Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: millenials (page 1 of 2)

It’s A Party, But Who’s Invited?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Is your social media presence harming your image? More at 11.

Oh yes, folks. We’re talking social media. Again. In more than 140 characters. That’s a Twitter reference for those of you preferring to communicate in more traditional methods. A practice which, sadly, appears to be gaining more aspects of “web-speak” every day. No I will not abandon my capitalized letters and appropriate use of a semicolon!

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, social media and its potential impacts on your credit union.

When it comes to communicating with your members on account information, what’s your preferred method? Phone, in-person, e-mail, or traditional mail? Like Luke in Return of the Jedi, you may not be aware that…”there is another (Skywalker).” Social media can be an alternative for those who prefer it. I’m not suggesting you handle money transfers and loan applications through Twitter (yet, seriously), but there are a number of markets taking advantage of the technology. One which has done an incredible job is the airline industry. Consider this: I was on a JetBlue flight with WiFi and tweeted that my seat’s headphone jack didn’t work. As a result, I could not watch the in-flight TV or listen to SiriusXM. Within a minute, their official support account answered me and asked to continue the conversation in a DM (Direct Message: a private chat, similar to a text message). I obliged and was then prompted by the agent to provide my name and confirmation number. After a few minute exchange (while still sitting in the seat, mind you), they issued a courtesy credit for the inconvenience on my account. Resolved at 35,000 feet.

Another time, and this one pains me to admit, I had issues with my Comcast internet service. I tweeted as such, @ mentioning Comcast (using LTE mobile data when needed). Within a matter of minutes, an agent from their official support account got in touch. They too DMed me requesting my account #. “Woah!” you say. Yes, they deem the Direct Message feature of Twitter to be secure enough to transfer most customer information (most social media platforms also use a Verified Account badge to ensure you’re communicating with the “real thing”). After a few messages back and forth, they identified the issue and resolved it. Do you realize what that meant? I didn’t have to be on the phone with them at all!

I enjoy reading tweets from many credit unions. If you’re one of them, congratulations for sharing valuable information with your members and the world at large. If you haven’t yet joined, that’s ok. You’re not alone. And when you’re ready, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to go at it in the best way possible!

But as much as it can help your institution, there are risks involved. We’re not talking poor underwriting standards causing an implosion of your debt ratios. We’re talking something far more important…your image (social media is much like Hollywood in that respect). Whether you decide to go in-house or a 3rd-party, the rules are the same. Most of the best practices involve just being rational. Don’t share private member information, don’t post things which can be interpreted as insulting, etc. If you wouldn’t send it to your mom, don’t hit Tweet.

Of course, there’s always the risk at being caught up in something which has errors you missed. For example, a few weeks ago, a tweet was shared by Co-Op Credit Unions (@innovatebanking) discussing strategies to increase your savings. Seems to fit, right? Unfortunately, their tweet (since corrected) read, “How to save $100,000 in a year. (link to article)” Wow! I need to know this…now! Not surprisingly, the post was incorrect. Rather, the link described ways the average American can save $10,000 in a year. “What’s an extra 0?” As a financial institution, you should know the answer to that question…a mistake you cannot make. The craziest part? This tweet has 18 retweets (users who shared it to their followers) and 14 likes, yet my reply was the only one calling out the error. Please never be “that guy (or gal)” who retweets or likes something with such blatant errors! It can tarnish your own brand. How? Consider it from your member’s perspective: “How can I believe the claims my credit union makes when they didn’t even bother to check an obvious number error in something they shared, ie. represented as their own?

UPDATE: Co-Op Credit Unions has issued a corrected tweet, fixing the typo. And this is what makes all the difference, because…Generation Z (your youngest and future members) see social media as a way of getting information, not just a tool to communicate with friends. If your information is wrong, how will they regard your ability to help their financial situation?

UPDATE 2: It happened again. During today’s #NCUAChat (great Twitter discussion), the NCUA (under their username @MyCUgov) shared a graphic with 3 tips for financial safety online. A good thing. Except their graphic was so riddled with typos, spelling errors, and bad information that it could be deemed more harmful than good. Unless they were aiming to be ironic – “See, this is the kind of thing we want members to look out for!” Though government agencies aren’t often ironic. And, surprise! Many wonderful people and groups shared it to their own followers. Did anyone read it first? (Probably not…a previous post discusses how liking or sharing something means you’re less likely to read it) Once again, don’t be those people! Share with care!

So, a review:

  • Social media is now being used as an effective customer support tool for industries with some of the poorest records in the category. Yet they make it work. How is your credit union embracing this new opportunity? Perhaps a mention of the strategy during longer hold times or on your support/contact page. What do you need to do to balance security requirements with member convenience?
  • A new outreach venue offers massive opportunities, but can also hide unique risks. Is your in-house or outsourced team on the same page, aware of credit union strategy (yes, include them in your planning meetings)? Are they trained to catch typos and other errors, politely pointing them out or editing after discovered?

Your social media feed is unlikely to be featured on the 11 o’clock news, but, if it is (congratulations to your marketing team), make sure it’s for the reasons you want!

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!

Living In Airplane Mode

“No, it was 1963, I’m sure of it!” “It’s 1964, really.” “Oh just Google it.” “Hmm, it says here 196…WHAT IS THAT?!”

Pointing out the monster on the wing is way better than being proven wrong by the omniscient Google. It wasn’t always this simple to drop a knowledge bomb, though.

How quickly we forget. In 2007, Apple ushered in the modern smartphone era. Before the iPhone, we either had “smart” phones or Blackberry’s. Neither category was particularly good at browsing the Internet. No Siri or Cortana in those days, either. Unless it was essential, you waited to research when back at a computer. But the web still had hold.

Let’s go back even further, before the Internet, like, the 80s. Big hair, boomboxes, leg warmers, neon clothing…got it? If you didn’t know something, you asked another person. Or, crazy as it sounds today, drove to the library. Society operated without all the answers at our fingertips and Def Leppard had no idea how much reverb they used.

Last month, I met a group of friends in Peru to hike the Inca Trail. 5 days, 4 nights of grueling steps, towering mountains, and no wi-fi. We used our phones solely as cameras and flashlights. Roughing it, I know. The separation from our always-on culture began on the flight to Lima. “Please switch all cellular phones to airplane mode.” My phone remained in this state until landing again in Florida. Have you seen roaming charges?

A number of times during our trek, a question was posed. Nothing too substantial, just, “hey, what song has the line?” or “how long is that other trail?” Yet we couldn’t look it up! Being disconnected caught us all off-guard. And it was wonderful.

When instant answers are available, conversations falter. With no reason to think, debate, or discuss, you move on to the next topic. No depth, no connection. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy a chat wherein we don’t have every fact at our immediate disposal. Imagine a debate about sports stats…done with a Siri request. Sure, now we all know, but where was the fun, the light-hearted arguments, the silly bets, and the social bonds?

Lifestyle guidance sites sometimes recommend disconnect periods, full separation from technology, to get back with yourself. Whether it’s an hour a day or a week per year, the effect is the same; active thought coupled with in-person communication.

It’s tempting to want every new technology for your members, and I’m not suggesting abandoning any of these efforts. Millennials and other generations alike seek the simplicity of modern conveniences. However, once you have these things, everyone is the same. Whether you’re a $5B national credit union, a $25M community charter, or a bank with America in its name, the experience is similar. If your member turns on Airplane Mode, do you stand out?

Image credit: https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht204234

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