Are you Married to Your Members? - The Importance of Creating Member Relationships
Can this marriage be saved?
“Loyalty isn’t enough…”Gallup Research 2009
What I would love for you to go home with from this discussion today is FIVE things
you can do to elevate and strengthen that relationship with:
*Members *Other staff *Community (or SEG) ….and
you never know…there may even be a few tips peppered through here you
can use in your PESONAL relationships! Now how often do you get that at
a marketing conference presentation?
So let’s see if we can get some answers to questions I had posed out to marketers the
past couple of months as I put this together…
What kind of improvements do I need to make in my marketing to help build
the relationship message?
What kind of improvements can I put into action without causing a huge uproar
internally, but will get buy-in at the staff level that will make a difference
when it comes to how we act and talk to members?
How do we handle multiple relationships…when we KNOW they’re “cheating”
on us with the bank down the road?
Is our brand and how we portray it in our branches and with our staff actions
really going to make people bank with us?
36% of a financial
shopper’s decision is
driven by brand image
Source: JD Powers & Associates, 2009
The fact is…that for the first time EVER the brand (your IMAGE) is the number one
factor that helps people choose a banking relationship.
It’s more important than locations... convenience... products... service...even rates
And when compared to price, the same study shows us that...
65% say brand is
equal or more important
Source: JD Powers & Associates, 2009
how you feel about something is often more important than logic…and price!
So the first question you need to answer when you hop on that plane and are
reflecting on all the things you’ve seen and heard over the course of this conference,
all the people you’ve talked to and…with everything you do at your credit union…all
the promotions, all the campaigns…is…
Are you just speed dating with your members – with no hope of a real commitment?
And hoping that both you and the member love what you’re saying without much other
effort or thought being put into the relationship? That what we perceive to be good
rates, that we’ve given something away like a trip or $25 bucks to bring someone else
into the credit union, or hooked them up on our Facebook site…isn’t enough to expect
them to be happy with who we are…it’s NOT enough of a foundation to build the
relationship and stay…
We need to do more…truly do everything we can to keep the member happy…make
them advocates for us…not simply be satisfied with us…but be loyal to us for a very
long time…a kind of marital bliss?
And speaking of Advocacy…
…as a I looked through so much of the material out there about relationships
and Advocacy…it dawned on me that most of it’s about making and measuring
members as advocates for US. Why shouldn’t we be showing them in our
brand messages, actions, all our touchpoints that we are advocates for THEM?
After all…isn’t that the way it is in any good relationship…you are truly
advocates for each other, right?
So what are some simple ways we can show them we’re there for them. Even
visually…something simple that might speak to people who might not even be
in a relationship with us yet…but are considering a first date? What about
something like this?
What if instead of Loan Officer, Member Service Representative, Collections…or even
CEO…EVERYONES title was MEMBER ADVOCATE?
What if…instead of a “Greeter” sign…you have a sign that greets them with “Member
What’s the down side to this if we’re outside looking in?
Is there a downside internally? You want to get members to the right people…so
you’re advocating for them, right?
If they have a question or concern and you can’t answer it…you’re finding someone
who can…aren’t you advocating for them that way, too?
Simple…easy fix? What do you think? Would this be harder to do at your credit union
than it seems to be to me looking in? What are the obstacles…how do we overcome
them? This is GROUP think guys…suggestions?
STORY: I was on the USS Nimitz last year…took a tour…spent some time with the
Captain of that ship…listening to him tell stories about his crew, the ship, the country
he serves. HIS title on his name tag wasn’t Captain – it simply read…CMO – Chief
Morale Officer. That was what his duty was running that ship…have the best people
doing their job the best the could…and keeping the morale for them as individuals and
as a team at the highest level possible – why? So they could all feel good about
themselves and what they’re doing for each other and for our country. 6
It’s again…about being advocates for THEM. Creating experiences for them with the
expectation they need to do nothing in return.
Isn’t that what GREAT relationships are made of at every level?
“Members may not remember
what you said or did,
but they’ll always remember
how you made them feel.”
…and I think this is something we all have to remember…I have this up on my wall in
my office. Not a bad philosophy for everyone at your credit union to have either is it?
So…when we look at so many different brands that we use….
Do we use them because we’re simply satisfied with them…and that will keep us using
them if something better comes along…or are we totally loyal to them – we feel like we
have bonded, feel that special something…is a relationship forming?
Gallup's research has revealed that customer satisfaction isn't nearly enough to ensure an
ongoing relationship. They also learned that "loyalty" isn't enough and that "good"
performance is terribly inadequate. That poses a huge problem. As Jim Collins has
pointed out in his book Good to Great, too many companies become satisfied with "good" --
and, as he writes, "Good is the enemy of great.“ So is BEING SATISFIED as opposed to
You can be satisfied in many ways with your credit union (or bank). I mean…let’s face
it…most times when we have completed a transaction we ARE merely satisfied. Have
you ever gone home after being wherever it is you bank, sat down for dinner with the
family and exclaimed “My goodness…I got a great receipt at the credit union today!”
So how can we expect our members to be “loyal”…really loyal…with everything,
everywhere they have to choose from for some many of their needs?
How many relationships
Everyone comfortable? Great…so the first thing I want to do is to have everyone
stand. Now…if you’ve had more than one serious relationship in your life…I want you
to stay standing. If you’ve had more than 5…stay standing. What about more than 10?
Now…I’m making a small assumption here…but since we’re here at a credit union
marketing conference and we’re talking about how to build relationships with our
members and the consumer…when I asked you about how many relationships you’ve
had…you were ALL thinking about BANKING relationships…correct?
A relationship…“commond bond”…wow…it’s really what we’re all after in some way
isn’t it…personally with someone…or something (I happen to be in what I feel is a
committed relationship. We’ve bonded, trust each other…share the same passion for
long walks in the mountains and sitting at home in the evening in front of the fire with
a nice big bowl of popcorn). With…these two.
For others…who have searched and found that committed relationship on a personal
level…then…as we’d like to think everyone does…begins to look for that perfect
financial institution they can also have a relationship with…for richer – for poorer and
yes, even in financial sickness and health. Is that realistic?
So again…can we expect our members to be faithful to only us? Really…is the term
PFI even relevant any longer, or are we kidding ourselves?
Who are we sharing OUR members relationship with? Can we expect them to have a
monogamous (true marriage-type) relationship with us? Because they’re seeing some
of these guys on the side…are they really cheating on us?
ING, no e-trade or Charles Schwab, Chase or Wells Fargo…or even another credit
I like to think of these “others” as good friends…maybe someone you go out and golf
with…have a beer with…shop for a new pair of shoes with…but when push comes to
shove…we want to make sure we’re shoving them in our direction…engaging them.
What we MUST realize from the top down…and I mean starting at the volunteer level,
CEO and on down…is that we have to continue to try to earn (as in any relationship) –
that commitment when it comes to our members and potential members depending
upon us for their everyday needs, seeing us as a trusted advisor (especially after
being jilted by the big bank industry over the last couple of years…and who even now
continue to mess with our heads and our pocketbooks when it comes to finding new
ways to squeeze an extra dollar out of us at every turn.
what you look for in a
So let me ask you this…if credit unions are about relationships, and we certainly all
talk about it a lot – that’s what BRANDS are made of…why not build a strong brand
relationship – an emotional tie that goes to the heart of who we are, what we do
and how we act…and how we help others? And if you think about it…isn’t this
what we look for in any relationship? I’m going to give you a minute – “hey, I’m
doing all the work here” – and I want you to write down what you look for in a good
relationship with someone…a person, or maybe your favorite grocer (could be one
in the same! LOL). I WANT EACH TABLE TO COME UP WITH FIVE. Break the
assignment into tables/groups, designate a spokesperson to gather and answer
for the table).
GOING TO GIVE YOU ABOUT 5 MINUTES AND WE’LL SEE HOW OUR ANSWERS
So where do we go to find help with these kinds of great relationships? I’ve actually
found a couple of interesting places if you’re talking about how relationships are
handled at a personal level. I’m about dating sites. Sounds a little weird doesn’t
it? And, if you go on to some of them…honestly…you can pick up some pretty
interesting tips on how to develop messages and copy tone…even target market
segmentation that could easily be translated to your site. THIS…NEXT SLIDE
…ISN’T ONE OF THEM. sugardaddie.com -- hey, these guys had a 4-star rating on
their site…although I’m not sure from whom?
Their explanation for this is that: The SugarDaddie website is aimed at people who are
either seeking a richer person to pamper them, or conversely for richer people looking
for someone to lavish gifts upon. When you do a search you specify "golddiggers" or
"sugardaddies" (or "sugarmommies"). At least you can be honest about what you
are really looking for!
I’ll bet you thought I was going to show you some of those boring sites like myspace
or match.com or even yahoo (and ya know…a dating site that starts with the word
Yahoo? Just not quite sure that’s where you want to go if you’re looking for a
relationship…unless that’s who you’re looking for.
I think this one is more like marketing our Wealth Management divisions of the credit union,
That’s one of the other things we need to talk about when we’re looking for the right person
to slip that credit union advocate engagement ring on…is that we’re not right for
everyone…just like this site isn’t for everyone…and they’ve made that perfectly clear…here’s
who you need to be to use this site.
So the take away is, as we all should know…NEXT SLIDE
“We can’t be all things
to all people.
But we can be the right place
for the right people.”
…is that we cant’ be all things to all people. But we can be the right place for the right people.
And when we treat them right…at all the right touchpoints…NEXT SLIDE
comes from experiences Advocate
Happily Married - puts reputation on
the line to tell others about you and
convinces others to seek you out
Engaged - ready to take the next
Happy Member step and appreciates the overall
value of what you offer
Committed - sticks with
Satisfied you as long as you meet
Speed Dating - will
Dissatisfied likely leave at next
…we can start getting them to buy-in to what we have to offer…start to climb that
commitment ladder. And here we are…back at talking about who the advocates are…now,
on the member side. And, there are four levels to this advocacy.
what consumers are looking
for in their banking
How’s the best way to figure this out? Is there a dating site we can look at to give us a hint?
Well…turns out there may be some help at one of them after all…NEXT SLIDE
Now…I’m not telling you to sign up here…but what if we used this model to segment
our target markets we feel are the best fit for our credit union? What if we help
consumers match themselves up with the right financial institution and the right
products based on a questionnaire? Yes…it’s giving them some power…and power is
to be shared in any solid relationship.
Or what if we come up with our own…NEXT SLIDE
dimensions of advocacy R
12 Dimensions of advocacy just like e-harmony’s 29 dimensions of compatibility.
So – what are they? Let’s take a look. The first three… NEXT SLIDE…
The first three have to do with Physical Existence.
Your Physical Existence. What do we look for in someone…and what do they look for
in you? It’s all about a good first impression isn’t it. Appearance, Vitality, Security. Can
you look secure (does that translate to knowledgeable, too)?
First impressions (what are they wearing…what are WE wearing…are their clothes
color coordinated, clean and pressed. Is your branch branded…can people tell where
they’re suppose to go when they walk in the door? When you meet someone…what
does it mean when they have their arms crossed or have a scowl on their face, or
won’t make eye contact with you?
So…a good exercise to do when you get home is the same thing we would do if we came out
to start a retail branch audit for you. It’s taking pictures of what your branch looks like. Here
are a few of some branches we’ve worked on…NEXT SLIDE
…and obviously…this is a before picture. So - if someone dressed like this office
looks….would you date them? Really?
Here’s another one….kinda looks like a muffler shop doesn’t?
When they walk into your branch…do they see wait here, sign in here and wait over
there, please wait for next available teller…? I HATE that! When you go back to your
credit union…take all those signs and que’s away…that’s right, take them all down.
OMG…how will someone know what to do? How about we “talk” to them? And if you
have to add some wayfinding signage to assist them…make it fun! How is your credit
This credit union alternates with a couple of its small business clients between having a
flower cart people can buy from, or a coffee stand, in the entry way to their lobby. Yes…it can
also be more than about how we act and talk…let’s put a little “smell” into the equation. In my
experience…a good perfume or cologne is much better for a relationship than a stale odor of
who knows what…am I right?
And you want to build your relationship in your branches with your retail to match you…your
brand. If it’s fun…and that’s you…live it out. If you’re more serious…translate it with your
How are you translating your branch experiences to match who you are and attract the
people you want to be engaged with?
•Your Emotional Temperature.
Comes in many different bottles this one. And this honestly comes from “within” -- it’s
your Energy (and that of your employees)
It’s the Emotion (or what I hear as “caring” about the relationship when we go out and
do brand projects and employee Brand Camps), and finally…the Passion we show in
so many different ways.
Think about this as we translate that emotion we all want our staff to share with each
other…and with the member. We come down from some big Senior Management
meeting with a list of 4 initiatives we want our staff to carry out when interacting with
our members. Did the staff get asked how they’d like doing any of these…or for input
as to what these “4 magical steps” should be? Not ususally.
So what if we do this. Have each staff member…support staff and front line staff, each
write down 2 or 3 things they can do well and on a consistent basis to engage and
help each other and the member when they come in (or heaven forbid when we see
them out in the community). Now what have you done? You’ve taken “4” initiatives
and multiplied them by …2 or 3 x the number of staff you have. Instead of 4
interactions that most of the staff doesn’t see themselves doing in the first place,
you’ve EMPOWERED them to find ways to interact and given them some motivation to
make a difference.
start with engaged
And that’s how we get to HERE! Your members may be loyal to your brand, but ultimately
their engagement level will be based, at least in part, on the service they receive from those
that support that brand. That’s your employees.
Are they “doing their job” as they perceive it…or listening and going the extra mile for
someone…for something that might not even have anything to do with why they’re physically
there at that specific time…but just might have something to do with why they bank there. Let
me tell you a story that talks about all three of these…Energy, Emotion and Passion. Tell
your members about your passion…and show them what it looks like.
To fully engage both employees and members, credit unions should employ systems
that create a two-way dialogue for gathering comments, suggestions, complaints and
compliments. Then the organization needs to manage that feedback and act on the
results. Research shows that even when a member or employee complains, if the
complaint is resolved quickly, the employee or customer will actually be more loyal to
the organization. So one of the way’s to create an open line of communication is to
use some internal resources….NEXT SLIDE
Here…is one that was created by GESA Credit Union…and is used for several different
topics…internally…to share announcements, stories and more. In fact…I’d asked Tim
Andrew, the AVP Marketing to talk a little bit about it during the presentation at the
CUNA Conference, how difficult it was to set up and how it’s help build relationships
within the culture at the credit union. Tim…I’m sure, would be happy to talk to any of
you if you want to email or give him a call. He’s also a member of the CUNA Marketing
and Business Development Advisory Board.
This is a great story-telling tool… Are branch stories getting shared with
everyone…employees who are going that extra mile to help members…build that
Another way to instill that passion in your employees and share your brand
expectations with them is…NEXT SLIDE
“A brand is a living entity, the product of a
thousand small gestures.”
– Michael Eisner, former CEO Disney
We help clients ramp up their energy, their emotion, their passion with
something we call Brand Camp…and it really does get everyone on the same
page…talking the same talk – and walking the same walk. There are those in
the audience that can attest to it as well…the CEO, a Board member and the
Marketing Manager from coast360 all the way from Guam were at the
Conference in Washington, DC…and the VP Marketing, Sarah Ryals, from
Aventa Credit Union in Colorado Springs.
The next three “Dimensions of Advocacy.” This isn’t for YOUR benefit…it’s for the
benefit of your members and the community you’re a part of.
•What does your Social Style look and sound like? This goes directly to the character
of your brand (and that could be taken two ways…personally and how it looks
holistically as your credit union). Sociability…interesting…and simply means how
you’re perceived…how you’re seen relating in social circles….out in the community.
Are your actions truly sincere or do they come across as just another sponsor in the
long list of sponsors for a community event.
•I think this is the easy (and budget friendly) way for us to address this with
management and board. I would say…challenge it…find another solution that works
best for you and your members rather than doing it the way you are now – because
that’s the way it’s always been done.
•Do you have your own event in the community…something you can call your
own…or do you simply blend in as part of a long list of sponsors for events? Who
does their own? This also goes to your Character and is something that has a huge
influence when it comes to your character being judged by your members and
potential members as well.
•And then…there’s Adaptability (and I think Flexibility, too)…which goes back to that
not trying to be all things to all people…as well as being innovative when it comes to
who you want to be…a big part of your Brand.
Here’s a former Teachers Credit Union…who although has changed its name and
charter…hasn’t forgotten about it’s history and heritage…and are honoring it not only on an
ongoing basis with a generational marketing program that targets more than simply
GenY…but also honors teachers specifically for their contributions to our youth.
Goes directly to their character doesn’t it…and how they’ve adapted to their new vision.
And don’t think the banks right now aren’t taking advantage of this sense of
community. They’re looking to sway us (our members and consumers) as part of
building a strong relationship – and want us to be married to them just as we want that
commitment of marriage with us. They’re using the same socialibility, building their
own strong character and adapting to what is important to the consumer they’re trying
to date in hopes of a longer, more rewarding time to come.
And here’s the last three…
Your Cognitive Interaction. This is how others feel you interact with them. How many
of us have had grumpy waiters or waitresses? Notice I didn’t say tellers or loan officers?
Or a flight attendant who’s been on too many work and turns – and you’re maybe the
last flight of the day…or even worse…a pilot that looks this enthused about flying your
plane? Not a pleasant personal interaction is it?
We have to set a good tone…and it has to be everywhere. Consistent message. Your
tone…it has to be conversational and personal…connect with who you want to attract
and what the perception and truth as you live it out really is about your credit union. As we all
know…it’s one thing to tell them about how great we are…but quite another to live it out on a
daily basis. It starts with several touchpoints and you really have to work it.
Branches, website, drive-thru, Business Development staff, you, volunteers,
management and support staff (I hate…yes hate, using back-office terminology)
handle problems that your front line employees can’t take care of on the spot. This is
being Personal (and that’s more than having them know their name, but listening to
what’s going on and what’s important to them…whether it’s sports, their kids, their
dogs or whatever),
…and then being Curious enough to make sure you’ve not only corrected the problem
at hand…but maybe found a better way to do something for everyone in the future (do
you encourage that from your employees?
Do you let them Champion “Solution Teams”?) How empowered is your staff to handle
problems without having to go seek someone out for help…to over-ride something,
etc.? – and then maybe sending the member who had the problem that you corrected a
thank you note and acknowledging that your interaction just helped other members,
too. (When was the last time someone at your credit union did that?).
And...Upbeat…all the time. It’s all about setting the right TONE (Spike/USA slide) – this
tone…obviously wouldn’t work for everyone…but it helped this credit union grow
membership and lower the average age of their membership by over 7 years.
Guess this brings the word “CURIOUS” to new levels doesn’t it? Would you be curious
to find out more if you saw these ads? Come on now…be honest. Have any of you
seen the Virgin money ads before?
Copy you probably can’t read here: The best relationships are the long-term ones. And
Virgin Money will be there for you if you decide you want to “Make A Baby” , take a
break from work or just pay a bill. They go on to tell you how they can even help you
make sure you stay on track with your repayment plan…especially if things should
pop up…that it’s just one of the ways THEY help keep the love…the relationship alive.
About the ad on the right…“The longer you’re in a relationship…the better it should
get.” At first I thought they were talking about hedge funds…but turns out they’re
talking about trimming your Home Loan Rate…and continuing to do so on the 3rd and
6th anniversary date of the loan. Cool! Or in their words…”a pretty sexy offer.”
Interesting Brand Position isn’t it? NEXT SLIDE
Here’s a GREAT brand position…simply put…CREATE GOOD…. Can anyone tell me
what their Brand Position is and how it translates to their customers?
And…here’s an example of how a credit union is doing that – Creating Good…NEXT
Rachel Schlanhart, 5, (center) takes the first look at her new mortgage-
free home that she and her family won in the Home for the Holidays
Home Giveaway from Dort Federal Credit Union Monday afternoon.
UPBEAT? Ya…I’d say so. Not only building a relationship with this family…but helping
this family build a new sense of what relationships can be all about…personally and
financially when you have the right people around you. This also goes back to what we
were talking about being part of the community…and not watering down your
sponsorships…but selecting something important for someone…besides the credit
union. Because if you do it right…you’ll reap the benefits from it in both tangible and
intangible ways down the line.
So how do we keep relationships from turning sour? It’s being consistent and that
starts with your brand at every level.
It’s about having a strong Brand Position. It’s about determining what kind of
personality you have…and then sticking with it at every level…internally and
It’s about your staff…and this is an important one. What are they doing, how are they
acting, what are they saying, what kind of attitude do they have at work, what are your
(and their own) expectations of interacting with the member and out in the
community? These need to be identified and talked about with them in a clear and
It goes along with the kind of messages you’re sending…in tone, style, in your
branches, publications and yes…with your staff.
Lastly…ya have to live this out at every touchpoint. Not 4 out of 6. Not 9 out of 14. All
of them…all of the time.
Gaining new members should never be our objective; building member “engagement”
are we missing
in our relationships?
Take the survey at www.webermarketing.com. Test yourself to see whether you think your
members are speed dating, in a relationship with you…or not even giving you a second
Randy Schultz, VP Marketing
Want to learn more…give me a shout, email me…pick up the phone or tweet me at
Thanks! And…good luck!