Beyond the Single Transaction: People Helping People


There is no question that in today’s world, consumers are driven by the convenience of single transaction experiences. Making reservations, sharing the bill, ordering take-out, and scheduling appointments are all a single click away. Consumers need to search no further than the nearest mobile device, which typically is in their hand, back pocket, or on their desk. Today’s consumer expects convenience and immediate gratification. When it comes to financial transactions, members are no different.

Balancing member experience with convenience  

Statistics provided by my CUSO show that in a credit union with 87,000 members, only 3.8% of transactions performed in one month were posted using teller processing. For a credit union with 36,000 members, the ratio of in person transactions was slightly lower at 3.3%. Credit unions with less than 36,000 members averaged 5%. Debit transactions were shown in the top percentile with phone, mobile, and online banking coming in as a top performer.

Credit unions are facing many circumstances that compel them to consider various methods to support the instant gratification experiences modern members expect. Today’s credit union cannot deny the need for options; desktop, mobile, micro apps, automated phone systems, and contact centers are a few of the ways for members to conduct business without going into the credit union. However, the single-transaction consumer still desires great customer service, to feel valued by their credit union, and to feel connected to an experience that will transcend immediate gratification.

But how does a credit union leverage the need for technology with the need for service and still overcome the challenges that impact operations financially? By saying out loud, every single day, that automation does not replace people. Automation may be the driver of the transaction, but it is not a replacement for the experiences only people can provide. By capitalizing on a consultative approach—which prioritizes building a relationship with the member and creating open dialogue to identify and provide solutions to a member’s needs—credit union professionals better understand the challenges faced by members, so they position their solutions in a more compelling way.

The consultative approach

The consultative approach seems to be the buzz word these days, but has anything really changed? The very thing that differentiates a credit union from every other financial institution is the concept of people helping people. Has today’s single transaction consumer changed our own view of ourselves? We must shift our mindset. As credit union professionals, we must all have a passion and a sense of responsibility to live the cooperative spirit with fervor and energy. Have we become so distracted that we cannot see our way back?

I have known credit union staff members to challenge the consultative approach as simply selling. If you are one of those people, let me say to you: get out of your own way. Selling and service is not something you do to people; service is something you do for and with them. Changing your mindset is the first step in making a real difference at your credit union. You will see a remarkable difference in your members.

I recall one such experience, back when I worked at a credit union, where a young single dad was struggling financially. Even with a full-time job, he was barely able to make his bills. The teller he spoke with suggested putting $1 into a savings account every week when he came to deposit his check, and asked that he trust that in time, the single dollar would grow into more. The member did just that. Over the coming months, the member began to deposit as much as he could. The teller, being aware of the member’s needs, saw this savings grow and suggested he move some of the money into what was at the time called a money market account, and he eventually gained enough to have an emergency fund and open a checking account.

They ran into each other outside the credit union, and the member stopped to introduce the teller to his son and to thank her for her helping him succeed in finances. He added how happy he was with his credit union and his new checking account. People helping people changes lives.

Take the time to make connections

There are many stories just like this one. Consultative services will not change the drivers of single transactions experiences. However, they may change how your members view your staff. How you will them to meet challenges and celebrate their financial wins alongside their family. Excellent member service can be the catalyst of longevity and legacy that goes beyond the single transaction mindset.

How has excellent member service relationships impacted your life? How has being a good consultant impacted your credit union? Let us know by posting in the comments or sharing the story socially.


  • Julie Gessner

    A 17-year veteran of CU*Answers, Julie has dedicated her career to advocating for financial services that benefit credit unions and their members. At CU*Answers, Julie leads business development and marketing initiatives in support of a variety of management service offerings. Julie spends her days working with credit union executives and managers to establish strategies that maximize the opportunity to succeed in both credit union operations and member service.

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