Thought leadership

US Customer Experience Excellence Leaders –  Tom Grothues, SVP Financial Foundations, USAA

 USAA is a brand that is heralded as customer experience champions. They were number one in the KPMG Nunwood 2015 US Customer Experience Excellence study. The United Services Automobile Association, or USAA, is a financial services company specialising in banking, investing and insurance to people who have served, or currently serve, in the US military. We spoke with Tom Grothues of USAA to discuss the financial services brand’s almost immaculate member experience, the importance of the member and how USAA lead the field in the US.

tomTom is the leader of Financial Foundations, a team of sales and service professionals who welcome members to the association, and serve their insurance and banking needs through every stage of life, so who better to speak about creating and maintaining customer relationships?


Tom, what do you think has driven your success in the customer experience?

USAA member service representatives know and live our mission to help facilitate the financial security of our members. This is why they go above and beyond to assist them. We strive to understand and anticipate the needs of our members and continually develop innovative solutions to help meet them.

Your brand particularly stands out within the industry for Time and Effort. What do you think drives your customers to rate the business so highly for this pillar in particular? 

Our member service representatives are not paid on commission, like many other companies. Instead our reps are trained to analyse a member’s specific situation and identify how to best help them. Additionally, many of our service representatives are veterans or military spouses themselves and can uniquely relate to what our members are experiencing.

Has the business made any investments over the last year to improve your customer experience? (e.g. investments in employees/infrastructure/technology/new products)?

We are currently enhancing our Contact Center infrastructure to bring the latest technology solutions to our members and employees. New products such as Apple Pay and EMV Chip and Pin credit cards have been big hits with our members as well.  But most importantly, we focus on the professional development of our member contact employees, whether expanding their knowledge for their current position, or preparing them for another career path at USAA.  We also know that flexibility is important to our front line employees, so we’re taking steps such as dramatically expanding our work-from-home program.

How is customer experience governed within the business?

USAA has an uncompromising commitment to provide world class experiences – it’s simply in our DNA.  Member satisfaction and retention are two key indicators of the memberships’ experience with USAA, and we are industry leading in both.

How would you describe the culture of the company? 

The culture of our company revolves around our commitment to fulfilling our mission to serve our members. Every employee is aligned to bring that mission to life in their jobs, whether they serve members directly or support those who do. Additionally, USAA’s Core Values of service, loyalty, honesty, and integrity shape our culture. Those values reflect the values of the military and our membership and form the foundation on which USAA employees perform work and conduct themselves.

What’s next for the business to continue on the journey of Customer Experience Excellence?

Our mission is to facilitate the financial security of our members, associates and their families, and that will never change.  We are building on that solid foundation to become even more precise in how those experiences are delivered.  By architecting personalised, multi-channel interactions that leverage what we know about our member, and importantly what we know about our employees, we strive to exceed the unique expectations of each member.

Author, David Conway

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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