How to Create a Great Member Disservice Team


In the spirit of David Letterman, I thought I’d write a “top ways” article to help you create and maintain a top-notch member “disservice” team! Of course, we all want to provide the best member disservice, so I thought I’d help by listing the top things necessary and required for that to happen!

Hopefully you’re picking up on the sarcasm and realizing we’re going to have a bit of fun here stating what you should not do if you want to keep your members happy (or maybe just plain keep them). Warning: please do not try these on members!

Creating a disservice team

To have a top-notch member disservice team, be sure they are qualified and understand completely and routinely leverage these tactics in day-to-day interactions with your members. While any given tactic is good, members are best disserviced if a skilled member disservice rep can string two or even three of these tactics together in the same call. Incidentally, if you have this person on your team, you got a real gem, trust me!

1) Redundant automated attendant

Here’s a tactic that’s very useful for member disservice if you can afford it. When a member calls the credit union, they will be prompted several times for various information such as their account number, the last four digits of their SSN, their birthdate, their immunization status, etc. Then, when the member disservice rep comes on the line, they need to be sure to ask all the same questions…wait for it…for the member’s security.

Avoid: Systems that eliminate redundant information gathering from the member.

2)Not my department” a.k.a. lack of ownership

An oldie but a goodie! As a member disservice rep, make sure that you deflect anything and everything you possibly can onto someone else. The goal is to get your incident queue down to zero and you can’t do that if you take ownership and care about whether the member is actually helped. Place blame elsewhere and just deflect it away as someone else’s issue. This tactic works best if you couple it with the next one on our list.

Avoid: Letting the member know you’ll follow up with others to ensure the issue is resolved.

3) The blind transfer

The best way to create a solid member disservice situation is to pitch the member over to someone else who has no idea who they are or why they’re calling so the member has the opportunity to reexplain their whole issue again and of course, reverify their identity. Even better to cut them off when they’re still talking and press the transfer button, especially right after explaining it’s not your job and you’re sending them on their way to another department who can help as noted above. This becomes more effective if you can get several departments to do this in succession.

Avoid: Speaking to the other department rep and communicating all the relevant information.

4) When in doubt, blame the last guy

With this technique, you make yourself appear more competent and look better to the member by blaming the last guy for screwing it all up. It’s not your fault, it’s that other guy’s! After all, you’re not one credit union all wearing the same jersey on the same team, no, no, no! You’re individuals! It’s only important you look good!

Avoid: Taking ownership and setting aside the past to resolve the issue at hand.

5) Inattention and distractions

When you’re assisting a member, be sure to stop and get a personal conversation going between your coworkers about the potluck Friday or how busy the credit union is right now, completely ignoring the member standing in front of you. This way, they know they were only ever partly on your mind as you monitored the discussion next to you. The member will feel less important as a member and equally concerned you’re screwing up their account through your inattention.

Avoid: Giving the member your undivided attention.

6) Forget to call them back

This is a classic tactic that’s sure to provide great mileage towards member disservice. You act empathic toward the member’s time by telling them you won’t keep them hanging on the line, you’ll do the research and get back to them. Make sure you get a good phone number, so they believe you’re actually going to call them back. Then go about your day, make sure the group has your lunch order right, tell your coworker about your cat, etc., and forget about it. Now, when the member finally calls back, be sure you fall into an amnesiac state and have no recollection of the previous call. If they get agitated, remind them that you’re just trying to help and ask if they’re sure they spoke to you. Perhaps they could even explain the issue again.

Avoid: Setting reminders or creating some other system for following up with members routinely.

7) Tell them about your bad day

If you’re having a bad day, assume the member wants to hear all about it. Explain to them that your bad day is exactly why you are struggling to help them. In fact, that’s probably why they called or came in, so you could share all the things that are going wrong today. They had no idea Connie called in sick again, that the construction on the way to work had you sitting in traffic, or that mean ‘ole Mr. Gravity made your coffee spill all over. Of course, considering this you will obviously be providing great member disservice and won’t be helping them today! But certainly, they’ll understand if you provide enough detail so don’t leave anything out! Share away! Again, as with any of these tactics, it’s always best to part with, “Have a nice day!” to really help the disservice stick!

Avoid: Remembering you’re there to help the member, not the other way around.

Do away with disservice

I hope this made you laugh a bit but, in all seriousness, how many times have you experienced these? How easily could you help me expand this list to 15, 30, or even more! Don’t be a member disserve representative, use a healthy dose of the golden rule here. Put yourself in the member’s shoes. Be patient, listen carefully, and take responsibility. Oh and have a great day!


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