To break the mold in customer experience, credit unions may have to discover strengths they aren’t even looking for.

This was the message customer experience expert Kate Feather, EVP at PeopleMetrics, delivered at the second regional THINK It Out in Livonia, Mich., on Tuesday. Credit unions aren’t failing at customer service. Rather, they face new challenges as customer experience replaces old ideas about service.

The first step, Feather argued, is to understand your members. If PeopleMetrics’ survey results are any measure, this is a good place to check your numbers. In a survey of financial services executives, 78 percent said their customer experience had improved in the last 12 months. By contrast, only 28 percent of customers agreed.

Growth institutions showed startling differences on a few key measures. They were more than twice as likely as non-growth institutions to take individual action on customer feedback – 71 percent versus 29 percent. Growth institutions were nearly three times as likely to make disciplined decisions around the customer: 60 percent of growth banks embraced this practice while only 21 percent of non-growth institutions made this a priority.


When businesses take the initiative to listen to customer needs and act on them, the customer experience can flourish. Feather used the example of BBA Aviation, a London-based company that provides flight support services (think: refueling private planes between flights). Not only is BBA’s business inherently stressful, but so is the business travel that surrounds it. That’s why, when BBA looked to improve its customer experience, it took into account contextual experiences like booking a hotel in a strange city. Where do you stay? How do you choose?

By building hotel reservations – among other “extras” — into their service menu, BBA not only improved its customer service but also elevated the customer experience. The company saw a 25-point lift in engagement, a 30 percent increase in revenue, a 24 percent increase in worldwide locations and 16,000 fewer problems as a result of their customer experience initiative.

Can credit unions also think contextually to build a bigger, better, bolder member experience? Considering the many roles money plays in our daily lives, says Feather, it’s hard to see why not. PeopleMetrics found that people who bank at small community institutions – including credit unions – gave a net promoter score of 46, versus 9 for customers of big banks. “You already have their trust,” Feather says.

What will credit unions do with it?


See what Kate Feather had to say about customer experience after THINK 14.

Watch a quick clip of Kate talking about attracting Millennials through education.