”
  • “Tell me a story from this week about how you did something unexpected for one of our members/customers.”

As a financial institution you face many challenges: the competition, the economy, the fast changing environment. However, employee complacency—in the form of average employees—is also a potential stumbling block.

Remember, the biggest threats to your brand come from within.