Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: change

Squeaky Wheels Getting The Grease

Originally published on

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.

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Holiday Wishes – Geekified

As another year comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes out into the credit union industry…and beyond! (Geekification #1: Toy Story)

It’s been an incredible year for credit unions and their members. With unprecedented gains and continued membership growth, the industry is poised for a surge into new avenues. Understanding events occur in cycles (Calm Before the Storm, anyone?), we are thrilled for the success already had, and look forward to implementing processes to ensure growth no matter what the markets may throw.

The Doctor once said, “We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” (Geekification #2) Think back to the end of 2014. What has changed since then? About you? About your members? Or your credit union? If you can acknowledge it’s all for the better, fantastic! (Geekification #3: 9th Doctor’s catchphrase) Take the good with the bad, and create something greater from the parts.

Leaning into 2016, we’re on the precipice of great changes. For the first time since their creation, the credit union (and banking) industry is undergoing fundamental evolution. Rest on your laurels during this new chapter at your own risk. Remember that credit unions and banks is not Hogwarts versus Voldemort (Geekification #4), but rather, a closer interaction akin to Harry and Draco (Geekification #5), where they only believe themselves to be enemies. At the end (spoilers!, which also could be Geekification #6), they realize that they are quite similar, only separated by a different upbringing, and work together towards a unified goal.

For everyone celebrating throughout this month, I wish you a Happy (post) Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, Saturnalia, Kwanzaa, New Year, or whatever brings friends and family together! In the words of the Avengers…Assemble! (Geekification #7)

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Change…When It’s Forced

Last night, I went to bed feeling great. Got in some exercising prior, then a few episodes of Shark Tank to enhance my court-side business savvy.

For no reason (beknownst to me, at least), I woke up at around 2:00 a.m., and I was not great. Miserable would be a suitable adjective to describe my then-current state. Thus ensued a sleepless night of tissues, tossing, and positioning to keep the sinuses happy. As most people know from this situation, there is no ideal position, no angle which makes you feel better. There’s not even a temperature that feels right. Covers on? Too hot. Covers off? Ice cube. Remember that activity monitor discussed a number of posts back? It stopped considering me even trying to sleep after 4:30 a.m.

What to do when an unexpected situation is thrust upon you? Adapt as best you can. In my case, that has meant a day of tissues within arms reach, lots of water, quiet focus on research, and this blog. Thankfully, my father (business partner) and I share meeting obligations, so he has been taking those on with gusto (No angry calls/e-mails yet. That’s good news!).

What about within your CU? Operations cannot just stop in place, even if the issue requires significant attention. Have an “emergency plan” that can be launched when anything arises compromising your ability to do business as usual. It can even be a tiered plan, with various levels of handicap to the institution. Level one can represent an important executive absent on a unique review day, while level 5 can deal with a natural disaster or other major event taking down telecom or power.

Many places understand what to do when something big happens, but what if Jane is out sick on the day she was supposed to finalize a major initiative affecting CU strategic plans? In the same way power grids can automatically fall back to working systems in an effort to keep electricity flowing, your CU can do the same.

All it takes is a plan. And some soft tissues.

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