Customer Service: The Pitfalls and Prevails: Customer Service: The Pitfalls and Prevails I nterview: Courtney Anderson, WECU (Whatcom Educational Credit Union), head, Loan Officer Who makes up your client customer base?: Who makes up your client customer base? C.A.: “Anyone who lives, works, worships, or goes to school in Whatcom County. So really a WIDE variety of people !” What product(s) or service(s) do you provide customers?: What product(s) or service(s) do you provide customers? C.A.: -Consumer loans, personal or auto - Bank accounts (savings, checking, estate, business, trust) -CDs -IRAs -Limited credit counseling/budgeting How many customers do you and your organization serve daily?: How many customers do you and your organization serve daily? C.A: “For me, it really depends on the day. Sometimes I see 5 people, sometimes it’s 15. It depends on what time of the week and month it is.” -” WECU in generally has to serve thousands of people daily. There are 12 physical branch locations in Whatcom county which serve people 5 days a week and then all the people who call into our call center. “ In your view, how important are basic communication skills in customer service?: In your view, how important are basic communication skills in customer service? C.A: “ Communication skills are vital for any customer service job and I think especially for my job (although we call it “member service” instead of “customer service”). People get really uptight about their money and if you can’t communicate with people effectively they aren’t going to trust you .” Is most of your service over the phone, via computer, or in person?: Is most of your service over the phone, via computer, or in person ? C.A.: “Mostly in person and over the phone and some on the internet. It just depends on what I’m doing. I would say 90 percent in person for sure.” What has been your biggest customer service challenge in the past year?: What has been your biggest customer service challenge in the past year? C.A.: “ It’s always hard telling people something you can’t do for them, but leaving them feeling good. If I can’t do a loan for someone, I try to leave them with some sort of hope. If they got turned down because of their credit, then I give them some advice about how to improve it . If they are turned down because they are a student and have no income, I tell them to come back when they get that great job after they graduate. “ Challenges Continued….: Challenges Continued…. C.A.“ Another really tough situation was with a member who wanted someone who “knew what they were doing.” I’ve been at my job for 4 years and figured I know what I’m doing pretty well so I helped the guy. When he had questions I didn’t know the answers to, I offered to call someone who would know. Well , this wasn’t good enough for him . He said a few belittling things in attempts to diminish what I did know (which was like 95% of what he was asking). I calmly tried to explain that there was no way I could be an expert on everything and that I wanted to get him the correct information. He later calmed down and apologized but it sucks when someone is basically trying to make you feel stupid when you are trying to help them .” What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in this business today?: What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in this business today? C.A .: “ Listen to people and what their needs are. Don’t try to sell a loan to someone who doesn’t need one. When people trust you and trust that you have their best interests at heart, they will keep coming back. That’s pretty much WECU’s motto . Great member (or customer) service means just that . Listening to people, figuring out what they want and need, what’s best for them, not just now, but what will be best for them in the long run, and figuring out the best way to help get them achieve their dreams. Final thoughts:: Final thoughts: Be empathetic. Try not to take things personally. Be a good listener. Let the customer feel understood.