SF Fire Credit Union

Josephine Chew is a sharp-as-a-tack CMO with a big heart. With a huge part of her career taking place in the corporate philanthropy space at Wells Fargo before recently joining SF Fire as their CMO, Chew says that humanization is the key to great customer experience.

“Customers are more than just a number,” she says. “In the credit union world, one ‘mistake’ a customer made in the past can impact their future opportunities – but they’re more than that mistake.”

She goes on to tell a story about a friend who, thirty years ago, kept getting turned down for mortgages from credit union after credit union, until she had a very human experience at SF Fire. They listened and saw her one mistake didn’t define her – so they gave her the loan. By treating this customer like a human, they created an impactful experience that she is still talking about thirty years later – that one interaction changed her life’s trajectory, all because the brand prioritized the human element of customer experience.

For brands like SFFire and Wells Fargo, giving back to the community has always been a part of the business model – something important to Chew and her personal values. With the pandemic shaking up the way we go about just about everything, banking was no exception. Customers are increasingly comfortable with things like mobile banking, which by default remove the human element from the experience.

When asked about this, Chew stated her former company, Wells Fargo, found other ways to foster human connection. “For years, Wells Fargo has done food collection drives, but when our branches shut down with the pandemic, we could no longer collect food. Instead, we turned around and started distributing food instead.” This opportunity to give back to the community made a huge impact, with 214 events over the course of 10 weeks getting food into the homes of people struggling during COVID.

In less trying times, this human experience may look a little different, but it comes down to one thing: going to the extra mile. The way a friend would go out of their way to make sure you were okay, Chew says that brands have a responsibility to take care of their community in a similar way.

“In the marketing world, we kind of praise the idea of humanization, but that’s just how it should be. At the end of the day, when I have a problem, I want a real person to be there helping me – I think everyone does.”

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