How to Create a Member-Focused Culture

By Shep Hyken, Speaker and Author

Shep Hyken, Speaker and Author

Member service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by every employee of a credit union, from the CEO to the person most recently hired. It’s embedded into the culture. Every employee impacts member service—by supporting members directly, supporting someone who supports the members, or simply by being part of the process that will impact a member.

In my keynote speech during NAFCU’s Annual Conference: Engage this year, I shared 10 important strategies and tactics involved in the important and powerful concept of creating a member-focused culture.

My goal is to make the complicated simple. So, with that in mind, here are six simple steps to creating a member-focused culture:

  1. Define the member service vision: The member service vision, even if it’s not seen by a member, is part of your brand promise. It is what you want your employees to deliver. It is what you want the customer to experience. Make it clear and make it simple, one sentence or less. For example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain has a simple, nine-word vision as its credo: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Everyone is trained to this vision. Everybody knows it, understands it and has memorized it. This is what the Ritz-Carlton guest experience is all about. By the way, I refer to this kind of simple statement as a mantra. It must be short, simple and easy to remember.
  2. Communicate the vision: Don’t keep it a secret. If you don’t live and breathe the mantra, it’s just words that have little meaning. Communicate it often. Signage around HQ and branches are good reminders. The Ritz-Carlton created a laminated tri-fold card with their credo and several other core values printed on it. Employees carry this with them and many have memorized it.
  3. Train to the vision: If you want member service to be part of your culture, everyone must be trained. Front liners may be trained differently than people in the back office, but everyone must understand the vision and how they must execute it for either a member or internal customer. In short, member service is everyone’s job!
  4. Leadership must model the behavior: Now that everyone knows the vision, understands it and knows their role in executing it, leadership must model the behavior. Through their actions, they demonstrate to their teams what member service looks like. Leadership and management can’t treat employees one way and expect them to act differently in their interactions with members and with each other.
  5. Defend the vision: Just as leaders must model the behavior, they must also defend it. If they see someone—or a group or department—is out of alignment with the vision, it’s their responsibility to get them back in alignment. I once interviewed the CEO of a large organization and asked, “What is your most important responsibility?” He said, “I defend the culture.”
  6. Celebrate it! When it’s working, let everyone know. Celebrate the success and individuals embracing and demonstrating your member service experience.

I referred to these as six simple steps, but that doesn’t mean they are easy. Depending on the size of your organization, it may take some time to implement and develop a member-focused culture. But the effort is worth it. Employees will stay longer, and members will keep coming back! 

Shep Hyken is a customer service/experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling author. For more information, go to