Wll Thy Evr Lrn 2 Hv A Cnvstn? & Other Questions & Insights

So I’m bumming a ride on a late afternoon last week in Philadelphia with a couple of credit union execs who are giving me a lift back to the train station when the talk turns to member service and whether “today’s generation” is capable of delivering any level of service beyond mediocre.

Like any far-ranging, how-long-will-we-be-sitting-in-this-traffic conversation, I’m not sure how we got to that point, but it had something to do with my own recent experiences at a credit union and a car next to us in which the driver was texting (for younger readers, that word has only recently become a verb). One of the folks in the car said she believes that a generation raised to communicate using a cellphone or PDA–even when the person they are conversing with is in the same room–simply lacks the conversational skills to engage a member, especially we older members (I prefer “seasoned demographic”) who make up the majority of the membership.

Moreover, the credit union might be able to train new employees in how to balance a cash drawer or process a loan, but can fundamental communication be taught? It’s a good question. What do you think?

And keep one other thing in mind–the younger generation (including you) has apparently been going to seed for 2,000 years. Consider this observation:

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households.” The source: Socrates.

* Speaking of conversational skills, here’s a one-sided conversation we can all do without, yet I seem to hear it more and more often. While on the train to Boston I heard one person, apparently unsure of whether someone had answered, shouting into their cellphone, “Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? HELLO??? HELLO???!!!” If you don’t hear a response after the first five or six shouted hellos, on behalf of everyone, please say “Good bye.”

* From the You Learn Something New Everyday Dept: In Baton Rouge, La., the $357-million Campus FCU has introduced a new product it calls “Lagniappe Checking.” It’s free, offers higher dividend rates and ATM fee refunds, along with other premiums. But what is a “Lagniappe?” Not surprisingly, in the state that prefers to use the word “beignet” rather than “sugar-coated, deep-fried health threat,” it’s a regional word of French derivation that means a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.

* From the Oxymoron Department, I was at Fenway Park in Boston for a Massachusetts league function (some leagues just have better benefits than others), when I overheard someone explaining, “We have standing room only seats.”

* Spoke to the CEO of a $450-million credit union recently who was sharing that he always sits down to lunch with new employees after they’ve been on the job for 90 days or so and asks them one question: “What are we doing wrong?” The reason? He said it’s only those new to an organization who see it with fresh eyes and have yet to fall prey to “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” While he said not every lunch pays off with a valuable insight, every couple of lunches one of the new hires will ask the kind of question that forces the credit union to think about a process in a fresh way. Good idea.

Frank Diekmann is Publisher of Credit Union Journal and can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com. (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com