Retailers’ WAYMISH Philosophy Carries Over to Credit Unions

By Christine Duncan

As a Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) staff member who is relatively new to credit unions, I often have the opportunity to look at the movement with fresh eyes.

Recently, I was at a credit union trying to deposit an out-of-state check.  After several minutes of struggling with the ATM, I approached a member service representative. Unfortunately, the credit union staffer told me that she couldn’t help—and made me feel like I shouldn’t have needed to ask for help in the first place.

I eventually managed to make the transaction, but the incident brought to mind a sales principle that had been drilled into during my former life in retail: WAYMISH.

WAYMISH stands for “Why Are You Making It So Hard (to give you my money).” The principle was authored in an award-winning customer service book by Ray Considine and Ted Cohn, and it represents the inconsistencies, apathy and slights that cause a customer to walk away believing that their business isn’t really wanted.

Everyone has experienced WAYMISH. It’s the teller who isn’t really listening. It’s the barista talking to her friend rather than taking your order. It’s seeing employees put policies ahead of customer needs or simple common sense, and not trying to resolve customer complaints. I was certainly thinking about WAYMISH when I was trying deposit my checks.

The principles behind WAYMISH remind us to quickly acknowledge members, to listen to them carefully and to respond. They encourage us to find a way to say “yes,” to address members’ needs, fix their problems on the spot, and navigate our way to a positive end.

Often times, businesses and organizations offering the least desirable services do the best job of minimizing WAYMISH. Payday lenders are a great example of organizations that have internalized ways of avoiding WAYMISH. They’re open early, they’re open late, their staff is approachable, and their facilities are welcoming. They make it easy to take their customers’ money.

Of course, credit unions aren’t exactly looking to “take” their members’ money. In fact, through rates, dividends and other services, credit unions are often helping members keep their money—or at least keep more of it.

Thousands and thousands of consumers have joined a credit union in recent months, and credit unions have benefited from a flood of attention as member-oriented alternatives to for-profit banks. As these members settle into their new credit union community, it is important, both for their well-being as individuals and for the well-being of the entire credit union movement, that they feel like valued members. And it is important to show them this value through every interaction, and not just through the products and services that are available.

So, during this season of retail therapy, WAYMISH is a great take-away from the retailer’s bag of tricks.

Christine Duncan is administrative assistant to the senior vice president for the Northwest Credit Union Association.


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