Strategic Link Partner, Jeff Rendel, Discusses What Drives Member Loyalty
Credit union leaders talk future member needs and how they’re addressing those needs today.
There’s no doubt that credit unions depend on their members’ loyalty and that members rely on their credit unions for a variety of financial services needs. Yet, credit union leaders need to consider how they might refine their strategies to develop those wide-ranging and long-term relationships with members in order to retain that loyalty. Those strategies, which focus on delivery, marketing, pricing, products, technology and service, vary depending on asset size and markets, but all have a common thread: creating a member-centric relationship that works today, tomorrow, and in the long–term.
Recently, a group of credit union CEOs gathered to discuss how to build wide-ranging relationships with members. Here are some opinions that came from that discussion.
Don’t Expect Financial Monogamy
While people like to be loyal, price and convenience are significant drivers in consumer decision-making. For consumers, having multiple financial relationships doesn’t seem that big of an inconvenience. While many credit unions measure products per member, most realize that producing a mass of “triple product members” isn’t especially reasonable. However, constant life-stage and cycle marketing allow credit unions to have some grade of relationship (some years more, some years less), over a long period of time. The focus on retention and an elastic relationship leads to top–of–mind status and a greater probability of sales.
Be Incessantly Uncomfortable
“Your member’s last experience is her next expectation,” shared one CEO during the discussion. “Continuous improvement drives our commitment to ensure members remain.” Many leaders revealed that they endlessly observe the retail experience at other retail establishments. Banking is retail, voiced several CEOs. As consumers, members have a set expectation level of service; it doesn’t vary from one business to the next. Watching the retail experience, and fine-tuning their own, allowed credit unions to integrate different angles of the member experience. In the end, the credit unions formed a more pertinent experience aligned with members’ expectations.
Deliver on Digital
The rise of the omni-digital member is here. “A good price, mobile access, and a local presence will bring members in, but digital ease will keep them here,” stated one CEO. The consumer swing toward all things digital necessitates that credit unions have a mobile-first philosophy in all aspects—marketing, new accounts, underwriting, funding, engagement, delivery, service, and the list goes on. “We want ease for our members. Hassles lead to attrition. Thus, our capital investments focus on mobile delivery, business intelligence, and digital marketing,” replied a member experience executive. “We’re moving at the speed of members.”
Bulk up on Soft Skills
Where members will choose digital engagement first, there are times when an eye-to-eye or ear-to-ear conversation matters. Leaders expressed that when digital capacity is exhausted, or a complex matter is involved, members expect (and rely upon) a skillful professional. “When the time comes for a live conversation, our service leaders must deliver trust, empathy, communication, and leadership,” articulated several executives. “The soft skills that often seem old-fashioned are more vital today. We’re still in the people business. When members do reach out, it’s a matter of great importance to them. The connections we reinforce lead to long-term business.”
Build Community in Your Branches
Branches still matter, but their focus is changing. Branches prove your permanence to members and the communities you serve, several CEOs agreed. They voiced that branches certainly show long-term commitment to a community, but they also provide ideal leadership opportunities. Be it an onsite community room or staff involvement in home-grown initiatives, branches put the “local” into the big business of financial services. “Branches show we’re there, branch involvement shows we care,” voiced one CEO. “Pinpointed community leadership, through each branch, helps members—current and soon-to-be—see our values in action in places that matter to them.”
From these leaders’ insights, it might be accurate to say the “P” in PFI is better redefined as “permanent.” Permanent in the sense that a measured retail relationship may ebb and flow, but a credit union’s place in a member’s mind—awareness, marketing, sales, service, community—can be long-term. “Once a member, always a member,” the motto goes. Perhaps the strategy for member relationships should go beyond the onboarding phase and continue through the many periods of a member’s life and financial services needs.
Strategic Link business partner Jeff Rendel is a certified speaking professional and President of Rising Above Enterprises. He works with credit unions that want entrepreneurial results in sales, service, and strategy. Visit his Strategic Link page to learn more about partnering with him.