Growing Credit Unions
Each of the panelists spent a few minutes talking about their role within the credit union system, and the challenges they face…the common concern for all three? Growing membership! It is a problem they face, and a problem that many of you likely face.
In 2009, when many credit unions were struggling to keep up with changes in regulations and the overarching challenges brought on by the recession, UWCU added 28,000 new members! Considering that their total membership is more than 145,000, this statistic is pretty impressive (that translates to nearly 20% growth).
How did UWCU do it? And in 2009 nonetheless? They did it by being who they say they are: People Helping People.
They let current events do the talking. In the past two years, banks, in general, have gotten a bad rap. Of course, bad news for banks= good news for credit unions. News outlets such as the Today Show, CBSNews, MSNMoney, CNN, and Newsweek encouraged consumers who were dismayed by the “big bank bailouts” to entrust their money with credit unions. Movements such as Move Your Money popped up… inviting the general public to do just that. (Check out comments posted by “movers” on the Testimonials page. Your credit union might even be one mentioned!)
They send the right messages to existing and future members. For UWCU, this includes member surveys and other correspondence that say: “Our members’ interest always comes first.” Billboards around town are simple, yet honest: “We are always looking out for members.” Simple, yet powerful.
They show the credit union difference. UWCU cares about their members. This means they want to provide members with good value, built on a foundation of service excellence. How do they do this? Through conversations and caring.
UWCU empowers its employees to find out what challenges individual members are facing and how the credit union might help them with those challenges. They encourage staff to cultivate meaningful relationships with members and tailor their service to fit the members’ needs, circumstances and financial goals.
- Offering an array of reasonably priced and well-designed products and services;
- Delivering technology systems that provide members a high level of convenience and control; and
- Providing people with the information and understanding they need to make good financial decisions.
They attract “Members for Life.” This is actually the name of their internal training program and it is a name that fits. The goal of the program is to provide a service experience for members that exceeds their expectations, provides value and unbiased advice, and is consistent across the company. How do they fare? According to Rob Van Nevel, Assistant Vice President of Member Services, “more than 98% of our members say we meet or exceed their expectations.” I am one of those members.
I became a member of UWCU when I was still in high school. (Luckily, my mother steered me in the right direction at a very early age…thanks Mom!) More than fifteen years later, I can honestly say that I LOVE MY CREDIT UNION.
I love Cory Poole, who helped me with my first car loan. Not only did Cory explain the loan process carefully and answer all of my questions, once the deal was sealed he walked me out to the parking lot to check out my “new” used Altima. It took just a few minutes out of his day but with that one act, Cory made me a Member for Life. He was the first person I called when my husband and I began “condo shopping” and he made the mortgage loan process a lot less scary.
I love Beth Grosskopf, who helped me lock in an amazing rate on my most recent car loan. As if that weren’t enough, she helped my husband and I consolidate some other loans so we could pay them off faster, and at a special rate.
In addition to the people, I LOVE UW Web Branch—in fact, I might have a problem. I am on Web Branch every day, managing my money and watching my savings grow. I love the new incorporation of Money Management Tools and I secretly hope that it was the suggestion I submitted in 2009, that brought this amazing tool to life. Why? Because I know UWCU actually listens to their members. For that, and so many other reasons, I LOVE MY CREDIT UNION! And I’ve never heard anyone say that about their bank.
What about you? What is your credit union doing to grow membership and retain members for life?