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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.

Calls That Delight, Not Frustrate

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.

Social Channels Worth Engaging

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.

2023 Update – Apple Business Connect

Most members use their phone as a primary device. Millions of Americans use iPhones. Thus, when Maps gets new functionality, you need to pay attention. Apple Business Connect is that new system.

Great member relationships that could be ensure these profiles are set up and kept current in Apple Maps. Such a credit union creates a compelling listing, using all available functionality to strip unnecessary friction from member engagement.

Imagine going seamlessly from a Maps listing, to starting a private iMessage conversation, or maybe even a direct link to opening an account. All this is possible if your member relationships are what they could be.

The technology exists…and the expectations are there.

Digital Platforms Which Deliver

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.

Culture is Culture is Culture (In-Branch)

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!

Gaming & Your Credit Union

First version published on CUInsight.com. 2019 (current) version is CU Geek exclusive.

“Savings aren’t a game!” Except when it is.

Gaming Our Money Challenges

In many ways, the opening quote is correct. Money is an important topic for everyone. Plus, we know too many Americans don’t have adequate savings (I mean $400 or less) for a range of reasons.

So isn’t it a bit improper to compare their situation with Mario Kart (N64 version, obviously the best)?. But what if you did treat it like a game? Or, at least, make learning about it and how to escape the cycle feel like a game.

What is Gamification?

What I described above isn’t a new concept. Known as “gamification”, the idea is that by making an activity feel like a game rather than a chore, users are more likely to participate. When given the choice between fun and boring, which would you rather do?

An article by The Financial Brand dives deep into this topic.

Gamification in Sport and Banking

Think of going for a run. Many people don’t enjoy putting feet to pavement and will make any excuse to avoid it. But what if you were part of an adventure and needed to outrun a hoard of zombies? Their rotted fingers are nearly scraping your back…pick up the pace!

Come to think of it, I’ve written about this before. Here. And here.

Plus, that pennies post? It discussed a marketing campaign Ally bank put on across the country. Check it out, because it’s way cool. Though perhaps not as awesome as their latest endeavor. Yes, you may pass go and collect $200.

Oh, and that “don’t get eaten by zombies” running inspiration app? It exists, by the way. It’s called Running with Zombies. I don’t use it, because everyone knows the best way to deal with them is a shotgun, shovel, and old records. Bonus points if you got that reference (no, I’m not a Walking Dead fan).

Gamification Tips You Can Do Today

So instead, as the previous post discussed, of puzzling your members through a convoluted rewards program or other service, get them in the game! Where to start?

You already reframed their credit union relationship as game levels, right? Perfect, because that is a great opportunity to have virtual and real-world badges, rewards, and accomplishments. Make sure they have value, otherwise it’s just a hollow effort. And remember, value could mean, “look at my Instagram post here…this is so awesome!”

Ok, so you’ve taken the first gamification step, and members show their interest in person and across social media. If you can connect this with more traditional account rewards, do that, too.

What next?

For this, I’d suggest a brain storm session with your team. And a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Why this game? Because it’s the best puzzle adventure/level growth game ever made. Also, your staff will have fun.

And the N64 will probably remain in your branch. Tell me that won’t encourage people to stick around.

Using Big Boring Data For Appealing Awesome Games

How do you gamify your credit union without it being tacky or feeling like an afterthought? That is a great question. And it brings us to (cue deep announcer voice): Big Data!

Yep, that essential concept emerges again. Now, it’s going to help empower your members with useful analysis of their own data. Combine the appeal of sports stats (as in, their own financial relationship’s metrics) with playing a video game (as in, progressing through towards goals).

Hey, wait a minute! This is what Ally did with their Monopoly campaign! And they also encouraged “players” (of which nearly half became prospects for a banking relationship) to help support local charitable efforts. Sounds very “people helping people” to me.

Data Precautions

Turns out, taking big pools of data and applying it to all your members doesn’t work. It has to be their own data, not estimated metrics. A study found that some Fitbit (now a Google company) users actually gained weight while using the activity trackers. What? Why? How?

It’s believed that participants trusted the averaged metrics so strongly that they just didn’t listen to their bodies. If you provide useful data, useful suggestions can follow, ending with beneficial results.

Gamification For Everyone’s Success

Look at that. Once again, we come around to the inescapable conclusion: When you frame your services around the specific needs of your members, engagement, excitement, and loyalty will increase.

And we all get to enjoy some fabulous classic games. What are you waiting for? Go smash some pots and collect your rupees!

Image credit: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2012/05/review-mario-kart-64-wii-virtual.html

It’s Not a Website. It’s Another Branch.

Keith WinnIntroducing a guest post from Keith Winn, VP Marketing of cuZOOM, and CU veteran!

It’s taken some 100 years, others 50 years, or even less. To do what? Essentially to develop the “perfect” member experience. You know exactly what I am talking about. For years, the credit union industry has challenged the “impersonality” of big banks, and created a unique, caring, and helpful financial environment where the member, no matter what they walked in for, comes first.

So, with that said, what happened with their websites? Perhaps when credit unions started building websites, they were simply non-interactive billboards. Fair enough. But that was over 20 years ago. Probably about the time many credit unions embarked to create that perfect member experience in their physical locations. What about member’s online experience? Unfortunately, even with all of the available new technology, recent surveys indicate most credit union websites are still years behind in meeting member expectations.

Maybe it’s because we gave it a name: the virtual branch. Sounds like we would see Keanu Reeves with dark glasses dodging bullets in slo-mo in the lobby, or a techno-rave with colored lights and head banging sounds. For whatever reason, we got lost. And, yet, the answer is so simple.

Think of your website as just another branch and design accordingly. When you walk in the front door of your branch, its very clear where the reception desk is, or the teller windows. There’s no posters and banners to distract you. When the receptionist asks how they can help, you are immediately directed to a person who can assist. It’s almost too easy.

Imagine a website that opens with a warm greeting, and then asks you “What would you like to do today?” and then offers 4 main choices: Home Banking, Credit, Save, Business, with hidden dropdowns for all of your other services. By keeping it simple (Does your website really need 8 rotating banners on the home page?) and emulating your already great member branch experience, you can also allow the member to seamlessly and quickly move through the process that will help your website sell. Yes, I said sell. All credit union real estate, whether physical or digital, needs to earn money to stay in business.

Where do you start? I think I’ll leave that part to the Credit Union Geek.

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