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WESTconsin Credit Union | Service

Posted: October 9, 2019

From the Front Line Up or from Management Down?

I started working at WESTconsin Credit Union last November. On my first day, I had orientation with two other people. During the second hour, our CEO spent 45 minutes or so explaining the credit union’s history, but more importantly, what her expectations were. She was straight forward and clear… provide the best member experience possible and do what is in the best interest of our members. Lora went on to say of course that we need to make financially sound decisions but this was a secondary priority behind member experience. Being new to the WESTconsin team, I found the CEO participating in such a training to be refreshing and rather unique for a business of this size. When I mentioned this to our trainer, she said this was quite normal and that Lora misses very few orientations. As time went on, I would hear other stories about Lora such as brushing snow off of employee (Service Center) cars after hours during one of the behemoth snow storms last February. Just last week, Lora was one of the volunteers for the WESTconsin Credit Union booth at Menomonie’s Great Community Cookout. 

So is it just the CEO and management that goes out of their way to help those around them? As I have met and worked with a number of management personnel in my loan officer role, the answer is no. Whether it is a corporate officer or a team leader, they all share the same spirit as our CEO. Whether it’s helping a member, a fellow employee or serving on one of the various community boards or groups such as the Rotary or Bridge to Hope, it’s just second nature for them. So helping at WESTconsin comes from the top down then? Let me relate a story a friend told me before you decide.

Last spring I met a longtime friend for lunch who grew up on a dairy farm. She has been an instructor at a nursing school for quite a while so she has high standards because in her profession poor performance has real world consequences. She lives in the Twin Cities and had never visited a WESTconsin Credit Union office. She had to wait 10-15 minutes for me while I was on the phone. She then spent the first ten minutes telling me what she observed:

She was impressed by the service that the members received as they walked in the door from greetings to speed of being helped. What she really focused on was the fact that “taken care of” wasn’t good enough. For example, someone came in and had to wait for the next available appointment in 30 minutes with an employee. The member was “taken care of”. However, my friend watched them work to figure out how to get the member helped sooner which they did. It took some work, but they got it done. She watched as employees jumped up to help each other take care of the other’s needs. My friend said you can tell this is a great place to work and do business. Those employees were doing what I strive to have my nurse students do: use your judgement, don’t wait to be asked or required to help or follow up on something, work as a team, and ALWAYS have the patients well being at the center of every decision you make while on the job. My friend has the reputation at her school for being a tough instructor so these compliments are well earned and not lightly given.     

Creating positive change in member experience, for team members, and in our communities, where does it come from? EVERYWHERE! From the front lines, from management, from the sides! I have experienced and have friends and family that have experienced work environments where the ethos or core mission is set by some internal document or “required book to read” with lots of hoopla and fanfare. However, the excitement eventually wears off. Then when a group’s actions in the company doesn’t match the  “Book”, people are disappointed, performance goes down, mandates go out and goals are much harder to achieve. I am lucky to work for a great organization that truly believes in helping everyone around them. One where this comes naturally and not coaxed or forced.

John R. Grape
Senior Business Loan Officer
Menomonie—Downtown Office
WESTconsin Credit Union

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