5 Ways Your Members’ Mindset Looks Like a Kid’s Soccer Game
My son signed up for spring soccer last year when, overnight, everything social became a health risk. Recalling his past experiences with sports led me to relate the action and emotion of a youth football game to the dynamics of the collective mindset of members of a credit union. At first glance, this may seem like a far-fetched comparison. But when you dive below the surface, you can see just how much a game of football played by three- to five-year-olds can be like trying to figure out how your limbs think and feel, especially in light of the discordant events in the world. ‘last year. Here’s why:
1. It’s unpredictable. You can practice during the week. You can perform exercises. You can patiently explain and demonstrate exactly what you want them to do. But when the whistle sounds, chaos ensues. You can’t predict how the action will unfold with kids of different heights, abilities, efforts, and blood sugar levels ricocheting off each other.
Oh, you would like your members to display stable behavior patterns. But since COVID has arrived, all of your Member Experience (MX) data needs to be re-examined to determine which patterns are true, which have changed, and what they will look like in the future. And, to make it more interesting, the pace at which you have to make those observations, and the decisions that come with them, has accelerated! If you have to wait too long to get the data – and gain insight from it – you won’t get effective results because you’ll be acting on outdated information.
2. It’s blurry. Sometimes when you’re looking at a really cool caterpillar in the grass, the last thing you expect is to see a soccer ball fly past you. Until you remember you’re in a football game. Children, of course, have notoriously short attention spans – SQUIRREL! It doesn’t help that all these caffeinated adults are shouting things you can’t begin to understand.
With everything going on in your members’ lives now, who can blame them for being distracted or distracted? It’s up to you to accept them, understand what they need in terms of financial security, and then help them get it. This includes the ability to meet your members on their terms and provide the same supportive and transparent experience no matter how they do business with you.
3. It’s sporadic. Football is inherently a game of ebbs and flows, and changes in action and momentum. It is even more so at the younger levels. Some kids tend to burn out all their energy in one burst and then race through the rest of the game. Others are still waking up or digesting their Frosted Flakes in the first trimester. It’s easy to see when the effort is put in and when they’re off to dance to the Disney song in their head.
Your members may be more demanding at certain times or in certain situations, requiring more effort on your part to keep them happy. The prospect of financial insecurity caused by a personal event or public health crisis may require greater responsiveness and a greater degree of empathy. It takes up-to-the-minute understanding of your limbs – a dynamic finger on the pulse – to ensure you convey that sense of receptivity to your limbs. Context-deaf messages can scare them away.
4. It’s precarious. Wait a minute, everything can be fine. The next can be a disaster. An ill-timed collision, an ill-directed kick or a blatant display of ball hogging can be the spark that sets off a powder keg of screams and tears. You can prepare anything you want, but the moods of these little warriors are volatile.
This is the case with your members in an atmosphere of heightened anxiety (say, 2020). There is a low tolerance for an unpleasant experience. Waiting too long or an additional transfer to another department that could have been excused last year, or even yesterday, could be the last straw if your member’s day was otherwise full of worries, stress and frustration. You need to know where the friction is that will ignite the fuse in your limbs – and then know how to act immediately to defuse it.
5. It’s not uniform. Not all children on your team have the same skill level. Some take the game very seriously, while others chase the butterflies. If you want to get the most out of their abilities and attention spans, you need to have a clear understanding of each player’s strengths and know where they can best be used to achieve the team’s goal. Which, in this case, literally scores a goal.
As with football, different members require different amounts of attention, instruction, and service. It is, after all, a big part of your appeal as a credit union – being able to personalize the service you provide to each member. The trick is knowing exactly how much attention is needed at any given time. You cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to MX measurement or service delivery. You need information that allows you to meet your members where they are, right now, to deliver an experience that meets or exceeds their expectations.
You may not get snacks or a small trophy for successfully delivering, at the right time, exactly what your members need or expect during difficult times. But you can still experience the professional satisfaction of retaining members and deepening relationships, as well as the personal satisfaction of continuing the credit union’s mission of “people helping people.” It’s something we can definitely use more of these days, until we can all get back into the game.
Dennis Gilbert is the digital content manager for Support EXP in Centerville, Ohio.