Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

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immersion18: Empowering CUs of Tomorrow, Today

Be sure to read my on-site roundup of conference happenings as a prelude to this article. Additionally, look back to May 10 on my Twitter feed to see live contributions.

“They have hammocks on the beach?” asked one attendee, as another gleefully nodded. They made it to future sessions, worry not.

With the blue-green Atlantic waters as backdrop, the Trellance Immersion18 conference enjoyed a productive debut. Despite the team having hosted an annual event for nearly 30 years, this one was different. It was the first following a name, mission, and organizational change. Remember CSCU? They’re no more. In their place, Trellance, a not-for-profit credit union service organization, or CUSO. As credit unions’ unbiased advocate, their new focus was a perfect fit for the event.

Trellance CEO Tom Davis opened the first morning session surrounded by a technologically-infused dance number, complete with spinning displays and more. Despite being before many attendees’ coffee addictions were satiated, the audience sounded their approval. Then it got exciting. Davis introduced Trellance, lauding its unbiased advocate role as well as its not-for-profit status, and passed the baton to Bill Lehman.  Lehman reviewed how Trellance evolved from CSCU, helping set credit union staff expectations for the days ahead. And if you thought it was thrilling already, the next speaker was downright explosive. David Lott, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, spoke of the newest “trend” to enter this country: Exploding ATMs.

After discussing strategies to diffuse the threat (there’s no one solution, which really should be the theme of the conference), Mollie Bell, CUNA’s Chief Engagement Officer, took the stage with fierce focus. On strategy, that is. CUNA did a great write-up on her talk, which essentially challenged attendees to define who they were and what that meant about their target audience. Then make a plan that rocks your socks off. Ok, she didn’t say that, but she did include a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” for aspiration.

You won’t need a bigger boat when this shark enters the room. Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing, Shark Tank star, and more, joined us to share his 5 SHARK points (see picture). More in my other roundup.

A common theme in the conference was fraud and security, both for your institution and members. The latter has become a daunting challenge. Why? In the past, you secured a single path for financial data. Then, members could access it on their computer from home. Now, all financial information is expected to be available from any device (including voice assistants), any where (including that FreeWiFiConnectNowIWontStealYourStuffnetwork down the street), at any time. Many more places for information to be compromised.

A conference-favorite was the Dark Web session. The team from Q6 Cyber hooked up their secured connection, loaded up their Tor browser, and went shopping. For your members’ financial data. Or a hit man. Or an ATM skimmer. All available with Prime shipping! (I kid, but only slightly). Please do not try this at home.

Other criminals use far lower-tech solutions, including one called “friendly fraud”. CUBroadcast spoke with Trellance’s Lou Grilli about this technique, amongst other topics. TL;DR: Fraud comes in a lot of forms. Keeping current on how to detect and minimize them is essential. And you need a WISP (Written Information Security Policy). Embrace your WISP. Update your WISP. When, not if, (according to Michele Cohen) your system is compromised in some way, you’ll be happy there’s a plan. Because restoration will take 4-6x longer than your IT team expects. It’s not a diss, it’s just the reality. The more prepared you are, the sooner you can serve your members at 100%.

My personal favorite session of the conference was hosted by John Best of Best Innovation Group. It discussed that buzzword you keep hearing but just don’t quite understand: Blockchain. Attendees get it. You can, too. Just ask me, or go straight to the source. Everything you think it might be? It’s more. And less. Here’s an overly simplified explanation:

  • Have someone hand another person $1.
  • Observe them doing it.
  • You are the distributed ledger verifying that it happened.
  • Now, put that dollar in an envelope. Boom, it’s encrypted.

Combine this with a decentralized system (meaning, one source broadcasts the same data to many trusted destinations, which all save it independently) and you have the trappings of a revolution! There’s so much more to it, but let me leave you with a mind-blowing possibility blockchain could eventually offer: NO MORE PASSWORDS!

Unfortunately, I can only report on sessions I attended. With more than 20 breakouts, everyone had an opportunity to gain enormous insights. No doubt, there are great ideas being shared by attendees at their credit unions around the country.

You want more? How about the sweet rock music anthems for every speaker and gathering (thanks to Lou Grilli for the playlists)? Or that time when Davis became the pistil of a dance troupe’s flower? Perhaps the living statue who could make the fountain come out her fingers? Or the walking tree? Oh, I see, you want to know about the extra-tall LED-lighted robot dancers at the final party. Sorry, what happens at the after-party stays at the after-party.

I’d like to thank the entire team at Trellance as well as all speakers for producing a memorable event stuffed to the gills with useful take-home info.

About Trellance:
Born out of nearly 30 years of payments experience and a passion for the credit union movement, Trellance is committed to providing innovative yet simple solutions to help credit unions adapt and thrive in a complex and competitive landscape. Together we can build and implement strategies to seize the exciting future of our industry.

Learn more about us at Trellance.com, visit us at thepaymentsreview.com for industry insights and our perspective on the future, or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter @Trellance.

Image description: Attendees receiving their Exceptional Member Initiative Awards. Credit: Me.

Member Relationships Which Could Be

Originally published on CUInsight.com

This is part of the “CU That Could Be” series.

You pride yourself on amazing member service. If anyone has an issue, your entire team is equipped to handle it promptly, politely, and with a minimum of effort for everyone.

E-mails are answered within a few hours, and members get only personalized replies. No one deserves a generic response! If an issue will take longer to resolve, your team sends out a quick message informing of that fact, along with an estimated timeframe for the next reply.

Your credit union embraces a phone platform which automatically routes calls to keep hold times low. And, if someone needs to be transferred, it’s always done while the original agent remains on the line. Having to start over with the 2nd (or 4th) person stinks! This also ensures no one gets disconnected and left for a lurch. On top of that, the menu system never says, “please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.” That’s old school. Your system lets members press a number or say a simple word (which it recognizes easily) to accommodate those driving or otherwise occupied.

All social media platforms are centrally monitored 24/7 so complaints and compliments alike can be answered within a few minutes. Sure, you’re not solving a detailed account issue on Sunday, but you feel it is important to let the member know you are ready to help at any time. And Yelp reviews? You’ve seen how many people view your credit union’s business pages (yeah, you check the stats); every single review gets an answer. You’re not going to be part of the 98% who never reply. If it needs follow-up, that begins right now.

Then there’s the interactions which don’t involve a person. Your member is looking to do something on your website, or in your mobile app. You realize they’re using those systems to make life easier. So everything those platforms do is easily shown in device-specific interfaces. They’re fast, secure, and updated regularly. Feedback is encouraged, and suggestions are embraced in future revisions.

You may notice I didn’t discuss in-branch interactions. There are a few reasons. One, branches are no different from other lines of communication. Sure, you are face-to-face, but waiting there stinks just as much as being on hold (depends on if you listened to a previous post and set up Mario Kart 64). If you treat people well “virtually”, you’ll treat them fine in person. Two, with web-based everything, there’s nothing a member can do which can’t be done online or over the phone. Three, I’m not sure branches will be a standard feature of the credit union that could be. In my mind, if physical locations stick around at all, you might eventually see an extension of the “shared branches” concept take hold. Instead of banking at any credit union, there will be an unbranded CUSO operated “branch” where physical-contact holdouts can go to accomplish the same thing. Branches simply cost too much for every institution to maintain them. A credit union near me just expanded their membership into new counties and stated they have no plans to extend their branch footprint to match. They are no longer necessary to provide the member relationship of the future, or, that could be.

We will continue expanding on the “CU That Could Be” case study with technology integration. Stay tuned!

Squeaky Wheels Getting The Grease

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Change is tough. And not just for your own team. Your members get comfortable with a product, process, or service, too. Even if it has some obvious issues. Here’s the wildest thing: When you improve, some will hate it. Because comfort and familiarity is easier than change.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should never look to change anything. Evolution is a natural part of your operations. There will just be members (and staff/board members) who don’t like it. Solicit their input and apply improvements where necessary. You did ask what everyone thought first, right? If the project threw a lot of people outside their comfort zone, it’s going to be a long haul to get it right for most. But not all. You can’t satisfy everyone. If you are confident the change is a necessary and beneficial step for the institution, then that’s the end of the story.

You will receive complaints. And that stinks. Address those you can. The rest? They might be different members for a different credit union. We’ve worked with credit unions where they feared potential member complaints (by their admission, less than 1/100th of a percent) enough to abandon great improvements. Improvements which would have brought them in significant revenue, but, more importantly, helped their members in numerous ways. In their case, it wasn’t even squeaky wheels getting the grease. It was the thought of a squeaky wheel convincing them to avoid driving.

As a partner with many credit unions, I understand how important it is to build and maintain relationships. That’s the core of our success and of yours. Earning the trust of your members is paramount. It’s also essential to realize when you might be sacrificing the needs of the many, or the few, for the one. (I had to. I’m sorry. Mr. Nimoy, you’re still missed.)

If you roll out a program to your membership and 0.001% complains, while 95% express high satisfaction, you work with that small group, then continue forward.

Just keep some WD-40 on hand.

Image credit: http://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/useful-english-proverbs/

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