The inaugural CU Tomorrow conference technically ran for three days. Unlike most, it started with the cocktail hour! Now that’s already different! (And, a great way to stimulate initial conversations) That went just so well, you wouldn’t believe how well it went. Ok, you got me. My flight was delayed and I missed it.
So let’s start this roundup when I can offer real insights. That’s on the 2nd day, the first of two, loaded with presentations, conversations, and inspirations. This post will be longer than normal, as I want to ensure you get insights from everything I attended. However, you can navigate it yourself by clicking each topic to expand one at a time.
Jim McCarthy, Trailhead CU, Oregon: Onboarding New Members
If it isn’t the most challenging topic imaginable. I’m sure your credit union has never had an issue onboarding your new members. After we’ve finished flattering each other with lies, let’s be honest about where our onboarding plan begins: Staff. The attitude you convey to them gets carried on to the members. From swag to dress code, it’s about making a welcoming environment, both for your staff and members. Importantly, ensure you have an open-door policy to all management. New hire? Each receives a staff partner to ask all their “dumb” questions, like, “what’s an ALCO?” or, “what’s a good lunch place nearby?” That’s supportive.
But has this casual dress code and informal employee mentorship helped? Well, they’ve grown while most in their asset size have declined. Average age of new members? 33. This success came about as they brought on an executive team and board, all mostly under 35. A lifetime of experience brings enormous value, though it can also bring an unwillingness to adapt. Trailhead combined the best of both.
Bobby Michael, Army Aviation Center FCU, Alabama: Building Wallet Share at Small and Large CUs
“It’s always been that way.” The words which stopped 1,000 improvements. Add to that, “if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re not relevant.” So said Bobby Michael of Army Aviation Center FCU. At his former CU, they turned around declines in all areas with a multi-pronged approach. First:
Then, they financed all sorts of purchases, from solar panels to hot tubs. (Put them under the unsecured rate category) Michael also helped instill a sales culture into their mission, explaining cross-selling as another way to serve the member’s needs.
And, finally, they had fun:
Since they’re a part of the community, they ensured charity support matched their own mission. Sound familiar?
Michael concluded with three points: Take risks. Look big. Don’t cheap out.
Your credit union will thrive if you have passion, energy, and drive.
Stacey Collins, BECU, Washington: Fine-Tuning Member Onboarding For Big Results
Member onboarding needs two things:
- Good timing.
- Good content.
Before we figure out what these mean for your credit union, it’s essential to figure out the target member. Turns out, it’s Carmen. She’s a 29 year-old mass affluent Millennial. Carmen’s in your market, trust me. Now, what are her challenges and motivations? That’s where your own data comes in handy. Create a journey map for “Carmen’s” new member experience. How did this work at BECU? They brought new member utilization down from 1-3 years to 90 days, on average. With plans to bring that down to 30 days. Let me repeat that: They endeavor to get new members into an active checking account within a month of joining.
What challenges did they identify during this process? The biggest was the debit card. It took too long to get. So, they launched instant issue. Another was the length of the onboarding timeframe. And the complexity. Solution: Gamify with an e-mailed dashboard, then ensure all communications are within 45 days. With regular tweaking and testing, it’s making a difference, leading more members to make BECU their PFI.
That was the packed lineup of Day 2! My apologies for missing Shari Storm, who discussed “The Mom Market”. The few minutes I saw were exciting, enlightening, and just plain fun. If you were there and wanted to share your favorite moments, add them to the comments below!
Only one full day and lots to take home already. You’ll also be interested to know I had a fabulous veggie burger at Eureka!, a nearby restaurant. And their glazed Brussels sprouts were amazing. They also had what I consider to be the perfect IPA:
It’s called the Electric Jellyfish, brewed locally in Austin. For next time!
Jane Dobbs, President/CEO, Canyon State CU, AZ: Lessons Learned In Turning Around Credit Unions
The third day began with Jane Dobbs, President/CEO of Canyon State CU, discussing how credit unions can find their “True North” focus. Her first day on the job began with a closed-door meeting of her executive team explaining, “we’ve got a problem. Our entire mortgage team just resigned.” Gulp. Dobbs understood this wasn’t the problem; it was a symptom of something else: The need to develop a “True North”. Here’s the roadmap: Assess, Plan, Act, and become Proficient. Then review, tweak, and repeat! Yet it’s about more than planning documents; the staff must be engaged. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast all day long,” she explained. Your credit union potential is linked to the potential of your staff. And if they are in the right positions for them. How to find out? Ask! Maintain an open-door policy. Listen. Even when it’s uncomfortable. A great leader engages their team so everyone performs at their best.
David Klavitter, SVP Marketing, DuPaco CU, Iowa: Member Rewards at your CU
When DuPaco CU asked themselves how to use their capital to create a deeper connection with members, they realized…rewards. With a core focus on active checking accounts; the entire program hinged on that product. Working in-house, they used “gamification” to build a system which made earning a journey. Every credit union interaction, from debit purchases to activating e-statements, earns the member rewards. A single portal tracks it all, with insights on current earnings and info on other ways to build “Thank Use” funds (and build the credit union relationship). Strong social tie-ins encourage sharing, and, when do the rewards redeem? On International Credit Union Day, of course! Klavitter understands there are two ways to grow membership:
1. Attract new members.
2. Keep members you have.
The Thank Use program has deepened the relationship (90% of rewards members consider DuPaco their PFI), maximizing the potential of both categories.
Brad Smith, Cornerstone Advisors, Texas: Best Practices in Vendor & Cost Management
Credit unions are empowered by their vendor partnerships. They can also become a burden. It’s about looking at their performance strategically, like any other internal program. “Technology is an enabler for strategy, but you don’t need to invest in every technology.” Smith explains how being aware of future-possible ideas is important, less so is adopting every one. Some, however, are pressing. Like mobile. What’s your ratio of mobile to branch deposits? And convenience. Does this platform require activating it through online banking, on a computer? Might be a problem for younger members, who are mobile first and last.
Smith then took attendees on a journey through assessing vendor performance. “Not getting written up by an examiner” is only the bare minimum. Here’s where to start:
As a vendor myself, I cringed at some of Smith’s words of vendor actions. Overcharging, underperforming, offering confusing messaging so comparisons are difficult, and putting CUs at risk in some economic climates? If any of your vendors engage in such actions, they’re not acting in your best interests, and maintaining that relationship isn’t acting in your members’ best interests. Clarity, agreement, and understanding is essential for all parties. If you don’t know what your vendor provides and you can’t get excited about it, why offer it?
Anne Legg, AvantEdge Analytics: Using Your Data To Grow
Your credit union has more data on your members than Amazon. Seriously. The challenge is in accessing, understanding, and using it to get ahead of your members’ needs, Legg began. Let’s start by addressing the big pitfall: Silos. They hurt progress, so avoid them by thinking of your credit union as an organic system with all talent complementing each other. Your members want streamlined, “swipe right”, simplicity. Silos ensure this will not occur. Because you can create complicated; members just won’t use it.
Start with the member. Determine the problem they want solved. Then identify how your data can solve it for them. Because data is driving the innovations of the future. Take Zero UI. I wrote about it nearly two years ago. I did another piece which is scheduled to post in the next few months. It’s the idea of no interfaces, just chatting with technology to get things done. Like a conversation with a friend. Legg excitedly animated a future scenario of Zero UI with Alexa, your bank account, your credit card, your activity monitor, and more. Want more details? Ask and we can dive deep together. For now, just understand this is all driven by analysis of data you already have.
So how do you build a data analytics culture in your credit union? And what’s going to go wrong? Legg invited John Sahagian, VP Marketing at Baxter CU to discuss. His first and most essential piece of advice? “Start with data governance so you have a base on which to build upon.” Why? Because you’ll otherwise adopt “shiny object syndrome”. That’s when you innovate for innovation’s sake. Technology is a means to an end. Without meaning, data is just data. And there’s a lot of it (with more on the way!); 90% of all data was created in the last two years alone. Your Excel spreadsheets won’t cut it anymore.
In review, it’s about finding the problem, then identifying the data which will solve it.
The CU Tomorrow conference concluded with an all-hands Q&A session. And this was after lunch, so you can believe all in attendance are committed credit union supporters!
Jim This guided all through identifying their Key Takeaways. Here are some shared:
- Identify business case for any project.
- Share strategic plan and budget with every employee.
- Formalize new employee orientation process.
- Revamp rewards program with focus on checking account.
- (My personal favorite, despite being a specific task, rather than a “takeaway”) Make a “membership card” that gets handed out by any and all staff within your community to raise awareness and guide people to become members.
- “Always let your conscience be your guide” – Jiminy Cricket (When you use a Disney quote, you’ve got my support!)
Thank you to CU Today and Jim This & Sue Girsch for organizing a fantastic inaugural conference. Additionally, thanks to all the sponsors for helping make it happen!
Hope to see you all next year to share new insights!
And Keep Austin Weird!