Originally published on CUInsight.com

When I was growing up, I enjoyed video games. It didn’t hurt that I am part of a generation who experienced the “golden years” of console gaming. My first system was an Atari, then NES, Sega Genesis, and onward. But there was one game franchise which kept me on a certain company’s systems: The Legend of Zelda.

Where Puzzles Are Good

No game before (and few since) presented adventure, humor, and puzzle-solving within a single package. Plus, the storyline was always solid. If it said Legend of Zelda, you wanted to keep playing, and not just to the end, but to completion, where all side-adventures were done as well.

Puzzles for Link are good. Puzzles for your members are not.

Your credit union is not Hyrule, and the member benefits chart should not read as a set of clues to the Triforce.

Where Puzzles Are Not Good

One of our clients used a member reward structure based on their level of involvement. That’s fine; offer more to your most profitable/engaged members.

However, it was far too complicated, with 4 levels ranging from Bronze to Diamond. What changes can you expect from each level? 11 areas that change across levels, plus another 10 benefits which are available to all members.

Oh, and of these 10, 2 of them, despite being shown in a chart as available to all members, are actually an extra fee on certain account setups.

Confused yet?

Rethink Membership Levels

I get why credit unions want to offer membership levels. A lot of the benefits you offer cost money, and why pay to provide them to members who have hardly any relationship with the institution?

My concern is when you have so many variables, it’s hard for a member to keep track. And a member that’s confused will avoid the source of confusion. Which in this case, is your institution.

Oh, did I mention that this credit union offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements for all new members, for the first 6 months?

Such a confusing structure lays the groundwork for member issues. “What do you mean I pay a fee? I never did before!” “Yes, but since you are now a member for more than 6 months, or your total balance fell below $5,000, or you’ve paid off your auto loan, you are now eligible for these new fees.”

You read that right. At some credit unions, paying off your loan might actually mean you pay more fees. They reward having a loan, which I get is an income-generator, but then essentially punishing a member for fulfilling their financial obligation rubs me the wrong way.

How to fix?

Aim For Simple

In all aspects of your institution. Your members and your staff will thank you.

Look at every internal and member-facing process. Create a spreadsheet, mind map, or your favorite organization system, for every service. Lay out the choices or steps within. Then share this with staff, family, or selected members. Is it intuitive to them?

If not, time for some changes. And by changes, I mean, “remove extra steps, requirements, terms, and more.”

Next: Gaming at your Credit Union

“So that’s it? All that buildup with Link, Zelda, and references to the game series, and now you’re done?” Ah ha! Your reward is in the next dungeon. Or, in this case, Part 2. There, we will learn to use the best ideas from gaming to excite your members and grow the relationship.

Image credit: http://images.cryhavok.org/d/3385-2/its-dangerous-to-go-alone-take-this.jpg