Exceeding Expectations Helps CU Exceed its Goals

Developing a sales and service culture leads to award-winning results.

January 17, 2011
KEYWORDS coaching , culture , sales , service
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1st MidAmerica Credit Union, Bethalto, Ill., wanted to inspire every employee to proactively seek out the needs of members and then work to exceed them in a sales and service culture.

The results have exceeded goals in every area—membership, products per household, shares, and loans—garnering a 2010 CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council Best Practices Award for the $430 million asset credit union.

Equally important, the process of introducing a sales and service culture has prompted a workforce revival that continues to build momentum as employees embrace a new way to work.

Preparing for change

Creating a sales and service culture required every employee to adapt to a new approach to member services. To guide the process, 1st MidAmerica used organizationwide training and complementary materials that gave employees a common language and shared references.

Employees were introduced to the change process in January 2009 with training based on the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson.

Next, training in CUNA’s PRIDE model was provided in the summer of 2009 and complemented by the use of color identification codes for personality types and communication styles.

The credit union also developed a detailed products and service manual and a Team Leader Coaching Guide to provide a foundation for sales and service tools.

Managers began holding bi-weekly coaching meetings with employees to provide information about products and services, along with tips for starting conversations with members.

Adding incentives

The sales and service culture also introduced new tools, reinforcement, and incentives for employees, including:

  • Referral goals and incentives, including a monthly spin of a wheel to reward employees who reached goals with cash, paid time off or gift cards;
  • Cross-sell pop-ups provided via the core system which remind employees of current marketing promotions, suggest products and services to cross-sell, and offer a script or question to use to open a conversation;
  • A monthly newsletter that offers articles and success stories; and
  • Continuous sales coaching at bi-weekly meetings.

Sales teams are organized each month to motivate employees to reach or exceed goals using themes such as horse races, road trips, beach parties, and bobsledding.

Employees can also win individual “movie buckets” containing popcorn, candy, and movie tickets.

Measuring success

1st MidAmerica set four goals to measure its success. Over 12 months, the credit union exceeded its goals in every area by increasing:

  • Membership to 41,343 members, compared to a goal of 40,470 members;
  • Products per household to 3.59, compared to a goal of 3.55;
  • Shares by 12.69%, compared to a goal of 9.84%; and
  • Loans by 8.31%, compared to a goal of 7.38%.

Branch managers cite additional benefits such as higher employee retention, happier employees, a more positive workplace atmosphere, and a greater commitment to the credit union.

While employees benefitted from adapting to the sales and service culture, 1st MidAmerica emphasizes that members achieved the greatest gains.

By supporting a culture that exceeds expectations at every level, 1st Mid-America created a positive environment that keeps members coming back.

View the full entry and learn more about the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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