Navy Federal Credit Union: Demonstrating empathy creates customers for life

A lesson in customer experience excellence from a financial services leader: "Give customers a seat at the table"

Jeffrey Mango

Jeffrey Mango

Managing Director, Advisory Customer Solutions, KPMG US

+1 404-614-8757

When customers have a “seat at the table,” they become the driving force in how customer experience is delivered, according to Navy Federal Credit Union’s Stacy Keller Williams, vice president of Contact Center Operations, Member Experience & Training. The business is built around empathy, and truly understanding what matters most to customers.

Every year for the past decade, KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Report has revealed findings about consumers and their individual experiences with brands they interact with. The research has found that brands with a strong commitment to outstanding customer experience (CX) and value-driven relationships can reap the rewards of customer retention and loyalty.

Read the reportThe connected experience—2019 U.S. customer experience excellence report

The report outlines The Six Pillars of Customer Experience that impact CX success: Personalization, Integrity, Expectations, Resolution, Time and Effort, and Empathy. It also explores approaches and strategies that brands can use to move beyond organizational constraints and outdated practices in order to embrace the latest standards of customer experience excellence. And it showcases leading brands that are facing their CX challenges—and overcoming them.

For the second year in a row, Navy Federal Credit Union tops the U.S. leader’s list of companies who excel in customer experience. One of the pillars that stands out for this company, and contributes to its differentiated image, is Empathy. This includes its ability to make members feel understood, important, and cared for. The credit union helps its members solve the problems they encounter in their lives, and this elicits emotional attachment and loyalty.

Navy Federal Credit Union has some simple advice for companies seeking to improve the quality of their customer service: “Focus on culture.”  The company has maintained and enhanced its level of service while more than doubling its assets and member numbers over the past 10 years.

For Ms. Williams, culture isn’t a “checklist.” It comes from creating an environment in which Navy Federal employees feel empowered to provide the emotional connection that is at the heart of every great member experience.

“We have a collective sense of responsibility and ownership when it comes to the member experience,” Ms. Williams says. “We all feel like we own it. Our team members take great pride and have a real sense of purpose when it comes to serving our members.”

Navy Federal collects member feedback from multiple sources, including branch operations, surveys and focus groups. More recently, the credit union has begun analyzing unstructured data from member phone calls – using advanced analytics to assess both the content of the calls and the sentiment behind them.

The voice of the member is also front and center when Navy Federal introduces a new product or undertakes product refinement. For example, when Navy Federal revamped its mobile app, the credit union went through 17 rounds of focus groups and iterative development before it finalized tweaks to the app.  As a result, some app features saw usage uptick rates of more than 400%.

Under new CEO Mary McDuffie, Navy Federal has codified what members are looking for in four broad principles that have become the cornerstone of the organization’s culture and service ethic:

·       Show me you know me

·       Keep it simple

·       Do it for me

·       Tell me what’s next

“Those four principles are the essence of the experience we’re trying to create,” Ms. Williams says. “They have been embraced by our team members and are central to our culture. They align directly with what members tell us they want from the Navy Federal experience.”

Learn more about The Six Pillars of customer experience excellence and see examples from other brands that are winning the CX challenge.

Visit The connected experience—2019 U.S. customer experience excellence report.