Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: credit union staff

The Importance of CU Staff in New Program Launches

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Hooray! Your credit union finalized another service partnership! It’s been a long road of due diligence, contracts, negotiations, board meetings, and conference calls, but you’re done.

The time has arrived for implementation!

“I get the feeling Joe is going to say the hard part is just starting.” How do you always know what I’m thinking?

While it doesn’t have to be the “hard part”, making a strategy work is always more than set-and-forget.

Marketing

Let’s start with building a marketing plan. Unless you don’t want anyone to know about it. Which is…odd, but your choice.

For everyone else, it’s time to decide the target audience for your new service. Is it every member? Possibly, but more likely, there’s something that makes some better prospects. Figure that out, and tailor your messaging and outreach to them.

We call it a “buyer persona” and it will help you focus your efforts most efficiently.

Staff

What about staff? Do they have any role in the success of this new service? Maybe just a tiny bit. Or a lot. Even staff who don’t regularly meet with members can play a massive part in making or breaking a launch.

So how do you educate them while building buy-in, excitement, and support? Great question.

Staff Need To Love It

There are a lot of systems that keep your credit union operating. From your core to the LOS to cash counters, it’s a lot of tech. But you and I know what really keeps the credit union running: Your dedicated staff.

Which means that new service needs them to love it, too, if you want it to succeed. What is your strategy to build this relationship?

Seems simple enough: Distribute a staff FAQ to ensure they’re aware. Then hold branch manager trainings. It’s a golden recipe for success, right? I mean, who doesn’t love training sessions?

Your Staff Are Members

Let’s back up a bit. When your credit union first approached this program, there was a clear member benefit, right? Of course. And your staff? Many of them are members, too.

What does that mean? Well, treat them as extra-lucky members! How cool they get to use this awesome new program before anyone else!

Soft-launch your new service with them. Not only is this an engaging way to educate them about the service and its benefits, but it also connects them to it. (Plus, it lets you work out any kinks without the risk of customer service crises.)

Now, when your members have questions, they’ll feel comfortable talking about it (and possibly even excitedly recommending).

Remember, staff are members.

Let Them Play

I run training sessions for our own services, and always conclude with this statement:

“We encourage you to use this system on your own; in test mode, you can play all you want. Get comfortable, because what’s comfortable for you becomes easy to recommend to your members. You’re helping, not selling, and isn’t that why you’re at a credit union in the first place?”

Your staff is the front line to your members. As trusted advisors, they can make or break any initiative. Understanding that unique relationship, we bring them into our launch and ongoing promotion efforts.

Rewards

For example, over the holidays, we run campaigns which raise money for their foundation. It may not directly educate about the service, but it definitely helps associate it positively with your team.

Through the year, we encourage our clients to give staff ownership in the programs. If it fits your culture, staff incentives, giveaways, and other rewards are fun ways to ensure the service stays top of mind.

In Sight. In Mind.

Over the long-term, we aim for in-sight, in mind. This can mean different things at your institution, and also depending on what the new service is.

One option is having a physical marketing piece of functional value. That way, each staff member can refer to it when speaking with members.

Involve Staff

Marketing is an essential way to reach your members. But it’s evolving. Inbound marketing strategies let you address their challenges without intrusive pieces. Staff also play an important role.

Their engagement and training is crucial to build trust and ensure consistent growth. Together, you have a solid plan for success.

Disclosure: My company works with credit unions and their staff for promoting services to their membership. When our partners use these strategies, they improve their results, thereby causing me to benefit financially. Looking back, this seems like the most obvious disclosure I’ve ever written.

Sheer Experience

Friday, I took a road trip to meet with one of our credit union partners. Though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind their name being used, let’s say it was “Awesomesauce CU” in the Central Florida region. The goals of the meeting were simple: Get to know the staff face-to-face, learn about how our solutions were going for them, and brainstorm ways we could make all processes simpler and more effective.

So what did they want?

The CEO wished for access to more benchmarks, guiding their initiatives with respect to other average and best performers within the industry. Makes complete sense, and is already underway. The CLO wanted more processes in place to ensure members 1) get pre-approved for loans and 2) book those loans with the credit union. Agreed, because that’s the whole point of the game! The Loan Call Center Supervisor wanted less work and more results, or, in her words, “It don’t gotta be that hard.” It sure doesn’t.

At the outset, the staff all made clear they supported the program and wanted to see it succeed, but had concerns about initial hiccups along the way. That’s normal, we explained, as our partners have the most issues in the first three months following implementation, then they find a rhythm which works well for them. But that doesn’t make struggles ok! What can we do to minimize those launch challenges?

We had an all-hands meeting scheduled to run for an hour. Two and a half hours later, everyone was satisfied with the ideas generated. Thus begins the process of seeing what can be implemented and how. But first, lunch. Three of the staff were able to join us for a meal filled with everything but business. That’s not to say these CU staff didn’t care about their work!

Between our three lunch companions, there was nearly 100 years of experience at this one credit union. Looking back at our board room meeting, if you weren’t with the CU for over 20 years, you were a newbie.

After a too-large lunch combined with stories of travel, motorcycles, and families, we returned to the branch to get cracking. When a successful initiative means your staff is overwhelmed, it’s time for some better processes. I listened as the credit union’s point person moved step-by-step through their daily effort. “That’s way more work than we intended,” I thought as she finished. However, our company doesn’t have access to the LOS or internal member lookup system for each credit union (and given the security needed, we don’t want it). As a result, it’s difficult for us to know what is involved to move, view, or edit data within their system. We made some suggestions on reducing steps and explained how other credit unions have found their stride, with an eye on making everything just take less time. I relished the opportunity to learn how it all “goes down” in a working environment.

They requested process improvements for our side as well, and those are now being organized and sent to the appropriate parties for consideration. If we can do them today, it’ll happen. For things that take some corporate cooperation, we’ve begun that endeavor.

We had 2 hours of interaction time scheduled with their team. Over 4 hours in, we were still sharing ideas and seeking to overcome challenges. When we arrived, we were vendor partners there to streamline the system and answer questions. That evening, we left as friends. And I found a fellow Whovian!

As partner meetings continue to be more common, I’d like to devote some time sharing those experiences on this blog. Since we learn the most when everyone’s participating, I welcome your comments when you see something that resonates, or is completely different from how you’re always done it. Without the “Credit Union”, this blog would just be a geek rambling. Thanks for reading, sharing, and contributing!

Image credit: http://www.zedonbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Business-Partnership.jpg

If You Don’t Speak Up, Someone Else Might Not Too!

Has this ever happened to you?

I was using my web browser and noticed it behave in a way that seemed odd. Sure, I could have thought, “you silly computer” and continued on with my day. But I’m a geek, remember? So, I reported it directly to Apple. Turns out, the behavior was an unreported security issue. Do you use a Mac? Take a look at your recent Safari update details. Who do you see credited in that second bullet point?

Fast forward to the day that update was released. Many sites presented the changes, both visible and under the hood. While I was getting the computer back up-and-running, I noticed a change to the way it reported RAM being used. Oh, that’s not something you’d typically check? 😉 Once again, I could have said, “I’m sure someone else will pick up on it.” Instead, I wrote to the leading Apple reporting site online with a screenshot of the change. Not an hour later, they updated their article, visible to millions of visitors, with my comments and screenshot.

A difference was made.

Even though we’re all geeks in something, I’m not suggesting bug-hunting as a new staff strategy. But what about a staff member who notices a typo in a new marketing piece? Or a member stuck in a service loop? Do they feel empowered to speak out? How about places where it’s more subtle? Imagine your phone system. It has a recording for members, and may change depending on promotions or season. Say a staff member hears an old loan offer being discussed on the recording: “Not my department. Obviously, someone else already knows about it. I don’t want to be a bother.”

No matter your position, you are valuable. From the member who points out a slow drip in the branch bathroom to an MSR who informs management about a bug in the system, that voice made a difference. It might be substantial, saving your credit union large amounts of time and money. Or, the comment may spawn a small improvement, making the member experience just that little bit better.

Speaking out is scary. Why? We put ourselves out there. And we might be wrong. That’s ok. Create a culture of inclusiveness amongst your friends, family, and workplace. Whether above or below you on the “corporate ladder”, value that input! It won’t all be amazing, but sometimes, a bug will be found, a security vulnerability will be discovered, and a better member experience will be identified!

Image credit: http://stuffpoint.com/the-simpsons/image/92012-the-simpsons-speak-up.gif

© 2020 Credit Union Geek

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑