Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

There Are Two Peoples – Part 1

No, I’m not talking about the enormous political divide. Nor am I speaking on racial tensions. These are both important issues which we need to find common ground. For today, let’s look at something else separating this country (and elsewhere). And I’m betting you never considered it before.


This isn’t a discussion on the “haves” and “have-nots”. That’s another topic altogether. When I say technology, I mean who uses what and how. Which of these are typical web-connected devices for you? Check off from the following:

  • Desktop
  • Laptop
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • E-reader
  • Living room gaming system
  • Blu-ray player
  • Smart TV
  • Set-top box (Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, etc.)
  • Sound bar
  • Virtual assistant (Amazon Echo – “Alexa”)
  • Portable gaming system
  • Home automation devices (Smart lighting, thermostat, garage door opener, home security, etc.)
  • Activity tracker
  • Car
  • Other

If you’re on one side of the technology divide, you might have related to 4, maybe 5 of the items (or even fewer!). I engage with 12 of these items on a regular basis. And there are people far more connected than myself (we’re not even talking services right now). We connect with the world in a different way than those operating on a more “computer first” focus. To me, it’s about how I can get everything to communicate so I can easily access any information I could possibly want, anywhere, anytime. When I step into my house, I can turn on my living room sound bar, tune it to a streaming app on my phone, then decide I’d rather switch over to the TV’s apps, all without ever touching a coffee table remote. In fact, were I feeling industrious, I could configure everything to do that automatically when my phone detects I’ve entered my house. Or once my security system was disabled. Or when I switched on a particular light.

As you can see, engaging in a connected world is far beyond checking e-mail on the go. A common response I get when explaining these linkages to “regular” people is, “yeah, but why?” That’s fair, so here’s a scenario: Your grandmother (who lives alone) has her smart watch, sound bar, and lighting paired together: Suppose her watch detected no movement or unusual heart rates for a certain period of time. Knowing this isn’t her normal rhythms, it could tell the sound bar to play an alert tone (and repeatedly “tap” her wrist), flash the lighting inside the house, and automatically send you a text. If there is no response and her medical stats do not improve, the system contacts paramedics and her doctor. To assist the medics, the outside lighting has engaged in a soft pulsing, the front door was unlocked by you remotely, and the lights illuminated brightly in the room she was in. Is this functionality essential to anyone’s life? No, but wouldn’t it offer reassurance knowing you had it? Nothing beyond food, oxygen, and water are essential. And neither was the Internet in its early days. In fact, you can avoid it today if you try hard enough. Your respiratory and digestive systems won’t care one bit. But are you missing out on new ways of learning about and engaging the world around you? Definitely.

And that’s the point. If you are not connected, you’re not going to care about being so. And if you are, then you’re not going to understand why someone wouldn’t want to be. It’s the ultimate Catch-22.

I’m not expecting to change any minds or inspire you to finally connect that TV to your wireless network, just hoping to open some eyes to the developments you might have missed. This will be a three-part series focusing next on the social aspect, where your credit union can develop closer and deeper relationships with members (and new ones!), then concluding with a look to a future we can hardly imagine. And if you’re thinking, “psshhh, I use Facebook and have a Twitter account, what can he possibly show me?” Well, when was the last time you used Twitter to solve a member’s issue, sent a Snapchat of your branch team rendered into your local team’s mascot, or hosted a potential member meet up at a city park to catch rare Pokemon?

Until next time, see you on the interwebz!

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Are You “Bad News” Honest?

This past weekend, we had reason to celebrate. Not one, not two, but three of our credit union partners were launching one of our solutions. At some of these credit unions, we had been working with their team to coordinate all factors involved for more than a year. This was good news, for their lending department, their members, and us. For one partner, we had just completed twenty training sessions with their entire staff. Their team is excited and we are all ready to make it happen!

And then, on Friday afternoon, the server platform powering the service began experiencing severe problems. Our final training session ended up being an exercise in improv and apology, as nothing worked! It was still an engaging time, with good questions posed and explanations given (though the “in action” part was a bit lacking). Needless to say, we were concerned.

Our servicing partner was made aware of the problems and began investigating the root cause. At around 10 p.m., we were told the necessary fixes were put in place and it should work fine.

So we tested from our end and continued to see residual problems. Uh oh. Do we just hope all works fine and stay quiet? Beg forgiveness if a credit union reports problems?

No way. We view our credit union relationships as partnerships. Trust is at its core. The thing with being a trustworthy partner is that you have to communicate the bad news as much as the good.

That’s what I did. It was a crap e-mail to have to send on a Friday night. I explained the issues the platform may be experiencing and suggested a delay of their launch, if possible. My biggest concern was an issue on our end would be seen by their members as a problem with the credit union. How would the members know the difference? The system is branded to their name, so, it represents them.

Due to the timing, they were unable to delay launch activities. Luckily, we have not heard of any member complaints or other issues. The platform is functioning as it should be now. All’s well that ends well, in this case, at least.

I want our company to be known to our credit union clients as, “that business which isn’t afraid to give us really bad news, even on a Friday evening.” As a credit union, do you have any partners you believe would give you bad news? Does it inspire lower or greater trust?

I’m interested in various perspectives and stories you may have of similar experiences. Don’t be afraid to use the comments below!

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The Interview Which Began With A Tweet

Originally published on

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a series of tweets from a credit union member to no one in particular. That I saw it at all amongst the mass of data is odd. But here’s where it gets interesting. The member had an issue with their credit union, Idaho Central Credit Union, and said so in a tweet. They didn’t @ mention the CU or # them, either. So, really, there was no simple way for the credit union to ever know about it. The member was, for all intents and purposes, yelling into an echo chamber.

But the credit union did reply. And thus the origin of this post.

After seeing how the credit union located this member and solved their problem (all through Twitter), I contacted them directly. Unsurprisingly, their Twitter account had a friendly reply, wherein they referred me to the social media/marketing director, Lisa Davis. The following is an interview conducted with her. This credit union, and their team, get social media. I wanted to help them share this strategy with you.

Joe Winn: Good afternoon and thank you for taking the time out for this discussion! As mentioned, I recognized your social media efforts were far beyond the norm when you plucked a member complaint out of thin air (in a sense) for resolution. How did you do that?

Lisa Davis: I work with a couple of systems to grab any mentions of us – monitoring a number of different keywords. We really want to keep tabs on what is being said about us (good and bad) on social platforms, news articles, review sites, etc. We go after negative comments and try our best to turn them around. This is not just great for our members, but is a wonderful way to display how amazing our customer service is to those watching that are potential members.

Winn: I sure was impressed! From their posts, it seemed the member was as well, which is what really matters. What spurred ICCU to develop a social media presence?

Davis: We felt and feel that social media is a great way to connect with members and potential members.

Winn: I agree. How did you inform your members it existed?

Davis: We started off with just a Facebook page and did some fun promotions—contests and whatnot to gain followers. We also had “Like us on Facebook” stamps made up for the tellers to spread the word. Now, we advertise all of our social platforms in the branches on the screens behind the teller line. In addition, we do run Facebook/Instagram ads.

Winn: Engaging the “what’s in it for me” mentality is a good strategy. Of course, I’m sure it wasn’t all roses and massive follower adoption. What missteps (if any) did you encounter as the system grew?

Davis: In the beginning, we weren’t catching as many mentions since people use a variety of different names for us. This is what prompted us to look into monitoring software – which has proven very useful, especially since as we continue to grow, mentions are growing as well.

Winn: So that would be how you caught this member’s complaints to no one in particular. Given a member can ask anything online, is the social media platform effort engaged with all CU departments, or just routed through a specific team?

Davis: I manage all things social, but work with many teams to accomplish our goals. For example, we strive to follow up with anyone who has an issue or a question – whether they request follow up or not. Based on the question or concern, I facilitate these through the appropriate team member and then make sure the person has been contacted and then follow up on our social channels so the public can see that we have addressed it.

Winn: Sharing these resolutions is a smart move. It’s like when a restaurant responds to reviews on Yelp. Always makes me feel like they truly care. How do you feel member support and outreach will grow in this medium? Will it become just another option for members, or will it begin to replace existing platforms (live chat, phone, e-mail, even in-person)?

Davis: I feel that [social media as a member support and outreach medium] will continue to grow. (emphasis mine) As we…grow, we have definitely watched our member interaction through social channels grow. We have some members who use social media as their primary way to connect with us – to inquire about a new product, provide feedback on a recent interaction, or ask a question about their online banking. Social never really shuts down for the day. Although, it is not expected, if I get a question at 10pm on a Saturday night, I’ll answer it. Our members know they can count on us through social to at least get feedback that their question has been passed along to a team member who will get in touch with them shortly after the opening of next business day. I think this makes them feel more connected to us and builds a level of trust and security knowing they have a place to go with a question or concern 24×7. (emphasis mine)

Winn: Well, I’ve definitely gained a level of trust through this discussion. Thank you again for your time and for sharing these insights! I’m certain readers from other credit unions will enjoy learning about your strategies and the passion committed to making it the best it can. This reflects, as you intended, positively on Idaho Central Credit Union.

Follow Idaho Central Credit Union directly through their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages! Visit their site for even more ways to connect.

So, fellow geeks (and honorary geeks)…what did you think of this interview? Want to see more discussions with your peers? Let me know in the comments below!

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