Consistency is Crucial in Member Interactions

It’s not members’ responsibility to know what your CU offers.

February 14, 2012
KEYWORDS credit , cuna , lending , loans
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To reach potential borrowers, you must recognize a simple fact: It’s not your members’ responsibility to know what your credit union offers, says Greg Baker, vice president, sales and marketing, at $415 million asset University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union in Lexington.

“It’s your responsibility to educate them, whether they need the product now or in the future,” Baker says.

The credit union’s lending success is rooted in its strategy and decision making around gaining market share, building member awareness, and implementing branding consistency through its lending channels.

Consistency is crucial, Baker says, if you want to reach members via their preferred channel to share information about your credit union’s products and services.

One of University of Kentucky Federal’s goals was to convince members the institution is a trusted partner they can rely on in tough times to give them great deals on loans, as well as consistent service and financial advice.

The result has been steady member growth, increasing 8.1% in 2009 to 38,717 members; 12.3% in 2010 to 43,486 members; and 9.8% as of November 2011 to 47,032 members.

Excellence in lending

University of Kentucky Federal's keys to success:

  • Redefined its lending strategies, focusing on members’ need for a trusted partner and improving awareness of all its products;
  • Focused lending awareness on indirect lending and home equity products;
  • Rebranded itself as the value leader with flexible terms, low rates, and expert service;
  • Automated its loan decisioning. Nearly half (46%) of its loans are system-approved and don’t go to underwriters; and
  • Developed an “e-branch” for electronic media users only. This branch typically opens 75 to 100 new accounts and 80 to 90 new loans each month

A comprehensive program of mailings, billboards, Facebook and print advertising, and e-mails promoted loans and positioned the credit union as members’ trusted financial institution.

A committee of college students between the ages of 18 and 28 helps the credit union connect with young members. The student committee helped the credit union launch a student-loan program in 2010.

University of Kentucky Federal also reached out to indirect lending partners with efforts including a golf outing to inform participating dealers about rates and terms. And creating an indirect mortgage group strengthened ties with local real estate brokers to offer home equity loans for real estate purchases.

A stronger indirect lending platform helped handle the increase from $29 million in indirect loan originations in 2009 to more than $51 million in 2010. Automated decision engines for indirect and online applications streamlined loan reviews.

Nearly half (46%) of the loans were approved through the automated channel in 2011.

University of Kentucky Federal received an Excellence in Lending Award from the CUNA Lending Council and CUNA Mutual Group for its efforts.

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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 (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) 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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