Check Out The View From The Ground Floor

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Ten years ago most member research was driven by general surveys, which provided the "view from 30,000 feet" and remains valuable for seeing the big picture and identifying opportunities and "red flags." Today, credit unions also need the view at ground level to understand members' perceptions of service quality and consistency. This is where transaction surveys come in. They are targeted to assess members' experiences by type of transaction and access channel to help institutions manage and improve key processes and services.

Transaction surveys have multiple benefits including:

* The data comes from the members themselves, avoiding any potential biases or assumptions on the part of paid researchers.

* They permit a statistically sound evaluation of branches and personnel, down to individual performance if desired.

* They generate goodwill. Even members who do not respond know that the credit union cares about their opinions.

* They provide opportunities for cross-selling.

When one credit union recently surveyed its teller lines, it discovered significant variation in performance across branches in both cross selling and service quality. The research identified which branches were performing at what level, specific service quality issues and products that were and were not being cross-sold effectively. The institution leveraged the knowledge gained to raise the entire organization's level of performance to a higher standard.

Another credit union's new accounts survey showed data entry staff was misspelling a significant percentage of members' names. The transaction survey highlighted what had otherwise been missed, and the resulting simple process change dramatically enhanced the institution's member relationships and goodwill.

An old adage says: "You can't manage what you don't measure." When trended over time, transaction surveys tell institutions whether they are improving, declining or stagnating and provide the information to make the necessary corrections.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. For more information, please call (310) 643-5910 or send e-mail to ngoldman

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