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Credit Unions rank higher than banks for customer service

June 22nd, 2011 -

NZCU Baywide is thrilled with research that ranks credit unions well ahead of banks in regards to customer service.

According to recent research undertaken by international market intelligence company Brandmanagement Group, New Zealand Credit Unions ranked well above banks in terms of the overall customer experience when opening an account.

NZCU Baywide chief executive Gavin Earle said customer service is one of the core foundations of a credit union, so although he wasn’t surprised by the findings, it was a great that independent research came to the same conclusion.

“Although we provide the full range of personal banking services that banks do, our model is different. Our customers (members) are also our owners who share in our success, therefore the relationship is much closer,” Gavin said.

NZCU Baywide is the largest credit union in New Zealand.  It is also part of a larger group of NZCU branded credit unions which work closely to give members added benefits including access to an extensive network of branches throughout New Zealand.

NZCU Baywide’s head office is in Hastings with the branch network spread from Gisborne, through Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu-Wanganui across to Taranaki and down to Wellington.

“Unlike Banks, Credit Unions are fully owned by, and exist solely for, their members (who are also their customers).

“They don’t have the pressure to maximise profits for external shareholders like banks. Credit Unions put profits back into a combination of better rates, fairer fees, responsible lending, community support and of course, outstanding customer service,” Mr Earle says.

The research was undertaken as a mystery shopping exercise with the ‘customer’ asking to set up a new savings account with the bank or credit union and recording their experience of the process.

Mystery Shoppers were asked to rate everything from their impression of initial contact and friendliness of staff, through to the more objective areas of their interaction such as disclosure of fees and quality of material and information provided.

There were a number of areas that credit unions ranked significantly higher than banks, including keenness, professionalism and disclosure of fees.

Brandmanagement Group’s Andrew Inwood said that although the sample size used in the survey was not large, the overall score proves that credit unions really are a financial service provider focused on their customers’ needs and are on ‘the right track’.

“The enthusiasm and knowledge of staff is something that really showed through in the findings, largely due to the genuine buy-in that staff have to the credit union philosophy of people helping people,” according to Mr Inwood.

“After all, when all is said and done, what customers really care about is how important the organisation they are dealing with thinks they are and how interested they are in their happiness.”

Mr Earle said many of the findings supported the focus credit unions have on customers.

“As a credit union, NZCU Baywide focuses on getting to know members, understanding their needs and doing our best to tailor solutions that help them improve their financial position. Customer (member) satisfaction is our best form of promotion.”

“Credit union members also like the fact that being 100% New Zealand-owned and operated, members’ funds are retained in New Zealand.”

With around 177,000 members and 95 branches across the country, the credit union network here is working hard to provide New Zealanders with a genuine alternative to the traditional big overseas owned banks.

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