BY CHAD DAVIS
For as long as there have been customers, there have been waiting areas—queues or rows of chairs where people wait for their turn to be served, with varying levels of patience and yearning about how else they might be spending their time.
As much attention has been paid to other aspects of the member experience, the waiting area has widely been ignored. Queuing up members for service in many credit union lobbies remains a manual process, with little technology integration or opportunities to collect data on how to improve this interaction.
Let’s face it: No one wants to wait. No one walks into a branch looking forward to being shown to a row of chairs with the chirpy message that “someone will be with you shortly.” Anything that credit unions can do to eliminate or at least reduce wait time has an outsized impact on member satisfaction.
As part of their training, employees at the 65 branches of Suncoast Credit Union are instructed to wait for a single minute, to underscore how long 60 seconds can feel to members, says Jenny Torres, Vice President of Service and Operations. That exercise drives home the importance of prompt service, and Suncoast staff and managers have new tools at their disposal to help reduce wait time and assist members who prefer face-to-face interactions for services ranging from opening a CD to applying for a mortgage to planning their retirement savings strategy.
Personal service remains at the core of Suncoast’s promise to members, so the credit union is looking to right-size its branches based on the specific needs and expectations in each market, from maintaining larger facilities in areas with high transaction volume to smaller “coffeehouse-style” locations. Some branches may introduce later hours to cater to members’ schedules, and many have Spanish-speaking staff to serve a growing Hispanic population.