Outbound Lending Brings Members Onboard

Illinois CU beats out banks for a five-year contract with a university alumni credit card.

April 02, 2012
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In 2010, $255 million asset University of Illinois Employees Credit Union in Champaign competed with national banks to win a five-year contract to offer an affinity credit card with the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

The card fueled the acquisition of 5,000 new members in 2011, up from its annual average of 4,012 new members.

That year, the credit union’s net member growth totaled 2,694, bringing it above 40,000 members for the first time.

University of Illinois Employees’ field of membership includes employees of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, its alumni association, and anyone who lives and works in Champaign County.

“We really have a new group we can market to and a new product we can lead with,” says Greg Anderson, senior vice president. “That has been a great value-add for us.”

New members acquired through the credit card program, however, typically live in Chicago (more than two hours away by car) and apply online for membership.

That created an onboarding challenge for the credit union, which previously relied on face-to-face interactions in the branch to introduce products to new members.

The solution: “We put together an outbound lending position whose role is to simply call those new members, welcome them to the credit union, and tell them about the product and service opportunities they now have,” says Chris Harlan, vice president of sales and service.

Introduced in March 2011, the new position generated $3 million in new loans by the end of the year.

Overall, loans outstanding grew more than 18%—from $176 million at year-end 2010 to $209 million at year-end 2011. That increased the credit union’s loan-to-share ratio from 76% to 87.5%.

Harlan says the first products offered to new members to expand the relationship are either auto loans or credit card balance transfers.

Then the credit union promotes mortgages and debt consolidation options.

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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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