These 6 Principles Helped Navy Federal Deliver Superior Customer Experience

Andrey Suslov/

They drive every decision Navy Federal Credit Union makes regarding their members.

Navy Federal Credit Union continually receives accolades for the top-notch customer experience it provides its more than 8 million members, most recently ranking as the top multi-channel bank or credit union in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index.

But the credit union’s customer experience strategy is not particularly complex, according to 

Ryan Fairley, assistant vice president of Omni Channel Strategy and Innovation at Navy Federal. Speaking Aug. 15 at Nextgov’s Digital Citizen Summit, Fairley said the credit union instead bases member-focused decisions on six customer experience principles. 

Developed in-house and in concert with its chief executive officer, Fairley said the principles “really are our anchor point for everything we do.” 

  1. Show me you know me. Fairley said there is no excuse nowadays for not knowing who customers are and differentiating services based on their unique needs. “Data is king,” Fairley said. “We have a lot of data on members, and they expect that we will understand why they came here today and know what they need.”
  2. Keep it simple. There are so many tech platforms and shiny objects organizations and agencies can buy, but Fairley said simplicity is key. For example, Navy Federal revamped its mobile application two years ago—a major effort considering it handles 100 million logins per month. The credit union went through 17 rounds of focus group and iterative development before it finalized tweaks to the app, ensuring users—and not necessarily stakeholders—had their voices heard. Fairley said Navy Federal reorganized the 178 things users can do in the app based on their feedback, moving some up the hierarchy and some down. The end result? Fairley said some app features saw usage uptick rates of more than 400% in the new app.
  3. Do it for me. The less users have to worry about, the better. Fairley said technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics give organizations opportunities to perform better services for customers. “This has become more of an aspirational experience principle,” Fairley said. “There are more and more things we should be able to do for you.”
  4. Tell me what’s next. When users come to the credit union with an issue, the last thing they want is more uncertainty or confusion, Fairley said. Whether users are engaging with people in person or an application, they need to know what’s next. “Don’t make me guess, don’t make me come back, don’t make me have a second contact,” Fairley said. “The first contact resolution is important in telling users what’s next”
  5. Help me feel secure and in control. Navy Federal users check on their money an average of 27 times per month, and Fairley said it goes without saying that they should be able to do so safely and securely. But security isn’t as much a given as it should be, and the recent Capital One breach is evidence of that.   “We’ve seen headlines recently of things that can compromise people’s sense of feeling in control,” Fairley said.
  6. Tech should be as friendly as people. Navy Federal has an 85-year history as a member services organization, and for the vast majority of those years, customers engaged the credit union in person. Technology has changed that. Now, 20 percent of its users interact with Navy Federal exclusively through digital channels, foregoing the human quotient in favor of technological ease of use. “How do we create the same connection to our brand if they only touch us through our technology?” Fairley said. “Anybody who has worked with our member service reps walk away feeling that much stronger of a connection to us. It’s a real challenge we put on ourselves to think about making our technology as friendly as our people.”