Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Is Selling In Your Credit Union Culture?

“We’re a service organization, not a sales culture.” I’ve heard those words from a number of credit unions. Too bad they’re wrong.

Ahh!! Put down the pitchforks and torches! Please, at least for a moment! Those credit unions were incorrect about one half of their statement. Of course they should remain a service organization. That’s what makes a credit union, well, a credit union. But no sales culture? Everything is sales.

  • What you eat for breakfast is sales,
  • If you choose to read my posts is sales,
  • Every decision is sales at its core.

What many credit unions have in mind when they hear “sales” is the aggressive “used car salesman”. You know, like this guy. (Which happens to be Kurt Russell from the 1980 film “Used Cars”.)

Kurt Russell Used Car Salesman

I’m in sales, and they’re a horrible representation of it (but he’s a great actor). I’m also professionally trained in a sales system which insists upon clarity and respect for all parties. As my sales coach used to say, “sales is a noble profession”. We don’t look at a bad driver and say, “drivers are all terrible”. Except here in Florida, where they are. Besides that, generalizations distort the truth.

Your credit union can deliver world-class service while being a sales culture. In fact, the latter supports the former! An MSR truly connecting with members learns about them. Their goals, their needs, their worries. This considerate MSR can suggest Payment Protection Insurance on a loan to someone who is worried about their family being burdened by a loan if they can’t work. Sure, they’re selling a product, and the credit union is making money (as should the MSR), but the member feels better served and more secure. They’ll remember how your credit union helped, especially if they need to take advantage of the policy.

Curious as to where to start? The Missouri CU Association shared their guidance with NCUA as a step-by-step process.

The other side of the discussion is a member who was not sold at all. They closed a loan and were “sold” nothing. Congratulations, your staff served the member by not selling them any additional services. Then, three months later, their car is totaled. Without GAP coverage, they now owe $4000 to make up the difference. Are they:

  1. Angry
  2. Disappointed
  3. Really pissed
  4. All of the above,

…with your credit union? You were serving that member, yet never told them there could be a large gap between what their car is worth and what they owe? That’s not service! Your lack of a sales culture could have changed this person, and their family’s life, for the worse.

Having a sales culture based on honesty and up-front discussions with members creates a win/win scenario. Members are happy to be offered services which may fit their needs (and can easily say no once informed). They’re thrilled when these services are used and they save money as a result. You’re a real life-saver in these cases. Through it all, your credit union makes more money, enabling you to offer more community services, lower rates, and better fulfill your mission.

Knowing what you do now, will you adopt a sales culture?

When you do, in the words of Dumbo, “Don’t just fly, soar!”

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Image credits: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20500000/Dumbo-in-Kingdom-Hearts-walt-disney-characters-20542266-786-568.jpg, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081698/

Passwords. An Update.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

It’s a topic you’ve seen here before. Time and again. Of course, it’s still pertinent since we keep using them. Passwords are a bane of the tech world. Unless you can invent a simple way to authenticate yourself with any service, they’re going to stick around for a while. That doesn’t mean we need to despise them, though. In the past, we have discussed the problems on both ends, from policies that lead to creating awful passwords, to people insisting on using “love”, “*dogname*”, and “!23456”.

Grab your favorite password and…throw it in the trash (sadly, even “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple“). Because we’re back.

Like the question of eggs being healthy or your worst nightmare, passwords see a wide variety of advice as the years go on. Some of it is due to a long period of terrible advice (which we discussed before, and, I’ll admit, my own suggestions evolved, too). Thankfully, this is changing…slowly. The other part is based upon processing speed increases; it’s easier than ever to parse billions of possibilities (using databases of common passwords from leaks combined with dictionary analysis). So what’s the current solution?

It’s lurking in plain sight, on all your devices. The best password is one you never create. Every modern platform supports strong password suggestions. Then, they save these passwords in a secured database, so you don’t have to put a note in your drawer (it’s ok, you’re not alone). Depending on the system, there might be a master password, or, it can combine with biometrics. Make this be your big, strong password, then never use it. Rely on the fingerprint scanner, FaceID, or other verification system.

On iOS (that’s iPhone and iPad), the next version will have automatic strong (Apple calls them complex) password creation and storing. That means, when a site asks to create a password, your phone already filled in a really good one. Then it saves it so you never even bother thinking of something. To log back in, your phone just asks for verification through TouchID or FaceID (depending on device). This is new; auto-fill now has security, too. Yes, you still have to create a unique username. Sorry, MarioKartKing is taken.

There’s another side of this revisit: Updating your password. I know, I know, I spoke strongly against this practice in the past. My position is unchanged. If you change your password, make it for a good reason. A brilliant website called haveIbeenpwned.com checks your e-mail address or usernames to see if they were included in any breaches. If so, it shows which and to what degree. Then, you know it’s time to update those passwords (and anywhere else you shared those credentials). That password auto-suggest is looking mighty nice right now.

Here’s the bottom line: With password managers so prevalent and easy to use, there’s no excuse to still create your own passwords. It’s putting you (and the data within) at unnecessary risk. It also saves time. When I read of a breach on a service I use, I just go in, update that password, and get back to my life. Since it won’t be shared with any other system, I don’t care what someone does with the information. Granted, if passwords were stored in a way someone could access them, I’d be questioning the utility of said service, given their poor security practices.

Bottom line of the bottom line: Complex, random strings of characters, stored in a quality password manager, is the best way to ensure your personal (or corporate) information remains only in the hands you want.

Resources (A non-exhaustive list of password managers)

OS Based:

  • SmartLock for Passwords (Android/Chrome)
  • iCloud Keychain (Apple devices)

3rd Party:

  • Firefox Sync
  • LastPass
  • 1Password

This ICU Day, Let’s Aim for Engagement!

I’m a huge fan of the credit union mission and all it contributes to our communities. You’d know that if you’ve read more than a few lines of any previous post. Of course, you’d also know that I’m not afraid to call out things when they could be improved.

On that note, I have just a few suggestions for this year’s International Credit Union Day campaign. In case you weren’t aware, the theme is, “Find Your Platinum Lining” (at a credit union). Because it’s the 70th anniversary of the event. And 70 means platinum. You knew that, right? I didn’t. Honestly, I thought it was for 75. Turns out that’s diamond (jewelry, to be precise). In fact, all I could find about the 70th anniversary linked it to UK tradition. Thus, Americans will have limited exposure to this “platinum year”. I’d be curious how many people under the age of 70 even make the connection. I asked some people of a variety of ages; none knew that Platinum and 70 went together.

Which raises another point: If our goal is to attract younger members, why use a terminology which they are unlikely to understand or relate? Of course, we’re not only looking to attract younger people, but, let’s be honest, they’re who you want. More Boomers are great, but a member with 50 years of major purchases and life changes ahead of them is substantially more valuable.

Slogan aside, let’s take a look at the unified messaging of the credit union movement (at least here in America). Their newest endeavor is “Open Your Eyes” (to a credit union). It’s a major investment with substantial marketing targeting, ahem, eyesnationwide, from TV to streaming services and even subway banners. Yet it isn’t connected to this ICU Day effort at all. Perhaps it’s not quite ready, because this seems like a missed opportunity.

Another point relating to the Open Your Eyes campaign; a major part was to study what people’s actual reasons for not joining a credit union really were. Turns out, it was two main points:

  1. Thinking you had to be part of a certain company or group.
  2. Concern that you had to leave if you moved, or risk not being able to access your money.

Those are valid concerns which we need to address as an industry. So does the ICU Day campaign do that? Not quite. It reiterates the tired, “we’re different and unique” platform. Great, you give back to your members. You have low rates. Some of the larger banks are already playing the same game. And, frankly, they’re better at it. Capital One just launched a new effort featuring their friendlier branches (“Cafés”), free checking, and other customer-centric offerings, while separating themselves from the “Big Banks”. Never mind they are one; their marketing presents them otherwise. And it is reallygood. Ally takes a similar approach, setting themselves apart from the “Big Bankers” who don’t care about you while making billions off your money.

More than a third of Americans are members of credit unions. Yet they have only 7% market share. That’s an enormous gap. And it won’t be solved by saying how low your rates are or that you give back. It’s providing reassurance that people can join, money can be accessed anywhere, and then empowering each CU to go deep on mission.

The big banks are better at differentiating themselves from “The Big Banks” than credit unions. This ICU Day, let’s open peoples’ eyes to credit unions by showing how they make each community better. And how, if you join (because you can!), you can both reap the benefits and help inspire growth as well.

That’s a platinum lining everyone can enjoy!

Happy International Credit Union Day!

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