The Art and Science of Follow-Up Calls

Don’t miss an opportunity to create value, avoid problems, and deepen relationships.

September 16, 2013
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My father worked for a Chevrolet dealership when I was growing up. During his tenure managing the service department he proposed a follow-up call program for the service advisors.

He suggested they call their recent customers to find out if they were satisfied with the work done on their car and how they were treated during the process. The service advisors thought he was crazy.

Nevertheless, the dealership implemented the program and, interestingly enough, won top honors in customer satisfaction for years to come. That was 25 years ago.subscribefrontline

I’m amazed that follow-up calls aren’t more of a priority and common practice in credit unions. The argument that “we don’t have time” or “the members don’t care” doesn’t hold water.

Don’t miss an opportunity to create value, avoid problems, and potentially deepen relationships.

Successful follow-up requires careful planning and attention to detail. Keep these five tips in mind:

1. Tell the member in advance you'll follow up

As you end your initial interaction, sell them on the benefits of subsequent contact. For example, “to ensure they’ve received their debit card and it’s been easy to use.” Or, to “make sure the first direct deposit hits their account as planned and give them peace of mind that their funds are available.”

Your goal is to help the member avoid problems (such as “I didn’t get my debit card,” or “I’ve tried to get my online access set up and gave up”) and demonstrate that you and the credit union truly are committed to exceeding their expectations.

2. Clarify the when and where, and put it on your calendar

Confirm the best time for the follow-up call and whether to use the member's home, work, or cell phone number. Assure the member the call will be brief.

Put the contact in your Outlook or other calendar so you’re reminded of your promise.

3. Prepare for the call

Make the call a value-add for the member and you never know where it might lead. To prepare, review the member’s profile and your notes from the interaction. What did they sign up for? Which other services do they have or lack? What topics did you discuss in your last conversation that might be worth addressing soon?

If your credit union tracks member interactions (think customer relationship management system), check if they’ve contacted the credit union for any reason. By taking five or 10 minutes to prepare for the call, you can be efficient and come across as professional and competent.

4. Assume they won’t remember your promise to call

When the member answers, be prepared to quickly identify yourself and the purpose of your call, then pause. Give the member a second to process and prioritize this interaction. Then remind them this will only take about 5-6 minutes of their time and ask if this is still a good time to talk.

Keep in mind:

5. Invite them back

This call can be the bridge to future business. If you uncovered a need in your last meeting but the timing wasn’t right to discuss it, revisit the issue: “You mentioned that your son was heading for college. Have you given more thought to how you’ll cover additional expenses he’ll likely have?”

By confirming the need you avoid the “dialing for dollars” approach that can turn off members. If the need exists, schedule another meeting to discuss how the credit union can help them. They’ll appreciate your proactive assistance.

Not everyone will accept a call. Some might prefer that you email or text them.

Honor that method of follow-up and consider how you’ll use these five steps to create a value-added experience for the member.

Follow-up calls can be an important tool in staying connected with your members. By making this a regular practice you can help members avoid problems and enhance their loyalty to you and the credit union.

CARLA SCHRINNER is implementation manager and senior master trainer for CUNA’s Creating Member Loyalty program.

(Via Credit Union Front Line)

Loyalty is key

Mike Moehle
September 19, 2013 10:47 am
Good job as people have so many choices of where to conduct their financial business--knowing someone cares enough to call makes the difference in their next financial decision.

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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 ( 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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