Establishing a Voice of the Member (VoM) Program Through Customer Experience Research

Team members engaged in project meeting

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, getting a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. In the case of credit unions, the value of our relationships with existing members is crucial - as we try to be there at every financial life stage, from saving for college to retirement.

It's primarily up to Member Experience Teams to keep members happy - addressing member pain points and responding to inquiries in a timely manner. To accomplish that effectively, these teams need to conduct customer experience research to know what their members are thinking.

As a credit union professional, do you know how your members feel about your credit union? Can that status change on a day-to-day or even an hour-to-hour basis? Do members have a positive experience at every stage of their member journey? If not, where is your credit union falling short in providing exceptional service?

These questions are enough to keep any credit union professional up at night. Luckily there's a way to get these answers and more through what many credit unions find valuable in establishing a Voice of the Member (VoM) program.

What is a VoM Program?

"VoM" refers to the feedback your organization receives from its members based on their experiences or expectations about your financial products and the service your employees provide. "Program" focuses on categorizing the customer feedback information in an easy-to-access and understandable way that gives your Member Experience Team the ability to take definitive action. Some have called a successful VoM program "the heartbeat of any Member Experience Team."

A successful VoM program helps the Member Experience Team effectively learn about the member's expectations, aversions, and preferences at any point in the member journey. When built successfully, a VoM program helps the Member Experience Team to create a detailed set of members' wants and needs. Much like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, your members' needs and desires can be organized into a hierarchical structure, where your credit union can prioritize them in terms of relative importance.

Improve Your Member Experience with a VoM Program

Today, the process of recruiting and retaining members is no longer about one-way communication. Gone are the days when it was enough to put up a traditional billboard or 30-second TV spot and hope new members would come pouring in. While traditional media still has its place in the conversion process, the battle for recruiting and retaining members is now won on an individual basis by listening and responding to members and prospects in real time and with the right answers. A proper VoM program gives your Member Experience Team the tools they need to do just that.

In an earlier blog post, we covered the topic of competing on providing great customer service. Respondents to a survey by Gartner found that 81% of companies now compete on customer experience. The same study found that while the role of a Member Experience Team is becoming more critical, the budget dedicated to the customer experience is decreasing.

As a result of less money being spent on the customer experience, it's now more important than ever to make sure money dedicated to the customer experience is being spent in the right way. For credit unions, a successful VoM program incorporating customer experience research can help the Member Experience Team decide how to dedicate their time, resources, and budget.

With everything we now know, it's no wonder many credit unions are rushing to establish their own VoM programs. However, it is the responsibility of the Member Experience Teams to lay the proper groundwork to make these programs successful. After all, the aims of the VoM must align with the wants and expectations of the members it serves.

Creating a VoM for Credit Unions

If you are a credit union professional looking to build out your VoM program, here are some things to keep in mind as you go about the implementation process:

Go out and get the data

Feedback will trickle in from members, but don't just sit back and wait for that to happen. Your Member Experience Team should actively seek feedback from your members through surveys, phone calls, and mystery shops when necessary. Submit requests for feedback after an interaction has taken place - while it's still fresh in your members' minds.

Your VoM program should evolve

After you lay the initial groundwork, analyze and change what isn't working based on customer experience research. Much like creating your member journey map, think of your VoM program constantly being built or revamped. Both will need to change and adapt to the needs of the members.

Negative feedback is painful but necessary

Don't hide the bad stuff - be willing to tackle it head-on. There's no more effective feedback than negative feedback. It provides your credit union with the most significant opportunity for growth. You may even find that the more effective your VoM program becomes, the less negative feedback your organization incurs.

Mine for the insights you already have

It's essential to be proactive in seeking member feedback but recognize the resources you likely already have at your fingertips. For starters, meet with everyone in your credit union that has access to information on member interactions. There's a very good chance the people on the front lines of member services are a wealth of information just waiting to share their experiences.

Turn insights into action through trial and error

It may seem obvious, but it's where plenty of credit union professionals get stuck - an endless cycle of data collection and analyses with no meaningful action being taken. Remember that the insights you're collecting have no intrinsic value if they're not used to implement change.

Employ the right technology

Finally, many customer experience management platforms on the market, like MemberXP from CU Solutions Group, help credit unions extract and manage member feedback to build a successful VoM program. Investing in the right tools can go a long way to maximizing value for Member Experience Teams. 

For questions about how MemberXP can help your credit union improve the member experience or to request a demo, visit

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