We are all familiar with the term 'the customer is always right...' But anyone with half a brain knows this is just not always the case.
The issue then arises, what should your bank or credit union staff members do when the customer is the opposite... Very, Very wrong!
How to Leverage Stellar Customer Service Skills Online for your Credit Union or Bank
1. Online Member or Customer Service Skills Must be a Priority
Ok, and we say priority you can refer to my blog on CEO's and budgeting - but you can't 'prioritize' something by simply adding it to an already lengthy list of responsibilities for your existing staff.
Online customer service needs a strategy, a team and a budget.
Even if you put marketing in charge of handling online requests or comments, you'll also need to establish a reliable process for sending lending and member service questions to the appropriate team in a efficient manner. Remember, in today's day and age, people expect responses online within hours NOT days.
Your team will need a procedure in place that provides on-call coverage for customer questions and problems, 24/7/365. This should include a triage response plan to handle serious problems that could arise even during off hours like evenings and weekends.
2. Customers Should Never FEEL Wrong
As fellow humans, your bank customers or credit union members are going to be wrong sometimes. Using amazing customer service skills isn't about assigning blame or finger pointing. The key is how you make people FEEL, even when they are wrong.
For example, we recently had a client who had a problem. A form on one of their web pages was not capturing the right data for the purpose it was intended. Upon trouble shooting this issue we discovered a technical problem with how the form was originally configured. But it was a form and a page that our agency's team had never touched, so the mistake really wasn't ours.
Our team immediately fixed the problem and then I emailed the client with an apology and an explanation, and then assured them that we'd be more diligent with checking newly created pages in the future so this didn't happen again. Problem... solved.
This error wasn't really our fault and I knew this. However, I owned the mistake anyway because I wanted the customer to feel better about what happened, And most importantly, I didn't want the client to worry about the mistake happening again in the future.
The lesson here... sometimes it's not about who is right or wrong, it's more important to manage how people FEEL about the situation as you all move forward together. If your bank or credit union's team insists on pinning errors on members or customers, in the long run this will backfire.
Even if a problem is directly caused by a customer's error, teach your customer service team to concentrate on making people FEEL ok about each and every situation. Then work with customers to ensure that the same issue doesn't happen again. THIS is the secret to the best customer service skills! Making people feel ok, even when they have messed up.
3. Treat Customers Like Friends or Family
Often we have sales enablement clients who struggle with what they should say when following up with digital leads for their credit union or bank. They will ask us again and again what they should say in first and second emails to leads.
Most of the time the initial responses by customer service professionals is formal and rather dry. We recommend that your team think of each member or customer as a friend or extended family member.
Give the customer the same advice you'd give your cousin or aunt. If they've just downloaded an e-book on auto loans tell them about your recent experience buying a car or working with a member who got financing at a dealer and possibly wasn't happy in the long run.
We always recommend you are somewhat informal in your response language, but remain professional and knowledgeable. And offer advice or help that provides visible value right away, without immediately asking them for 'just 5 minutes of their time' or business.
4. Don't Take it Personally if You Have to Admit Customer Service Defeat
When a customer or member insists on blaming your institution for a situation that has caused them inconvenience or stress be sure you don't take this personally. A key customer service skill is to acknowledge their feelings first. Try phrases like:
"Your feedback is extremely valuable to us..."
"At --- CU we strive to achieve outstanding member service. If you’ve had a bad experience we would very much like to learn more so that we can rectify the situation and ensure it doesn’t happen again..."
And if you do need to take responsibility for a mistake that has occurred approach it with something like this:
"We will use this as a learning experience and do our very best to make sure it never happens again…”
"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to correct this problem...
Make sure your customer knows you hear their frustration and are there to help, regardless of who made the mistake to begin with. This is all people want. To know you're there to support them through the problem and will work hard to make sure it doesn't happen again.
5. When Your Customer Service Team is Nice Online EVERYONE Sees It
And what is the very BEST part about handling customer service complaints online? Well it might actually be what you would initially think is the scariest part... everyone sees what you say!
But this is actually a good thing because when your team responds positively and in a timely manner that makes all the difference. It's the complaints that go unanswered that cause the biggest problems. This is why the response plan is so essential.