Effective Member Communications in Challenging Financial Times
From Mark Arnold:
Although it’s hard to believe, we are already into our second month of 2013! Whether you are still analyzing 2012 or well into your 2013 tasks list, one thing is certain: there is still uncertainty about our economy. Unemployment numbers could be better, jobs aren’t being added like we’d like to see and Congress is still debating budget and financial issues.
Your members are well aware of these troubling times and keenly tuned into financial news and information that can help them make more informed decisions about their own finances. How can your credit union staff communicate more effectively with its members during times like these?
Below are a few tips you can share to help you reach out to members:
- Keep a line of communication open. In a down economy, some credit unions make the mistake of cutting back on their front-line staff, a receptionist or person who first works with members and potential members. Whoever is responsible for initial contact with members must be readily available and demonstrate a positive attitude.
- Attitude is everything. The staff that responds to your members’ needs must be trained to deal with people in a positive manner, especially when times are uncertain and sales are down. Think of problems as “challenges” and look at them as team project to solve with members. If members are treated with special care, they will return it. Getting new members in the door is done with good branding and advertising. Keeping them coming back depends on how you treat them.
- Listen to your members. Listening to what your members have to say is one of the most important aspects of member service and also one of the most overlooked. Train your member service staff to give members time to explain their needs, their complaints and their expectations. Those extra few minutes of patience and listening can increase sales.
- Follow-up on everything. Member service cannot stop with one phone call or one email. Establish a system of contact to check on individual members. A simple and quick follow-up with a member to make sure everything is well establishes your credit union as caring and concerned. Follow-up also allows you to find out if your members need help with something they may not have yet told you about.
Communicating with members can be a challenge, even in the best of times. In times like these, however, it’s even more important. Doing what it takes to stay in touch with your members and prove your credit union is a reliable source of good information is critical.
Mark Arnold, CCUE, is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner. He is also president of On the Mark Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in branding and strategic planning. in 2013, Mark will be speaking at Consumer & Residential Mortgage Lending School, as well as CUNA Management School.