Consumers have more options available to them than ever before. That being the case, how can financial institutions stand out in an overcrowded market? You might try to answer that question by assessing the four Ps: product, placement, promotion, and price. As important as those are, there is an often-overlooked element that transforms the way consumers respond to products and services: the entire experience!
Building a memorable experience requires an obsessive devotion to the moments that make an emotional connection for the consumer. This is where you can take a page out of the Amazon, Zappo, and Disney playbooks. Talent development professionals help with creating this loyalty implicitly.
Companies like those noted above have revolutionized their industries and have unapologetically established an exceptional and memorable experience monopoly. Undoubtedly the trainers and instructional designers at these companies helped to create that messaging and trained the employees on how to develop this iron-clad loyalty and emotional connection. As a result, they are left uncontested to manufacture unparalleled brand loyalty and satisfaction with raving fans.
Let’s consider our own behavior when it comes to brand loyalty. With a saturated financial market, what drives decision making? What moments stand out as memorable? With every shop contesting for your business, what keeps people from switching to the new aspirational, total, advanced, stellar checking account that includes a free pressure cooker? Add stipulations, direct deposit, debit cards, and 15 signature-based transactions that stand between your customer and that delicious Pinterest-researched pot roast dinner!
Besides the fact that switching takes work, those lucky enough to be part of a credit union know it’s the developed relationship, connection to your community, ownership, and valued partnership that make them special. The market is filled with ordinary; but ordinary is not memorable! Ordinary in the finance world is sticking to the script, pushing products, and transferring accountability—with the results being a cold and unimpressive transaction.
To make positive changes, organizations must be obsessed with finding a better way.
As John Hench from Disney says, “What’s our success formula? It’s attention to the infinite detail, the little things, the minor, picky points that others just don’t want to take the time, money, or effort to do.”
Transforming the business model to include the entire experience can be achieved. Start with these five tips:
1. Make memorability your mission. Clearly establish the expectation and passionately share it at every opportunity. Ensure the “why” is echoed from the C-suite all the way to the newest team members. The synergy created by everyone taking ownership will help create the desired transformative culture that drives creativity, innovation, and accountability.
2. Create loyalty in the process. Developing a customer journey map is the single best way to start improving the overall experience. Look through the lens of the consumer and strategically create memorable moments throughout the process. Create a flow chart and map the actual process for a customer to do business with you, including how long it takes at each stage. This will give a baseline to critique for areas of improvement. Do not skip any detail!
3. Empower your people. Remove the cruise control and give control to your people. People feel inspired when they have the control to make decisions in the moment. Providing effective and timely solutions means that decisions can be made without senior approval. Build a foundation of organizational clarity and technical competence, and then get out of their way. The CEO of Honor Credit Union sets a clear directive to his team that encourages “Reason Over Rules.” This simple idea empowers team members to think for themselves.
4. Obsess over the details. Pay attention to every detail and identify the moments that could differentiate your service. It is often as simple as anticipating the consumers’ potential feeling with every interaction. Several areas often overlooked may include paying off a loan, retirement, first checking account, or their first car purchase. These life transitions are filled with emotion and could easily be overlooked and processed as business-as-usual. Focusing on these potential loyalty moments will help build your competitive advantage. Keep it simple and focus on one area to start. A handwritten note goes a long way; provide thank-you cards for your team and encourage them to use them often.
5. Encourage continuous improvement. Jeff Bezos says it best and has reminded his people for a decade to have a “day 1” mentality. In his 1997 letter to shareholders, Bezos says “day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death, and that is why it is always day 1.” He goes on to offer the starter pack essentials for day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making. Challenge the process beyond being just good enough! Establish a regular meeting with key stakeholders and review customer service surveys, current processes, and any memorable service they have received outside the organization. Make sure its scheduled and invite new stakeholders from time to time. This will help avoid groupthink!
Whether your organization is getting it right or has several gaps to close, it is important to set clear expectations on what the essential service standards are. Training professionals know that to be effective, these methods take time, require a top-down approach, and must be part of daily conversations. Building loyalty moments and becoming truly memorable involves redefining what service and value looks like in your business. This may involve calling a few metaphorical babies ugly, but you have everything to gain. Memorable service is achieved in the often-overlooked, unexpected, nontraditional, above-and-beyond little details. It is a never-ending mission of finding a better way . . . and your members will love you for it!