Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: mistakes

Honest Staff & Honest CU Systems

I’m not the only one helping ensure your processes are sound.  An awesome article from The Financial Brand delves into the topic.  It’s worth the few minutes to read through and understand. Really, it is a great article.

Originally published on

Are you honest? At home? At work? In your credit union’s programs?

Ah, got you on the last one. How can CU programs be honest? If you deliver what you advertise, isn’t that honest enough?

Obviously, your products and services should be truthful, but having policies and systems “act” honest is more difficult a concept.


Imagine this not-so-made-up scenario. You have internet service that has been canceled, so, the final bill is inbound shortly. Upon receipt, you find it is quite incorrect in its amount, so a call is in order to the customer care number.

Hundred Dollar Bill Puzzle

After too many menus, recordings, and hold times (those are different topics altogether), a representative comes on the line to assist you with your problem. The call goes great!

The representative notices the error, punches in some keys, explains how it is resolved, and that you should be seeing results shortly. They even put a notation in your account so if you have to call again, someone else will see!

Honest. Clean. They made a mistake, unfortunately (which should never have happened), but they acted to resolve it without problem.

Solving a Problem Means Solving a Problem

Fast-forward a month. In the mail (yes, paper), you receive an envelope from the internet service provider. Thinking it is the revised final bill, you open it, only to find it is actually a past-due notice with the unadjusted amount!

White Mailbox
This is a mailbox. It’s like that envelope icon on your phone.

Another call, and the number you are told to call only works for accounts in another state. Ok, you’re transferred, more menus, more recordings, and finally…another representative!

They then explain that all is well, the account is notated properly (thanks previous representative!), but the system automatically sends out the notices no matter what.

Let me repeat that: The system sends out the notices…No. Matter. What.

Processes Matter

You can have the greatest employees, most awesome products, and unparalleled reliability. But the moment something goes wrong (it eventually will), your carefully-automated process exasperates the issue.


So the message? Make your systems as honest as your team. Take the time to ensure nothing is automatically sent to members that may contradict what they have been promised.

Maintain a degree of control so you can intervene if necessary.

Automation is incredible. And machine learning/AI opens up paths that you couldn’t imagine a decade ago. Just keep it all in line with your institution’s  values and goals.

I’ll be honest…this post is adapted from a previous blog of our parent company, GreenProfit Solutions.  Since I wrote the last one, too, I think permissions are ok. 🙂

(N)Ever Admit You’re Wrong?

Originally published in November issue of American International Karate Institute’s monthly newsletter.

Here at the Credit Union Geek, I never make mistakes.

Yeah, right.

We live in a society which looks down upon those who make mistakes, as if it is something to be shamed. Why? Every great discovery was done after many attempts, all failing in some fashion. Medical treatments, sports achievements, technical breakthroughs, and any other “first” was done following, well, can you guess? A mistake, that’s what. And probably many of them. Let’s talk Thomas Edison. He’s the guy who discovered a workable method of producing electric light.  In other words: flip a light switch and thank Edison. That brilliant fellow came up with the right idea one day and, bam, light! Well, that’s only partially true. He came up with 3,000 ideas. Two of them proved noteworthy, meaning, he was wrong 2,998 times.

When was the last time you got something wrong 2,998 times? Did you keep trying? Famously, Edison claimed, “You only fail when you quit.”

If being wrong is so shameful, would you risk it? What would people say?

Over the years, great films have highlighted the journey from amateur to champion. Call it the Rocky montage. Or the Karate Kid segment (the 80s excelled at this piece of film history). In the movie, we spend 5 minutes documenting the grueling training and challenges our protagonist encounters. Then, just as they collapse in exhaustion, we see a spark of understanding. Their kick lands. Their punches flow. The light bulb works. Now, it’s off to defeat the Huns!

As a cinematic element, they’re awesome. Tell me your run doesn’t get a boost from hearing Rocky Balboa get ready for his fight against Apollo. But they create an unrealistic perception of progress. It’s hard to grasp the sheer time and effort compressed into those scenes. Olympic athletes train for hours a day, every day, for decades, to even be in the running for competition. As a long-term martial artist, I can say that Daniel-san did not stand a chance at the tournament. He didn’t fail enough to succeed.

It’s not only in competition or inventing where this applies. Apple released iOS 8 in September. It wasn’t perfect. So they released iOS 8.0.1 a few days later. It was even less perfect. The next day, they released 8.0.2. Much better. For some reason, with iOS 8, they also removed the beloved Camera Roll feature, replacing it with a Recently Added folder. It was a nightmare trying to explain how that worked to my parents…”Yes, those are still your phone’s pictures. No, just because they disappeared doesn’t mean they are deleted or gone. It just doesn’t show them there anymore. Yes, you can find them in the big list on the Photos tab.” So, with iOS 8.1, they admitted their mistake and restored Camera Roll. Thank you!

Acknowledging your imperfections and addressing them is a great way to move forward. Never being wrong means you 1) don’t take risks of any kind and 2) won’t achieve anything of significance. My favorite TED talk (On Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz) delves into this very issue. How sure are you of being right? What about once you’re shown you are wrong? That’s the craziness of being wrong. When we are wrong, we think we are right until shown otherwise. Go watch the TED talk.

In your personal and professional life, aim for getting it wrong. Then accept it, address the issues, and try to get it wrong again. You may just invent the phonograph or telephone, discover penicillin, or grow your member engagement!

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