Trust and Competence Grow Membership

See how leading retailers build and sustain consumer engagement.

February 10, 2014
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Credit unions never lost credibility the way banks did during the recent financial crisis. But credit unions face challenges in building on their solid reputation and expanding the membership base—especially among younger borrowers.

For inspiration, financial institutions might look to retail companies outside the banking industry, according to Accenture. The consulting firm studied more than 100 leading companies—leaders in building long-lasting customer relationships—to identify innovative practices in marketing, sales, and operations.

Accenture’s model is built on these five pillars:

  1. Build a trusted environment;
  2. Enhance 360-degree analytics;
  3. Rethink the customer engagement platform;
  4. Establish all-channel distribution; and
  5. Activate organizational enablers.

Trust is the prerequisite for any successful member or customer engagement. Building trust is neither quick nor easy—it’s earned over time through consistency in words and actions.

Many credit unions pursue a broad agenda of personal service and community involvement, which aligns with consumers’ desire to see service providers focus on more than just the bottom line.

Building on that record of corporate good citizenship, Accenture’s research suggests credit unions also can develop trust by:

* Engaging members in the process of creating products and services.

For example, consider using crowdsourcing platforms to gather member insights and suggestions for new offerings. That helps identify what members really want, creates an emotional connection with members, and ultimately builds long-term loyalty.

* Making greater use of social media. Participating in “conversations” on social networks, for example, can enhance the recognition and perception of your brand and provide greater transparency into your operations.

Open all channels

Use analytics to develop a deep understanding of members—another foundation of a member-centric approach. This means collecting data from every interaction through all channels, including traditional data found in member profiles and transactions, as well as big data and social media data.

Credit unions can use 360-degree analytics to create platforms that engage members, regardless of which channel they’re using.

Analytics also can enable a consistent experience across all available channels. By taking advantage of current marketing analytics tools, credit unions can:

  • Understand member use of, and preference for, each channel—including mobile, branch, ATM, call center, and online portal; and
  • Facilitate member access to services through the most suitable channel, improving the channel’s value to the user while minimizing cost to your credit union.

Apply this approach across the entire member experience spectrum, making all channels “service and sales channels” and establishing an all-channel, member-care capability.

Organizational support

The journey toward member centricity typically requires significant changes in how your organization works—how it’s structured, how your employees behave, and the technology that supports your operations.

And while “selling” might not be an active part of your culture, it’s necessary in a competitive marketplace.

Leading nonbank firms recognize an effective sales force is essential to growth, and they typically:

* Deploy new training programs to encourage a more customer-centric mindset among the sales force, as well as to propagate recommended sales practices across the organization.

* Implement initiatives geared toward making every employee a sales and service ambassador by offering appropriate rewards and incentives.

The final critical enabler in effective customer engagement is a robust information technology infrastructure that supports digital processes and lean operations.

Widespread use of devices such as mobile point of sale, in-store tablets, and mobile apps are just some ways leading retailers have given customers a fully digital purchasing process—and these options could work well for credit unions, too.

This article first appeared in CUNA E-Scan.

Engagement Leads to Sales

Mark Arnold
February 10, 2014 6:29 pm
This article is spot-on regarding engagement. In fact, many credit unions need to replace their sales training with member engagement training. Your members don't want to be sold to--they want to be engaged with. Likewise, your front-line staff are not sales people--they are educators.

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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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