Michael Toner

Michael Toner on how Navy Federal Credit Union became one of the most engaged credit unions in social media

Navy Federal Credit Union got its start in social in 2009 with two dedicated social media employees.

Social is where we solidify the relationship part of our membership.

In the last six years, they've grown into a robust team of social marketers and a dedicated, 24/7 customer service team. Their service level agreement: Respond to any member inquiry via social channels within 30 minutes.

Navy Federal's Manager of Social Media and SocialMedia.org member, Michael Toner, says they got to this level of service from years of tracking data and earning buy-in to grow the team.

“For example, in 12 months, we saw a 14 percent increase in inbound inquiries. By keeping track of those kinds of statistics, we're able to make the business case that we're watching the volume of inquiries go up, and therefore we need more people,” he says.

Cross-training social customer service specialists included everything from systems training to social voice training.

We want our social resolution specialists' responses to not just feel personal, but to actually be personal.

They pulled six resolutions specialists from Navy Federal's contact center join the social team. And although these specialists were versed in answering phones, live chatting with customers through NavyFederal.org, and responding to email inquiries, Michael says social voice training was key.

“We don't give canned responses in social — even if it's the same answers to the same questions. We want our social resolution specialists' responses to not just feel personal, but to actually be personal, and that takes some training.”

Michael explains their social strategists team trained their customer service specialists through webinars, conference calls, and in-person meetings. They showed examples of quality interactions as well as ones that missed the mark because they sounded like a legal or corporate response.

Now, the responsibilities for a social resolutions specialist have become a part of a matrix structure, with the marketing side of the social team serving as a Center of Excellence to the customer service side.

“Social media is a key part of our service to our members.”

According to Michael, “Social is where we solidify the relationship part of our membership.”

And on the marketing side, Michael's team works to earn trust and loyalty with their members by not focusing on marketing. Instead, they share their members' stories in campaigns focused on collecting user-generated content like their recent #JoinTheFamiliy initiative.

As a credit union serving the military, Michael says Navy Federal's unique field of membership is already active in social media. Their goal in social is to help them engage, get those stories in front of more people, and build a sense of community.

“That's really the secret — inviting our members to share their story and giving them a platform to highlight that story,” he says.

Michael says their success in engagement comes from having a consistent vigor around analytics and following trends over time.

He says they look to the Altimeter Group's social strategy maturity model within the Six Stages of Social Business Transformation to measure their progress.

“Understanding where you've come from and where you are today gives you a really good picture of where you're headed. I think that's an underlying factor in our success — setting a strategy and setting a vision for where we want to be.”

Michael's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and ask about his favorite places to go for a run.