Article

Text-Speak: Aim for Casual Professional When Texting With Members

happy young woman walking and texting
Contributing Writer

2 minutes

Text etiquette for credit unions is similar to texting with friends and family—with a few caveats.

Texting is simultaneously a new channel for communicating with members and a familiar outlet for credit union employees to stay in touch with friends and family. Text etiquette for personal and professional interactions is similar, with a few caveats based on the recommendations of executives with service providers and credit unions using this outlet.

Aim for “casual professional.” Kenneth Burke, director of marketing with Text Request, Chattanooga, Tennessee, recommends a “polite, respectful and human” style when communicating with members. Emojis are acceptable if not overused—Burke calls them “another tool in the grammar arsenal to better convey emotion and expressions.” He’s not a fan of abbreviations, though. 

$221 million Extra Credit Union, Warren, Michigan, guides its in-house texters to keep member communications “professional and meaningful,” says Marketing Manager Ruthann Varosi. 

Represent the brand. When assigning employees to staff the text channel, “look for people who use good grammar and well-articulated responses but are willing to ‘play’ and sprinkle in the brand and culture with a human element,” recommends Susan Cerutti-Jensen, marketing director at $157 million Spokane Federal Credit Union, Spokane, Washington. “It’s no different than when they walk through our door. We want members to feel like family, and we want them to get that same type of experience whatever the channel.”

Keep it quick and simple. “Don’t communicate like a business,” Burke advises. “If you want to increase engagement, and you want to create better and deeper relationships with your members, then just talk to them like you would talk to anyone else. If you cut the verbose email fluff, your members will have a better experience.”

Respond promptly. Members expect replies to most texts “in a matter of minutes,” Cerutti-Jensen says. “Their expectations are higher than for email.” Spokane FCU has prewritten responses for the top 10 most common questions to speed up turnaround time. cues icon

Karen Bankston is a long-time contributor to Credit Union Management and writes about membership growth, operations, technology and governance. She is the proprietor of Precision Prose, Eugene, Oregon.

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