Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: loyalty

Why My Credit Union Is No Longer My PFI

Originally published on

A few months ago, I slipped a mention of my own credit union relationship. My CU of many years was no longer my PFI. Banking shouldn’t be an exercise in compromises and hassles, yet that was what it had become. My PFI is now an institution which is so seamlessly easy and tailored to my needs that I often forget what it was like to have problems (Anything that has come up was handled within a few minutes, no matter the medium).

So, not all credit unions are the same. Besides being designed for differing memberships, they can also have a varied capacity for improvement. It’s why I keep talking about finding the right partners. Maybe a dozen CUs can afford to keep up with innovations on their own; the rest must find strategic partners. However, I digress. My CU wasn’t doing either.

During my time as an active member, here’s some of the challenges I encountered:

  • My debit card was compromised. It happens. But replacement taking 2 weeks? I asked for sooner and they wanted to charge $25 for a 3 day timeframe. The Big Banks replace overnight. Build the cost in; the alternative will only upset members.
  • A $100 member reward program failed to deposit funds when promised. Noticed a month later and had to speak to them to get it resolved.
  • Customer support hold times have never been less than 5 minutes. Typically, it was up to 45 minutes, with no system for callbacks in place.
  • No service on weekends after 1
  • Poor support on their mobile app (see post about the security issue, still unresolved)
  • Hard limit on mobile check deposit amounts less than 10% that of competing institutions. Their suggestion was to visit a branch to deposit instead.
  • Online secure contact form takes 48 hours to get a reply

I’ve actually had a number of other issues, but have forgotten the details for inclusion here. The credit union mission is special amongst banking institutions, but it’s not the only thing which matters. You still have to be a top-quality solution for your members. And, if your members have a problem, your resolution process needs to be seamless. It’s as if I’ve written about these things before.

After sharing some of these things on Twitter, I had more than one credit union trying to gain my membership. Unfortunately, I was not eligible by geography or work. However, they were on top of member recruitment and ensuring they were serving not only their members, but potential ones anywhere. Alliant still wants my loan for that Tesla I’m totally getting eventually. 🙂

What are you doing to ensure your members adopt you as their PFI, and not, as I did, fall away from the relationship?

Thinking Community (and Pi)

What a whirlwind adventure! This week was my first CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. For those who attended either this year or have in the past, you know what is involved. To anyone in the industry who has not…2016 will be here before you know it. So register now.

Seriously. If you’re a vendor, here’s an opportunity to meet more influential representatives of credit unions than you could ever reach otherwise. For staff of CUs, this is how you grasp what it truly means to work for a co-op. Mingle with others who quickly become friends and share how to make your institution ever-better. Management: Find your companions in credit unions large and small. Exchange a knowing conversation on how each strives to improve their respective communities.

And did I mention you are in DC? Yep. That’s the G of the conference. Like any respectable interest, you must lobby your representatives to fight for your cause. Unfortunately, this is Congress, not the United Federation of Planets. Money and power are king here, and for a group consisting of not-for-profits, the former is a challenge. So, show your collective influence. Make them understand how you fight for your members, not a group of shareholders.

At the beginning of the conference, I met a gentleman who was a Board Member Emeritus of his credit union. His term? Over 50 years, with no financial compensation. He does it for the love of the cause. He sees the good that comes of the credit union, adds what he can to keep it growing. With a genuine desire to help others and a heart of gold (he won a drawing and offered me half the winnings…would you do that?), it’s people like him that represent what makes credit unions different.

There is so much more to say, and other learning experiences to share, so keep an eye out for future posts about the conference. If you want analysis of issues or lobbying results, read elsewhere. I’ll be looking to the human interests, the tales that collectively tell the story of Credit Unions.

Also, tomorrow is Pi Day, when geeks everywhere celebrate a fundamental value of our universe. Like circles? You like Pi. Everyone loves Pi! However, this isn’t just another 3/14. This Pi Day comes once a century. Pi begins 3.1415926. So, on 3/14/15 at 9:26 PM, we’re having a party. One that won’t be repeated for another hundred years.

The only issue? Sweet or savory?

(That’s a dumb question. The answer is obviously “both!”)

I Bet You Weren’t Expecting This

Or maybe you were. Really, it’s all about expectations. For your members, your employees, and even your staff.

We all have in-built expectations for nearly every situation encountered. You arrive at a store and expect to have a representative helpfully guide you to the preferred department. However, another person’s expectations is to never talk to anyone…to shop in peace.

How can we meet both of these extremes, as well as everything in-between?

Sorry, you can’t. Ok, not exactly. But you can create results which satisfy nearly everybody.

In today’s connected world, would it be fair to say we all want everything RIGHT NOW! or, even, FIVE MINUTES AGO!

How many people do you know who operate in this fashion? I’ll admit; sometimes I get that way as well. Ever find yourself trying to finish one last thing on your computer before stepping out, and, of course, it starts to hang? “Of course it does. Thanks a lot. Now hurry up!”

The experience you provide through all of your member venues should never cause that type of reaction. We love credit unions, and your members likely do too, though they still see it as a tool in their life, not a destination in itself. A restaurant franchise used to promote their take out services with a slogan of “Get in. Get out. Get on with your life.”

How are you providing everything your members expect and need (whether they realize it or not)? Does your pre-approval tool provide near-instant answers? Can it be accessed through mobile? What does it take to check online banking? Again, can I sign in, perform common tasks (what are those?), and be done in under 2 minutes?

Yes, some expectations are of technologies: Mobile check deposit, online bill pay, instant pre-approval, “good as cash” share draft from the member’s own computer, etc.

What else are you doing to make your CU stand out and exceed expectations? We’ve seen handwritten thank you cards alongside new accounts (and loans), personal phone calls to welcome members, and even complimentary coffee in the branch.

At the end of the day, you’re holding their money. So can dozens of other institutions. Besides loyalty, how are you making their experience pleasantly memorable?

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