Remarry Your Members

Don’t treat members like they’re interruptions; celebrate them.

June 22, 2011
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“The customer-service bar has been set so low, it’s become relatively easy to excel at it—you just don’t have to try that hard,” Scott Stratten, social media expert and president of unMarketing, told attendees at a Tuesday morning America’s Credit Union Conference breakout session.

“I used to do business with a certain bank,” Stratten confessed, “and whenever I called the bank I heard the message, ‘Due to unusually heavy call volume…’ I heard this message every time I called for five years. And then I asked myself, ‘At what point does unusually heavy call volume become usually heavy call volume?’”

Many service providers treat their existing customers poorly but fall all over themselves to roll out the red carpet for new customers, Stratton added. “What you should be doing is celebrating every member who walks into your lobby. Don’t treat them like they’re interruptions.

“I noticed an ad in the newspaper recently that said my bank was giving away iPods. So I walked into the lobby and asked for my iPod. But the teller told me the iPods were only for new customers opening new accounts. I felt penalized for having a pre-existing relationship with them. What kind of message does that send?”

Instead of treating your existing members poorly, he suggested, “you need to be like that cheesy couple who get remarried after 40 years. You need to remarry your members. Tell them how much you love them. After all, the best source of future members is ecstatic members—not static members—but ecstatic members.”

Stratten’s advice for credit unions using, or planning to use, social media is to think of it as talking. “If you don’t like talking to your members, social media probably isn’t for you,” he said. “Financial institutions that don’t like talking to people are called ‘banks.’ But talking to people is in your DNA. It’s who you are.

“Remember that people spread awesome content on social media; people don’t spread average content,” he warned. “Don’t engage in ‘frequent futility’—don’t blog or tweet if you don’t have something awesome to say.”

Great Advice

Mark Arnold
June 30, 2011 11:01 am
Credit unions today have a "back-door" problem. For every member they bring in the front door they are losing a current member out the back door. Credit unions should embrace Scott's advice. I would even recommend rewarding long-time members with special deals (rates, etc.). Reward the faithful.

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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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