Inside Marketing: Improve the Member Experience With Simple and Cost-Effective Strategies

smiling businesswoman greeting a member with a handshake
Oak Tree Business Systems Inc.

6 minutes

Consistent efforts to meet and exceed consumer expectations through process improvement and simple acts of kindness lead to loyalty and growth.

In an age of rapid digital advances, credit unions are committing significant resources to improve their members’ online and mobile experiences. With so much focus on implementing the latest and greatest in technology, it can be easy to overlook the less expensive and simpler strategies that can have a significant impact on your members’ experience—but it’s important not to let those opportunities go by the wayside. According to a 2017 report by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, improving customer experience from average to “wow” can increase the likelihood to retain or acquire new business by 30 to 50%.

Members that leave credit unions typically do so without any prior indication. In fact, almost three quarters of members won’t tell their credit union they are thinking of leaving. This means credit unions must be proactive in their approach to providing exceptional customer service. Here are some top strategies you can apply today to begin wowing your membership.

Make It Easy to Be a Member

Reduce repetitiveness. Perhaps nothing is more frustrating to a member than having to repeat themselves to multiple CU employees to solve a problem. This tells members your staff is not communicating with each other and can reduce member confidence in your branch. Your data processor and forms should be integrated with members’ best interests in mind. Develop processes to provide for the systematic flow of information between employees before transferring phone calls or other member hand-offs.

Provide financial literacy. How to manage your finances isn’t taught in school. For most members, financial knowledge was passed down from their parents or self-taught. Train your employees to educate your members about general financial concepts. Include simple topics such as how to balance a checkbook. The more members know, the easier financial transactions will become for them.

Allow e-signatures. Convenience an important aspect of member service. Consumers expect to transact their business in the shortest time possible. When it comes to completing applications and forms, signing and returning paper documents is a hassle for everyone. With minimal investment, credit unions can provide online e-signature capabilities to allow their members to sign and go.

Commit to Your Local Community

Partner with local businesses. Invite local businesses and business members to promote themselves inside your branch, offer member discounts on their services or hold Q&A sessions. There are also opportunities to support business members by sponsoring their marketing efforts at trade shows, the chamber of commerce and other networking events.

Support the community. Support local high school sports teams who do not receive the same support and attention as football or basketball teams. Sponsor such community events as 5k runs, collector car exhibitions, or a home and garden show. Spend a day with your employees collecting roadside litter once a month. (Don’t forget to wear your credit union t-shirts or credit union socks.) While these activities may not directly impact the member experience at your credit union, they will impact your members’ everyday lives while increasing your CU’s visibility.

Highlight local heroes. Celebrate the accomplishments of those in your community, even if they are not members. Take out an advertisement in the local newspaper or run a sponsored ad on social media recognizing the accomplishments of your local school’s athletic and scholastic teams, law enforcement and firefighters, or an individual who has inspired you and your credit union community.

Step Up Your Social Media

Always respond to comments. When a social user comments on a post, always reply back. Think of it this way: If someone takes time to comment on a post and the credit union does not respond, what would make that individual believe you will be any more responsive in person?  

Educate your audience. While advertising is often a big part of social media strategy, social channels also offer the opportunity for your credit union to become the financial expert in your online community. Develop great educational content and share it. In return, you will begin to find current and prospective members looking to your credit union when they need financial services.  

Check out the chatter. According to a report from Qualtrics, 47% of banking customers are actually detractors when it comes to recommending their financial institutions to friends and family—and more than likely, they are online. Take the time and effort to seek out comments being made about your credit union on social media and review sites using hashtags and search. Address the concerns your members are expressing. You will increase retention and potentially turn detractors into promoters.  

Be available. It has never been more important to be where your members are so they can contact your branch when and where they want to. This means providing access and prompt service through multiple channels. Today, members expect to be able to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. If you don’t hang out where they can reach you, members will seek out competitors that do.

Remember Your Members are Human

Create a follow-up culture. Train your employees to follow up with members after they have received service, online or in person. Ask members what they liked about the service and what could have improved their experience. Members will appreciate your efforts to continually improve.

Send a card. Receiving a physical card in the mail has become an increasingly rare event. Fill the void and send birthday, anniversary or get-well cards to your members. Our senior citizens are especially receptive and appreciative of receiving a handwritten note.

Check in with members. The advent of social media has nearly made the friendly phone call extinct. Place a call to each member at least once a year just to say hello. This simple act of kindness can have big benefits. Even if you don’t reach the individual, be sure to leave a pleasant voicemail, letting them know you value them as a member and are ready to assist with any financial matters they may have.

Professional Service Reigns Supreme

Smile and greet everyone. How members are greeted will set the tone for the rest of their experience. Set a standard at your credit union branch to ensure every member receives a friendly greeting within moments of stepping through your door.

Empower employees. Entire books have been written about the positive benefits that come from empowered employees. Make sure your employees have approved access to pertinent information and the ability to make decisions to please your members. Not only will members be happier, but employee morale will see a boost as well.

Own your mistakes. Mistakes happen. How you handle errors often will determine how long members remain at your branch. First, humbly apologize for any mistakes without shifting blame to someone else. Next, seek to find the most efficient and effective solution. Finally, let your members know what you will do to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Success often boils down to consistently making the effort to truly meet and exceed customer expectations. For credit unions, we know member service is second only to high fees in convincing members to leave. Fortunately, improving customer service is 100% within your credit union’s control.

Richard Gallagher is CEO of CUES Supplier member Oak Tree Business Systems Inc., Big Bear Lake, California. Oak Tree has provided top-quality, fully compliant credit union forms and disclosure packages for more than 35 years that easily integrate with any data processor in any state.


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