Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Leave The Puzzles to Zelda

Originally published on CUInsight.com

When I was growing up, I enjoyed video games. It didn’t hurt that I am part of that generation who experienced the “golden years” of console gaming. My first system was an Atari, then a NES, Sega Genesis, and onward. But there was one game franchise which kept me on a certain company’s systems: The Legend of Zelda.

No game before (and few since) presented adventure, humor, and puzzle-solving thought in a single package. Plus, the storyline was always solid. If it said Legend of Zelda, you wanted to keep playing, and not just to the end, but to completion, where all side-adventures were done as well.

Puzzles for Link are good. Puzzles for your members are not.

Your credit union is not Hyrule, and the member benefits chart should not read as a set of clues to the Triforce. No joke: One of our clients has a member reward structure based on their level of involvement. That’s fine; offer more to your most profitable/engaged members. However, it is far too complicated, with 4 levels ranging from Bronze to Diamond. What changes can you expect from each level? There are 11 areas which vary, plus another 10 benefits which are available to all members. However, of these 10, 2 of them, despite being shown in a chart as available to all members, are actually an extra fee on certain account setups.

Confused yet?

I get why credit unions want to offer membership levels. A lot of the benefits you offer cost money, and why pay to provide them to members who have hardly any relationship with the institution? My concern is when you have so many variables, it’s hard for a member to keep track. Oh, did I mention that this credit union offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements for all new members, for the first 6 months?

Such a confusing structure lays the groundwork for member issues. “What do you mean I pay a fee? I never did before!” “Yes, but since you are now a member for more than 6 months, or your total balance fell below $5,000, or you’ve paid off your auto loan, you are now eligible for these new fees.”

Aim for simple. In all aspects of your institution. Your members and your staff will thank you.

“So that’s it? All that buildup with Link, Zelda, and references to the game series, and now you’re done?” Ah ha! You got me. This is part 1. Part 2 will discuss how you can use the best ideas from games to excite your members into furthering the relationship.

Image credit: http://images.cryhavok.org/d/3385-2/its-dangerous-to-go-alone-take-this.jpg

Insights In 160 Characters…Or Less

Full posts are overrated. Ok, that’s not true. They are essential to delve into an issue beyond surface discussions. However, there’s also a time for brevity. Short and sweet, as you could say. I’ve found that much of my best wisdom has originated, spur of the moment, in a Twitter post or reply. If only I were as witty and intelligent in the rest of my life!

There has been a trend lately in terms of topics discussed, both for myself and the industry as a whole. Social Media and Big Data. I’ve written a lot of articles about both, but, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t read them even if they were linked here. However, I might get you to read a series of tweets which spur some new ways of thinking. Ready? Too bad…we’re off!

Social Media

On replying to online criticism/comments:

On producing content your members want to see:

On the difference between good and unique:

On catching attention, in almost any way you can:

On what (actually) makes credit unions different:

On reminding us all that failing is ok, too:

Finally, on being *that guy* in the conversation:

Big Data

On using for “any and all purposes”:

On understanding what you’re looking at:

On realizing nothing really has changed:

On having my A/C replaced:

Did any of those short statements/replies educate, inspire, or convince you of their importance? There’s always more where they came from. Simply follow me on Twitter @JoeCUGeek or comment on the post to start a new conversation!  I tried to share tweets which did not link to long reads, but some do slip through (most of mine go to something to dive deeper).  Also, I realized that searching through 4,000+ tweets is a pain for me, but a victory for you!

Bonus for reading to the end (or just scrolling to the bottom):

If IT’s Broke, You Can’t Release

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the “typo” in my title. Good catch! However, no mistake was made. We’re talking IT, as in “information technology”. In other words, your digital stuff.

Naturally, I’m a member of a credit union. They are a small to mid-sized institution, and I’m going to leave their name out of the discussion. If you really want to know, a quick check on my Twitter feed will give you the answer you seek. You’ll understand why in just a few sentences.

Honest disclosure: They’re no longer my primary financial institution. Let’s just say that not all credit unions are like yours.

A recent article by a fellow industry writer pointed out many great points about engaging your younger members. Yeah, a Millennials story. With truths! Rhiannon Stone (I’m sure she never gets the Fleetwood Mac reference tossed out…nope, I’m the first) explains, like me, that appealing to young people is just like connecting with anyone else. Your services need to be naturally easy to use, fast, and comprehensive. Also, they just have to work. “You are more likely to keep younger members by providing applications that are straightforward, intuitive, and free of glitches.”

Therein lies the point of this post. Their mobile app, shall we say, is old. It last received an update October 2, 2013. Did your current phone exist back then? 3 years is an eternity in mobile tech. Especially in mobile banking. But, it worked. No, it didn’t fill the screen and functionality was limited, but, the things it did support ran as expected.

On Monday, they released a new version…finally! It debuted a redesigned look and feel along with some new security features. No, the new design wasn’t better, but it was new for newness sake. Oh well. But alas, it now supports logging in with Touch ID! Welcome to 2015 and the big bank apps! I eagerly activated this feature. Then I closed the app and reopened it to test.

It didn’t work.

Ok, that’s not fair. The app opened right up with no problem. Only it never asked for my fingerprint. Or my password. It was now stuck “logged in” to my account info. Even logging out in the app was just a tease. Reopen it and there appeared my accounts again.

Being the responsible user I am, I quickly reported this issue to my credit union via Twitter. Two whole days later (they posted “Good morning” tweets in-between), they replied (ok, they “quoted” my tweet, but it’s close enough) with, “Hi Joe, thank your feedback. We’ll look into it and will try to improve this soon!” Grammatical errors are their own.

Would this inspire confidence in the security of your data? Or in their attention to detail? Let’s recall what Ms. Stone said about keeping younger members: “by providing applications…free of glitches.” This is beyond a glitch. It tells me they never bothered testing. In case you might think, “well, he’s a geek, probably running some weird operating system on an obscure phone.” I have an iPhone 7 with iOS 10.1.1, the same setup hundreds of millions of other Apple users enjoy.

I can understand if the interface on their new app had some visual artifacts or performance issues. It’s new and all software has bugs. However, the core security should be rock-solid. This part you can’t compromise or “wing it”. To me, such a critical bug should mean the app gets pulled immediately until it can be resolved. You can’t mess around with security.

My generation doesn’t tolerate security issues or companies with a lax attitude towards technical problems. Look at the uproar when Netflix was recently down for a few hours…the Internet nearly imploded. Netflix, to their credit, was incredibly responsive throughout the outage, updating as they learned more. This is how you have to be now.

Like it or not, your credit union is now a tech company, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with the role. Those who can fulfill this position well will reap the benefits. Those who don’t grasp this concept will be in a future, “mergers of the month” article from NCUA.

Where do you see your credit union in 5 years?

Image credit: http://www.csus.edu/sacstatenews/articles/2010/12/images/instory_security.jpg

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