This is Why it's so Important to Audit the Member Experience

This article previously appeared in CUInsight.

How you interact with members defines your brand in their eyes more than any other factor.

According to a Walker study cited on, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.  Aberdeen Group research published on claims that “companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89 percent of their customers, as compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.”

While sales and marketing metrics can help evaluate a service model, truly understanding the member experience takes more than a spreadsheet.  It requires you to step directly into your members’ shoes and examine each touchpoint from their points of view.

A member experience audit can help you achieve adequate perspective.  This type of formal interview often reveals deep insights into how well your credit union meets member needs on all fronts, including ones that you might not have considered.  The results might surprise you.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Giving Branches the “White Glove Test”

While credit union transactions are increasingly moving through digital channels, many times your most impactful member interactions occur face-to-face in the branch.

How you operate your branches speaks directly to the quality of your brand, says U.K.-based Audit Nationwide.  “If you were to walk around one of your branches right now would you notice how many ceiling lights are not working . . . or if there is any rubbish lying around?” While these are things “you or your team may not notice on a day-to-day basis,” the article emphasizes, your members will. publishes a list of questions to answer during an on-site audit, ranging from “What’s the first thing you see when you walk in?” and “Are your products grouped properly?” to “How is the lighting?” “What sounds do you notice?” and “What catches your attention while you wait in line?”

To answer these and other questions objectively, you can always send in a “mystery shopper” (or member, in this case), Nimax says, an undercover detective of sorts to observe and measure the “customer service, product knowledge and sales effectiveness” of member-facing employees.

The firm adds, “A professional audit report enables the management of a company to draw tactical conclusions about business process improvement.”

Dialing in to Call Center Performance

According to a recent LinkedIn blog post authored by Nuance’s Peter Mahoney, the call center is a treasure trove of information about what members really need.

His number one piece of advice to executives is to “answer inbound inquiries yourself.”  Not only does this practice reveal the kinds of questions that customers are asking, he says, but it also sends a great message “that a company executive is taking interest in their questions.”

He also advocates “call barging,” in which executives listen in on call center conversations to gain insights, and even “chair barging,” which involves sitting next to agents as they respond to caller inquiries.

Just what can you learn from these calls?  A lot, says Tammy Snyder, CO-OP’s vice president of call center operations, adding that there is one, single most important question to ask when monitoring a call: Were the member’s needs met?

“Listening directly to call center exchanges tells you whether the agent is polite, efficient and representative of your brand,” she said.  “Based on results from our 2016 C Wenger cardholder survey of over 1,000 cardholders, key drivers for member satisfaction when speaking with a representative are issue resolution, agent knowledge, courtesy, and thoroughness in answering questions, the speed with which a representative can be reached, and ease in locating the phone number.”

She also emphasizes that call monitoring is a great way to understand what agents experience – and can bring to light additional actions that the call center should be authorized to take to improve the member experience.

“There is no better way to understand the support experience of your customer than listening to them go through the experience themselves,” said Mahoney.  “This team is typically the front line for new prospects to the company and the experience they deliver is one your customers will remember for a long time.”

Checking Up in Cyberspace

Online channels – both within and outside your organization – are filled with information on just how members experience your credit union. advises organizations, in particular, to pay close attention to their reviews on sites such as Yelp, as these posts include candid information on how consumers perceive the brands they patronize.

Plus, the article adds, “a very large number of prospective customers are directly influenced” by these reviews, with over 60 percent of online writers sharing their recommendations on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Mahoney emphasizes the important role your own social media feeds can play in informing –  and transforming – the member experience.

“If you have a high volume of social media interactions, you need a staff in place to respond in a timely manner,” he said. “I have had several customer engagements on social media that started with a complaint and slowly evolved into a loyal, long-time customer relationship.”

He also recommends going on a “website scavenger hunt,” whereby you search your own site for answers to common questions to see how readily available that information is.  Even better, fill out an online form or two and track what happens to these leads.

Helping Members Get the “Job” Done

According to CO-OP’s new research study, “Jobs to Be Done – A Roadmap to Consumer-Centric Innovation,” every time members engage with your credit union they have a specific objective in mind.

“Merely asking what people want seldom uncovers these needs,” the research states.  “It is critical to ask the right question: ‘What are people trying to get done in their lives but find frustration with?’ This is a very different lens, typically divulging many frustrations consumers tolerate, cobbling together unsatisfying workarounds to cope. When an innovation addresses these frustrations directly, it takes off.”

Jobs to be Done research has been instrumental in pinpointing consumer wants and needs, and our latest report, produced in partnership with New Markets Advisors, reveals several areas of opportunity for credit unions. To view the research in its entirety, download “Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap to Consumer-Centric Innovation.”