Make Members’ (Financial) Dreams Come True

Apply the four keys to the Disney service culture.

September 09, 2013
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Today’s lending environment is highly competitive. It’s regulated. It’s hard to attract younger borrowers. It’s accessed through many different channels.

And the challenges won’t stop anytime soon. In fact, they’re amplified as traditional face-to-face member interactions are becoming increasingly limited. Credit unions must find ways to make the most of each lending opportunity.

So how can your lending strategy stay ahead of the curve?

One strategy is to study top organizations outside the financial industry. Learn best practices you can leverage in your organization and culture from other companies that have already paved the way.

When it comes to fostering a customer sales and service culture, who better to study than the Walt Disney Company?

At number 66 of the Fortune 500, the Walt Disney Company is the highest-ranked organization in the entertainment category. It doesn’t surprise me that it has established company-wide service basics for providing an outstanding customer experience.

Listed in order, the four keys to the Disney service culture:
1. Safety: Taking action to always put safety first.
2. Courtesy: Going above and beyond guest expectations.
3. Show: Ensuring the area is show-ready at all times.
4. Efficiency: Performing the role efficiently so guests can get the most out of their experience.

The connections to a credit union, much less any customer service industry, seem apparent. So let’s apply Disney’s four principles and see if we can draw connections to your credit union’s lending strategy.

Safety. Protect your credit union and members. Respect members’ needs by employing sales practices that are fair and nondeceptive.

Encourage members to make knowledgeable and informed financial decisions by emphasizing product/sales disclosures when offering products such as payment protection. Members want a financial institution they can trust to protect their financial well-being.

Courtesy. Your mission statement reflects your commitment to strengthening members’ current and future financial positions. Take the time to do a financial check-in and educate your members.

Find opportunities to see what life events have led to changes in their financial situation. You will end up uncovering and meeting more of their financial needs.

Show. There is a limited window of opportunity to connect or reconnect with members. Moreover, the number of channels members can use to connect is greater than ever.

Regardless of the channels members choose, offer consistent service, uncover member needs, share information, and provide solutions.

Efficiency. Your members are busy. When they come to you for financial advice, have a plan of action to assess and uncover their full financial needs in a timely response.

Alternatively, when you engage your membership, have a purpose and bring value to make your members’ financial dreams come true.

These four keys have helped preserve the Walt Disney Company’s standing in the top tier of entertainment and customer service. Disney’s culture embodies an experience to keep customers coming back for more.

After all, Disney—and credit unions—are where dreams come true.

KARIM HABIB is the director of lending for CUNA Mutual Group. If you have questions about establishing a sales and service culture at your credit union, contact your CUNA Mutual Group sales executive at 800-356-2644, or contact Karim directly at 608-665-8318.

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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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