Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: apps

Gaming & Your Credit Union

Originally published on CUInsight.com

“Savings aren’t a game!” In many ways, you’re right. Given the abysmal level of deposits for most Americans, comparing it to Mario Cart (N64 version, obviously the best) doesn’t seem proper. But what if you did treat it like a game?

It’s not a new concept. Known as “gamification”, the idea is that by making it more akin to a game rather than a chore, users are more likely to participate. Think of going for a run. Many people don’t enjoy putting feet to pavement and will make any excuse to avoid it. But what if you were part of an adventure and needed to outrun a hoard of zombies? Their rotted fingers are nearly scraping your back…pick up the pace!

Come to think of it, I’ve written about this before. Here. And here. That app, by the way, exists. It’s called Running with Zombies. I don’t use it, because everyone knows the best way to deal with them is a shotgun, shovel, and old records. Bonus points if you got that reference (no, I’m not a Walking Dead fan).

So instead, as the previous post discussed, of puzzling your members through a convoluted rewards program or other service, get them in the game! Just by reframing their credit union relationship as levels in a game, you’ve upped the excitement and understanding levels. They’re no longer a Double Platinum Diamond Preferred member, they’re a Castle Defender! Defenders serve the crown, so they pay no ATM fees and reap the highest interest rates available. Of course, the proces of getting there has to be evolved as well.

For this, I’d suggest a brain storm session with your team. And a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Why this game? Because it’s the best puzzle adventure/level growth game ever made. Also, your staff will have fun. And the N64 will probably remain in your branch. Tell me that won’t encourage people to stick around.

How do you create a gamified credit union without it being tacky or feeling like an afterthought? That brings us to (cue deep announcer voice): Big Data! Yep, that essential concept emerges again. This time, it’s going to help empower your members with useful analysis of their own data. Combine the appeal of sports stats (as in, their own financial relationship’s metrics) with playing a video game (as in, progressing through towards goals). Interestingly, it has to be their own data, and not estimated metrics. A recent study found that some Fitbit users actually gained weight while using the activity trackers. It is believed that participants believed the averaged metrics so strongly that they didn’t just listen to their bodies. If you provide useful data, useful suggestions can follow, ending with beneficial results.

Look at that. Once again, we come around to the inescapable conclusion: When you frame your services around the specific needs of your members, engagement, excitement, and loyalty will increase.

Image credit: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2012/05/review-mario-kart-64-wii-virtual.html

Are You A Dumb Pipe? (Part 1)

Are dark days ahead for credit unions? I hope not. Changing my name will be a real pain.

You’ve heard the rumblings. “Credit unions don’t adopt modern technology, so Millenials will abandon them.” “Traditional financial institutions are the analog film of our time.” Just as computers did not herald the end of paper, mobile and other technologies will not doom the bank.

There is another possibility, however, and the term originates as a descriptor of the telecom industry as content providers (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) grew in leaps and bounds. They did not want to be stuck delivering only the signal, but to get a piece of the action. To be an active participant, instead of…A Dumb Pipe.

I am a member of a credit union (duh), but I’ll be honest: I use their app solely for deposits. All my other financial management, from account balances to budgeting, is managed elsewhere. I use a platform called Mint, though there are others delivering a similar service. In one place, I can see (but not change) my entire financial life and how trends, budgets, and savings coexist. Do I want to know how much I’ve dedicated towards taxes this year? Easy. What is my total debt to income ratio? Done. Compared to the six-month period prior? Still not a challenge.

This is one possible future of financial management, but there’s another far more menacing to the incumbents: Becoming a dumb bank.

Imagine a future where all your members want from you is a place to hold their money, a big safe. All member-facing products and services are managed by other companies. Not only do you rarely become front stage for your members (unless something goes wrong), you have few opportunities to discuss the programs which support the institution. Guess someone else will reap the profits of your debit cards.

But all is not darkness ahead! This is an important topic, so to ensure I’m covering it sufficiently, the discussion is separated into three parts. Next post, we will look at new technologies and strategies in the financial services industry. We will work together to figure out how you can become a leader through partnerships and smart growth, because “dumb” and “credit unions” should not be uttered in the same sentence.  The final discussion will address the challenges of adopting new tech and avoiding alienation of your comfortable members; is there a way to be future-ready while preserving your core?  That’s a question for a few weeks from now.  Be sure to subscribe to my e-mails (on your right) so you don’t miss anything!

Be Where Your Members Are

For the month of June, all posts will pertain to your website and how it can serve as springboard for your growth. Don’t underestimate this first impression!

“Look, there in the mural, just above the dragonfly! The wings form the Mickey ears!”

My Disney trips have always been unique. Since a young age, I was one of the Hidden Mickey hunters. If the term is new to you, that’s alright; you now count as “nearly everyone”. In a clever choice of design, Disney Imagineers added tiny Mickey Mouse ears (the three circles) into various attractions. This was part of the culture since the earliest parks, so if you look closely, every ride has at least one Hidden Mickey to find. Feel free to ask about my favorites. Right now, I’m particularly fond of the Conservation Station mural in Animal Kingdom (I’ve never seen so many in one place!).

Disney has never confirmed the existence of these Hidden Mickeys, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. They don’t have to; I know they exist. In fact, an entire cottage industry of websites and books devoted to cataloging every last one speaks for itself. I was giddy when, on this past visit, while searching for a few myself, I saw a fellow couple hunting down their own. Instant bond formed. We identified a few Mickeys together, then parted ways to resume our independent journeys.

Hidden Mickeys add a layer of excitement to the parks. It’s a little thing only a small group of us recognize. Sure, millions of people pass through Spaceship Earth, but how many notice the too-perfectly-arranged coffee stains on the 1800s desk? I’ve seen it dozens of times, yet still make a point to identify it every visit. Disney and I have a special bond; just a few more of her secrets are visible.

How about your members? Most of them likely pass through your website with nary a glance at anything but that Log In To Home Banking link. Preliminary surveys of credit unions just like yours say over 90% of site visitors do nothing but log in. And you have that whole site!

Connect with members where they are. Disney put some of their Hidden Mickeys on the lines, a place you may find yourself often. Why not represent your priority services behind the log-in, along with their home banking? Just a simple banner, nothing intrusive.

I go on excursions to find new Hidden Mickeys and often find new parts of the theme park or ride I would not have seen otherwise. Give your members a reason to explore your website! A small giveaway based on collecting scavenger hunt answers throughout your site will promote new voyages. Integrate your social media team; it’s one thing to spread a hashtag on the wider Internet, another to guide members through your own products and services.

Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing about members discussing their latest Hidden CU Clues in the lobby!

Image: Me at Country Bear Jamboree, Magic Kingdom (I looked for Hidden Mickeys there too!)

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