Connect—and Reconnect—With Your Members

Give members information for today's financial decisions and guidance for tomorrow.

June 13, 2013
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In recent years, your members have seen the economy—and perhaps their personal finances—put at great risk as a result of the financial crisis.

Consumer confidence in spending and borrowing is rising slowly, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. 

So, as a representative of your credit union, how do you look out for members’ best interests in these uncertain times? You build each member interaction into a meaningful connection when you:

►Ask members about their financial situation—and explain why you’re asking. All employees should use every touch point with members to ask them about their current financial situation, recent life events, and financial aspirations.

►Are transparent. Explain that, given the difficult economy of recent years—which now shows glimpses of improvement—your credit union wants to know what might have changed in its members’ financial situations. Are they prepared for the future?subscribefrontline

►Empower your members. Don’t push products. Instead, make sure members feel connected to solutions for their immediate financial needs and know their options going forward.

►Start a two-way conversation. The more you know about members’ needs, and the more members understand what your credit union can do to meet those needs, the better it is for both parties.

You can’t help members overcome their financial barriers until you know what those barriers are. Some sales experts call this “needs-based selling” but a better description is simply “good service.” Strive for providing good service in every interaction.

►Make your mission the message. Look at your credit union’s mission statement. The connections you cultivate should be an expression of this mission.

By helping members make informed decisions about your credit union’s products and services, you’re serving their best financial interests and helping the credit union thrive.

To reconnect, strike up a conversation with your loyal members. They might not be aware of additional financial opportunities available to them, or they might not make you aware of a financial need.

In evaluating my relationship with my credit union, I use 11 products and services, including checking, money market accounts, lines of credit, auto loans, and online banking, but I still have a need for more products and services.

Your members are just like me. Regardless of how their finances appear on paper, you might have many pathways to reconnect with them.

Keep in mind that during all member interactions, your approach to assisting and educating them should be an expression of your commitment to member service. Members should have the information they need to make financial decisions today, and know where to turn for guidance and advice tomorrow.

The economy will continue to evolve, as will your credit union’s sales and service culture. But one thing won’t change: Your members expect you to have their best interests in mind.

Meet their expectations by building a meaningful interaction every time you connect with them. The positive results—for your members and your credit union—might surprise you.

KARIM HABIB is the director of lending for CUNA Mutual Group.

This article appeared in the June 2013 issue of Credit Union Front Line Newsletter.

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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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