Member Loyalty Pays Big Dividends

Five guidelines for building member loyalty.

May 27, 2011
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The one thing your competitors can’t duplicate is the experience members receive from your credit union says, Carla Schrinner, manager of CUNA’s Creating Member Loyalty system of training.

“It’s the value-added experience that members are looking for from service providers,” she says.

Schrinner offers these guidelines for building member loyalty:

1. Focus on what the member does, not what he or she says. Many member surveys simply measure member satisfaction. That doesn’t tell you whether your members consider you to be their primary financial institution (PFI), if they’d recommend you to others; or if they’ll turn to you the next time they have a financial need.

Creating member loyalty“Many argue that these three measures form the basis of true loyalty,” Schrinner says.

2. Create value for both the member and the credit union. Determine the value proposition the credit union wants to create for its members, and how that ties to the organization’s business objectives.

3. Establish simple measures. Easily gathered and tracked information will allow you to start now with what you already have capabilities to measure (vs. waiting to build sophisticated systems) and allow you to tie back to specific staff behaviors.

Reduce resistance to this change by focusing on a team target, along with reinforcing the business need of the goal.

4. Focus on proactive relationship development vs. simply responding to service requests. This type of interaction isn’t only about providing exceptional service, it requires leveraging information to show a greater sense of care and concern about members.

Gathering and using the right member information is the foundation for creating a value experience for the member now and anticipating future business opportunities.

5. Define and support the employee experience and their role in creating member loyalty. Clarifying staff roles and expectations is important to relieve anxiety and fear of the unknown. Start by articulating the business need to create member loyalty.

Be prepared to define:

  • Development plans and goals;
  • Training and reinforcement that provides a clear model for the member experience;
  • Consistent attention to progress; and
  • Rewards and recognition.

Of course, managers also must be absolutely clear about their role in building member loyalty.

“A clear model must be in place to define the key activities that will enable managers to guide the staff experience,” Schrinner says. “Managers must have organizational support and training around the skills, processes, and strategies to effectively support and drive results.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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