Managers who neglect to ask the right questions, may never find the answers they need to gain the competitive edge they seek. For 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, which service individuals and small businesses in the Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio area, gathering feedback from their customers brought much-needed insight into why business was decreasing and customer acquisition rates were stagnating.
3Rivers knows two vital factors about its customers: currently their average customer is 48 years old; but the younger demographic (18-34 years old) represents the long-term future of its business. However, the recession brought a drop in deposits and in its loan business, as well as a flat customer acquisition rate within the younger set. Management needed to know the reasons behind the changes, especially among the 18-34 year olds, and what they could do to reverse the trend. "Generating feedback from this group became a major priority," says Steve Levendoski, loan product manager at 3Rivers. "3Rivers also wanted to increase customer engagement levels and be more visible in the community."
After contacting credit unions around the United States about how they capture and act on customer feedback, 3Rivers decide to implement a voice of the customer (VOC) strategy, as well as technology that could support an enterprise-wide effort. 3Rivers implemented the Allegiance Engage Voice of the Customer platform. Now, the credit union can gather feedback from multiple channels in real time and integrated it into one platform.
3Rivers also launched an "I Have a Voice" button on its website to encourage feedback. Customers can quickly enter a suggestion, question, comment, or complaint, and then categorize their submission using a drop-down menu so it's sent to the appropriate department. The system then alerts specific teams to any issues that need their attention. Additionally, the credit union uses a tool called CustomerPulse, a relationship survey sent to every member twice a year as a way to determine customer engagement levels and the key drivers of customer engagement. The pulse survey asks members to rate the credit union's service every six months, up to the 18-month mark after opening an account, as a way assess satisfaction and loyalty.
"3Rivers is also using Pulse to assess what happens to new customers after the 'honeymoon stage' is over," Levendoski says. "The survey is especially important for young customer groups because 3Rivers found they had shorter honeymoon periods than older groups." By doing so, 3Rivers discovered members were unhappy about how the credit union chose to communicate interest rate changes on certain types of accounts, clearing the path for better communication in the future.
The insight from customer feedback has helped improve segmentation, and as a result, marketing communications and customer experience. "We can segment members into groups-by age, by income, by preferred transaction method, by customer duration-and obtain the percentage of engaged members in each group," Levendoski says. "We then look at the qualitative information within each group to identify what will have the quickest impact, and come up with a game plan that will increase the likelihood that less-engaged customers will become strong proponents."
In addition, since implementing its VOC strategy and supporting platform, 3Rivers' Net Promoter Score jumped from 56 percent to 66 percent and its referral rate increased eight times over its average rate, from 25 to 200 referrals per month. The company's wallet share has also grown, increasing its total savings balance by 20 percent, to $15 million. 3Rivers has also implemented surveys specifically directed toward younger customers just joining their service in order to determine successful engagementtactics and areas for improvement to help improve retention among its 18- to 34-year-old customers.
Stop - When you recognize that your methods are no longer eliciting the response you want, don't hesitate to revamp your approach and find an ideal platform or practice that gets results.
Look - Explore what your colleagues and competition are doing successfully and learn from their example. Apply the appropriate best practices to your own operations.
Listen - When your customers provide feedback, take what they're saying constructively and use it to better your service. The best source for customer insight is the customer, after all.