The Financial Check-in: Get Personal with Your Lending Marketing

By Karim Habib

Personal, one-on-one service is a cornerstone of the credit union brand. But not enough credit unions extend the personal touch into their lending marketing. Mass marketing, such as media ads, treats all members the same.

Get personal with your lending marketing — it’s the best way to know you’re offering members what they really need, especially in a changing technological environment with social media and mobile banking.

A great tool for establishing a direct link is the “financial check-in.” Every credit union defines its own version of a financial check-in, depending on its member profile and its staff’s capabilities.

Credit unions with successful financial check-in programs, however, tend to do most of these things:

Pursue the Primary Goal of Learning, Not Selling

Yes, you should be offering a benefit in return for a sale as part of your check-in. But the underlying purpose of contacting members is to find out what they need that your credit union can provide. This isn’t a simple task. You must respect your members’ time and privacy. For example, asking point-blank questions about marital/family status isn’t always possible or advisable.

However, you can learn to quickly and respectfully engage members in a conversation. It could be as simple as asking, “When was the last time you had your insurance or wealth management portfolio reviewed by a professional?” Or, “Have there been any job or family changes recently that made you think it might be time to review your financial situation and options — like retirement plans, savings, new home or vehicle purchases, that kind of thing?”

The key is approaching cross-selling as a process of learning enough about members to educate and offer them useful, relevant solutions. This is healthy mindset for employees, as opposed to pressuring them to push products.

Make a Good Opening Offer

Most members won’t have the time or patience for a general, “Hey, just calling to see what’s up with you…” call. It also won’t cut it to call every member with the same generic offer. Lead your calls with a tangible benefit based on a segmented campaign.

An auto loan recapture campaign is one example. If you’re offering members whom you know have a competitor’s auto loan a better rate and/or lower payment (as most members are payment driven), and maybe a small gift such as a gas card or 1-percent cash back on transferred loan amount(s), you’re probably not wasting that person’s time. And once you’ve got their attention, you can ask strategic questions about their other needs.

Establish an Outbound Calling Program

Calling members is a cost-effective method of conducting financial check-ins. If you don’t have a dedicated call center, you can still run a worthwhile campaign with your lending staff calling, say, seven members per week — one every day. That’s all. You’ll be surprised at how well this can work.

Focus on the Most Loyal Members

Some credit unions focus lending marketing on members who have only one or two relationships. Focus at least some of your financial check-in campaigns on members who have the most relationships with you. Don’t take them for granted, and don’t assume they won’t be willing to move even more business your way. These members have already demonstrated their loyalty.

Make the Most of Every Lending Opportunity

As the lending business shifts more to remote channels, lenders can’t afford not to use every touch point with members to learn more about their financial situations. Loan closings, for example, are a perfect time for a financial check-in.

Learn whether payment protection is a viable option for the loan. Or maybe you can save the member money through a refinancing or by beating a competitor’s rate on an existing loan. So many possibilities — for those who are willing to simply ask.


Karim Habib is the director of lending for CUNA Mutual Group. Contact him at

Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of aggregation to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2013 and beyond:

Posted in Marketing & Communications.