Credit Unions: Happier Employees Lead To Happier Members

Credit Union Members Report Highest Satisfaction Levels Among All Financial Institutions

Among all financial institutions, credit unions have ranked the highest in customer satisfaction levels for the last seven years running. In a recent study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), it was reported that credit unions were ranked first in customer satisfaction, significantly outpacing all other financial institutions. The credit union customer satisfaction score of 85 is first among financial institutions and notably higher than the average bank score of 76.

Why are satisfaction levels so much higher in credit unions?

For starters, individuals who conduct business at credit unions are referred to as “members” rather than customers – a literal description of the member-owned structure specific to these financial institutions. However, this language also helps define the way in which the organization views their customers. Members describe their relationship with their credit unions as “familial” and often say that they feel like they’re “not just another number”.

credit-union.gi_.top_Another reason that credit unions are rated substantially above other financial institutions is due to the expectations that members have, according to the study done by ACSI. Credit union members have higher expectations of their institutions than bank customers, and as member expectations continue to rise at credit unions, so too has member satisfaction. In addition, the likelihood that a member will continue to do business with a credit union is nearly 20 percent higher than all others measured in the study. Additionally, the report found that the rate of complaints at credit unions is less than half of that at banks.

According to the index, credit unions rank first in the following categories:

  • Availability of products and services
  • Ease of making account changes
  • Interest rate competitiveness
  • Understanding account information
  • Courtesy and helpful staff

The ACSI score reflects how and why credit unions satisfaction levels are soaring, with no signs of declining.

The ACSI report isn’t the only study that puts credit unions at the top of their field. The Harris Poll found steady increase in consumer trust amongst credit unions, while consumer trust of banks was in decline. The Chicago Booth Kellogg School Financial Trust Index showed that consumers trust credit unions more than banks. The index, which is sponsored jointly by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, showed consumer trust in credit unions was twice as high as consumer trust in big banks.

Credit unions are doing a great job at making sure their members are happy; so how do they ensure satisfaction levels are maintained and increased each year? It begins internally, with the employees.

“The single most important factor that affects customer satisfaction is employee satisfaction,” says Howard J. Ross, president of a Maryland-based consulting firm. “Employees who feel satisfied and happy at their jobs naturally tend to be more helpful and considerate toward customers. It’s simple logic. If I like my job and the company I work for, I’m going to communicate to customers that we have a good product.”

Keeping employees happy and engaged at work has a direct impact on membership happiness. Plasticity Labs has helped their clients to tackle this challenge and have seen the incredible organizational results that happy employees can have on customer service. To illustrate this point, think about a team member who is disengaged at work handling a customer request, versus one who feels valued and engaged at work. The member who encounters the happy employee will have a more positive experience from start to finish because that employee will likely have a level of optimism to be in a good mood, has the energy and focus to listen to the member and the resilience to work through tough situations in order to provide satisfactory customer service. The disengaged member, however is more likely to resent a customer complaint or request because they might be tired, lack the energy to empathize with the member and instead feel anger toward the company they work for (and might take it out on the customer) because at the end of the day, their needs are not being met at work. Plasticity Labs has encountered this type of situation many times while working with concerned clients, and research has found it to be a very real and expensive problem.

In the latest Gallup study, “State of the American Workforce” it was found that 70% of employees are disengaged and 18% are actively disengaged at work. In other words, America is largely a nation of unhappy workers, with most people not feeling emotional ties to what they do and sizeable numbers actively seeking to sabotage their colleagues, managers and organizations as a whole.

The disengaged workforce is costing the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. Disengaged employees are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away. Unhappy employees can be detrimental to membership happiness and cost the organization money.

For this reason, Plasticity Labs advocates that companies be proactive when it comes to employee satisfaction, so they are investing in employee happiness before it becomes a bigger disengagement issue, as mentioned above. When the team is happy, there will be an infectious, spill over effect that trickles down to members in every interaction they have with the credit union.

Research shows that traits of the happiest and highest performing individuals boils down to these traits: Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism. By taking the time to make sure employees are satisfied and engaged at work, and giving them the tools to strengthen these skills; organizational happiness, engagement, productivity and most importantly customer satisfaction will skyrocket.

As credit unions approach new challenges, like advancements in digital and mobile technologies, which are driving fundamental changes in customer behavior and expectations, it is imperative that customer service levels are maintained. As credit unions evolve with these changes in the technological and consumer behavior landscape, the key to a smooth transition and maintaining exceptional service is making sure that employees are happy and engaged.

To learn more about how you can invest in your organizations membership happiness, contact us to learn more.

Jennifer Moss