This post contributed by Colleen Cormier, Account Executive with On The Mark Strategies.

I had the roof replaced on my house recently, and it was an experience. The roofing company was great. It was my mortgage company that had me jumping through hoops. I needed them to sign a check from our insurance company that was made payable to myself, my husband and the mortgage company. The easy process they promised over the phone turned out to be anything but easy. In fact, they lied to me on the phone, which resulted in several wasted trips to the branch. It was not their finest hour.

The customer or member experience is one of the most critical tools to providing excellent service. It’s so important that it should be an integral part of every financial institution’s strategy. That doesn’t just mean offering an experience. It means understanding the experience from the customer or member’s perspective. Here are three ways to ensure your customers or members are not jumping through hoops to do business with your financial institution.

Have employees beta test your digital services. When we conduct marketing audits for our clients, we test mobile apps and other online tools whenever possible, and we view websites from several different devices and screen sizes. That is the bare minimum you should be doing to ensure efficient and convenient service. Have a group employees test your online loan applications, mobile apps, online banking service and other digital offerings and get their suggestions on how these services can be improved.

Mystery shop your own branches. Digital offerings are only one piece of the puzzle. The way your employees treat consumers and the ease of your processes is equally important. Ask loyal members to mystery shop your branches. Have them open a new account, apply for a loan or just inquire about a product or service they don’t already have. Give them specific verbal cues and behaviors to look for, as well as ease and number of steps in a process.

Shop the same services at other financial institutions. Have you heard that saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know?” If you have employees who have worked at your financial institution a good while, there’s a big possibility you are their primary financial institution. They may not even have another bank or credit union. From an employer standpoint, that’s great. From an experience standpoint, it limits their point of reference to what your competition may be doing better. Pay them to mystery shop the competition. Again, have them apply for loans, open new accounts and test digital services, and report back on how the experience compares to the experience at your financial institution.

Sometimes financial institutions get so focused on streamlining processes for the back office that they forget the effect it has on the customer or member experience. Test your processes and overall service to ensure you are not making your consumers jump through hoops.

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