Keeping Your Members Happy

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” It is a “law” of any business: It is more cost effective to keep your current customers satisfied than it is to look for new customers to replace them. A recent Ernst and Young global consumer survey found that 25% of customers changed banks in 2011 due to poor levels of personalized service and branch location proximity. While it would be nice to think that most of them switched from banks to credit unions as part of Bank Transfer Day, odds are that plenty went the other direction too.

Successful credit unions will look at all aspects of their operations for opportunities to retain current members by constantly striving to improve their member experience.

The phrase ‘member experience’ is broad and encompasses practically every aspect of a credit union. There are many ways credit unions can improve the member experience. Loyalty programs, financial education, and community involvement are a few things your credit union may want to look at adjusting. There is another area of member experience, however, that is often overlooked even though it comprises a large part of your members’ interaction with your credit union: ATMs.

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Christopher Columbus had his flag, credit unions have video ATMs

Originally published on CUinsight.com.

Back in Columbus’ day, geographic expansion for Old World nations was a relatively straightforward process. Over the centuries, both countries and credit unions have found growth to be much more complicated.

All of us learned the story of Christopher Columbus back in grade school. Notwithstanding the fact that there were already plenty of people in America at the time of his arrival, under the Old World law of the time all Columbus needed to claim the New World was a flag, and presumably a witness or two, as he reportedly uttered —

“I claim this land in the name of Queen Isabella, and hereby declare that henceforth all lands and territories extending to the furthermost point north and to the furthermost point south shall forevermore be called ‘North and South Columbus,’ and that my name shall be so inscribed on all future maps of this Glorious New World.”    (Christopher Columbus, upon landing in the New World, October 12, 1492).

Fast forward to today, and new “lands and territories” come with more risk, cost and red tape for the nation’s credit unions.

It is not surprising that NCUA chose to ignore the extensive body of historical precedent set by the unbounded imperialism of the 1400s. Instead, NCUA set more stringent requirements in place for what a multiple common bond Federal credit union had to do when it received permission from NCUA to expand into an underserved area.  A credit union has to establish and maintain an “office or facility” in the area [see 12 U.S.C. 1759(c)(2)] within two years, and then to maintain an “office or service facility in the area (see Chartering Manual Chapter 3.III.F)”.

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The Best of the Best – 2012 NAFCU Services Innovation Awards

Innovation can be hard to define, but you can think of it as “the successful application of new ideas.”  ‘Application’ is the key word there – new ideas are the easy part – figuring out which are the good ones, and then applying them successfully, is more difficult.

So innovation is more than just an academic exercise or a tally of patents. The application of a new idea in the real world leads to new products, services, processes, systems, or attitudes that improve something or add value. With all of the changes that are occurring in financial services generally, and in the credit union business model specifically, being (and staying) innovative is more important than ever.

Every year at the NAFCU Annual Conference we recognize the very best innovations among our Preferred Partners that help credit unions thrive in an increasingly crowded financial services marketplace with the 2012 NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Innovation Awards.

We had another exceptionally competitive field of entries this year, and the difficult task of judging was undertaken by the NAFCU Services Advisory Committee, which is composed exclusively of credit union executives. I didn’t envy them in the challenge of picking the winners, and greatly appreciate their bringing a real-world perspective to the value offered by the innovations. No surprise as to what is top-of-mind – all three winners have solutions that help credit unions with marketing and growth.

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Shifting to a Practice of Creativity and Innovation in 2012

Guest post by Deedee Myers, founder and CEO of DDJ Myers, Ltd.

Personal Reflection

As 2011 has come to a close, I am reflecting on the commitment and hard work I witnessed throughout the year. The past few years have been a struggle and challenge which produced a sense of hyper-alertness. With so many of us in a constant state of alertness, we have worked hard to sustain the health of our organizations.

The external environment is calling us to encourage and promote creativity and innovation−which is problematic, yet necessary for long-term sustainability−in a tough economic environment. Moving into the 2011 4th Quarter, I noticed an increase in the number of organizations that, in building their 2012 budgets and capital resources, shifted awareness and attention to reframe problems as productive challenges. This shift of attention is a good thing. Actively challenging our assumptions is much more sustainable than being constantly in a hyper-alert and reactive state.

Organizations that start to peel back the covers and look under the surface have so many more resources readily available. I believe the most precious resource in an organization is the individual who comes to work every day. Understanding what motivates the individual and creating an environment where each person makes a difference automatically encourages creativity and innovation−a must for us as an industry, as a country, as a global economy.

Commitment and hard work is evident in individuals, teams, and organizations that challenge established methods and protocols and actively sought ways in 2011 to modify existing models and designs. Why is this so important? It is time to shift from hyper-alertness to embodied creativity and innovation. This, I believe, is a practice we can all give more attention as we move into 2012. This practice does not need a line item in our budget; it happens in conversations involving individuals and teams.

Michael Michalko, in Tinker Toys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, writes that anyone can learn to pay attention. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, in The Leadership Dojo: Building Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader writes that learning starts with awareness. An awakening that invites awareness to what is and what matters is the start of learning. I borrowed from Michalko, Strozzi-Heckler, and our custom leadership programs to provide the following simple, no cost practices you and your leadership team can activate over the next couple of weeks as preparation for moving into 2012 with a commitment to encourage creativity and innovation.

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The Best of the Best – 2011 NAFCU Services Innovation Awards

Innovation can be hard to define, but you can think of it as “the successful application of new ideas.”  ‘Application’ is the key word there – new ideas are the easy part – figuring out which are the good ones, and then applying them successfully, is more difficult.

So innovation is more than just an academic exercise or a tally of patents. The application of a new idea in the real world leads to new products, services, processes, systems, or attitudes that improve something or add value. With all of the changes that are occurring in financial services generally, and in the credit union business model specifically, being (and staying) innovative is more important than ever.

Every year at the NAFCU Annual Conference we recognize the very best innovations among our Preferred Partners that help credit unions thrive in an increasingly crowded financial services marketplace with the 2011 NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Innovation Awards.  No surprise this year, two of the three winners focus on opportunities for credit unions to generate revenue, while the third represents a quantum leap in productivity, leading to significantly lower costs.

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