Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: prepare

How Bath Mats Can Solve Your Credit Union Challenges

That’s it. All these articles, conferences (Ha! Remember those?), white papers, and trainings, and the solution was just getting bath mats.

How has no one told you this before?! The insight of a lifetime! If only it were that easy.

Where did this bath mat thing originate? Great question.

Insights From A Brewery

Our credit union chapter held an event at a local brewery. It was impressive how the community ideas mirrored between the CU folks and the beer team. You know credit unions focus on helping others. Interestingly enough, the brewery operated in the same way.

Brewer and Beer Vat

Most importantly, the brewery understood the value of addressing problems before they emerge. Which is where the bath mats come in.

Their bathrooms have blowers to reduce paper waste and keep it more tidy. Of course, what always happens under the blowers? All that water you just shook off your hands ends up on the floor. Which probably gets stepped in, spreading dirt and making the floor slippery.

That wasn’t acceptable to them. So, they preemptively solved the problem. By placing bath mats under the blowers. Go ahead, shake it off all you want. Water isn’t getting on the floor.

Back to our main premise: Bath mats were the solution. What about at your credit union?

Solving Problems Before They Happen

I shared that story to highlight an important idea: Issues don’t have to wait until someone complains to be addressed.

Look at your operation as a whole. There are a lot of moving parts. Plenty of places something can go wrong. What are you doing about it? Do you acknowledge these issues exist and fix as they show themselves? Or, do you think ahead and make quiet changes so they never happen again?

Preemptive solutions make for a smoother experience.

Look At Complaints…From Everyone

Problem and Solution Chalkboard

Members get priority. Obviously. When they have a problem, and it’s your fault, setting it right is your main concern. Once the member situation is resolved, you have completed phase 1: Solution. Now, you can move on to phase 2: Prevention.

What happened to cause that member complaint? Is there anything you can do right now so others won’t experience the same problem? Perhaps a description is worded in such a way that it can be misinterpreted. Or maybe training didn’t cover that specific scenario.

Address it now and spread that knowledge across your team. And then, progress to phase 3: Exploration.

This part is challenging but the rewards are massive: Higher member satisfaction and increased staff morale. Because solving problems your own credit union caused is less fun than helping members progress on their financial journey!

Steps to Complain, ahem, Improve

Issues Notebook
  1. Look at member complaints. Research support records (simpler if you have a unified ticket system, like Zendesk or similar). Find all the negative reviews on Facebook and Yelp. You’ve got them. The vast majority of businesses never answer. Be the exception. And then explain how you’re going to fix it.
  2. Use social media to discover members’ biggest CU frustrations. Seriously. Make it a fun contest if you want. Call it “CU Peeves” or something. Share things your own team can’t stand, then encourage members to rag on you. It’s like a roast, except you also benefit. Plus, you’ve just increased social media engagement.
    • At the end, let staff and members vote on the #1 frustration and then share how you’ve addressed it. I’m picturing banners in branches and on your website with member frustrations next to their picture (humanizing is important), alongside your solution.
    • Create a page showing how you’re making the CU better for everyone through these “small” improvements. It’s marketing, without feeling like marketing.
  3. Ask your staff. And listen. The “and” here is important. I’ve seen a lot of businesses solicit input from their employees on how to improve. It’s mostly quiet as they fear repercussions or ridicule. Or, they’re accepted, but no changes are actually made. Be open to criticism. Welcome it. Just how you did with members.
    • Your staff deals with your credit union every day. They literally know best its most annoying challenges.

Fix. Assess. Repeat.

You’ve done all these things. That’s awesome! I bet you discovered a whole lot of issues few in upper management ever realized existed. And now they’re solved for staff and members!

Blue Arrow Circle

You’re not done.

It. Never. Ends. This is a continuous process that must happen regularly. As staff, members, and technology changes, new challenges will emerge, too.

And maybe one of the things really is bath mats. See? I told you!

All Packed…Except For That One Thing

Special Sunday Post! If you’ve read it, make me really happy during my travels and comment or share it with your network!

Disclosure: This is written from a personal perspective, and not for an overnight business trip. I am heading to Peru to hike the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu! Given I live in Florida, I own neither high-altitude nor cold weather gear, at all. Imagine that the next time you shovel snow higher than your car. (It’s ok, during the summer, I can make jokes like this.)

Getting ready for a trip is handled many different ways. Are you the:

  • List-maker
  • Obsessive checker
  • Last-minute packer
  • Let others do it slacker
  • Carefree tosser
  • Organized chaos manager
  • Confident stuffer

Like a shape-shifting alien, you can be all of them at once!

In my preparations, I embraced my “-ers”. Initially, I was overwhelmed. “Basically, it’s impossible.” Then I made a list, and another, and still another. Today, I can tell you 90% of them were useless. But, they helped me transition into my next phase: Obsessive checker. “Do I have this? Perhaps, but better take everything out just to be sure.” Welcome to stressed, enjoy your stay. So I decided to wait until I knew more, when the trip was closer in time. You know, when other people could contribute. That’s not slacking, right?

Carefree tossing is not my style, but earlier today, I looked upon organized chaos and thought, “Manage this!” Each item was placed on my bed, photographed, and given the go/no-go decision right then and there. Sorry Margaritaville shirt, you’re not going to Peru. Pulling my shoulders back (it’s important for posture, especially when carrying the pack…has nothing to do with confidence), I began stuffing the chosen ones into the bag. Cinched tight, clips secured; this is what will come with me on the trail.

I forgot something. No idea what, but it’s important.

And that’s where you can fall into a cycle of inaction. If you’ve been reading my posts, you should know at what point the topic relates to your credit union. The time has come.

Every initiative has a plan, with preparations to support. Like packing for a trip. The “-ers” stop by your branch with glee. You can even name the people exemplified by each (except the slacker; credit unions are only filled with doers). Together, they make success happen. In fact, one could argue their necessity. If your credit union were filled with list makers, not much would get done, but it would be laid out in spreadsheet/presentation elegance. However, having steps all can follow helps keep everyone on the same figurative page. The obsessive checker catches what might be otherwise missed. A last minute push ensures final challenges are overcome. And so on.

The image that comes to mind is herding cats. It may be challenging, requiring specialized skills and a lot of patience, yet when done, a fluffy pile of meows and purrs emerges.

Or a successful program, even if it includes zero cats.

Now, where did that little fur-ball go?

Image credit: “80 – Machu Picchu – Juin 2009 – edit.2” by Martin St-Amant (S23678) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:80_-_Machu_Picchu_-_Juin_2009_-_edit.2.jpg#/media/File:80_-_Machu_Picchu_-_Juin_2009_-_edit.2.jpg

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