In this post, we will explore the idea of using member surveys to improve service. Being based in the credit union industry, we’ll be looking at the topic from the perspective of credit unions who want to create their own survey. Basically, this is a DIY guide.
If you understand the basics of surveying and want to get started now, download our survey guide:12-Month Credit Union Survey Roadmap.
Creating a survey is the easy part. Every modern survey platform is user friendly and intuitive to some degree. However, survey strategy and methodology aren’t so simple.
This blog will introduce you to all the basics of surveying. In this guide, we’ll cover everything about starting your own survey program. We’ll start by discussing the purpose and benefit of surveys, and then we’ll answer all your big questions:
- Why should I survey?
- Who should I survey?
- What should I survey about?
- When should I send my surveys?
- Where do people want to receive surveys?
- How can I get started?
So, without further ado, let’s dive into all the basics of credit union surveys, strategy, and methods!
Exploring the Power of Surveys
You already know what a survey is, so we’ll keep this brief. The main purpose and benefit of surveys is keeping in touch with your members. There’s no better way to see how they feel about your credit union than by simply asking.
Surveys are a critical part of many member experience programs. They can measure for satisfaction, loyalty, ease of use or access, or even sentiment about particular products, services, events, etc.
The flexibility of surveys is one of their many strengths.
Additionally, surveys provide immediate, actionable feedback. Will you offer a new credit card? The survey can tell you if it will be well received. Will you exit your shared branch network? Some members might suggest you don’t!
Surveys are the best, most reliable way to tap into the voice of the member. But to really do so, you need to start somewhere. We recommend starting by asking:
1. Why you should survey your membership
Why should you survey your members? Of course, there are many reasons to launch a survey initiative, but saying “there are many reasons” doesn’t help you find out what your reason is. So, let’s look at some of the common reasons and the motivation behind them. Perhaps some will resonate with you.
A. Solve a specific problem. You may decide to run surveys to help you solve a known problem within your organization. This could be something like long wait times, employee mistakes, or transaction types that members find difficult to complete.
B. Improve member loyalty. For years now, member loyalty has been a big reason for credit unions to initiate and maintain a survey program. Measuring loyalty is really about member retention as a key foundation for growth. You can’t grow if you are losing as many members as you are bringing in!
By far, the most popular method of measuring member loyalty is Net Promoter Score©, usually shortened to NPS. However, Customer Effort Score (or Member Effort Score, in our case) is a more recent alternative to NPS that’s gaining in popularity. See the difference between NPS and CES here.
C. Increase business. It’s true. All of the reasons above could fit into this category as well, but there is a specific type of survey which helps generate sales in a more direct way, by raising member awareness of products and generating leads for staff to follow up on.
Notice that the reasons we examine aren’t about “knowing,” but rather, they are about “doing.” Although you will be using your surveys to gather information, it is actually about what you do with the information that makes it useful. That’s why it is important to look at the survey creation process from the perspective of the actions you will take once the information begins to flow.
Essentially, you should survey your membership because you’ll get actionable insights from it.
2. Who you should survey
Once you have your reason, you need to find your audience. The easy answer is “everyone,” but that isn’t exactly practical. Even if it were, it probably wouldn’t give you the results you’re after. Surveying all your members all the time risks survey fatigue and limited responses.
You also risk “comment overwhelm.” Much of the value from surveys can be found in the typed in comments that accompany most survey forms. Can you give the thoughtful consideration of what each of the 10,000 responses means to your business? Probably not.
Here’s who you should send surveys to:
Be choosy! Survey active members. Survey members who recently visited the branch, applied for a loan, or downloaded your app. Survey members with some skin in the game.
If you survey only indirect auto loan members, your response rates will be terrible. And how many of them even know they’re a member? You might also avoid surveying members in collection…
Also, remember to consider the sample size of your surveys.
Knowing your minimum required sample size won’t get you noticed at parties, but it can help you figure out how many survey responses you need to have responses that can be considered reliable.
I won’t get into the math here, but required sample size is based on two numbers:
- What is the size of the total membership, and
- What is your tolerated “margin of error”
This calculator will allow you to calculate your necessary sample size. For example, a credit union with 50,000 members, and a “tolerated” margin of error of +/- 6%, would need 266 responses to reach 95% confidence that the scores were accurate. If you’re trying for a lower margin of error, your required responses will go up.
Ultimately, you should survey members who actively use your credit union and its products. We also recommend surveying members who recently completed a visit, transaction, application, etc.
3. What you should survey about
There’s a short answer and a long answer here. The short answer is that you should survey about whatever you want to know about.
Do you want to survey about your mobile and online banking experience? Do it.
Want to ask about proposed changes to branches? Do it!
Curious about member satisfaction, loyalty, or effort? Yes, do it!!!
We discuss the long answer to “what should I survey about?” right here. The basic answer is the same, but we used more words and examples to illustrate our point.
4. When to send your members a survey
The short answer is ASAP. Asking for feedback immediately after an interaction provides better data. The more recent the actual interaction, the more detail your member will recall.
Some survey platforms offer the opportunity to reach back out to a member who had a bad experience and rectify the situation. Good luck doing that if you are surveying them a week or a month after the event!
If sending surveys immediately isn’t an option for you because you’re using regular mail, or your chosen provider doesn’t offer that feature, then aim for Sunday, Monday, or Friday. Most research suggests that these are the days when you will have the best chance of getting a response. Of course, this matters mainly because increased response rates mean more accurate results.
A word of warning about “transactional” surveys that aren’t immediate. Transactional surveys ask members for feedback about a specific transaction, and the results usually can be correlated back to a specific employee/branch for training purposes. If these types of surveys are sent out on a delay of any kind, you run the risk of getting skewed results since most members will give you feedback on the most recent event, which may have occurred after the event that triggered the survey.
5. Where you should send surveys
You should send your surveys to the place your recipients are most likely to see them. Depending on your platform or provider, you might see surveys sent via:
- Snail mail
- In person
The two most common (and available to credit unions) are email and regular mail. Here’s what you should know about both options:
Although its relevance is fading, mail surveys are still common. For many credit unions, this is mainly because the anticipated cost and difficulty of moving to a more modern method. However, supporters of mail surveys will say that it is the only way to reach “certain members.”
However, statistics show that boomers use email and smartphones rates higher than ever (and growing). Email has taken over. Unless you don’t have your members’ email addresses, digital surveys will result in much higher response rates.
More importantly, email is much faster. Especially for transaction surveys, you’ll be able to capture member insight immediately. You’ll also receive tracking information. Email surveys let you A/B test subject lines, know when members receive them, open them, or abandoned it them…
The key is that you should prioritize digital survey delivery!
How to Get Started at Your Credit Union
If you want a better idea about how to start a survey program at your credit union, we can help! If you’re going the DIY path, we made it easy:
Our 12-Month Credit Union Survey Roadmap is a month-by-month planner for survey creation. For example, you might start with a benchmark survey, then create an onboarding survey, and then your first transaction survey. Everything you need is right in the survey guide!
If you want a survey platform custom-built for credit unions, look no further. LiveSurvey queries your core to trigger surveys minutes after a transaction is completed. Answers update in real-time on a visual dashboard. Schedule your demo today!