Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: interview

Your Mission Demands It

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Why does your credit union exist?

Go ahead and think about it for a moment. I’ll wait.

Is it to provide safe storage and management of your members’ money? To help those in troubled financial situations? Maybe it’s to create a community of similarly-employed citizens.

Whatever your reason, it should matter. If your purpose for existence is just another version of Wells Fargo’s mission, then why even bother? (For reference, this is their vision statement: We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.)

So what makes your credit union different? This seems to get lost in the day-to-day of marketing pushes, car sales, core conversions, and more. It’s a question only you can answer.

Here’s an idea:
We exist to provide top-of-class financial services, education, while offering a unified voice in support of our members’ best interests. 

You probably aim to achieve the first two parts today. Ask yourself: How are your financial services? Would you bank there? Even better, would you encourage friends and family to do so? (Then why aren’t you referring them?!) Financial education is crucial to every member, yet few have the knowledge needed to maximize their savings potential. I’m sure you do what you can to help educate them, right?

And then there’s the last part: “Offering a unified voice in support of our members’ best interests”. This is where it gets fun.

Ask a credit union or industry trade group to support the tax exemption and you get cheers all around. They’ll “hike the hill” 5000 strong to demand “common-sense regulation” that reduces the time and financial burdens on credit unions large and small (but primarily the latter). If you are fighting for survival, then you’re automatically fighting for your members, right?

Not. Even. Close.

I support the tax exemption for credit unions. I also agree treating the vast majority legislatively the same as a national bank is unnecessary. Theresa in compliance cannot possibly provide the same level of, well, anything, that the 200-person team at Bank of America can (and should) offer. Of course, we’re getting sidetracked. I said, “members’ best interests”, not credit unions’. And it’s where we are doing a disservice to 1/3 of Americans.

The next few posts will dive into, issue by issue, areas where credit unions have a responsibility to speak out in support of their members. You’ve already seen my take on Net Neutrality (and my interview in CUtoday; many thanks to them for the focus!). Next up: The allure of Free. Then payday lending. And taxes. With a dash of de-regulation for extra flavor. Because what you don’t have to do can still hurt your members.

Credit unions and their lobbyists love to talk about how they are representing a large portion of America. It’s about time they use their voice to improve peoples’ lives.

The Interview Which Began With A Tweet

Originally published on CUInsight.com

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!

Image credit: http://freshspace.co/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Twitter-Help.jpg

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