Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: member experience (page 1 of 23)

Unseen Credit Union Competition: “Respond Immediately!”

Credit unions aren’t just “cheaper banks”, nor are they “banks owned by the people”.  They’re unique community institutions.  At least, I still believe this.  Do you?

This article dives into what happens after a member closes a loan (auto or mortgage) with you. Specifically, we look at the solicitations they receive. And what your role is in helping your member understand it all.

Who’s Your Competition?

It’s tempting to think that your primary competition and challenge comes from the big banks. Sure, they offer similar products and target the same groups of people (ie. your potential membership). Their marketing efforts present them as a community-focused option.  They make it about their customers, not about the money.  I’m no expert, but it definitely sounds like they’re competitors.

It’s true.  They are.  And for many people, you can offer a better option which will save them money.  Yet, besides the exceptional record of Wells Fargo, the national banks don’t engage in “slimy tactics” or attempt to steal customers by just-nearly-but-not-quite misrepresentation.  On the whole, banks (both community and national) want their customer’s business and aim to gain and keep it through honest means.

However, there’s others with a slightly different agenda. This article looks at competition to credit unions besides banks, and how you can use your existing products, member relationships, and educational mission to beat them at their own game.

Loan Closing & What Comes After

Last year, I bought a new car.  Yes, I have a lot of fun when driving.

Shortly after, I began to receive letters in the mail much like this:

Real…ish

Packed in official-appearing envelopes (many had that, “fold each side and tear in order” government style design), with names such as, “Automotive Services Department” or some other bogus, yet “maybe they’re real?” title, they appeared in masse.  They encouraged, no, insisted I follow up immediately regarding my vehicle’s impending warranty expiration.  Never mind it’s a new car, with a 3 year factory warranty included.  I COULD BE AT RISK FINANCIALLY IF I DON’T ACT NOW! Of course, the action to take is to get in touch with whomever runs these shady enterprises (they’re not affiliated with any of your VSC providers, trust me) and make sure my car is protected.  Much protection, indeed.  “Do you cover diagnostic time and taxes?” is a question I would feel obligated to ask if I ever were forced to reach out.

Why mention these letters?  Because every time your member finances with you and every time they don’t, they’re getting dozens of mail pieces like this.  And this is what they ask themselves: Do I know for certain it has nothing to do with my credit union?  Is it a scam?  Can I get a better deal from here or my dealer?  Is it even something I need?  What’s the harm in a call?

It’s unlikely your members will ever ask you any of these questions.  But you can bet they’re asking someone, whether it be Google, that helpful voice in their head, or a spouse or friend.  You can be there for your members in more ways than you think.  And this is what sets you apart.

A Loan Closing Tip

Imagine if at every loan closing (that includes mortgages, because I get things like this for my house all the time), you had a short conversation about potential fraud and things to beware.

“Ok, Jenna, we’re just about done.  Are you excited?  Because I am!  Since we’re here for you across your entire financial life, we want to make sure you’re empowered to spot what’s real and what isn’t.  Here are some examples of letters you’re going to get in the mail, maybe even in your Inbox.

They’re not from us.

All of our communications will always include your member number and our logo. These make themselves look really official, and often have scary wording. Crazy, right?

Please look out for these and make sure any future interaction about your financing is with myself or someone else here at ABC CU.  I know it may seem silly, but we used to see many members fall for similar scams, and we want to help ensure you’re not one of them!

And as far as vehicle service contracts go, we’d be happy to have that discussion to see if it makes sense for you!  Does this make sense?”

Has anyone ever said that to you?  What if they did?  How would that make you feel?  A bit more trusting of your credit union, right?  That they have your back, and want to go above and beyond to keep you safe and secure?  That’s a credit union I want to do business with and share with my friends and family.

In a future post, we’re going to address GAP and warranty coverage (the legitimate ones) and how they differ (or don’t) between credit union, dealer, and insurance provider.  Later on, we’ll educate each other and members on buy-here-pay-here lenders.

It’s About Your Credit Union Mission

Remember, your mission likely includes something about ensuring your members live a financially successful life.  Here’s one easy thing you can implement which may make a big difference for your members.

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My Ultimate Guide To Helping Members In Distress (Audio Post)

Update: The Resolution, and Some Great Lessons

Our hosting provider provided the damaged files (thus, that development site is back) and admitted fault in the issue. Below is a 2nd audio post where I show the other side of customer service and explain what in the world happened (even if you’re not a techie, it’s still pretty wild). Super short summary: It was the polar opposite of that first, critical interaction. And they managed to not blame me the whole time!

Listen while I share the rest of the tale. With some great customer service examples! Note, it goes for 5 minutes.

Original post: Listen First

When things go wrong with computers, they always seem to go big. I bet you have some repressed memories of digital challenges. Given I have had a computer on my desk since I was 5, there are many I definitely blocked out by now.

But this post isn’t about the computer portion. It’s about the service portion. Namely, how to do it right, by experiencing it done wrong. Really, really, wrong.

The audio is about 4:30, and I get that’s a bit long, but it’s worth the listen. If you’re in a crunch, the advice comes in at around 3:30. You’re missing lots of great content, but I want to respect your time!

I would tell the story here, but since it’s sharing advice on how to deal with customers over the phone, hearing for yourself is the best path.

Who’s Your BS Director?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

It’s a requirement of every organization. They’re among the most important roles, ensuring all operations proceed smoothly!

Wait, why do you keep looking at me like that? What is it? BS? You know what it means. Oh, you’re thinking of that meaning. No wonder you’re so flustered!

BS is short for better systems. Because what else would it represent?

Imagine a BS Director. What would that look like? It’s no explicit role. They address auditing and accounting. They manage vendor relationships. It is even in their playbook to interact with members. They’re busy bees, learning as they go, continually developing BS for each action. They’re full of BS, and all they want to do is share it with others!

Good thing your credit union has no bad systems. Oh, but you do. Even if your member experience appears smooth as a glassy sea, there is some aspect where the waves pick up. It could be anywhere. Don’t worry, though. Your BS Director will help point them out, and suggest paths which navigate back to calmer waters.

And it doesn’t just have to be on the member-facing side. Maybe it’s way too much work getting that darn copy machine fixed. Or a certain regular action needs high-level approval, which wastes everyone’s time. It could be anything. BS Directors love variety.

Of course, as important as the BS Director is, they can’t do it alone. In fact, when did I ever say they were a single person? Your BS Director is every staff member (and sometimes even your members)! I know for a fact that many members of your team have great ideas. I’d bet some are sitting right now with suggestions which have never seen an executive retreat PowerPoint slide. BS Directors, everywhere you look! So why is it that we all don’t have BS oozing out of our very entities?

We don’t welcome it. Or, we let it be shared, then ignore it. At least where it doesn’t affect us or the bottom line of our organization. Maybe it was just inconvenient to bother at the time. Though, I’m sure no credit unions have ever passed on a good suggestion.

How do we ensure BS Directors in any role are respected and followed? By adopting a humble mindset: “Great ideas can and do come from all places. I’m open and eager to empower an environment of sharing!” Where your members feel welcomed to share how something would be better (and then see it adopted), it creates a tighter community. When your staff knows their feedback is taken seriously (they are the ones actually doing the work day to day!), you get those suggestions eagerly.

Can any of you remember a workplace where you feared repercussions for suggesting a better strategy? Or where the “best ideas” were from the boss, and the boss alone? Since most of us can, it’s our natural state. Your credit union needs to actively change that perception before people (members included) will be comfortable sharing. Let this article be your first BS Director. From here, in the words of Captain Planet, “the power is yours!”

TL;DR: Your members and staff have great ideas, but it takes a conscious shift to make people ok to sharing (and receiving).

Image credit: © publicdomainstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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